Two wrongs make a fundamentalist ‘right’

  • Renuka Narayan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 11, 2015 14:10 IST

Nobody I personally know is demonising Islam wholesale because of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and I remain as attached as ever to my Muslim friends. But I notice that you can't express outrage about Islamist terror without having to bring in Hindutvist extremists to show that you're balanced. This does not allow freedom to speak about worldwide Islamist terror.

The discourse becomes as clichéd as articles on the true meaning of jihad and the verse from Surah al-Kaafirun (The Infidels) that says "

lakum deenukum walya deen

" (to you, your religion, to me, mine). They are repeatedly belied as mere theory by Islamist terrorists.

Fundamentalist Islam, with the guaranteed violence of its response, has long been 'that which must not be named' in India unless you Hindu-bash simultaneously. This puts a strain on public discourse with more polarisation than ever because everyone knows why and it furthers contempt, not comradeship. People don't talk to each other but about each other.

Hindutvist extremists deserve condemnation and they get it. But in commenting on acts of Islamist terror, we seem to also drag in every discredited Hindu we can while urging ourselves to sympathetically understand Islamist killings. Such comments on Islamist terror are usually of two kinds. The most heard is, "This is not Islam! It is a religion of peace." But the word Islam does not mean 'peace'. It does not come from '


. It means 'submission' in Arabic as in Michel Houellebecq's book title; and Islamist killers submit to preachers, who effectively own Islam.

The second 'rationale' is, "The Western countries behaved badly in Muslim countries. They are racist. There will be retaliation."

But two wrongs don't make a right. By that retaliatory logic, we should not mind the demolition of Babri Masjid since we noticeably did not mind the persecution and expulsion of another minority, the Kashmiri Pandits that happened two years before Babri Masjid.

Speaking clinically, if we want Hindus to move on beyond fundamentalist Islam's worldwide record of destruction and massacre, shouldn't we begin by liking Hindus despite their idolatrous ways? But do Indian Muslims own Islam? They do not seem to.

If they did, Muslim institutions and individuals who enjoy the secular benefits of India would firmly reject money and religious advice from an intolerant country like Saudi Arabia. For an Indian to accept Saudi money and influence is to 'run with the hare and hunt with the hounds', isn't it?

DN Batra came across as intolerant by wanting Wendy Doniger's book banned. Who paved the way for that but those Indian Muslims who displayed such violent intolerance to Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen? But Batra went to court about his grievance. He did not send gunmen to get Doniger or announce rewards for whoever killed her. The BSP's Haji Yakoob Qureishi has reportedly announced Rs 51 crore for the Paris killers despite theoretical Islam's view that the Prophet's critics should be left to Allah.

It is only in their intolerant attitude to women that we see perfect unity between Ahl-e-Kitab and Ahl-e-Hunood as brothers-in-arms. But is even that discourse tolerated in India without discord?

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