“You are a black stain on Hinduism if you love a Muslim man.”
“I won’t let you marry a Muslim.”
“Muslims are terrorists.”
While studying logic, we were taught a theory about the conversion of a statement. It goes like this:
Take any statement, for eg: ‘All terrorists are Muslims.’
If this statement is true, then its converse will be ‘Some Muslims are terrorists.’ and not ‘All Muslims are terrorists’.
We often choose to forget this fact, take to stereotyping and generalise all Muslims and the whole of Islam, to be connected with terrorism.
In a poem I had written a while back, I wrote ‘I love a Muslim man’, and though this was not even the premise of the poem, some people took to selective reading and picked on this very line, and came up with horrid responses like: “Muslims are not to be trusted”, “You mustn’t marry a Muslim man as he will make you convert your religion, but won’t let his own daughter do so if she likes a Hindu/ Christian man”. My poem was about the Peshawar killings. That is how much these people digressed.
What is the problem, behind everything? Is it the very presence of numerous religions? Well, this has been a long drawn debate- the very futility of religion and sects has been thought upon, but to no avail. We cannot do away with the sects and their related norms which have become ingrained in our society. It is very much like the process of fossil-making which takes years and years to get its final shape, and it is hard to remove from just the surface.
So then, what can be questioned? If people cannot be swayed from thinking in terms of religion, or comparing themselves or two groups of people on the basis of religion, what can be done? I think it is high time that we stop misinterpreting religions and making individual acts look like they are stemming from some religion’s statutes.
‘Islamophobia’, is a term which surfaced after the 9/11 attacks. Several consider it a form of racism, a type of racial prejudice against Muslims, and some find it connoting a social anxiety against Muslims, stemming from the extreme psychological fear after the attacks, which were headed by Bin Laden. Many contentious terms like ‘Islamo-prejudice’ and ‘Anti-Muslimism’ were coined with the social stigma of Muslims being a fear-inducing race behind their etymological formation. Islam, is often seen as a religion spread by war and force, and is seen as a static, never-changing formation which is orientalised as a savage, barbaric religion inferior and dangerous to the West. But, even if a large number of terrorists are Muslims, we still cannot resort to saying that Islam is the reason behind propagating terrorism. We should get our facts right before we make such claims because they do not help anyone, and unnecessarily create chaos, which the world can do much better without.
Who is to be considered guilty, then? It is not untrue that a shockingly high number of terrorist organisations do have Muslim foundations, but is it right to generalize a civilian Muslim, perhaps a Muslim student in your classroom, to be a potential terrorist? Some people will find it hard to say ‘No’. One will go on to put forth the fact that in places with high Muslim population, people are discontented, that they are not a happy population in Gaza, Libya, Morocco, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon etc. Are we saying that Muslims living with fellow Muslims in itself is a big problem? What can be said easily, and more correctly, is that some individuals, following this religion, have been misguided and are misguiding other followers and in doing so, have totally corrupted what their religion stands for. If the love for their religion and their urge to protect their own, was the very basis upon which organisations of terror were founded, why did the Peshawar killing take place where the children who were killed worshiped the same God as the terrorists did?
Something is very wrong. Selfish interpretations of religious texts and justifying barbarous acts through them, has led to the generalisation of a whole sect. It is high time we check our own religious books which we superficially say we follow. And, if we cannot follow them the way they need to be followed, do we really need some religion to guide us, when our own actions in the name of religion are a façade?