Friday, April 12, 2013

Hefajatul and lessons from 04/06


by Mac Haque

‘Surely the hypocrites strive to deceive Allah, and He shall requite their deceit to them’(Al-Nisa, The Women: The Qur’an, 4.142)

I am glad 04/06 happened. Our theological radar was for years picking up ominous signals of an impending storm. In the many years, we had been talking with baited breath about how countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan had not acted on similar warnings, and instead of ‘weathering the storm’ – had capitulated and in the process have been left devastated. 

We blissfully thought about our misplaced invincibility, that emanates from our liberal demeanors, our robust yet cantankerous democracy, the inherent level of tolerance in our culture, the secular aspects of our society, as much as the reality that, adherents of most world religions, belief and faith systems have had solid groundings on our sacred soil for centuries. That would be ‘more than enough ammo’ to negate religious extremist adventurism or xenophobia of any kind, so we thought. 

We basked in complacency, for in our history of resistance to religious zealotry, we have a solid reference point: the watershed year that was 1971. We all know for certain that in nine months, the duration of the war, millions were killed, hundreds upon thousands of our mothers, sisters and daughters raped all in the name of Islam, by its many pretentious ‘defenders’? 

Although we live in a Muslim majority country, we failed to point out, that among the millions who perished in 1971; the majority of our martyrs were Muslims. If that be the case, Islamic history should have recorded 1971 as the first and worst ever case of carnage against Muslims – by Muslims, a fratricide of unbelievable dimension and devastating consequences. 

And the reason why we chose to overlook this crucial aspect post 1971 was because a much unexpected salvo was delivered to an unsuspecting nation. Western ‘secularism’was forced down our throats, when clearly the Liberation War was neither fought as a rejection to Islam, nor the millions who died or the heroes that went onto live, ever demanded that secularism be a pillar of the state. 

Since we failed to identify the secular possibilities within Islam, the inroads of the plural Sufis that was the catalyst for our ancestors to embrace the faith in the first place, ‘divine justice’ neatly packaged with the labels of Wahabism and the lure and bait of Saudi petro dollars, was the potent poison injected straight into our genes.

But what was it that triggered the genocide of 1971? Intolerance of the Pakistani state and their Bengali Mullah cohorts, their accusations that we are ‘Hindu converts’ every time we demanded freedom. And then the sustained ruse to misuse Islam, to malign what has been the most important component of our survival for centuries; cohesion, civility and equilibrium to be replaced by hate. This is a brand of Islam which was as much an alien concept for us to digest, as secularism, which many construed was no different than atheism. 

But I am glad 04/06 happened for its is perfectly legitimate within Islamic context, to stand up to and resist zalimeen or; ‘oppressors’, regardless of whether or not, the oppressor sports a cap and beard – or other regalia, that may or may not denote the so-called and implied ‘generic Muslim identity’. 

The rise of Islamic fanaticism in Bangladesh is not something that landed from heaven or evolved in isolation. Quite on the contrary this has been devilishly planned, nurtured,orchestrated and meticulously executed, so that what we are witnessing today is essentially the unfinished agenda of fanatics of 1971 unfolding in the millennium arena, with covert players and stakeholders who are not necessarily ‘Muslims’or ‘Islamic’ at any rate. The agenda then and the agenda now can be described and summed up in one sentence: agree with us or die! Hefajot has positioned itself as judge, jury and executioner all rolled in one.

I am glad 04/06 happened. With uncensored hate, misogynist and virulent messages, high pitched verbosity and abuse of so-called ‘atheist’, (and by default anybody that doesn’t agree with them is one) - percolating LIVE on TV broadcast, as much as social medias, 04/06 is not a ‘wake up call’. 

It is an affirmation that a monstrous tidal bore together with demons riding its crest sporting white skullcaps of ‘hateful peace’ has arrived at our doorsteps to deliver their final verdict; eviction from our cocoon of relative security, our sanctuary to breathe easy, the sanctity of our thoughts, the trust in God, that this is our motherland and no demon will ever rule the roost. 04/06 was a day of our worst nightmares playing up in front of our eyes. 

But I am glad 04/06 happened, for the purpose, attitude, appearance, and the intent of the enemy has never been clearer than now. 

What they have already spelt out implies a pledge to slide us back into the dark pits of medievalism, confine women to homes, perforce enforce the hijab, ban female and coeducation systems, ban music, ban fine arts, specially sculpture  and anything considered deviant or not in conformity of what in their perception is‘Islamic’. 

