By Sheeba Aslam Fehmi
If you ask any common criminal—be he a murderer or just an ordinary liar—how he should be dealt with, one can expect him to express some remorse, but in the case of a half-baked mullah you can surely expect him to say, ‘We are blessings sent by Allah for the sake of humankind, and so we ought to be treated in the same way as divine avatars are treated.’ In other words, you can expect the mullahs to say, ‘We will openly and without any restraint mock others’ beliefs and faith. Using all sorts of arguments, we will claim our own beliefs to be “scientific” and that of others false. We will prove our religious book to be divine and that of others wrong. We will announce that our prophet is the last and most beloved of God, and that the religious figures of others are inferior to him. We will term our violence as “jihad” but will term the violence of others as terrorism or brutality. We will camouflage our hypocrisy as ‘taqiyya’ or pious dissimulation. All these things we will do, and, in this way, we will assert ourselves over others, but we will never allow others to do the same thing with us. If they dare try to do so, we will loudly declaiming against it, and will opportunistically invoke human rights, democratic values, Constitutional rights, justice, equality, freedom, and, above all, secularism—values that we do not believe in when we are in the majority—in our defence.’
The mullahs will rail and rant in the media against France for its ban on burqas, branding this as an attack on ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom of choice’. But they have absolutely no shame, for in the same breath as they insist that forcibly banning the burqa is wrong and a violation of freedom of choice, they resolutely praise countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran for forcing women to veil. They do not regard this as a violation of freedom of choice. Rather, they idealize it. Strange is their logic, and wholly inconsistent, too.
The mullahs will insist that their prophet is the last of the prophets. But when Jews and Christians declare their own prophets to be the last prophet, the mullahs will declare them guilty of blasphemy, and will even announce hefty financial rewards for their murderers. They will treat non-Muslim minorities in the way that the hapless Pakistani Christian woman Asiya Bibi, hounded for alleged blasphemy, is being treated, and yet, in the same breath, will claim that they stand for justice and equality. They will call upon their followers to destroy the places of worship of other communities, declaring this to be an act of ‘great bravery’ in their books. But if others destroy their places of worship, they will declare this to be ‘the murder of democracy’ and ‘violation of minority rights’. They do not understand that the conquest of other peoples and the destruction of their places of worship that they glorify in their madrasas as ‘great victories’ is a much older story than that of others’ destroying their places of worship, and certainly far predates the destruction of the Babri Masjid. If they refuse to consider their destruction of others’ places of worship as wrong, how can they claim the destruction of the Babri Masjid was wrong?
The mullahs will lead delegations of their followers to engage in what they call *tabligh* to far-flung countries, to America, Europe and so on, where they will tell the Christians they meet, ‘Jesus is not the last prophet.
Muhammad is the last prophet.’ But if any Christian in their own countries believes that Jesus is the highest and publicly announces it, he easily runs the risk of being charged under the offense of blasphemy and being killed.
These folks simply do not seem to understand that a Christian will naturally regard Jesus as supreme and will not praise the Prophet Muhammad. He will naturally consider his own religion and religious personages to be better.
The way the half-baked mullahs treat the non-Muslim minorities living in their midst, persecuting and even killing them for their religious views, only shows that they believe that in countries where Muslims rule, non-Muslims do not deserve freedom of religion.
The intolerance of the mullahs is not limited to their relations with people of other faiths. They will never cease to fight even among themselves as to the ‘real’ Islam. Each of them considers his own sectarian interpretation of Islam to be the sole true one, and so Sunnis, Shias, Aga Khanis, Bohras, Ahl-e Hadith, Deobandis, Wahhabis, Barelvis, Salafis etc will never give up fighting among themselves and breaking each others’ heads, each claiming to be right. And if one of these sects manages to establish control over a country, it will seek to forcibly impose its interpretation of laws on the whole of the country, including on those who are associated with rival sects. This, in turn, is a perfect recipe for never-ending conflict, and sometimes even civil war. And in such a dispensation, groups like Qadianis, Bahais, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and so on will have to live completely ghettoised lives and cannot publicly express their religion, for if they do so they can easily be targeted under blasphemy laws and slain.
This is precisely what is happening in Pakistan now, the only country in the world that was created in the name of Islam in recent times. In many other Muslim countries like Pakistan, non-Muslims have no freedom of religion worth the name. And while the mullahs and their followers will lament the state of Muslim minorities in non-Muslim countries, they will never utter a word to commiserate with the plight of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim lands.
The notorious blasphemy law in Pakistan, which claims to protect the honour of the name of the Prophet Muhammad, is so flawed that any non-Muslim can, simply on account of his religious beliefs, be prosecuted under it—and then killed. The law does not even properly explain what ‘blasphemy’ is. Even if a person is acquitted of blasphemy charges, the bigoted mullahs and their hordes of followers will not let such a person survive—they will kill him inside the courtroom itself or when he is on the way out, as has happened in several cases. Such is the immense hold and tyranny of this bigotry. Once a person is accused under this law, even if he is proven innocent his life is completely destroyed, and sooner or later he will be killed by angry mobs.
