I was speaking to this advocate friend. And he was complaining about how he was compelled to go on social media with writing responses to continuous Hindu bashing going on all the time. I went into shock. “Yeh continuous Hindu Bashing kahaan dekhe aap?” I asked. He went into shock. “As if you don’t know” was his response. I did not. Like I never read about non-Muslims not getting places to rent or buy, only Muslims, and that not because they were Muslims, of course, but only because they were non-vegetarians, and the landlords could not tolerate meat eaters. Maybe I was looking at the wrong social media posts.
We then had a conversation and when we stopped (he had to go somewhere), we agreed we would continue later. What he did say was that the Muslims arrogantly have this claim that their religion alone was truth, and all others are false, and the Christians also thought the same, though both were later arrivals on the religious scene; that they (Muslims) are rulers, and the others are subjects; that they are pure and others are dirty; that Muslims think of women as inferior (“What makes you people think Islam is better? Why can a man have four wives? What the hell is nikaah halala?” he demanded to know, adding indignantly, “Why should the woman have to go through it, damn it, why not the man?” and then smirked “Would actually enjoy it I suppose.”); and so on. I waited till the volcanic event subsided, then stated the following (before, of course, since he had to go somewhere, we agreed we would continue later): the narration below is, of course, by breaking up the conversation into its components, to confer contextual perspective à
1. “Muslims arrogantly have this claim that their religion alone is truth” àevery adherent of every religion, creed, dogma, belief-system has that claim, or they would not be following it. That can be thought of as smug arrogance, or legitimate belief. Truth can be a variable, it is thought, but if the straight path is what we are looking for that is a straight line. The shortest distance between two points is always a straight line. The shariah is a straight path. You can claim your road leads to the same destination. There is no prohibition of claiming, but it is inexplicable why you should object to me making the claim that you make. Do I smell intolerance somewhere? Is it that you want me to be compelled to say “Yes, yes! Everything goes!” so we all can do whatever free from all constraints and restrictions? But why does Islam come up with restrictions? Well, Islam seeks certain standards of conduct et al. if you want to stay Muslim, follow those. Any Muslim wants to opt out, nobody stopped him or her. You want to stay in, these are the rules. You want to leave, it’s a free country, a democracy with freedom of religion Constitutionally guaranteed, at least on paper.
2. “…all others are false” àGood grief, everyone but everyone has this belief. That is not arrogance. It is legitimate exercise, however misguided you or I may think it to be, of vested right. Muslims do not believe all others or any others are false. Muslims believe other religious revelations have over time been subjected to either mistranslations or interpolations or the like, and have lost their pristine character as when revealed, hence Islam about which its antagonists also recognize its original firm stands preserved, ought to be followed. Islam is the only religion that has so cosmopolitan an outlook that it holds you cannot be a real Muslim unless you believe in all (yes, all) prophets sent down from the beginning of time till Muhammad.
3. “…the Christians also think the same” àSame as above applies. Why should they not? Atheists probably think believers in any Divinity are fools. They’re welcome to. Anyone can, but Muslims can’t?
4. “…both were later arrivals on the religious scene” àCorrect. Does that make a difference? There are two principles in inventory control. One goes “first in, last out”, the other goes “first in, first out”: you can believe anything and, any time you want, you can change your belief. Officially, that is. Except, of course when it is religion, where if you were to go towards Islam or Christianity from anywhere else, some people are prone to become very upset. They say it is not intolerance, which, however I may disagree, I say (because I am willing to let them have their freedom, even though they want to deny me mine) they are welcome to!
5. “…Muslims think they are rulers, and the others are subjects” àSure, some Muslims will believe that. They’re welcome to live lives of delusion. If their behaviour shows those traits they will be side-lined and shunned by others. Those who behave well, will find acceptance. Simple as that.
6. “…Muslims think they are pure and others are dirty”àSorry, that is a perception, though again, some Muslims, or even most, may subscribe to that view. Delusional, yet permissible. Those people are clean who bathe every day? Then what about those who cannot afford bathing water every day? Those people are clean who hold no grudges or hate or ill-will against or contempt for others? Then what about those who bathe every day but carry those (impure) thoughts? Do we go about judging each other all the time, sanctimoniously pronouncing ourselves the best? Quote: “God Himself, sir, does not propose to judge man until the end of his days!”
7. “…Muslims think of women as inferior”àSome do. There are many people who think many things in adherents of every religion. That has little to do with religion and a lot to do with cultural thinking prevalent in localised regions. Before Iltutmish’s death he nominated his daughter Razia (Razia Sultan) as his successor: so much for nonsense that Islam suppresses women. Women, vide Islam, are gentler, need to be protected. You want to laugh, go ahead. Why keep women under purdah? There is no such thing as under purdah. It is protecting them from what would be either harmful or causative of discomfort. (How many times have we heard fathers and mothers screaming before courts their daughters were seduced into unfortunate marriages? How many times have we heard of people locking their houses and cars? Why do they? People protect whatever they value, but why others find that objectionable I am unable to decipher. If these nasty naughty inferior objectionable arrogant Muslim men are willing to allow or even encourage their women who want to feel protected from the gazes they may not be willing to welcome, wear their purdahs, why is the tolerant segment of society unable to tolerate that, beats me. I beg your pardon? Oh, you say men don’t encourage, they compel their women? Rather like saying (no, alleging) some Hindu men compel their ladies to marry only Hindu men, so much so even the governments step in, desperate to ensure the ratio of Hindus to Muslims remains such that the Muslims remain a numerical minority…never mind the adage “One, with the law, is a majority”. And by the way, what law, the one that goes against the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion and conscience, and which is circumnavigated by the inclusion of vague undefinable unprovable easy to allege add-ons like compulsion, inducement, etc., religious conversion “for marriage”…all legislated by the very same enlightened ennobled visionary souls who believe that political conversion “for ministerial berths” are legitimate, highly prized objectives…
8. “What makes you people think Islam is better?”àSimple. I believe it is a Divine revelation. I believe everything in it is true. If it says something, that is it. You have a problem with me believing something? It coheres with everything science has discovered so far. It satisfies the reason. It gives me solace, ennobles me, lightens my burdens, gives me hope, regulates my life, prevents me from doing undesirable things… good enough for me. You don’t like that? No problem.
