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Why we must reclaim religion from the right-wing

Discussion in 'National Politics' started by Guynextdoor, Dec 30, 2010.

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  1. Guynextdoor

    Guynextdoor Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

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    I want to highlight the point that I have made with the 'others'. I have always maintained that the real lessons why we need zero tolerance towards fundamentalism (especially the type that RSS/BJP/Shiv Sena/VHP propogate) will actually come from across the border. While Pak has reached a point of no return wrt relegion being inextricably wedded to the state, here in India Indian muslims have prefered dialogue. And that is the better solution. .

    Why we must reclaim religion from the right-wing - Rediff.com India News

    As the frightening records of Hindutva chauvinists in India [ Images ] and the Pakistani clerics discussed in this article so strikingly illustrate, leaving religion to the right-wing to monopolise is a sure recipe for bloody and endless conflict, says Yoginder Sikand in the first of his exclusive articles for Rediff.com
    Decades after the two States came into being, relations between India and Pakistan continue to be, to put it mildly, hostile. This owes largely to the vast, and continuously mounting, influence of the Hindu religious right-wing in India and its Muslim counterpart in Pakistan.

    Seemingly irreconcilable foes, the two speak the same language -- of unending hatred between Hindus and Muslims -- each seeking to define itself by building, stressing and constantly reinforcing boundaries between the two religiously-defined imagined communities.

    Much has been written on the ideology and politics of right-wing Hindu and Islamic movements and organisations in both India and Pakistan, by academics and journalists alike. Yet, almost no attention has been given to how individual Hindu and Muslim religious activists at the local level, as distinct from key ideologues and leaders at the national-level, imagine and articulate notions of the religious and national 'other'.

    Understanding this issue is crucial, for such activists exercise an enormous clout among their following.

    The Lahore-based Mashal Books, one of Pakistan's few progressive, left-leaning publishing houses, recently launched a unique experiment: Of recording and making publicly accessible speeches delivered by maulvis or Muslim clerics at mosque congregations across Pakistan's Punjab [ Images ] province, including some located in small towns and obscure villages.

    These speeches deal with a host of issues, ranging from women's status and scientific education, to jihad and anti-Indianism, all these linked to an amazingly diverse set of understandings of Islam.

    Hosted on the Mashal Books Web site MASHAL BOOKS, these speeches reflect the worldviews of a large majority of Pakistani maulvis, representing a range of sectarian backgrounds, who now exercise a major influence on the country's politics and in shaping Pakistani public opinion and discourse.

    Of the dozens of speeches hosted on the Web site, only two are classified as relating particularly to India, but these may still be taken to be representative of how a great many Pakistani maulvis conceive of India and of relations between India and Pakistan. Predictably, in both speeches India is depicted in lurid colours, as an implacable foe of Pakistan, of Muslims, and of Islam.

    Not surprisingly, then, efforts to improve relations between India and Pakistan or to work towards rapprochement between Hindus and Muslims are vociferously denounced. The two maulvis appear to insist that Islam, as they understand it, itself requires that Pakistani Muslims must never cool off their anti-Hindu and anti-Indian zeal.

    The first of these two speeches, by the Deobandi Maulana Muhammad Hafeez of the Jamia Masjid Umar Farooq, Rawalpindi, refers to India only in passing. He presents Muslims the world over as besieged by a host of powerful non-Muslim enemies.

    It is almost as if their 'disbelief' (kufr) in Islam goads all non-Muslims, wherever they may be, to engage in a relentless conspiracy against Islam and its adherents, a war, like Samuel Huntington's infamous 'Clash of Civilisations', in which compromise and reconciliation are simply impossible because Islam and 'non-Islam' can, in this worldview, never comfortably coexist.

    It is also as if Muslims have a monopoly on virtue and non-Muslims on vice. 'Islam will rise,' Maulana Hafeez thunders, 'and America and India will fall,' conveniently forgetting (assuming he knew of the fact) that India probably has more Muslims than Pakistan and that if India falls, it will drag its tens of millions of Muslims along with it, too.

    The second speech is by a certain Maulana Mufti Saeed Ahmed of Jamia Masjid Mittranwali, Sialkot, who belongs to the Ahl-e Hadith sect, which closely resembles the Saudi Wahhabis.

    Pakistani Ahl-e Hadith groups, most notoriously the Lashkar-e Tayiba, have been heavily involved in fomenting violence across Pakistan, Kashmir [ Images ] and in India as well.

