Uploaded on January 25, 2016

Emotional response to issues can be counterproductive

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam

I am returning to this column a little earlier than usual. I must reiterate before proceeding further that this column is meant particularly for Muslim youth. The idea is that youth have vitality and extraordinary physical energy, and older people have a wider and longer experience of life because of the sheer fact that they have lived for more years and decades than the younger generation. Joining together, youth and age can work for greater goals meaningfully.

I am writing this column a little earlier because I am afraid the advice offered in the last column was not taken seriously by some of our youth. I had advised that we should respond to insults hurled on us and our religion with care and caution because it could be a trap to ensnare us and inflict greater damage on us. Provocations are basically a tool to make us respond in anger. The opposition knows it well that an angry response is, more likely than not, inappropriate and damaging for us.

The thoughtless remarks of a Hindu Mahasabha leader, Akhilesh Tiwari, against the holy Prophet (peace be upon him) in retaliation for UP minister Azam Khan’s remark against the RSS was stupid in the first place. What he could have done is say something derogatory about Khan’s leader, Akhilesh Yadav, or the party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, as a revenge against the remark against the RSS. Khan had not criticised Shri Ram or Shri Krishna for this mad man to react the way he did. I am calling him mad because no sane person will do what he did. Can he give us an example of a Muslim slandering Shri Ram or Krishna even in Pakistan or Bangladesh? Does anybody slander Jesus or Moses, Shri Guru Nanak or Buddha? Only mad men do it.

Tiwari’s rant could have been ignored. Or, protested against with some caution, as was done by large gatherings at different places in India. However, people of Malda district in West Bengal protesting against Tiwari went overboard as the large crowd gathered at Kaliachak in Malda district and the organisers could not control the crowd when a part of it broke loose and attacked the police station and some neighbouring properties. Nobody was physically harmed. It was not Muzaffarnagar where more than 50 Muslims were killed and hundreds of homes were destroyed. Even this much of lawlessness is regrettable and we condemn it.

According to some versions, a section of the crowd was stoned, which provoked them to behave wildly. Such strategically aimed stoning of crowds has turned them violent in the past. However, the responsibility for controlling unruly gatherings lies with organisers alone. In this case, the organisers, frightened by the unruly mob, ran away from the scene, instead of controlling it. Some of them are still said to be hiding in nearby districts, fearing the police. This is reprehensible behaviour, worthy of condemnation in strongest terms.

Having said that, I will like to reiterate that the holy Prophet (PBUH) cannot be insulted even by the Satan himself, who instigates ignoramuses and lowly criminals to try to insult him. The Prophet’s original name was Ahmad (one who profusely praises God). He was given an additional name by God, which was Muhammad (one who is universally praised). Even God praised His Prophet. Our ulama say that nobody can insult someone whom God Himself praised. The abusers and slanderers insult somebody of their own imagination and the Prophet does not live in the imagination of the scum of the earth. Hence, they abuse themselves.

God said, addressing the Prophet (PHUH): “I have exalted your name’s mention”. Let someone tell me, is there anyone on earth, or was there anyone ever on earth, whose name is called five times a day loudly from minarets in all the continents? As time zones vary, the Prophet’s name is called on public address system virtually every moment of day and night. Show me a man whose mention God has thus exalted! Thus nobody has the face to disgrace the praised one, howsoever badly he might try. The abuse and slander of such miscreants will only recoil on them and their forefathers.

Even after knowing this, and also knowing God’s reassurance about the exalted status of our Prophet, we get upset every time some eternally damned soul tries to malign him. It is not right to run after barking dogs. However, being human we feel offended even though we know that nobody can insult someone whose name God has so exalted. Because of this I once again advise restraint in the face of provocation.

At the end I am tempted to mention the attitude of the media in such cases. The Indian Express in a special follow-up report, spread over two pages, said the Muslim gathering was of 1 lakh men. The media also reported Hindutva groups’ claims that it was 2-3 lakh strong. More level-headed people reported it to 20-30 thousand. The latest estimate was 10,000.

So, what do we make of all this? Nothing really meaningful. However, the only point to remember is that we must always act with restraint and consult our elders in all such cases where experience matters more than youthful enthusiasm.