Preaching tolerance without practice, sounds hollow

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Murderous attacks on Shia Muslims in Pakistan and Iraq have resulted in about 43 deaths in Pakistan and 182 in Iraq. Hundreds more are wounded physically and thousands more emotionally. The agony of friends and relatives is heart wrenching.

Such murderous intolerance is just the latest, in wonton killings that have become common place in Pakistan. The norm in Pakistan and many other Muslim countries appears to be, to kill those, with whom one disagrees in religion or politics. Hindus were persecuted regularly before the breaking away of Bangladesh. Now they are such a miniscule minority, relegated to insignificance. Cold-blooded killers in Pakistan have killed Christians and Muslims such as Qadianis and Shias in the last few years all in the name of their convoluted brand of their religion.

Indonesia, that used to be and is peaceful and tolerant of its Hindu minority, caught the sectarian virus resulting in atrocities against Catholics in East Timor and other Muslims in Aceh. Algeria’s dictatorial secularists have murdered tens of thousands of innocent civilians in their fight with the equally murderous rebels fighting in the name of Islam. Sudan’s Islamic government can not bring peace to the southern marshy Animists by oppressing them.

In Iraq, in the wake of American invasion, they justify it for a debased reason of creating conditions untenable for American occupation. But that is where the internal gyroscope of humanity, decency and religious piety kicks in to completely rule out evil means to achieve any aim no matter how worthy it may seem. It is of some comfort that both Shia and Sunni clerics have jointly denounced the perpetrators of this evil.

Murderous intolerance is repugnant, but is even more repulsive when it is done in the name of religion, and finds justification in the demented minds of some of its followers. This perversity of belief must be opposed. It is always better if the opposition springs from within the community. It is more effective and conducive to thoughtful change.

Paucity of reform and negation of such heinous forces from inside the community brings condemnation and pressure from outside. This gives an excuse to those resistant to much needed change to give a garb of debased nationalism to their evil acts and blame it on the real and imagined enemies from outside. Often it only helps to advance the agenda of those outside forces that are malicious towards Islam for their own vile reasons. These murderers are the enemies within that caricaturize a great religion and inadvertently help the enemies without.

In public discourse we never tire of pointing out that Islam stands for peace, mercy and compassion! Which it does! Such perverse behavior can not be just chalked out to a few bad apples, as are wont to occur in any society. When extreme becomes common the normative base of the society is severely injured. Such perversity of beliefs must be opposed by the civil society, especially one that claims a moral high ground.

Self-criticism is always painful, it is time to feel and welcome such pain. But all the words in my vocabulary fall short of the grief and anger I feel compounded by the dejection that Muslim populace has not already risen up to this challenge.

Most of us have genuinely felt the anguish of riots in India against Muslims and now the open season on Islam in the west. I have argued and written extensively about them, but all of them pale in comparison to the self-destructive plot these vulgar perpetrators hatch in the name of my religion.

Those who kill in the name of purity of their religion, only succeed in trawling it through the mud and bringing shame to those who labor towards the ideal of humanity that is sullied time and again.

It is time for Muslim all over the world, to denounce discriminations that Muslims in Muslim majority countries heap on the minorities. In the last couple of decades fascism has found a home in religious extremists all over the world including the US, India and Muslim countries. Those who do not stand up against such forces in their communities or find reactionary justifications for them are at best unwitting enablers and at worst stealthy helpers.

When others practice cruelty and mayhem against Muslims it hurts and we resist and fight against it. When Muslims do it, we need to fight even harder in the name of Islam, Humanity, and decency. We should condemn it, resist it and fight against it with even greater resolve. Otherwise our protestations sound hollow, because they are!

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