They made a ‘double edged sword statement’ on 04/06 by beating silly a female TV journalist. The first cut was to send a message that women cannot ‘cover’ an all-male event,and the second was to warn the Media that women presenters, journalists etc have to ‘cover up’ i.e. right away as incorporated in the thirteen male chauvinistic demands. 

Leads me to the questions; is the purdah/hijab in the Qur’an strictly a ‘female specific’commandment? Does ‘modesty in dressing’ mean merely forcing the covering of faces or vital parts of the female anatomy, and if so – is modesty not at all desirable in the conduct of the male, in his lecherous gaze, in the transgressions of his tongue? 

Have we forgotten that the Qur’an also commands believers to ‘see no evil, speak no evil, and commit no evil’?  This “Islam” that the Hefajotis speaks about is certainly NOT the Islam, we Bangladeshis believe in. The danger is therefore here, and it is for real.

They demanded an anti-blasphemy law or else they will unleash ‘hell fire’ apparently available with them. In the gripping fear that enveloped everybody when TV screens relayed LIVE the menacingly violent ‘long march’ of Hefajotis and the easy‘white-washed’ walkover to seize Dhaka, all okayed by an equally hypocritical Government, the grinding reality unfolding on TV, was hard to fathom. 

Those fears were not only limited to secularist, but even pious Muslims who found it hard to accept what the Mullahs were delivering in their speeches, as there was nothing‘Islamic’ in spirit in their patronisation of zero-centricity. It was a shock many times over, for their conducts was is in conflict with the words and teachings of the Qur’an. 

In essence the ultimate victim of the Hefajotis hate - is Islam, and the millions of its adherents in Bangladesh, for if this hungama was provoked due to alleged blasphemy by ‘atheist’, there is no clear mention in the Qur’an that capital punishment is to be meted as ‘justice’ for blasphemers or apostates. Similarly there are no records available anywhere to suggest that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)leave alone ordering anybody to be put to death, ever punished anyone that slandered him during his lifetime. 

Thus, regardless of the holy verses they misinterpret for their convenience, regardless of the henna they rub on their beards to appear holy, regardless of the pungent attar(oil perfume) they rub on their bodies to give us an aura of Heaven, the Hefajoti attempts to snatch away what has been sacred to us not just for the last 42 years, but for centuries, cannot be under any criteria of judgment be termed ‘Islamic’. 

The Qur’an repeatedly reminds us that it is Allah who will protect the holy book and Islam, as much as the reputation of the Prophet.  Therefore if it is atall true that Bangladesh is a Muslim majority nation, it has now become obligatory for all professing the Islamic faith, to resist these extremists with all our might.

We have been oblivious to the challenges and danger the likes of Hefajotul can inflict upon us. For far too long we had thought about the issue of fanaticism being an aberration, at most an irritant, maybe even the fantasised domain of ‘stupid and illiterate’ Mullahs. The reality today; fanaticism is a cancer, while stupidity is an inherent human response mechanism to both negative and positive stimuli of ignorance and how individuals act/react upon then. 

Since it was benign,the cancer was one we have been treating with chemotherapy. Now it has revealed itself as a malignant one, and thus we are left with no choice, but to surgically remove the same with precision.

Their hatred towards women, demonstrates an agenda of turning back the wheels of progress that has today placed Bangladesh at an enviable position in as a third world nation with a massive women presence in trade, commerce and a skilled labour force. This has guaranteed women’s empowerment which is a fundamental prerequisite in Islami. i.e. rizik or sustenance is an act of God, and resisting the legitimate sustenance of a fellow Muslim cannot be called Islamic. 

Therefore acceding to even one of their demands will result in Bangladesh being condemned to the dark streets and alleys of whatever is considered unjust in Islam.  

I am glad 04/06 happened, for in the excitement we have been able to witness firsthand the enemies embedded within our ranks, and how ‘holy money’ when dished out in surplus would make them do anything and everything to shift sides, to shed off their mask of ‘secularism’. It is a long list but one that today is ‘public and official’, thanks to our vibrant media, and has been faithfully recorded by patriots for future reference and positive actions.

I am glad 04/06 happened, for now is a time to engage the myopic Mullahs into public televised LIVE I (debates/discourses) to find out which among the 72 known firqas (sects) of Islam they represent, and why is murder and violence upon their own kind, seem to be the only available option open to them in their ‘defence’ of Islam?

New Age Xtra - Friday 12th April 2013

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