Friday, April 05, 2013

Of "God Fearing Muslims" and dangerous dalliance

Mac Haque

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves and wiser people so full of doubts" - Bertrand Russell

If one cares to reread the history of Bangladesh, it is very tragic that potent millstones have seen our national life being repeatedly derailed and consigned to abrasive and inconsequential debates whenever the issue in hand is religion, or our respective belief or faith systems.

Never in our history have we been able to stay away from religion becoming a dominant feature in our political life, and regardless of the party in power, mediaeval mindsets and monstrosities are its ultimate and inevitable outcome, and no voice of sanity or reason ever prevails.

What get’s over amplified in screaming matches are terms and dictions, which for all practical purpose has not helped us in any way. Take for example the sentence always rubbed-in raw into the national psyche by corrupt politicians and religious conmen in combi; “we Bangladeshis are God fearing Muslims”.

The connotation may be true on surface, but have we ever questioned ourselves as to what is all so “fearful” about God and what would be a standardized definition of a Muslim? Have we sincerely explored or enquired about other fundamental aspects that are very much a prerequisite in the construct and belief of God - the Supreme Being?

Do these hate filled so-called “defenders of Islam”, who in reality are Muslim pretenders, and are agents for murder mayhem, strife, disquiet and disorder in civic life; ever consider that attributes such as benevolence, forgiveness and mercy are also foundations of the Creators all encompassing omnipresence, in the course of human destiny?

The concept of “God fearing Muslims” is a construct of hate merchants backed by Free Masonic agents, disguised in robes of religiosity, to misguide the pious and ‘religion sensitized’ masses. That this mindset of division dates back to periods of Islamic history, post the death of Prophet Muhammad, is rarely, if ever acknowledged.

That the egalitarian, humane, democratic and secular dispensation of the Prophets teaching, encoded for posterity in the book of revelation and guidance for mankind, the Qur’an, were most cruelly usurped by feudal kingships, whose intentions may have been anything – but Islam of peace, is never discussed.

It is only for narrow political expediencies and no love for Islam, or the Prophet Muhammad or the Qur’an, that the religion of billions of marginalized, the poor, the down trodden has now been globally replaced by that of fear, and most repugnantly - a fear of death, which again is NOT delivered by God, but a handful of Pharaohnic individuals.

This is an unforgiving reality that we are faced with, and we seem paralyzed and helpless to extricate ourselves completely from the same. So great is our fear of murder merchants in religious garbs that average citizens in general shy off any discussion on religion given either their inadequacy on the subject matter, or because they are plain uninterested, as they don’t want to be exposed to any harm.

Under the circumstances, it is only threats of intolerance, threats of violence, and most importantly threats of death that is made out to be the Islam of Bangladesh. It is an equation that has been most devilishly conjured with calculative and unremitting frequency, and there are good reasons for the same. 

Public discussions on Islam and even those we witness in prime time TV, is limited and the exclusive forte of so-called Imams, Alems,  Ulemas and ‘thinkers’, which in totality defeats the lofty ideals of Islam, for the religion does not permit a class of clergy. It is the only religion known to mankind that ensures believers have direct communion with God, without any human intercession.

On the other hand there is no “one-glove fits all” standardized definition of a Muslim, nor are there any certification authority anywhere in the world to classify who a pukkah (pure) Muslim is, or isn’t! Thus insinuators, demigods and fake theologians have been calling the shots and will for a precipitously long time to come with galling ramifications.

Ironically, as a Muslim majority nation whose bloody birth in 1971 came with the rejection of the same stereotypical accusations that Bengalee Muslims are “Hindu converts” and the resultant fear psychosis injected of Islam being in “grave danger” by our former Pakistani rulers, it is most unfortunate that we have not come out looking any better in recent days.

The pre-1971 core seeds of discords which we thought we have been able to jettison and render obsolete by engagements in the intellectual and cultural front, supplemented by demands for our liberal space, have by all indicators been squeezed into constriction. That it cost the lives of millions of martyrs to attain this space for a nation’s intellectual stimulus in the first place, has for now, been selectively and most brutally sidelined.

Had the challenges thrown at us with unabashed regularity by the so-called “faithful” were subject to enquiry and discourses in the public domain, the results would have been impressively different? Those opportunities have however, always been denied to us, for the “faithful”  in collusion with the powers that be, has left us in a state of flux we see today, and not seen at any particular juncture of time, not even during the days leading on to the Liberation War of 1971.

Never ever in the history of this nation have we been exposed to more bigoted interpretations of Islam, and never ever have the threats, frights and fear of the “faithful” been more acute than now. Compounding to the problem is the Government handling of issues, and more than listening to tolerant voices out in the wilderness, in our grassroots culture, who we patronizingly term the “silent majority”; it has lent its ears and quality time to unsolicited opinions and views of a conceited bunch of people representing an illegitimate clergy class.

Clearly the ambitions of the clergy is no more than a lust for power, and that they will go to any extent, even misinterpreting Islam, the Prophet or the Qur’an to meet their blood thirsty goals.

