Friday, November 27, 2015

Sickular Vs Bhakt: The 'intolerance' debate in India reveals our intellectual hollowness

The debate over 'intolerance' has led to a strong polarisation in India.

Either you are on one side or you are on the other side of the political divide, getting labelled as 'sickular' or 'bhakt'.

Positions have hardened to such an extent that people are just not willing to listen to the other side.

That's really sad for a country where people claim to have a continuous civilisation of thousands of years.

Centuries ago the great Kabir said, 'Nindak niyare rakhiye...'. 

It is always wise to have critics around, it is not and can never be an insult to any group or society to have critical opinions. 

In fact, it strengthens, makes you do introspection. But it is very very unfortunate when a certain section of people get into the state where they just tom-tom own greatness and refuse to listen to opposing views.

So, if I say, there is intolerance in India, I am a 'sickular' person
And if someone says, there is no intolerance, he is a 'bhakt'

There can be space 'in between' two, the space to converse, to talk. The truth is that there is intolerance, it was always there and will always remain so. 

Society and state remain intolerant towards the poor, the weak, those on the margins. 

And, if you believe, India is a country where rivers of milk and honey flow, you have a right to your opinion but you can't accused those with contrarian position of being 'anti-India' or running campaign to defame the country. 

The threats to send people to Pakistan, to lodge cases against them, to question their patriotism--it is all intolerance. It will not help you in anyway--neither your party, nor your ideology.

Role of media in 'intolerance debate'

Indian media has failed miserably in taking the issue to the masses. TV channels have failed to even present the true picture, let alone educate the masses.

The manner in which self-styled 'national' channels confuse 'right-wing jingoism' with nationalism and patriotism, is a sad aspect of today's media. Those who are guilty of delivering hate speeches are called again and again to studios and given 'space'. 

Either it's Amir Khan's statement or Rahul Gandhi's interaction with students, reports were one-sided and were just aimed at 'senationalism', even at the cost of airing false news. Clearly, there is no sense of propriety and responsibility.

The complete 'doha' is: 

Nindak niyare rakhiye aangan kuti chhabaaye
Bin sabun bin paani nirmal karat subhaye

[Translation: Keep the critic around you, he will clean your heart without water and soap].

Monday, November 16, 2015

1,050 Muslim clerics' fatwa against ISIS: Indian Muslims' religious leaders had taken stand, condemned ISIS much before Paris attacks

Though acts of self-styled Islamic State [or ISIS] have been termed un-Islamic and repeatedly condemned by majority of Muslims, the Paris attacks have once again brought focus on IS.

On social media, Muslims have been clearly saying that ISIS doesn't represent Islam, at all.

There is also a feeling that Muslims should come out and condemn, though the fact is that Muslims are not just condemning ISIS, but on ground too it is large number of Muslims who are fighting it.

Also, Muslims are also the biggest victims of ISIS' atrocities, not just in Syria, Iraq and adjoining countries but also because of the Islamophobia that is generated by these acts. But these aspects don't get as much publicity.

In fact, much before the recent terrorist attack in France, Indian Muslim clerics had taken the unprecedented step, and 1,050 Muslim clerics had issued a fatwa, collectively, against the ISIS and had termed its acts as un-Islamic.

These 1,050 Muslim clergymen include Muftis, Qazis, Imams, Maulanas and Religious scholars. They included Jama Masjid heads, representatives of leading Islamic seminaries, institutions, organisations, sajjada-nasheens and influential Sufi shrines.

They had jointly signed this fatwa against ISIS, its leader and its fighters. It was a huge fatwa that tackled the issue point wise and exhaustively. One wished that it had got the due attention, it deserved, across the world. 

The Ulama had said that ISIS was an enemy of Islam. It was sent to United Nations (UN) general secretary Ban Ki Moon. The document's text said that ISIS actions were inhuman, it was involved in mass killings and was absolutely against the basic tenets of Islam.

See links

*1,000 Muslim clerics sign fatwa against ISIS. Huffington post report
*Over 1,000 Muslim clerics issue biggest fatwa against ISIS. New Indian Express
*Indian Muslims fatwa against ISIS' fanaticism, religious extremism. Wall Street Journal
*US welcomes Indian clerics' fatwa against ISIS. Read
*Muslim leaders issue fatwa against ISIS. Read

*Video report about Indian Muslim clergy against ISIS. Report

[Also, see post on why Islamic clergy across the world should call ISIS' bluff and its claims about being Islamic, need to declare it outside the pale of Islam. READ]

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paris attacks: Islamic clergy must loudly denounce ISIS, clearly say that IS acts are outside the pale of Islam

Self-styled 'Islamic State' or ISIS has struck once again--killing nearly 140 persons in Paris.

