By Prof. M. A. Sofi, New Age Islam
21 May 2021
How Should The Muslims, Whether Those In Palestine, India Or Elsewhere, Deal With This Aggressive Campaign Of Hatred, Intolerance And Violence Being Targeted Against Them?
1. Brazen display of arrogance and the disproportionate use of firepower in the asymmetric war .
2. The dream of the Greater Israel as part of that mission dictates their actions i
3. It’s sad how Muslims have been taught to remain indifferent to the possibility of empowerment
4. Muslims have no option but to change their ways and their attitude towards religion and modern education where they lag far behind the Jews
Before elaborating on the theme of this article, it should help to put into perspective certain facts that ought to be weighed in while attempting an unbiased appraisal of the Jewish community and its conduct vis a vis its neighbours in the region and the world at large. For all we know, the world owes a great deal to the Jewish community in terms of the ground breaking contributions it has rendered in the sphere of education, science and scholarship over the past one thousand years. It’s a fact that those professing research in science and in other disciplines in the universities and institutions around the world happen to have been largely influenced in varying degrees by the contributions made by the Jews in the knowledge sector ranging from the humanities, linguistics, law, economics and social sciences to basic sciences and technology. In my own small way surrounding my professional life, I have learnt a great deal from them through their scientific work and also during face to face interactions as well as otherwise. With the benefit of knowing some of them rather reasonably well, it’s reassuring that during my interactions I have rarely come across those of them who would seem to be supportive or even apologetic of the Israeli ruling establishment, especially involving what appears to be the latter’s sustained policy of brutality and repression against the Palestinians. All the same, that does not take away from their complicity in the crimes against humanity if it had been for those of them who had voted their blood thirsty politicians to power.
With that in mind, how does one make sense of this brazen display of arrogance and the disproportionate use of firepower in the asymmetric war that the mighty Zionist state has launched against the hapless, toothless Palestinians in the tiny Gaza strip of Palestine where they are being massacred in their hundreds or otherwise forced to live in clusters of ghettos by the ‘Zionist state of Israel’. The straightforward answer lies in what Nimer Sultany says in his essay that has appeared in the Guardian today:
“As the Palestinian death toll continues to rise, commentators lament the shattering of coexistence inside Israel between Palestinian and Jewish citizens. Yet in my experience as a Palestinian citizen in Israel, no such coexistence existed in the first place. Coexistence implies a background of equality, freedom and mutual respect. In the context of Israel’s rule over us, however, coexistence is a fiction that conceals a reality of separate and unequal lives”.
So what should the Muslim world do before it meets its moment of reckoning when it may be gobbled up by the self-same cannibals whose track record in the occupied land of Palestine should leave no one in doubt regarding the ‘big plot’ they are planning? The dream of the Greater Israel as part of that mission dictates their actions including the series of massive attacks that it has been launching on the beleaguered, unarmed Palestinians ever since its birth in 1948. Apart from the disunity that defines the contemporary Muslim world and the resulting spinelessness that renders it incapable of stopping the Zionists in their tracks, it’s the abysmally low level of education that has led to such debilitating disempowerment of the Muslims around the world that they have ceased to matter and be counted. That explains the predicament and the reasons for the misery and indignity being visited upon them in different parts of the world, particularly in Palestine, India and elsewhere and with such impunity and without compunction? It’s sad how Muslims have been taught to remain indifferent to the possibility of empowerment that would accrue from striving to achieve excellence in modern education and science. Not that excellence in education alone would have provided a bulwark against the tyranny being inflicted upon them, but the fact remains that even a reasonable level of achievement in education would have led the community to a parity of sorts with other communities in terms of the political power, as also the military muscle while ensuring that the intensity and scale of aggression against them would have been far less asymmetric than what is on display in the on-going conflict between Israel and Palestine.
An equally important reason for such a poor state of education among Muslims has been their approach towards the religion of Islam where a blind, diehard allegiance to the religious rituals is being equated with religiosity and looked upon as the sole motivation for living their lives, without the need to strive in other human endeavours that would empower them to deal with the challenges of modern life in a meaningful way. Come to think of it, how is it that such a commonplace occurrence as the clockwork punctuality that accompanies the calling out of Azan and offering of five-time prayers in the mosques stop right there within the four walls of the mosque and are not allowed to translate into action outside the confines of the mosque! The steadfastness and careful attention to detail, as it were, in our collective disregard and contempt for sticking to time while living our quotidian lives involving social gatherings, meetings, classroom teaching or even keeping appointments is intriguing and begs answers. One is at a loss to understand the reasons that go in shaping an attitude where the need for sticking to time and keeping promises is perceived to be of peripheral importance rather than being allowed to extrapolate to other spheres of our daily lives. That should serve to explain why Muslims betray such crass indifference towards the need for maintaining high moral and ethical standards that Islam requires its followers to maintain in their private and public lives. How sad that for the most part, religious practice is seen essentially as part of a people's culture that is approached merely as the sum total of a set of rituals and supposed to be performed with care and due diligence in the (false) hope of attaining to salvation.
