Tuesday, July 20, 2010

[Debate] Freedom of speech vs Mawdudi Book ban - Exchange with Mohammad Asghar

For Readers: Email from Mohammad Asghar based in Toronto, Canada is appended below in Red.

Dear Asghar,

Thank you for your appreciation of my short note on the Mawdudi books - and like you, I have been following your many articulations on the Net with great interest.

As a practising agnostic I regret not having a huge appetite for religions, rituals, books, special deities, Church, Mosques, Temples, Synagogues etc - or any other place on earth that 'gOD apparently resides'. As a bAUL and an initiate in Fakir Lalon Shah's vision and philosophy, I think the challenges in the days ahead are far too complex for us to fathom at this stage. We may seek a ban on any of the Islamic books and traditions you mention - that probably guides/misguides humanity, but on the essence of faith people quite naturally will continue to be/or remain obscurantist - and having said that - everybody is entitled a faith/belief system no matter how obscure they may be. These beliefs also constitutes freedom of speech/expression and are part of Universal Human Rights.

Much has been said in this forum about 'interpretations' or even 'truth' - when fact is interpretations and truth are only perceptions and perceptions surely cannot be used as a wide brush to denote 'reality'. As the bAUL will tell you 'Onuman kokhoni proman hishab e sharbosto hotey parey na'

The 'reality check' as such- is what our instincts tell us and our instinct very rarely fails us, so it would be a sheer fallacy to say that only kO'RAN sanctions killing and mayhem. If we are to read any or most of the religious scriptures and/or focus specifically on killings - the passages would be endless and even the bUDDHIST scripts are no exception - which again demonstrates that we have made mutual distrust and difference a habit based on our respective supremacist notions of our respective gODs and religions.

Somehow, despite the fact that many of us monotheist strongly reaffirm belief on the omnipotent and omniscient gOD - we think hE is far too weak, frail and incapble to defend hIMSELF - and thus murder is something hE cannot/may not commit - and it has to be man the 'frail and fragile being' who has to do it for hIM to 'appease hIM'? How ironic.

One of the reason why I have reduced my presence on the Net - is the ill feeling it generates, creates, and negates all of us from moving away from our core duty - i.e. to reinforce civility with respect and admiration for each others view, and importantly to concretize our struggle. Intolerance unfortunately has peaked to an all time crescendo (even in this close knit list of well meaning individuals) and for somebody such as me with a bAULs 'cursed sense of simplicity' - time such as now, are meant to read and reflect - and not to react.

Sure enough I have been accused of tactical retreat or even hibernation - but at the end of it all - blood begets blood, violence begets violence and ill feelings leads on to bad blood which as far as I am concerned is worse than murder. I am surely not 'brave' enough like many of you to make this a day in and day out pre-occupation :)

When I met Mahmud Hasan bhai during in his trip to London, I presented him with several books on Fakir Lalon sHAH and he was pleasantly surprised at the level of engagement and natural resistance our heritage has practised and have been successful over centuries.

Without sounding flippant - all that we discuss here with such profound passion - is really nothing new to the bAUL. Its time that we fall back on the gems from Bengals Bhaabbaad to shape the course of our ongoing struggle. Its time some or all of us had a closer look at what is already on offer from our own traditions - and importantly FREE. I wonder if there will be any taker?

Leave you with Fakir Lalon sHAH's words
Bohu Torkey din boye jai
Endless argument leads to wasted days
Biswas e dhon nikotey roi
Belief leads to possesions closest to us
sHIRAJ sHAI dekey bolen Lalon ke
sHIRAJ sHAH extolls Lalon
Koo torker dokan khulish ne ar
Do not open avenues for bickering and arguments
mANUSH gURUr nishtha jar
Trust the gOD in mAN alone
bhobey mANUSH gURUR nishtha jar
The Universal gOD in mAN - seek and repose faith in hIm alone.
Kind regards and jOI gURU to all /\
London, 20th July 2010
Mr. Haque,

I am one of your fans and I read many of your articles. All of them were excellent.
I am pleased to be able to read another great piece from you after a long time. Thanks for taking part in the discussion on the question of banning Maududi's books.

Yes, I agree with you that banning his books is ill-conceived. As you have said, his books will now be more in demand than they were before the ban. But I ask why ban his books, instead of banning or containing the sources from which Maududi derived inspiration for writing his books? Has he cooked up ideas and written them down in his books?

I strongly believe that Maududi relied on the Quran, Hadiths and Sira of the Prophet Muhammad for the materials of his books. He has written nothing that cannot be found in the three above sources of Islamic jurisprudence. Maududi is not at fault for espousing mayhem, hatred and killing of the infidels in his books; the above Islamic sources do.

Yes, I also agree with you that books alone do not drive people to do wrong things and kill people. But the Quran is not an ordinary book. Like the Bible, it is one of the most influential books on earth. To the majority of Muslims, Quran is their life and the Mullahs use its commandments to do things that they would not be doing had there been no demand on them to kill the non-believers in Islam and lay down their lives, while carrying out Allah and His Apostle's Will.

In my opinion, the government of Bangladesh should have banned the Quran, Hadiths and the Sira of the Prophet, if it had wanted to prevent its Muslim citizens from becoming Jihadists.
But does it, or for that reason, any other government in the world has the stomach to take such a drastic action?

I strongly doubt it.

Mohammad Asghar


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