Muhammad Tariq Ghazi
For three days speaker after speaker talked about India. And every time Modi got a mention.
That saddened me.
I wished these scholars of the highest degree and universally respected persons had reasons to mention India for some laudable contribution to human civilization and humanitarian causes in these times when world humanity is crying in pain inflicted by widespread hate, intolerance, extremism, racism, and unchecked revival of fascism.
Nothing of this sort came in the news from around India just before and during three days from Friday to Sunday 20-22 December when Canadian metropolis Toronto hosted 18th annual RIS conference.
RIS is Reviving Islamic Spirit. Sometimes a calamity proves to be a bounty. The RIS is such blessing. Within weeks of the 9/11 disaster in New York, a group of Muslim Canadian youth resolved to Reviving Islamic Spirit to help Muslims reclaim self-confidence when renewed Nazi ideology was raising its ugly head, this time targeting Muslims. Back in December 2001, it was a smallish conference, perhaps convened in a small hall, yet attended by 3500 people who wanted someone to light up the path when horizons were darkened by coal-black clouds of despair. Since then the RIS has been taking Muslims of North America, especially of Canada, to what are considered unattainable misty heights. It is one of the largest attended annual gatherings in North America. Convened in the sprawling, four-storey Metro Toronto Convention Center (MTCC) in downtown Toronto. More than 20,000 conference attendees are further strengthened by about 500 volunteers – mostly boys and girls from high school and early university levels, plus thousands of workers who man and manage more than 250 shops and stalls of Islamic commercial, social, educational and medical, disaster-relief services from around the world.
Prominent scholars of the world – especially those proficient in English – consider it an honor to attend and speak at the RIS conferences. Over the last 18 years some of the world luminaries who addressed RIS conferences include:
From Canada journalist Sister Amira Elghawabi, Shaykh Munir El-Kassem, Shaykh Abdullah Idris.
From the US Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Dr Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf (Mark Hanson), Shaykh Prof Zaid Shakir (Ricky Daryl Mitchell), Shaykh Muhammad Yahya Ninowy, Prof Hatem Bazian, Prof Abdul Hakim (Sherman) Jackson), Prof Dalia Fahmi, Prof Yasmin Mogahed (مجاہد), Shaykh Khalid Latif, Mufti Abdul Nasir Jangda, Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui (مغراوی), Ustadha Ieasha Prime, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Ustadha Zaynab Mansour Ansari, Sister Dalia Mogahed, Shaykh Yasir Qazi, Shaykh Omar Sulieman, Ustadh Ubaydullah Evans, Ustadha Nuriddeen Knight, Mufti Hussain Kamani, Sister Aisha Gray Henry, Sister Linda Sarsour.
From the UK Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad (Timothy Winter), Sister Salma Yaqub, Sister Lauren Booth (sister-in-law of Tony Blair),
From Australia Ustadha Saara Sabbagh,
From France Muslim cosmologist Dr Bruno Abd al-Haqq Guiderdoni,
From South Africa Shaykh Sulaiman Moola.
From India Dr Zakir Naik, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan.
From Pakistan Maulana Tariq Jameel,And many scores more.
I have provided this brief information for readers to evaluate an annual Muslim the convention that draws on the world’s best brain bank of philosophers, thinkers, university professors, Islamic Ulama, political scientists, Islamic jurists, selfless social activists, media-persons, economists, issue-based researchers, psychologists, genocide-reviewers, historians, crisis-managers, situation analysts, relief workers with global outreach, strategists, motivators of youth, young dreamers, teenage torch-bearers.
One can really appreciate now the impact of something said in this convention.
This year’s RIS convention opened after the Juma prayer on 20 December that coincided but not connected with a massive protest rally by a cross-section of Canadian society at the Indian consulate general in Toronto. A short-notice call for this rally was given by Indian-Canadians. As night descended and the city bathed in millions of light bulbs, Dr Dalia Fahmi was the first to speak about lockdown in Indian administered Kashmir valley. She is an Arab-American, teaching political science and international relations, military and defence. Like Dr Hatem Bazian, she is an international expert on mechanics of genocides and massacres that are applied by fascist regimes.
