Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Why Ex-Muslims’ Endorsing Violent Interpretations of Islam as the Accurate Ones Should Not be Seen as Validating Bigotry towards Practising Muslims as People

It is possible to quote any scripture (allegedly out of context according to its liberal adherents) to justify malpractices, like some verses in the Bible namely Deuteronomy 13:12-15, Samuel 15:3, Leviticus 24:16 and Matthew 10:34 seemingly advocate violence against “non-believers” and the Purusha Sukta of the Rigved, an ancient Hindu scripture, is taken by some to justify caste discrimination, but these verses do not define the entire religion. This article mentioning an anecdote from the British parliament does make an interesting read in this regard, as does this video make an interesting watch in this connection. There are Quranic verses like 2:2565:25:85:326:1086:15110:9949:1360:8 and 109:6 preaching peace, religious tolerance and human brotherhood, as does the letter from Prophet Muhammad to the Christian monks of St Catherine’s monastery and there are episodes from Prophet Muhammad’s life, as per Islamic lore, indicative of such an approach too, such as his allowing a woman to throw garbage at him daily and his succeeding in ideologically, winning over her by way of humanitarian affection. Those suggesting that peaceful verses in the Quran are superseded by violent verses (which the vast majority of practising Muslims globally regard as contextual) would do well to note that verse 109:6 appears towards the end of the book, and preaches nothing but peace.

Speaking of apostates of Islam (“ex-Muslims”) criticising their former religion, there is a fairly well-known website run by an apostate and basher of Islam who has even offered a cash prize to anyone who can disprove his allegations against Prophet Muhammad (but there are books by apostates of other religions criticizing their former religions too, the most famous one being ‘Why I Am Not a Christian’ by Bertrand Russell, and there’s also ‘Why I am Not a Hindu’ by Kancha Ilaiah, levelling very strong allegations), but practically, he is the judge of the debate, or to go by what he is saying, the “readership” of the website, a rather non-defined entity. In fact, he has acknowledged that he came across a Muslim who “intelligently argued his case and never descended to logical fallacies or insults” and while that Islam-basher “did not manage to convince him to leave Islam”, that Muslim earned his “utmost respect”, which implies that practically, the Islam-basher is the judge of the debate. Likewise, that Islam-basher has mentioned with reference to a scholar of Islam he debated with, that the latter was “a learned man, a moderate Muslim and a good human being” and someone he (the Islam-basher) has “utmost respect for”. So, that Islam-basher’s critique of Islam, whether valid or invalid, has no relevance in terms of making blanket stereotypes about the people we know as Muslims or even practising Muslims. By the way, that Islam-basher bashes Judaism too. And it is worth mentioning that I have encountered several practising Muslims on discussion groups on the social media, who have, in a very calm and composed fashion, logically refuted the allegations against Islam on such websites. Indeed, as you can see here and here, there are several other apostates of Islam who have stated that while they personally left Islam thinking that the extremist interpretations are correct and moderate ones wrong (as is the case with apostates of many other religions), they have equally explicitly emphasized that that does not in the least mean that they believe that most people identifying themselves as practising Muslims support violence against innocent people, and this applies very well to apostates like Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasrin, who despite being largely disowned by the Muslim community and being on the hit-list of extremists, spoke our fiercely against the Gujarat riots and the Dadri incident. Rushdie opposed the idea of voting to power Modi as India’s PM and later supported the award wapsi, while Nasrin expressed horror at the prospect of the cancellation of the Ghulam Ali concert in Mumbai, and she, as an atheist, has openly declared in her book 'Exile: A Memoir' that she wants not only Islam but Hinduism and all other existing religions to die out the way the Pharonoic and Olympian faiths have.
And in fact, even speaking of the West, a report submitted by Europol, the criminal intelligence agency of the European Union, showed that only 3 out of the 249 terrorist attacks (amounting to about 1.2%) carried out in Europe in 2010 were carried out by Muslims. Even in the United States, most terrorist attacks from 1980 to 2005 were not carried out by Muslims
Indeed, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis giving a Biblical basis for their racism and anti-Semitism; Catholic fanatics in the United States bombing abortion clinics and night clubs and having killed innocent civilians during the Olympic Games in 1996; the Catholic fanatics constituting the Irish Republican Army; some terrorists from the Baptist sect of Protestant Christianity in Tripura and Nagaland in India killing innocent civilians giving a theological justification for their actions; Khalistani terrorists killing innocent civilians acting in the name of Sikhism (they blew up an airplane flying innocent civilians); the Jewish Defense League in the United States targeting Soviet singers and diplomats and the Haganah in the Middle East killing anti-Zionist Jews having acted in the name of Judaism; Hindu organisations like the Ranvir Sena having carried out caste-based massacres (including women and children) to avenge left-wing terror attacks, justifying the same theologically, and perhaps most oxymoronically, Buddhist monks inciting violence against those of other religions in Myanmar and Sri Lanka (not only Muslims but even Chin Christians in Myanmar and Tamil Hindus in Sri Lanka) are all examples of non-Muslim terrorists.

Not to forget that secessionists in different parts of the world – like the now erstwhile Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka (who killed civilians, bombing banks and marketplaces, and forcibly recruited children), and ultra-leftist radicals in places like Greece, India and Peru – are also a cause of much terrorism globally, and they aren’t even always motivated by religion. 

And no, I’m not in the least seeking to undermine the heinousness of the crimes committed by some in the name of Islam by pointing to others having committed similar crimes under other ideological banners, for a more highlighted wrongdoing is no less of a wrongdoing than a less highlighted wrongdoing, but only to point out that viewing only Muslims as villains, and that too, all or even most of them, would indeed be grossly incorrect. However, despite jihadist terrorists being a microscopic minority of Muslims, Islamist terrorism has become a bigger global threat for its well-coordinated international network since the 1990s, with the US-backed Islamist resistance to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan having signaled its rise. And, let us not forget that when we had the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, the victims included Ahmed Merabet, a Muslim police officer who died fighting the terrorists (and by the way, there are more French Muslims in the local police, including those who have died fighting jihadist terrorists, than in the Al Qaeda unit in their country), Mustapha Ourad, a Muslim who was one of the magazine staff members killed in that attack and there was Lassana Bathily, a Muslim shopkeeper who gave sanctuary to many innocent civilians during the hostage crisis in Paris that followed. Even in the context of the more recent attacks in Paris, a Muslim security guard Zouheir, risking his own life, prevented one suicide bomber from entering a packed football stadium. More recently, Kenyan Muslims very laudably protected fellow bus commuters, who were Christians, from jihadist terrorists, and Kurdish, Emirati, Iraqi and Syrian Muslims have also been fighting the ISIS. In India too, most of the terrorism is not by Muslims, as you can see here and here.

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