    Hatred for India and the Hindus seems to be an article of faith for many Pakistani Ahl-e Hadith, as Maulana Ahmed's speech clearly indicates.

    At the same time, it must also be recognised, as is evident from instances that the Maulana cites, that these deep-rooted anti-Indian and anti-Hindu sentiments are constantly fuelled by brutalities inflicted by non-Muslim powers, including the United States and fiercely anti-Muslim Hindu chauvinists in India, on Muslim peoples.

    These brutalities need not always be physical. They can also take the form of assaults on and insults to cherished Islamic beliefs, which inevitably provoke Muslim anger. The appeal of people like Maulana Ahmed lies in their practiced ability to use these instances of brutality directed against Muslims to craft a frighteningly Manichaean world, where all Muslims are pitted against all non-Muslims in a ceaseless war of cosmic proportions that shall carry on until Muslims, it is fervently believed, will finally triumph.

    Recounting a long list of anti-Muslim brutalities (but conveniently ignoring similar outrages committed by Muslims on others), Maulana Ahmed exhorts his listeners to unite and take revenge. 'O Muslims!,' he shrilly appeals, 'get up and take in hand your arrows, pick up your Kalashnikovs, train yourselves in explosives and bombs, organise yourselves into armies, prepare nuclear attacks and destroy every part of the body of the enemy.'

    His speech is peppered with fervent calls for what he terms as 'jihad' against both America and India, these being projected as inveterate foes of Islam and of all Muslims.

    He prays for America to 'be destroyed', and ecstatically celebrates the recent devastating terrorist assault on Mumbai [ Images ] by a self-styled Islamist group that left vast numbers of people dead, unapologetically hailing the dastardly act as a 'big slap on the cheek of the Hindus'.

    Not stopping at this, he calls for continuous terrorist violence against India, including, he advises, unleashing 'bloodbath to (sic) Indian and American diplomats in Kabul and Kandahar'. Only then, he argues, can Pakistan's rulers 'relieve the pressure' on them and being peace to their country.

    The 'enemy', as Maulana Ahmed constructs the notion, could be any and every non-Muslim, particularly Americans, Jews and Hindus or Indians. It is as if every non-Muslim is, by definition, irredeemably opposed to Islam and is necessarily engaged in a grand global conspiracy to wipe Islam from off the face of the earth. It is as if non-Muslims have no other preoccupation at all.

    All non-Muslims are thus tarred with the same brush, and no exceptions whatsoever are made. It is almost as if Maulana Ahmed desperately wants all non-Muslims to be fired by anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic vitriol, for that is his way to whip up the sentiments of his Muslim followers and fire their zeal and faith.

    It is as if further stoking such hatred is crucial to his ability to maintain a following and to claim to authoritatively speak for Islam and its adherents. 'The hatred among the people against the kafirs has reached a new height,' the Maulana exults.

    For the Maulana, fomenting hatred of non-Muslims is his chosen way of realising what has for centuries remained the elusive dream of Muslim unity. That this hatred, which he so passionately celebrates, inevitably further stokes the fires of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim prejudice, already so widespread among non-Muslims, appears of no concern to him at all. In fact, he seems to positively relish the frightening Huntingtonian thesis of the 'Clash of Civilisations'.

    Deobandi and Ahl-e Hadith outfits today enjoy tremendous clout in Pakistan, and they have been at the forefront of Islamist militancy that now threatens to drown the country in the throes of what promises to be an interminable civil war.

    As the speeches of these two Pakistani clerics, one a Deobandi and the other from the Ahl-e Hadith, so starkly indicate, inveterate hatred for India and the Hindus, indeed for non-Muslims in general, is integral to the ways in which vast numbers of Pakistani Muslim clerics understand religion, community, nationalism and the world.

    Such hatred is inevitably further fuelled by acts of brutality directed against Muslims by non-Muslims, including by the United States, India (particularly in Kashmir) and by militantly anti-Muslim Hindu chauvinist groups.

    Muslim and non-Muslim right-wing radicalism and militancy thus enjoy a mutually symbiotic relationship, opposing each other while, ironically, unable to live apart, needing each other even simply to define themselves.

    Religion is too powerful an instrument to be left in the hands of hate-driven clerics to manipulate as they please, most often for fuelling conflict between communities and states.

    As the frightening records of Hindutva chauvinists in India and the Pakistani clerics discussed in this article so strikingly illustrate, leaving religion to the right-wing to monopolise is a sure recipe for bloody and endless conflict.