The attacks have outraged the world. Muslims across the globe are are also angry.

ISIS is not just involved in terrorism, wanton killings and bloodshed but it is also defaming Islam and Muslims.

Most Muslims were clearly shocked at the terror attacks in France and condemned ISIS' acts. 

However, there were some tweets and Facebook status messages about how 'killings by ISIS in Beirut and Baghdad this week were not splashed in the media".

There were messages like how the cycle of violence has been going on--West intrudes in Middle East and forces regime changes and in process these countries are forced into civil war in which thousands are killed.

Also, about how extremist groups get help from Western countries. The conversation goes to 'oil'، the great game and even how, media gives disproportionate coverage to events in Paris or England, compared to Africa, Asia or Middle East.

1. ...a lot of it may be correct, but the harsh reality is that ISIS or ISIL or 'Islamic State' is involved in evil acts, genocide, mass killings and acts of terror. And, unfortunately, the 'i' in IS stands for 'Islamic'. We can't erase it.

2. Saying things like, 'When X doesn't condemn for act by Y, why should I do it?', are fine for sake of arguments. The reality is that a very wrong message is going to the world, especially, the ordinary people.

3. We may say that it has nothing to do with Islam and talk of who made it and what it does, but the fact is that it operates in Islamic regions, runs a state, claims to have a Caliphate, raises 'Islamic flag', claims to give punishments to people as per 'Sharia laws'.

4. ISIS claims to be Muslim and hence we must loudly say, that they are NOT. Some Muslims are in a habit of saying that particular countries in the West support(ed) these groups or go about propounding theories about Zionists leading them but the conspiracy theories are to delude themselves. There are definitely Muslims in extremist groups and they are all  hurting Islam terribly.

Even if you believe [like some more knowledgeable friends] that it was US attack on Iraq-Afghanistan which led to this cycle of violence and media doesn't show lakhs dead in these countries and it is 'biased media coverage', even then what are you doing it to tackle the situation, smartly, or show that Muslim world is the real sufferer? At least, do something worthwhile to change the image. If innocents are killed at one place, it doesn't mean innocents can be killed elsewhere as revenge. There is no justification to killing in our faith. It is terrorism, which is against Islamic teachings. So why not a collective fatwa against ISIS! 

5. Either it is the ISIS than can erase this 'i' in their name, else, the Islamic world must strongly denounce this organisation. Muslim clergy must unitedly condemn and clearly say that ISIS is un-Islamic and its acts make it outside the pale of Islam.

6. The clerics of Saudi Arabia and Islamic countries must say it loud and clear. It should be said strongly, so that there is no doubt left in the minds of anyone and those who are its supporters on the ground, should realise that it is not Islamic and is an organisation contrary to teachings of our religion and a group which is destroying Islamic societies and defaming the faith.

7. When terror attacks were going on in India on a regular basis, Indian Muslim clerics strongly issued 'fatwas', hired an entire train and held huge public conferences to declare that 'Terrorism is un-Islamic'.

8. Indian Muslims had even refused to give place to Ajmal Amir Kasab for burial in any graveyard in Mumbai. It is an age of mass media and the message needs to be sent across. Saying it in mosques is not sufficient, you must inform non-Muslims too that ISIS doesn't represent us.

9. Fortunately, India, despite a huge Muslim population, has seen less radicalisation and the country has come out of the phase. Such incidents are now history.

10. ISIS, Al Qaeda and other such groups have done incalculable harm to Muslims. Time for Muslim clerics the world over to stand up, take a very strong stand, and issue a 'fatwa' unitedly, declaring ISIS as a bunch of criminals, terrorists and imposters, who are NOT MUSLIMS.

Down with you ISIS. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why BJP doesn't like Tipu Sultan, the king who fought British and whom they feared?

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The BJP's bigotry is well-known as far as Tipu Sultan is concerned. They don't like Tipu and there are reasons.

But first go back to history, which is very clear. Tipu Sultan fought British and they feared him, this can't be erased from history.

Not just Tipu, his father Hyder Ali had also fought Britishers and defeated them. But, even Hyder Ali, is not liked.

The reasons don't need to be explained. There were no other figures in contemporary India, then, who dared fight British.

Tipu defeated British and later got martyred in the last Anglo-Mysore war. There are records of communication between Tipu, his persistent efforts to forge unity among Marathas and Nizams, to establish a joint front against the British.

Both Marathas and Nizams ditched him. He wrote to Napoleon, he befriended French, did everything possible to evict British. But these aspects have no value for those who simply hate Tipu.

Yet, in case of Tipu Sultan, the right-wing 'dig out' out entire history, make an effort to find anything negative just to abuse, even spread falsehoods, to term him and declare him 'anti-Hindu'.

