Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hate the sin: An appeal to readers of this blog

(Rakhi, adopted by a Muslim father 18 years ago, and married to a Hindu man.)

I have stated in this blog that we must be principled in our approach to the problem of Islam. Our issue is with Islam as an ideology. Not with people who belong to the Muslim faith, and especially not those Muslims who may nominally be Muslims, but do not follow Islam's ideology. In short, just because a person says "I am a Muslim" does not mean that she/he follows Islam, and we should not make any judgement about such a person based on what we know about Islam.

I was thinking about doing a post on this issue, because I think it is very important. It is my observation that a vast majority of Muslims in India are simply Hindus who have outwardly adopted Muslim social customs. They are mostly unaware of the true ideology of Islam, because this ideology is written in the Kuran and the Hadith, both of which are most available and read in the Arabic language. Indian muslims generally do not know the gory details of what is written there. So the average Indian muslim still retains the Hindu world view of his forefathers, but has adopted Islam superficially.

Islamization of non-arabs is always a two step process:
1. First, people are made to give up their original faith, and outwardly adopt the Muslim social code. Superficial things like "pray at a mosque, not temple" and so on.
2. Then, over centuries, movements such as the Tablighi-Jamaat work on these converts and make them "true muslims". A large part of the Tablighi-Jamaat's activity consists of identifying "Hindu influences" in Indian Muslims and asking them to shed these and move towards true Islam. The motto of the Tablighi-Jamaat tells the entire story - it is "Aye musalmaanon, musalmaan bano" (Oh Muslims, be [true] Muslims).

Now the Tablighi-Jamaat is very active in India, but it still has not touched many Muslims, who continue to be essentially muslims in name only, but with Hindu world views. Note that this may even be true of outwardly "devout" Indian Muslims. There are many stories of Indian Hafizes (in Islam, a Hafiz is one who can recite the Kuran from memory - he is called a Hafiz because in a sense he is "safeguarding" the Kuran from being corrupted by memorizing it) who could recite the Kuran but did not know the meaning of even one line! Remember that in Islamic tradition, the Kuran is supposed to be recited in Arabic alone, and translations are frowned upon. So many Indian Muslims have heard Kuranic verses all their lives, but do not know what they mean!

In Indonesia, they actually have a name for Muslims who retain their Hindu-Buddhist religious identities alongside their Islamic ones - they are known as Abangan. Abangan recognize their Hindu heritage, are proud of it, and have combined it with their Islamic present. The result is a society that tends to stay away from the problematic components of Islam. Indian Muslims, for the most, are similar.

A beautiful example of such Indian "Abangan muslims" is Shabbir Khan, who adopted a Hindu girl 18 years ago, raised her Hindu, and married her last week to a Hindu man. Here is the story.

Now Shabbir Khan, the father of Rakhi, obviously is not following Islam. Islam treats Hindus as "kufr". For a true muslim to have Hindu idols at home, and raise his daughter Hindu would be great Kufr, punishable by eternal hellfire. Obviously Shabbir Khan is not following Islam. But he would claim he is a Muslim. Hence my point - not all nominal Muslims follow Islam. And even if they did, we should not hate them, because they are human beings too, and also because hatred is not a good thing, period. Our fight is with the ideology of Islam. Islam as an ideology is what I have serious objections to.

There is still another viewpoint that argues for not harbouring any ill-will towards Indian muslims, and this is often found in literature written by the more principled factions of the Hindu movement. It is this: India's muslims are our very own brothers and sisters. They have been converted to Islam by the sword, but that does not make them any less our own. If our brother were to temporarily desert his home, would he not still remain our brother? In this viewpoint, Indian Muslims are just Hindus in exile. We have not lost our love and brotherhood for them. Most Indian Muslims are somewhere between Hindu Dharma and pure Islam. We should not make the mistake of thinking "a muslim is a muslim - be he from Saudi Arabia or India." Most Saudi Muslims are (a) aware of true Islam and (b) follow it to some extent. Many Indian Muslims are simply unaware of true Islam.

I can honestly say that I do not harbour any ill-will towards India's Muslims. My problem is with the ideology of Islam, and those that follow it. Such people may be called Islamists, practising Muslims, or whatever. I am always cognizant that a majority of India's Muslims do not follow Islam. I have nothing but love and sympathy for them. They are our own people, forced out of Hindu Dharma by the sword.

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