Points to Ponder: Muslims’ Weightlessness Plumbing New Depths


Points to Ponder: Muslims’ Weightlessness Plumbing New Depths

When I Cried From Inside
Saudi Arabia and Indonesia: Clashing visions of ‘Moderate Islam.’
Redefining The Muslim Agenda

The Delhi video of a cop kicking a Muslim worshipper is quite disturbing. This is reflective of the plight of Muslims in India as of now. Their weightlessness in national life is so evident. They are being kicked around, finding no solution, no saviour. Some action may have followed, and the erring cop is reportedly under suspension. But what happens in uncelebrated, nay unreported cases is quite well known.

That is of course the case of an individual or a few individuals found praying on a public thoroughfare.

We are witness to the genocide in Gaza for the last few months. 30,000 lives have been lost, two-thirds of the 22 lakh Gazans living in the world’s largest open prison have been displaced within that narrow strip of land, all because Hamas hotheads miscalculated the consequences of their adventure or misadventure on October 7, 2023. This continuing mayhem in the heart of the Middle East is reflective of our weightlessness on the global level. Let us remember, it was South Africa, not the filthy rich Saudis or Emiratis, who mounted the legal challenge against Israel in the International Court of Justice. Mass graves are being dug every day in Gaza. Children and women are dying of hunger, starvation, and bombardment. Yet we hear that the Saudis are the second largest buyer of arms in the world which are of no worth to them. If there are no brains, their wealth is of no consequence. Great manpower but without education, without the power of reasoning, without character and discipline, without enlightened leadership, is of no use. It renders them into a burden. This is what is happening to the Ummah. Money and arms are invalid if knowledge is missing. Knowledge is a superpower in the current world. Jews are just about 15 million around the world but equipped with knowledge, skill and all the accessories of knowledge. They have think-tanks of all hues. They call the shots in all the leading nations of the world. They run major MNCs. They have dominated in the fields of science and technology, research and development, diplomacy and policy studies, world of languages and letters, produce the best books, invented the most used appliances, and produced the most enlightened intellectuals ranging from Karl Marx and Einstein to Kissinger to Noam Chomsky. They have never boasted of their manpower. They do not indulge in excessive ritualism as we do. The world’s best books come from them. They occupy high seats in all bodies promoting various ideas and ideologies.

Look at our own plight. We have been an emotional lot. We dismembered ourselves into three nations in the subcontinent. We failed to recognize that sheer manpower and religion does not empower any community. Look at our western neighbour. It is in dire financial straits. It is almost a failed state with all institutions crumbling. It is virtually run by the army which has developed deep stakes in economy, business, trade bodies and is eating into the vitals of the body of that unfortunate nation. The grave of the only Nobel laureate of the nation has been defiled several times. 37 Percent of its citizens have expressed their desire to migrate out of its boundaries.

The nation on our eastern flank has though done better on economics, is another failing state under elected dictatorship. It faces climatic disaster. Rise of sea level by a metre would inundate 19 percent of its land, the only Nobel laureate of the nation was jailed and is under the threat of more of it.

In between the two we have continually been in the smoldering cauldron of religious emotions. Shah Bano case demands to ban books by Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen, holiday for Eid Milad, constructions of Hajj Bhavans, three talaqs, Babri Masjid, obsessed us for nearly four decades. We were never bothered about raising socio-economic infrastructure in childcare homes, old age homes, media institutions, banks, publishing houses, think-tanks, centres for abandoned women, libraries, palliative care centres, endowments for promoting knowledge. There has been a terrible decline in the quality of our leadership during the last one century. We were trying to rescue the decayed Khilafath of Turkey which Mustafa Kemal Pasha upturned to raise the modern Turkiye. We were overwhelmed with Jinnah’s disastrous two-nation theory. Not learning a lesson from the Partition, Kasim Rizvi brought about another disaster in the heart of Deccan in 1948. Two lakh lives were lost.

If in 1947, religion was the cause célèbres of our separation, in 1971, it was language. India survives between the twain intact with multiple castes, faiths and languages. Do we learn any lessons from this? Mustafa Kemal Pasha’s modern, secular Turkiye is the most developed Muslim nation. But our Khilafat movement was directed at retention of the decadent Khilafat of Ottomans. Is not there a lesson for us?

A multi-ethnic Malaysia has carried on its nationhood with great aplomb all through its 60 years of history. Isn’t there a lesson for us to learn? Should religion be the be-all and end-all of our existence?

And what kind of religion are we following? It is mere ritualism, bereft of any spirit of humanity, kindness, camaraderie, love, compassion and sense of fraternity.

In Ramazan look how many million Muslims will be heading for umrah, how many billions will be squandered over this holy tourism? Is it what Islam desires from us? Is Islam a sawab-accumulation industry? Hundreds of pilgrims will be defrauded of their money by unscrupulous umrah tour operators, hundreds will be left without accommodation and food in the holy place by these cheats. Can’t we think of diverting these resources to more purposeful avenues of educating children, sheltering abandoned women, setting up skill centres, textbook banks, research institutes et al. But such is our obsession with ritualism that we cannot think of any community empowering institutions. Nothing more can be expected from our least educated clerics who have driven us into the dark tunnels of ignorance and their petty vested interest in squeezing zakat, fitra, sadaqa and charm e qurbani out of the Muslim masses and operation of Hajj and Umrah tour companies.

Let us conclude: the indignity we suffer in this world is of our own making. We refuse to learn lessons from our past and successes of other nations. We are immersed in ritualism in the belief that God will be pleased with this. We need to come out of this morass. We need to introspect on our situation and adopt pragmatism.