Fine, sometime do remember, Shivaji's attacks within the country, plunder of Surat, too. Do talk of other historical figures too who sided with British or your interest in history is limited to targeting a man whom you don't want to accept as a hero.

Firstly, Rulers were monarchs and there would be negative aspects to everyone. In modern era, in democracies, leaders can commit genocide, yet be 'nationalist' and 'patriot'. And their followers have the cheek to term Tipu Sultan as 'bigot and committing atrocities'.

The point is that Tipu, a Muslim, as first man who rose against British power in India, can't be accepted by Hindutva brigade.

So, even if he had a ring with 'Rama' written on it, or his excellent relations with Sringeri Sankaracharya, lone king of era who didn't compromise with British, and laid his life in the battle--nothing can make him a 'hero' in the eyes of BJP and Sangh Parivar.

The 'patriotism' or 'nationalism' certificate is issued by those who are the cheerleaders for the politician who can organise genocide in modern era, in democracies. They have the right to say who is nationalistic and who is 'anti-national'.

They can run mis-information campaigns. But the irony for them is that history can't be changed. BJP can't find a 'hero' from 18th century who dared to stand up against East India Company, as there was none other than Tipu Sultan.

Great Freedom Fighters of India: TIPU SULTAN

Tipu Sultan was undoubtedly among the greatest freedom fighters of the country. Senior journalist Dilip C Mandal writes, "The British made a list of the most formidable enemy commanders and it included the names of Napoleon and Tipu Sultan..."

"When Tipu was fighting British, the other native kings had already signed treaties with British. They included kings of Tanjore, Travancore and Peshwa. In the third Anglo-Mysore war, the Marathas and Nizams fought along side British, to form an joint alliance to defeat Tipu".

"This was not at all a Hindu-Muslim issue. It is unfortunate that such a glorious heritage--the contribution of Tipu Sultan, is being termed controversial due to foolishness of a section here", Mandal further writes.

LINK: Britain's National Army Museum: List of greatest foes of Britain

MUST-READ: Justice Katju's article on Tipu Sultan, how he was defamed to drive wedge between Hindus and Muslims. READ

William Dalrymple's article on how Tipu Sultan was targeted, defamed by British historians. READ

Monday, November 09, 2015

Six best cartoons on BJP's defeat and grand alliance's victory in Bihar: Cartoonists' response to election result

While millions of words have been written on the electoral outcome of the Bihar Assembly poll and the analyses continue, the cartoonists and artists have said it with a few strokes of their pens and brushes.

See these five cartoons that describe the BJP's loss and Nitish Kumar-Lalu Yadav's JDU-RJD-Congress alliance's victory. Clearly, 'Cow and Pakistan' are part of every illustration as BJP had made them a poll issue.

Surendra's cartoon touches the topic of reservation too. Others are by Manjul, Satish Acharya, Shreyas Nevare. The penultimate cartoon was published in Punjab Kesri. All these cartoons are about the results, except the last, which was about the exit polls.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Bihar defeats 'Beef, Pakistan' politics, setback for Narendra Modi: Electorate reject communal, divisive election campaign

Bihar has shown the way once again.

The electorate of one of the most politically aware state of the country, voted for JDU-RJD coalition and defeated Narendra Modi's BJP in the Assembly election.

The trends show that Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance was all set to win the election in a big way.

The RJD-JDU-Congress combine was well on its way towards winning more than 160 seats in the 243 member house.

Despite being Prime Minister, Narendra Modi was almost projected as the face of BJP in Bihar as there was no chief ministerial candidate.

Amit Shah, the 'master strategist' tried everything--communal and divisive statements from BEEF to PAKISTAN were used to polarise communities on religious lines.

But the people of Bihar, chose Maha Gathbandhan (MGB) and rejected the alliance of BJP, LJP, HAM and RLSP.

Clearly, the BJP's 'rainbow' coalition didn't work. Rising prices, especially, that of the tuar [arhar] daal, must have also gone against the BJP.

1. The promised 'achche din' hadn't come. Further, the attempts to vitiate communal atmosphere was visible.

2. People were witness to how an armyman's father was killed in Dadri by the beef vigilantes and how people were being lynched in different states.

3. The atrocities on Dalits and VK Singh's remarks also affected the BJP's chances. Besides, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's comment on 'reservation' couldn't have come at a worse time for the BJP.

It surely raised anxieties among a large section of population.

4. Also, Muslims didn't vote for AIMIM despite wanting to vote for Asaduddin Owaisi.

There was fear that vote for MIM would go against MGB and each seat counted. Hence, even Akhtarul Iman seems in trouble in Kishanganj.