After that, over the next two days speakers after speaker after speaker talked about the recent anti-minorities laws rushed through the Indian parliament, while also denouncing discriminatory Bill 21 of Canada’s Quebec province. Subsequent speakers named Indian prime minister Narendra Modi as the one responsible for the wrong direction taken by India.
None of these speakers was from India; not even from Pakistan. In fact, this year no one from India was on the list of RIS speakers, and from Pakistan, it was only Maulana Tariq Jameel who does not talk about politics and his topics this year were “Allah’s Favors to Humanity” and “The Love of the Rasool-Allah Muhammad”.
Sadly, India was being mentioned at the RIS, not for positive contribution to human legacy.
Then a compère invited Joram van Klaveren to the podium to explain “The Pathology of Ideology: Reviving the Prophetic Concept of Peace”.
Who was this man from The Netherlands?
Joram van Klaveren was an Islamophobe who was a close ally of Geert Wilders and an MP of his fascist Partij voor de Vrijheid – PVV (Party for Freedom). Then he embraced Islam thanks to the attention and guidance, which he had inadvertently drawn, from England’s Sufi Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad (Timothy Winter). At the RIS 2019 Joram van Klaveren was telling the audience how Islamophobic forces instigate and compel Muslims to “react” to some predetermined nasty activities and then accuse them of being “intolerant” and “opposing” freedom of expression.
He did not talk about India, and regardless whether he knew them by name or not he was not talking about the RSS, or the BJP, Modi or Amit Shah or Mohan Bhagwat or Yogi Adityanath; but people in the auditorium were nonetheless connecting the dots. Triple Talaq Act, NRC in Assam, dismemberment and lockdown and military excesses in Kashmir, CAA for selective citizenship, impending NRC for the whole of India, police brutality against students of AMU and Jamia Millia Islamia, against Muslim Indians, old people and women, in Lucknow, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Kanpur, etc, were some of the dots.
Regular references in the conference to the genocide of Rohingyas by Myanmar (Burma) government of “Nobel laureate” (sic) Augn San Suu Kyi who personally justified her government’s crimes at the International Court of Justice; of the genocide of Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province, to Kashmir lockdown and atrocities for the last 139 days and Bill 21 Quebec were enough to turn the atmosphere gloomy.
Then appears Imam Siraj Wahhaj. A great saint of our times Imam Siraj Wahhaj is an African-American leader who single-handedly cleaned some notorious New York localities of drugs, murders, rape and other crimes.
He did not mention Modi.
He did not talk about India.
He did not refer to the genocides of Muslims in China and Burma.
He somberly agreed that Islamophobia is prevalent and Muslims are the world’s oppressed people.
He called for du’a – supplication – for the reform of the oppressors.
Shaykh Siraj Wahhaj reminded an attentive RIS audience that in the early days of Islam, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab and Amr Ibn Hisham were the two greatest Islamophobes. Then the Rasool-Allah raised his hands and made du’a to Allah to guide whoever of the two was loved by Him.
And Islam got Umar Ibn Khattab as Allah’s gift.
So, said Shaykh Siraj Wahhaj, make du’a for the oppressors, for those who are spreading imaginary fear of Islam.
Suddenly a flash of light brightened my heart. I felt that as if all the lights in the hall were put on and the pall of gloom melted away in thin air.
It was time for Salat. I went to the make-shift Masjid for 20,000 men and women in the adjoining hall. Facing the Qibla I raised my hands and asked Allah to give Islam those who are loved by Him.
In my heart-felt prayer I named them one after another: Narendra Modi. Amit Shah. Mohan Bhagwat, Rajnath Singh. Yogi Adityanath. Pragya Thakur. Nitin Gadkari. Nirmala Sitharaman. Venkaiah Naidu. Jagat Prakash Nadda. Devendra Fadnavis. Vasundhara Raje. . .
Since then following the Sunnah of the beloved Rasool-Allah I am praying daily for them, assuring myself that if Joram van Klaveren can find Allah’s love, why can’t those in India. After all, India is the country from where the Rasool-Allah felt a comforting breeze coming.
میر عرب کو ا’یی ٹھنڈی ہوا جہاں سے
میرا وطن وہی ہے، میرا وطن وہی ہے
Tariq Ghazi is an Indian-Canadian thinker, writer and journalist