Muslims get too excited whenever they hear words such as ‘Subhan Allah’ and ‘Masha Allah’ from politicians and actors. And start screaming ‘Oh look! He is a Muslim, he belongs to us’. Muslims keep running after politicians who make false promises but end up receiving another set of false promises. The ‘Khans’ of the film industry seem to dominate over the minds of the youth. The same youth that should have been busy building a better future, for themselves and their community.
The question is who is to blame for the backwardness of Muslims? Is it America? Israel? Or ‘Yahud o Nasara’ (Jews and Christians)? To a great extent, Muslims are responsible for their own plight. Glorifying the victimhood is the favorite card played by the politicians and opportunists. Lack of education, I believe, is a major determinant factor when it comes to analyzing the backdrop of the community.
Although, this factor isn’t solely responsible for this state of affairs, those who are well educated do not realize their responsibility towards their community. Either children do not take admission in schools, or they drop out after receiving meager education. Thus, unable to pursue higher education, the community lacks representation within the system.
People are seen then, becoming sycophants. The community then gets divided. Some sections sit at tea stalls criticising “the system” and some get busy fooling their fellow community members in the name of various organizations, NGOs and political parties.
The second reason, I see, is disunity. Sectarianism is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we have forgotten our collective identity (the only identity) of being Muslims. Among Muslims, like in the followers of any other religion, there is an element of rigidity among its various sects. Each sect has adopted its own interpretation of the Quran. And they not only oppose the other people vehemently but sanction them as Kaafirs (non-believers). These matters of faith, I believe, are very personal to everyone. Hence, should not be judged against any parameter.
Whenever a Muslim (religious, usually) figure comes out with some stupid statement which is unpalatable, a common defense code of Muslims includes:
1) He is an uneducated Maulvi (cleric).
2) He does not represent Islam.
3) He does not represent Muslims.
4) He is a paid agent.
5) He is an agent of West
6) They must have done something to irritate him.
7) He is defending his faith.
8) He must be an Israeli agent.
9) Look at your religion first.
10) He is a Kaafir – non believer!
Instead of admitting our narrow mindedness or making efforts to correct them, we have side-lined ourselves from the mainstream ignoring the misunderstandings prevailing all around us. Rather, the need of the hour is to act wisely and hold firmly on to the rope of oneness. A moderate approach harms nobody, but an extreme one does. The resultant negativity consumes the self, the community and the society. Today, our faith is being seen to be represented by an extremist fringe and bombs and tanks.
When humans are slaughtered in the name of Islam with the slogans of Allahu Akbar, it is time to speak out and for the active participation of this stagnant community to change its lot. The silence of moderate majority of the Muslim world is allowing the extremists to define Islam, the religion of peace, around the world. And when this extremist approach becomes dominant, it starts overtaking the identity of people adhering to a particular faith. No one will defend us in times of crisis, only our actions will.
Farheen Sultana is studying English Literature at Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi. She likes reading, exploring new domains of knowledge and writing about social issues