Thursday, August 2, 2012

Being A Muslim Today: Who Is The Momin And Who Is The Kafir?

Asif Merchant, New Age Islam

All over the world, it is as if, only the Muslims keep trying to assert their religious identity at every stage. Even the world is divided into only two parts. A country can be ‘Dar ul Harb’ (Abode of war) or ‘Dar ul Islam’ (Abode of Islam or peace). How realistic is this? Can Pakistan be called an ‘abode of Islam or peace’, a Dar ul Islam?  Which Muslim country can qualify as a Dar ul Islam?  Are there other countries which would qualify, but cannot because they are non-Muslim majority countries? Our people should stop this hypocrisy. We should see through these attempts to communalise every issue into Muslim versus non-Muslim. Such ideas have contributed to disruption of peace the world over, and so can be said to be anti-Islamic.

When the Shah was ruling Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini had to leave the country for his own safety. There are many Muslim countries in the world, but he chose to go to France, a Dar ul Harb? Is it because most of the Western countries provided peace and security even when they disagreed with him? Till the events of September 2001, the Western countries were a haven of peace for all Muslims. Dar ul Islam? A region where one’s creativity could be fully explored and developed.

After that, when so many Muslims claimed credit for the events of 9/11 as proof of the greatness of Islam, it is natural that all over the world, even innocent Muslims have been treated with suspicion. All sorts of violent deeds are being committed in the name of Islam. For years, there was very little condemnation of this by Muslim commentators. Finally there came a ‘Fatwa’ that terrorism is un-Islamic. How shameful that a Fatwa is needed to state the obvious. Even more shameful was the patronising way with which non-Muslims applauded it. How low have we fallen?

It is being drilled into Muslims that Islam is incompatible with Democracy. The reasoning given is that in a Democracy, sovereignty is with the people, whereas Islam recognises only the sovereignty of God. Hence Democracy has no place in Islam. The question arises, “How is the sovereignty of God exercised”? Obviously through some humans, but who? Is this an attempt to have rule by the Ulema? Which country ruled by this so-called ‘sovereignty of God’ is an example to emulate?

In practically every legitimate field, Muslims are far behind everyone else. The Sachar Committee report bears this out. So we look for the government to lift us up. All this, while there is so much money with Muslims.  There is plenty of money with Muslims, but the culture of philanthropy is absent. An example is the Konkan coast of Maharashtra, in which there are many Muslim families. Practically every family has someone working in the Gulf. A lot of money is earned there and sent back home. How is it spent? It is spent in trying to purchase a place in Heaven. Mosques are constructed all over. Each one more luxurious than the other. However, there are no schools. Children have to be sent to one of the boarding schools of Panchgani.  There are no hospitals. The sick have to be brought all the way across the Mahabaleshwar hill down to Wai, which has decent Medical facilities. In Wai, there is a fairly large Muslim population, but not a single Muslim doctor. The only Muslim lawyers are from an earlier generation.

Muslims have definitely been led astray. Surely this is not what the Holy Prophet visualised. Now the emphasis among Muslims is on various rituals that will ensure a place in Heaven. Totally self-centred. The so-called ‘Pillars of Islam’ do not contribute in any way to the civilisational development of mankind, which was the Prophet’s mission.

Contrast this with the Hindus, who, many Muslims look down upon. A few years ago, my sister was admitted to a hospital. Every morning during the Ganpathi season, there would be a pooja conducted by the doctor. He would end with a prayer for all humanity. Our property had been bought by a Hindu family. They held a ‘Havan’ there and invited us. Muslims generally avoid having non-Muslims for their functions. I attended, and was even invited to sit with them for a while during the pooja. Here, each Sanskrit ‘shloka’ was followed by a Gujarati translation. This also ended with a prayer for all humanity.

Who is the ‘Momin’ and who is the ‘Kafir’?

Asif Merchant is an independent thinker, based near Panchgani, Maharashtra, India He writes an occasional column for New Age Islam.

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