After writing my A for Allah, B for Bismillah post, I was accused by one of my friends as spewing hatred against a particular community. I have always maintained that my problem is not with a particular religion, it is actually against "organized religion" of any sort. I have no problem with going to a temple/mosque/church. I consider that a benign activity, something you do if it gives you inner peace. However, when this temple/mosque/church visit converts into a public procession because of which others are inconvenienced, you are crossing the line. Indulging in killing of animals (a common Hindu ritual in several parts of the country) is definitely over the board.
The politically correct way would be to say here "I have several Muslim friends and while most of the Muslim majority is quiet and secular, it is the vocal minority which is to be blamed". However, I don't know a lot of Muslim people and I do not think that it is a minor issue of a vocal rabid minority vs. the quiet majority. At core is the issue what Muslims themselves think. In the Hindu religion, we also have misplaced zealots (like the ones in VHP and RSS), but the majority of Hindus ignore the "rabid" minority. That is why, in the mainstream population, there is minimal support for VHP activities. Casteism, yes, but hard core religious biases, NO.
Coming back to my issues with Islam, what sort of educated person would think that anyone who is not a practicing Muslim is an infidel and you would get "martyrdom" if you convert or kill such infidels? In India, we have a pretty popular saying, 'Jis Thali main khaya usime chaed kiya' (something akin to Biting the very hand that feeds you). This is what the Muslims (especially in the Western world) are doing. Muslims have to realize that most of the Madrassas teachings are unrealistic. To survive in the real world, they have to work and interact with people who don't share their ideas. They have to acknowledge a pluralism in daily lives that is not consistent with a strict interpretation of Islam. Some examples of Muslim intransigence,
- Muslims claim to be scandalized by the fact that the Quran was desecrated by American soldiers. In most of the Muslim world (especially in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan), it is illegal to have any religious book other than the Quran. You can be executed on the charge of apostasy for owning Bibles.
- Muslims are generally not as generous as Christian, Hindu or Jewish counterparts in respecting holy books and religious symbols. The desecration of religious texts and symbols and intolerance of other religious viewpoints and beliefs is actively encouraged by the State. When the Bamiyan Buddhas were brought down, there was hardly a murmur of protest among the Muslim world. If the Babri Masjid was brought down, hundreds of Hindu temples and churches have been destroyed by the Muslims.
- Muslim organizations have distributed hundreds and thousands of Qurans and other books which libeled Christians, Jews, etc as pigs and monkeys. In Muslim curricula, non-Muslims are considered deviants and eternal enemies. However, Western countries and to a large extent India provide Muslims the strongest freedom and protection that allow Islam to thrive. Is it right to exploit this freedom and kill or maim the very people who support you?
There is an inflexible refusal on the part of most Muslims to recognize the world is changing and this change has placed Muslims on the defensive around the world. In dress, public appearance and customs, the majority of Muslims refuse to integrate into the mainstream wherever they are. They are viewed with caution and hatred in some cases and they in turn view the entire world with suspicion and equal hatred.
Irfan Hussain, a columnist for the Dawn newspaper puts this entire issue in the proper light when he writes,
Many Muslims in Pakistan support the application of Muslim family laws to their co-religionists in India. And yet in Pakistan, the minorities seldom have such preferential treatment. We deplore the decline of Urdu in India, and yet are unconcerned about the state of Hindi in our country. These examples of double standards can be multiplied endlessly. In short, we expect and demand far greater respect for our faith and its followers than we are willing to accord this to others. We remain wedded to the most retrogressive interpretation of our faith, and thus ensure that we remain backward. The way to overcome barriers is to assimilate, not stand aloof and complain from the sidelines. We do need to shed our rigid attitudes if we are not all to be lumped together with the Taliban.