9. “Why can a man have four wives?”àI can give you reasons starting from the animal kingdom to homo sapiens, but need not. I will simply say, because the Qurán says so! That’s good enough for me. Point is, does it ask anything of you? No. Then why does it bother you? And since it does bother you, are you aware a greater number of non-Muslims have more than one wife, than Muslims, and two, how many Muslims do you know who have more than one wife? Polygamy. Itself a misnomer, it means a person having more than one spouse. The attack however disguised it may be, is against polygyny, with specific reference to Muslims, alleged to have multiple wives, notwithstanding that government statistics establish a larger number of non-Muslims than Muslims have more than one wife. Never mind inconvenient facts: it is projected as a Muslim practice, attacking anything Islamic delivers political dividend enhancing TRP ratings, and must, therefore, be attacked. None is seen crusading against liquor sales not withstanding liquor’s verifiably direct nexus with rapes, murders, and vehicle accidents.
Islam tries to build a moral society where extramarital and premarital relationships between men and women are proscribed as leading to promiscuity, hedonistic behaviour, licentiousness and eventually a toxic society where women are preyed upon leading to the depravity we more and more frequently read about in horrific news reports. It is Islamic belief that factoring in the nature of human beings that He created, Allah has laid down the law which permits a maximum of four wives that a man can have. Our heroic crusaders against everything Islamic ranting in indignant horror at “oppression of Muslim women” have no problem when any other man, Muslim or not, has a physical relationship with not four but forty women so long as none is categorised as his “wife”. Apparently, only wives, sorry, Muslim wives, can be oppressed. If you see logic in this, you can see what seems obscured from my view. An interesting quote goes, “Sometimes the problem is, their ceiling is your floor”, but let us put it down to my inability to operate at your level, whatever you choose to make of that statement!
You don’t object to live-in relationships or same-sex “marriages” which are now legitimate as “between consenting adults”. What is sought to be de-legitimised is a moral relationship of marriage, also between consenting adults, merely because it is sanctioned by Islamic belief. Note that religious belief of a section of society was the basis on which the Ayodhya judgement turned (“Matters of faith and belief lie in the personal realm of the believer. That which sustains solace to the soul is inscrutable. Whether a belief is justified lies beyond ken of judicial inquiry.”) The Muslim belief that the Shariah is of Divine origin and cannot be subject to modification or alteration by human beings, is (words of the Supreme Court) “faith and belief” and “Whether a belief is justified lies beyond ken of judicial inquiry.” Get real. Stop fantasizing. And stop playing games with Constitutional language.
10. “What the hell is nikaah halala?”àNikah Halala. Among all the permissible things in Islam the most disapproved of is a divorce. The unit of society is the family and break-ups between parents are traumatic for children, and society. Deviant behaviour and behavioural aberrations usually have their genesis in broken homes. Hence the focus on preventing avoidable divorces, affording every opportunity to reconcile. Where, however, permission for divorce is made a mockery of, it is frowned upon and consequences aimed at deterrence applied. If a man divorces his wife once, they can reconcile. If he divorces her again, they still can reconcile. If, however, he divorces her yet again, i.e., a third time, then reconciliation is prohibited. It is then made possible only if there is an actual intervening marriage of the woman with another man, and in the normal course she happens to go through a divorce ending that marriage. To understand this properly let me clarify that marrying again a woman you divorced is not permitted, and is prohibited. If however, she happens to marry again and that marriage later ends, then if the two wish to get married they are permitted. How and why is it to be frowned upon? This is not to be confused with a predetermined game plan where it is decided that somebody would temporarily “marry” a man’s divorced wife and then divorce her, enabling the ex-husband to remarry the same lady. This is not Nikah Halala, it is an illegal, haraam cultural depravity, a biddath, an innovation, no part of Islam, and unacceptable deviant behaviour. But inconvenient facts do not deter heroic crusaders against everything Islamic from indignant horror at “oppression of Muslim women” to derive advantage, be it political dividends or TRP ratings. A man who loves his wife enough to want her back in his life will think before he divorces her, because then it is goodbye forever. Unless, of course, the unusual happens: she is divorced again, and is willing to marry the man who once discarded her.
11. “Why should the woman have to go through it, damn it, why not the man?”àThe Qurán says so, that is why. Explanations are not going to impress you anyway, right? “Whether you explain to them, or do not, it makes no difference. They are not going to accept your explanation.” That is the Quran, paraphrased.
12. “(Men) would actually enjoy it I suppose.”àSpeculative. Non-traverse means nothing.
He’s left, and I’m waiting for session 2. Till then, and thereafter too, Jai Hind.
Shafeeq R. Mahajir is a well-known lawyer based in Hyderabad