The question that begs answers is this: how should the Muslims, whether those in Palestine, India or elsewhere, deal with this aggressive campaign of hatred, intolerance and violence being targeted against them? Though there are no easy answers available to devise strategies that may be adopted to ward off or at least to put paid to the possibility of brutal repression against them, what is clear is that certain old habits of the Muslim mind have to be set aside which are long overdue for a complete overhaul, and with immediate effect in the hope of ending the misery. These include the need for the Muslim community to unite under one banner without letting their allegiance to a particular school of thought in Islam dictate terms for to the detriment of the larger goal of unity. Here, it's important to bear in mind that a willingness to entertain delusions of grandeur involving one's individual faith or ideology has been a singular reason for the decimation of that ideology or creed including of those individuals or institutions that had espoused that creed or ideology in the first place. It’s this supremacist view of things involving faith and culture that acts as a great spoiler of efforts for peace and unity within the community.
In the light of what has been said above, the greatest catalyst for change would come from nowhere as forcefully as in the case of the Jews, it has come from education in which they have carved a niche for themselves and in a manner that no other community in the world would boast of superiority over or even of reasonable parity with them in a meaningful way. In that respect, Muslims happen to figure nowhere. Thus in order to be counted and taken seriously, Muslims have no option but to change their ways and their attitude towards religion and modern education where they lag far behind the Jews and even other religious communities. The urgent need obviously is for Muslims leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of education at all levels including in cutting edge research with a single-minded focus on the will to achieve excellence at the highest level. Rather than remain fixated on the 'other-worldliness' which sadly is being read as the main thrust of Islam and which has led to large sections of the Muslim community remaining trapped in a state of mental ennui and life denying inertia, there is a case for waking up to the need for a fresh reappraisal and a deep understanding of the Quran which is replete with copious exhortations upon Muslims to learn, reflect and ponder upon the life and the universe around us. That's a tacit and an emphatic invitation for its followers to learn and master all branches of knowledge: languages, history, philosophy, science, mathematics, technology, medicine and what have you. Contrary to what most of our ‘Islamic scholars’ would have us believe, the acquisition of knowledge is not only that which deals with the 'other worldliness' or which derives solely from the scriptures, Ahadees and Fiqh etc., it is equally important to acquire and excel in the knowledge of the world in which we live and of the cosmos that our world happens to be a part of. More so, in the light of the challenges posed by the demands of the contemporary world which have long since necessitated such a paradigmatic shift of outlook, but sadly ignored from its consciousness by the Muslims.
The main takeaway from the above discussion is that while empowerment through education is indeed a potent and an enabling tool for progress, prosperity and emancipation, it can also be abused, in the hands of the tyrant and the perverse, as a weapon of mass destruction to impoverish and immiserate the individual, destroy and destabilise the societies and subjugate and suppress the weak and the dispossessed as is testified by how the State of Israel has chosen to conduct itself throughout its history. On the other hand, one also learns that in view of how religion is approached, understood and practiced in the world of today, there is a strong case for restricting it exclusively to be a personal matter and to be followed in letter and spirit at home and in our daily lives with an eye on the spiritual growth of the self. Come to think of it, the human experience of the past several millennia shows that the use/abuse/ role of religion as a determinant of the state policies has run out its course in the world of today which stands riven by religious hatred, dissention and intolerance like never before. Let religion be accorded its place where it naturally belongs – as an important agency to shape and reform our personal/social lives without extrapolating its extension to the affairs of the State, a scenario that, as we have learnt of late, is fraught!
Prof. M. A. Sofi) is currently NBHM Visiting Professor at JK Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Srinagar He previously taught at AMU, Aligarh, Central University of Kashmir, Srinagar and University of Kashmir, Srinagar Did Master’s from AMU, Aligarh (1978) and Ph. D Mathematics at IIT Kanpur(1982) Presently living in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir.
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