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  Fragile Islam, Touchy Muslims  


By: Prabhat Varun
February 19, 2006
iews expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is at the bottom.


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Islamic world is in uproar over the alleged insult of Prophet Muhammad by his depiction in the Danish daily Jylland Posten and then in several other European newspapers. In India also Muslims are demonstrating continuously. Leftists, Secularists and all other ilk of Indian Secular militia are as usual united in their support to the ‘persecuted Muslims’ by the ‘bully’ West. However, the nationalist faction, which is believed to be rightist and castigated by the Leftist parties as untouchables, is also against the ‘insult of the Prophet’. Overall, ‘West’ is blamed for inflaming the sentiments of the oppressed ‘Asians’.

However, we cannot blame the West entirely for the uproar in Islamic world. After 9/11, 3/11 Madrid, 7/7, Beslan genocide, Moscow theatre-siege, French civil war, Van Gogh Assassination, Australian riots and innumerable beheadings of Western journalists, soldiers and civilians by Islam and Muslims, the West is not entirely unjustified in taking out its rage over its perceived enemy by just etching out the portrait of Prophet Muhammad. And that was not quite a provocative act. After all, the portraits did nowhere insult Prophet Muhammad. It was just humorous artistic expression of what those cartoonists thought of Prophet Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad was nowhere ridiculed, what was ridiculed was the idea that he cannot be depicted.

Now the uproar is over the matter that any depiction of Prophet Muhammad in whatever artistic mode is forbidden in Islam. Not only this, but Islamic Law rules out the depiction of any human or animal form, and prohibits every kind of music also. So on an overall basis, Islam prohibits and stifles any form of art as art or creation in human mind. This is the belief of Islam and I wonder why West should respect this particular belief.

If the beliefs of Islam are to be respected only because they are beliefs, then it should be done in entirety. Islam also believes that all other religions are false and Islam is the only true religion and Prophet Muhammad is the only true Prophet. Shall we believe in that also? Islam also believes that all idolaters shall be massacred. (Quran 9:5) Shall we believe in that also?

Beliefs are not to be respected only because they are believed by a particular sect. Hamas believes in the total destruction of Israel. Now, disagreeing with this belief will hurt the sentiments of millions of the supporters of Hamas (recent polls have shown that its supporters’ list is not short). So, does the US, EU and Israel refrain from disbelieving in this belief of Hamas? Or shall we believe in what Hamas believes, all for the sake of not hurting the sentiments of Palestinian Muslims? Beliefs should not always be respected, only because they are beliefs. Beliefs are not infallible. They can be wrong as has often been proved in the Christian West. What should be respected instead is truth and general human morality.

Moreover, equating the anger of Christians and Hindus with that of Muslims is entirely unjustified. Umpteen times the sentiments of Hindus have been grossly hurt. Such as the depiction of Hanuman idols as monsters in the movie Lara Croft: The Tomb Raider, the depiction of Kali as an evil goddess and the protector of wizards and witches in another movie, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the bulldozing of ISCKON temple and the depiction of Hindu gods on shoes, panties, bras etc. But nowhere did Hindus react violently. The campaign in England against the depiction of Shri Rama on bras and on shoes was led by Mr. Amitabh Soni, and the aims were achieved peacefully and democratically. Even the outrageous M.F.Hussein does not invite violent protests. So, where can we equate the response of Hindus and Muslims on their religious sentiments being hurt?

Moreover, while Prophet Muhammad was no insulted but just depicted in Jylland Posten and various other European newspapers, Hindu deities were clearly insulted by being depicted on shoes. So we cannot draw a parallel here between the two incidents.

Regarding Christianity, one of its most basic tenets and beliefs have been spurned and eroded by the rise of Objective Scientific Research in West. The coffin of Jesus Christ has been turned completely upside down, with some scholars claiming that he never existed in reality as such, some saying that he was a brigand, a homosexual and what not? Arguing statistically, the amount of calumny (if it is!) heaped over Jesus in West is at least one thousand times that of heaped over Prophet Muhammad. If we are talking about equality then West is being extremely partial in depicting Prophet Muhammad only humorously. It should have done much more insult to him for achieving equality with Jesus.

So what we conclude is that Islam is nowhere as degraded as Hinduism and Islam are and Hindus and Christians are nowhere as confrontationist and violent in their protests as Muslims are. This projects the image of Muslims to be extremely touchy and the condition of Islam to be very fragile.

The current uproar has its roots in the ideology and theology of Islam. As Islam has nothing spiritual to offer to its followers, inwardly it is very fragile. The one way in which it can keep them inside its fold is to offer them sexual and other material pleasures in both this and the other world. The other way is using brute force to keep them in submission to Allah. The prohibition of art is thus a facet of this forceful way of Islam of keeping Muslims in fold. Art is known to bring out the innermost feelings of man, overriding the immediate social or political veneer. However, Islam riding its Islamizing chariot over the wheels of newly converted, was always in mortal danger of art and artists. It always feared art as overriding the Islamic super-imposition art could bring the pagan culture to the fore and hence could be a reason for the erosion of Islam. So it placed a ban on arts and stifled the artist inside a Muslim. By taking the prohibition of any artistic depiction of Prophet Muhammad as an infallible belief, and justifying the Muslim enrage over the breaking of taboo, we are only hardening the already rigid walls of Islam and thus leaving our Muslim brethren in perpetual submission.

Instead we should encourage the breaking of taboos and must introduce to Muslims the idea of Islam being negotiable and Muhammad to be depict able. This way we can help bring glasnost in the closed world of Islam, and can help humanity to recover from medieval barbarism.

Prabhat Varun

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