5. The message from Bihar is strong. Narendra Modi must deliver on his promises.

Where is the promised black money that was supposed to come. What about the 'Development Agenda?'. There are just more taxes. Tackle unemployment and inflation, rather than creating communal divide.

It's time for BJP to reign in lumpen elements, particularly, the senior members of the party and ministers, who issue certificates of nationalism to anyone and threaten anyone with diverse opinion to be sent to Pakistan.

When BJP lost in Delhi Assembly election, it was said that this was a small poll--that of a city state.

AAP's victory could have been termed a fluke, an exception. But, after Bihar verdict, Modi is no longer invincible.

100 million Indians [the population of Bihar] have decided to elect Nitish Kumar-led coalition, preferring him over BJP.

Given BJP's penchant for communalism, one may see them again resorting to similar tactics before UP election, but the writing is clearly on the wall.

They must stick to their promises, else people are getting restive. 'Beef', 'Pakistan', can't get you win elections.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Reaction to Shahrukh Khan's statement exposed BJP leaders, their claims of 'tolerance': King Khan's courageous stand against intolerance in India

Shah Rukh Khan has taken a bold and courageous stand.

The star openly voiced his concern over the climate of intolerance that is prevalent in the country.

The stand is laudable as super stars in India generally refrain from taking positions--so that neither of the sides get angry.

This has been the age-old tradition in India. Bollywood personalities have rarely taken stand, even when there were major issues concerning the country.

Film stars are well aware that they have huge following and whatever they say would be lapped by media.

1. They don't want to upset any section of their fan base. Stars know that their fans come from all political parties and their anger may affect their movies' box office chances. Also, political parties can issue 'boycott star' diktats, which hurt producers-directors too.

2. But King Khan took the unprecedented step. Not only, he spoke about the intolerance, but also said that he supported the writers' move about returning awards, as a protest against the culture of intolerance and hate-speech under the present regime.

3. By any standards, this is praiseworthy. The reaction to his comment, exposed the flag-bearers of 'tolerance'. Immediately, Sangh brigade and BJP leaders were after Shahrukh Khan, who was now their Enemy Number One.

4. The BJP leaders who feel they own the country and can issue certificates of 'nationalism' and 'anti-nationalism' at the drop of the hat. BJP vice-president Kailash Vijayvargiya said that 'Khan's heart was in Pakistan'.

5. BJP MP Yogi Adityanath and Sadhvi Prachi, both notorious for hate speeches, also showed how much tolerant is the current regime. They also revealed their true character, their true sanskaar. Kudos, Shahrukh Khan.

You truly deserve to be called 'King Khan'. 

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Questioning patriotism, terming others as 'Pakistani': Hate preachers are real anti-nationals, dividing India on religious lines

(C) Indscribe

If you don't like someone or find their views contrary to your own political beliefs, then just term the person as 'anti-national'.

This is the latest and disturbing trend in the world's biggest democracy.

No longer it is about so-called 'fringe groups' of the grand Hindutva parivar, but the senior leaders of the ruling party of India are issuing these firmans.

They are terming actors, writers and fellow Indians as 'anti-national' or 'Pakistani'.

The term 'Pakistani' [the manner in which it is used in India] is nothing less than hate speech, because it questions a person's patriotism and declares him (or her) a 'traitor'. It is racist hatred [directed at Muslims]. Hence, it is criminal, and law must be invoked to prosecute those who use the term and attempt to divide society.

The latest statement is about BJP's senior leader Kailash Vijayvargiya terming Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, 'anti-national'. In a series of tweets, Vijayvargiya wrote that Khan's heart lies in Pakistan.

This comment coming from a senior leader is extremely objectionable, as it is clear hate speech. The use of term 'Pakistani' is manifestation of hate towards Muslims. The self-styled nationalists [right-wing] feel that Muslims are pro-Pakistani.

This is just one of the umpteen statements that keep coming day after day. Sadhvi Prachi is a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader and she also made a similar charge against Khan. Earlier, BJP leader and union minister Giriraj Singh has also used similar terminology to run down the opponents.

The list is long--from Sakshi Maharaj to MA Naqvi. Yogi Aditya Nath has also made similar comments and used abusive, threatening language against Muslims. Words like 'Pakistani agent' are thrown at India's leading actor whose family members participated in freedom struggle.

It has become a routine practice for BJP leaders in India to term anyone as a Pakistani and threaten to send adversaries to Pakistan.

In fact, no one seems to think more about Pakistan, than the BJP leaders and the politicians aligned to right-wing.

Interestingly, the right-wing BJP is the political baby of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), which didn't play a role in India's freedom struggle.

Yet, it tries to position itself as a patriotic organisation, and claims to be more nationalistic than others.

[The two messages have been circulating on Facebook and Twitter. Not sure, as to who created them, hence, credit not given along with these two pictures.]