The New Age report of 1st April 2013 that the Government in a meeting with “Islamic thinkers” conceded to their demands that it will bring bloggers responsible for an alleged smear campaign against Islam and Prophet Muhammad to face justice is a case in point. The other more bizarre issue raised is “hurting religious sentiments”.

The Governments subsequent over-exuberance in arresting and remanding several bloggers on the 2nd of April 2013, the shutting down of blogs and the overall ‘bending over backwards’ trends to accommodate and massage sore ego’s of the Islamist extremist, is not only worrying, it appears to be the beginning of a downward spiral, which can and will lead on to further nihilism in the public domain. 

The arrest of bloggers is a hand in glove ploy by Islamist and the Government to totally bypass the original demands from Shahbag – the trial and capital punishment of religious bigots and war criminals of 1971 who looks like are all set for a repeat performance in 2013.  Conversely, Shahbag is a movement which has no public record of ever inflaming religious sentiments, nor has it encouraged or resorted to any violence.

While the move to arrest the accused, may be overtly laudable and cause the AL Government to appear to be “in-charge and in-control” of public order, it has nonetheless opened up a can of worms and a plethora of questions which it will have to contend with uncomfortably , in the short haul.

In the long haul however, the issue will have proved succinctly that despite its oft repeated and pathological rhetoric’s about banning Jamaat e Islami (JeI) as an extremist party with links to militancy, and despite its (AL) positioning as an apparently “secular liberal centrist political entity”, the AL has evidently been in a covert and dangerous dalliance with traitors and national enemies. There is absolutely no doubt that the days ahead will see the continuity of the same charade.

Thus the War Crimes Trial which is the centripetal focal point in the disquiet in Bangladesh since early February 2013 will have fallen foul, if not already - and over time has all possibilities of being scuttled. That politics is no more than a “scamming business” will have become institutionalized in the process, and will no longer be a conjecture, but a hard reality. In the meantime rumors that liquid cash moved hands to influence the Qader Mollah verdict, awaits confirmation by evidence.

Necessity nonetheless begets that hard questions be asked and they must be answered, for posterity will not forgive us if dissenting voices of today are not recorded. The advent of the connectivity era means each individual can and does have a definite role to play in public and political life, without fear or favor. Yet on the same token millennium democracy and freedom of expression does not mean that hypocritical juggling acts of infinite precision can be permitted to be the order of the day.

While propriety demands decency in public life and human conduct, more so when we have such unrestrained modes of expressions; character assassinations and slanders regardless of whether they are of individuals or religious leaders, icon, Prophets, religions, holy books and sects are condemnable, and wherever laws are in place, effective actions to the hilt are only desirable.

That said, a society and a nation that prefers to remain mute spectators when a Government it has democratically voted to power, capitulates to whims of a miniscule minority of hated filled groups bordering on fringe lunacy, or individuals with no real social standing, and whose “religious sentiments” are very easily bruised and inflamed, is a Government that has proved beyond doubts it frailty and fragile vulnerability.

And that has exactly been the case in the Governments recent actions. What has not been questioned is really who are these “Islamic thinkers” and do they either have an iota of public acceptance, or are they any authority on Islam that citizens conform to?

On the other hand, there are no public records as of now; as to what transpired in those “objectionable blog post” and exactly on what specific corollary of the dreaded Section 54 of the Special Powers Act the arrested bloggers have “hurt religious sentiments”.

The lamentable excuse that the contents are “sensitive” and therefore not fit for public dissemination further reinforces the argument that neither “Islamic thinkers” nor the Government have any theological credibility or the moral authority to persecute anyone.

In the meantime, for the Court of law, the comrades of young arrested activists of the Shahbag Movement, who have been branded “atheist” several times over by the bigots, have asked legitimate and pertinent questions that will lie heavily on the Government to come up with convincing answer. Failing – it will further damage its already suspect credibility. It is just not votes that the AL will lose in the next election, but more specifically in its dalliance with traitors, it will do a huge disservice to people in general as also to Islam.

Specifically, the first salvo that should be awaited is how a murderous and zero-centric entity of Islamist who democratically constitutes less that 5 percent of votes, have branded two third of Muslim citizens of Bangladesh that voted the Awami League to power as “atheist and infidels”, which in turn constitutes “hurting religious sentiments” of the majority?

To sum up, while we may never know the contents of these “objectionable blog postings”, what we do know will and should stir up many a hornets’ nest.

First port of call is to identify innumerable amount of hate materials aimed at minorities or just about anyone that does not profess to the Islamic faith propounded by bigots, and available abundantly in the public domain. . There are perhaps thousands of other print and on-line publications available as proof of “hurting our religious sentiments” that we can collectively use to nail down these Muslim pretenders once and for all.

Since a theological war has been unleashed upon us, we ought to be prepared to launch an asymmetrical warfare of intellect. I am sure for pious Muslims of Bangladesh – it may not prove very difficult. The hour is up. The fangs of fanaticism have got to be uprooted for us to regain a semblance of sanity in these cruelly insane times

New Age Op-Ed, Friday 5th April 2013



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