If a person accused of blasphemy is a ‘non-Muslim’, then hordes of ‘Muslims’ will descend on his locality and loot it and set it on fire. This, for instance, is precisely what happened in Gojra, in Pakistan, in 2010, where, according to the Pakistan Human Rights Commission, announcements were made from the mosque calling on ‘Muslims’ to ‘make mincemeat’ of the local Christians. Scores of innocent Christians were slain by the Muslim mob, who also set fire to their homes, fondly imagining that in doing so they were serving God. Why did this happen? All because of a completely false allegation that a Christian had insulted the Quran. So the modus operandi is: falsely charge a member of a religious minority with blasphemy falsely, and then do not give the accused any opportunity to prove his innocence. I fail to understand why, in countries like Pakistan, where the followers of a certain religion form the overwhelming majority of the population and religious minorities are miniscule in numbers, the majority needs a law to protect its religion. Is this not an argument to actually defend the oppressor and to punish the oppressed? And is it not strange that ever since this blasphemy law was imposed, in 1986 by the mullah military dictator of Pakistan, Zia ul-Haq, there has been a massive upsurge in reported or alleged cases of blasphemy in that country? One needs ask these bigots if such a law helps check the crime or does it, in fact, work to increase it. In the Pakistani case, it seems to be the latter.
Why this is so is easily explainable. Most of these cases of alleged blasphemy actually are a cover-up for other issues, for property disputes, for settling personal scores, for eying other peoples’s lands and so on.
Concocting blasphemy charges against one’s personal rivals has thus become the most convenient trick to get them into trouble—and to even have them‘legally’ killed!
Salman Taseer, the late governor of the Pakistani Punjab who was slain for his defence of a hapless Pakistani Christian woman unfairly accused of blaspheming Islam, wrote shortly before (December 24th, 2010) his death: “My observation on minorities: A man/nation is judged by how he/it supports those who are weaker rather than how he/it leans on the stronger.” The despicable way in which the hapless minorities of Pakistan are being treated by the mullahs and their supporters, including being hounded in the name of countering blasphemy, clearly shows that the mullahs and their men have absolutely no qualms at all in engaging in the most brutal forms of inhumanity, all in the name of their religion. And the Pakistani state has fallen completely prostrate before such despicable characters. And that is why Pakistan is now in the grips of a vast number of mullah-style ‘Islamic’ outfits that are driving the country into the throes of darkness.
Non-Muslims generally place no hurdles in the path of Muslim minorities in their midst leading their lives the way they want and following their religion, provided they stick to the rules of decency. I fail to understand why Muslims living in Muslim majority countries cannot do the same with regard to their minorities. The brutality of what is being done in Pakistan in the name of Islam has terrible consequences for Muslims all over theworld, especially those who live in countries where, like in India, they are in a minority but are left free to follow their religion and live as they please. In this regard, it becomes incumbent on the Indian Muslims, especially their religious scholars, to openly condemn as anti-Islamic the heinous actions of the half-baked mullahs in Pakistan which they are undertaking in the name of Islam. They must also condemn the misuse of the blasphemy law in that benighted country, for it is itself giving Islam a bad name the world over, ironically while claiming to ‘protect’ its image.
It is no longer possible to remain quiet on such issues. We can no longer opportunistically choose to remain mum on these matters. To condemn what is happening to minorities in countries like Pakistan is a duty incumbent on all Muslims who live in non-Muslim majority countries, where they enjoy the same rights and freedoms as others. If Indian Muslims and their religious ‘leaders’ and their organisations remain silent on this naked oppression, then they must also remain silent and stop speaking about the Babri Masjid, about the Sachar Report, about the Ranganath Mishra report, and about violations of freedom, democracy, secularism, the rule of law and minority rights in India. The Indian Muslim clerics must try to promote tolerant understandings of Islam in Pakistan in any which way they can. They themselves never tire of insisting that Islam stands for peace, love and tolerance—this is what they tell the Hindus, the media, the government and so on. So, then, let them try and prevail upon their Pakistani counterparts to practice Islam in what they say is its true spirit. Let them openly denounce the terror being engaged in the name of Islam in Pakistan as anti-Islamic. If they do not do this, they would be guilty of sheer hypocrisy, for secularism does not mean that you preach love and tolerance in countries where you are in a minority but act in precisely the opposite way with other communities where you are in a majority. I would regard this as the opportune moment for the Indian Muslims and their religious leaders to prove their claims of their religion indeed being tolerant and just by speaking out against the terror being inflicted on the minorities in Pakistan in the name of Islam.
Research Scholar (PhD),
Centre for Political Studies,
School of Social Sciences
Jawaharlal Nehru University,
New Delhi-110067. 0-9871683654