    It is thus crucial for socially-engaged activists, even if they do not subscribe to religion personally, to enter the terrain of religious discourse and contest and critique the claims of those who speak in its name and deploy it as a tool to promote hatred against what are defined as the religious and national 'other'.

    Efforts to improve relations between India and Pakistan, and Hindus and Muslims in South Asia, can hardly make any headway if this indispensable task continues to be so sorely neglected.
     
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  2. Coltsfan

    Coltsfan <b>SENIOR MEMBER</b> SENIOR MEMBER

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    Radical extremists constitute a very small but highly organized and vocal minority who manage to highjack discussion agenda and highlight issues based on exclusion-ism in Indian society.

    Thankfully, Indian electorate has learned its lesson and refused to fall for these cheap religious gimmicks and vitriol laden speeches by rejecting them in 2 consecutive general elections.

    This repeat rejection of their policies has made the cadres of these political parties desperate, and it clearly shows:smokin:
     
  3. DaRk KnIght

    DaRk KnIght Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Like 4 seats in Bihar?? :smokin:
     
  4. Coltsfan

    Coltsfan <b>SENIOR MEMBER</b> SENIOR MEMBER

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    I was talking at national level not just Bihar, so 116 seats all over India would be a better figure

    116 v/s 206 :yu:
     
  5. rcscwc

    rcscwc Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    It is third consecutive rejection of Congi in Bihar, and nth in UP. Not to talk of rejections in Gujarat, MP. UK, HP, CG, Jharkhand etc.

    ***
    As far reclamation. It is for the followers, not outsiders to do it. And how do you reclaim a religion, pray tell me?

    Hinduism has been continually redefining itself, yet taking care to remain the same.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2010
  6. Coltsfan

    Coltsfan <b>SENIOR MEMBER</b> SENIOR MEMBER

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    :blah::blah::blah:

    Coming back to topic.

    We have all witnessed what happens when the very few extremists take over a religion while moderate elements who comprise of majority of any religion watch silently and do not stand up.

    There is a choice to make to either regress into past with the outdated divisive ideology propagated by a radical few or side with the silent majority who truly represents the majority.
     
  7. rcscwc

    rcscwc Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Yes. But happens when the followers of a religion are taught by their scriptures that the WHOLE world belongs to them and they have a sacred duty to reclaim it?? Such a teaching has a way of sinking into every member, with the FEW extremists being treated as the business end of that agenda.
     
  8. Guynextdoor

    Guynextdoor Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

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    ^^^unnecessary generalization. Indian muslims have never behaved as if the world belonged to them. Were there protests when bush invaded afghanistan or iraq? No. The only issues they have agitated for are issues related to India and their place in the Indian society. That is a just and fair way of behaving.
     
  9. rcscwc

    rcscwc Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Haha. Then they must be following some other version.

    Invasion of Af? Even I did not take kindly to it. Sure I did not start an agitation.

    When Zia ul Haq executed Bhutto, Muslims of India rioted. And lo. When Zia died in an air crash they again rioted! Why? When Benazir was assisinated, they rioted. Why? When a mosque in a far off place, Aqsa, was burnt, they rioted. A cartoon appeared in a far off land, they rioted!
     
  10. Guynextdoor

    Guynextdoor Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

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    Fabrications. There were no serious agitations on any of these points.

    Peacful protests on the cartoon issue is not wrong. WHen that footwear manufacturer decided to put relegious images of hindu gods on them, we lodged protest didn't we? The point is that Indian muslims did what was appropriate- they voiced protest peacefully and stopped with it. They aren't plotting bombings on that account are they?
     
  11. Coltsfan

    Coltsfan <b>SENIOR MEMBER</b> SENIOR MEMBER

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    I have never heard any "rioting" as you call for these events.

    Is that part of some folk-lore fable or do you have any evidence to substantiate India Muslims rioting after these events?
     
  12. DaRk KnIght

    DaRk KnIght Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Good. from 424 congress is now limited to 206. :yahoo:
     
  13. Coltsfan

    Coltsfan <b>SENIOR MEMBER</b> SENIOR MEMBER

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    haha you are quite an optimist
     
  14. DaRk KnIght

    DaRk KnIght Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    But not better than you :wink:
     
  15. Guynextdoor

    Guynextdoor Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

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    lol!!! You guys've been saying this for a long time. Methinks I'll just keep lots and lots of hankeys ready so that when BJP clean sweeps national elections, I don't run out of hankeys to wipe out my tears...:cray::cray::lol::smokin:
     
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