By Asma Anjum Khan
We Muslims, Moslems, Musalmans or Muhammedans are a very interesting people. We have many nice habits. Like, we discuss a lot. We like to discuss, and we discuss for discussion’s sake. We believe in aesthetic pleasure and practise the art for art’s sake. After discussing an issue to its fullest, threadbare, postmortemmed, we do not heave a sigh of relief; and without wasting a second we jump on to the next topic.
This, you must accept, is an admirable quality amongst us folks.
Our discussions can be long, winding and yawn inducing.
What types and kinds of issues we discuss?
Top of the list is cricket. We discuss it like anything or everyone else.
Our second top most topic of discussion is our religion, Islam. While discussing this chosen topic, we use the choicest of verbal flavors. This is for the purpose of better explanation. It helps educating the parties in discussion. We swear and spout profane oaths, for truth must prevail. It also shows we are passionate about our causes and concerns. Our enemies (and we have not a few) call us names.
But often we don’t care and name-calling is a harmless activity, anyway.
See an example below for name calling:
What is your name, sorry your caste, sorry your sect?
Bastard, don’t come in my mosque.
You, rascal, step out of your mosque and we will see you.
We often discuss our issues in such friendly banter. People make an issue of our issues.
During our discussions, frequently you will hear, words like, you kafir, you kafir. This too, as you know is for bringing some rhythm to the longish discourses. We adopt this strategy of screaming Kafir, when bored with discussions and want a way out.
After this, we go out and have a pizza.
This is our strategy for eating pizzas and nothing else, but we are damned for this purely innocent trick of takfeering.
Secondly, we discuss sects in Islam or Islam in sects. Anyone with a sharp wit can see the wisdom hidden. We fiercely stick to our points and whatever proof-shroof one presents, we maul it bravely. We defend our sects, taking it to be our duty. Anyone talking about Islam in-between is regarded as a traitor to the cause or yes, called a Kafir. In return, we too receive the same and take it to be a certificate of merit from the enemy. In the days of social media, we go on a liking spree and post stuff on sects in Islam or Islam in sects, always going emotional, with pics that warn, if you don’t share/forward this, you will earn a surefire Hot Seat in hell. If this doesn’t work (Usually it doesn’t; people don’t fear hell fire, imagine!), we threaten them.
Those who won’t forward/share this post with their friends, relatives and relatives of relatives, then one of their close relative might die. (This usually works.) But once a guy wrote to us: I am forwarding your message, will my Ma-in-law really die? After our assurance, he looked happy but returned with a complaint soon. The forward hadn’t worked and his Ma-in-law was now kicking his butt. We would laugh at the poor guy for months forward.
Our third topic of interest, for discussion for discussion’s sake, is emotional posts on Iraq, Syria, Burma and such countries with pics of children; one who is sleeping inside the chalk drawing of his mother or a boy beside a grave. These are kinda popular posts with our folksies. Frequently or infrequently, we keep sharing posts on Palestine. It’s our favorite wailing wall and a perfect metaphor for our numb senses.
Wow! If we can’t speak on Kashmir, should we also stop talking about Palestine?
No way, no way. We will be speaking liking sharing posts on Palestine, Syria, Burma. We believe in helping our brothers in distress.
The next best thing that we discuss is to check on the availability or the level of eeman in one’s heart. It’s not very difficult to gauge. Those who oppose us are devoid of or weak of eeman. It is as simple as that. The moment you turn against us; hmm…you know what you are.
As per tradition, we were recently discussing the faith of a young woman activist, who was brave enough in Modi times to throw all caution to the wind and crave for justice. Yes, I am talking about immensely likeable, Ms. Shehla Rashid Shora of JNU. She should be especially noted for being a mainstream activist in Indian politics, from Kashmir. Many Muslim bodies/institutions were mum on the JNU issue when the national and anti-national debate was at its peak, or when Rohith Vemula was murdered.
But that was not what we were discussing. There was another important topic.
Was Ms. Shehla Muslim? Does her heart sparkle with eeman?
This was all what we could think about.
All through this JNU saga, our lips were mum with a palpable sticky fear. Though we had started hailing Kanhaiyya, we were cautious.
Now our hearts have become too sticky, to leap out and hail someone. They remain chipkoed and stubbornly refuse to untangle of the chipkuness. Hence when the tigress of JNU roars with anger:
Hum Adani-Ambani ke tukdon pe palne wale nahin hain, and Hum Adani ke hawai jahazon mein udne wale nahin hain;
You will find us, changing our sides.
In our cushy sofas.
We feel awkward, we feel uncomfortable. We are stunned to see this daredevil girl, chirping.
Bol ke lab azad hain tere!
Now we start feeling more uncomfortable. (We who don’t want to disturb our equilibrium.)
We want some air.
At this point, our fertile mind snaps out a recipe to save us from this misery of thinking in a meaningful way.
We quickly don our sectarian religious gear and ask stoutly with a straight face:
Is Shehla Rashid a Moslem? Is she a Muslim?
Is she a committed Marxist? (This we ask with a smirk.)
We know the answers, yet we ask.
It is for our own pernicious satisfaction.
By ensuring eeman in Shehla’s heart, we actually put on display our own.
Some Arastus among us can even go a step further and demand: where is Shehla’s hijab? Is she even a Muslim?
So it must have become clear to you all now, how much we care, worry for and discuss our ‘real’ issues that plague our people.
Photo-credit: Outlook India
Asma Anjum Khan teaches English, dreams a lot and talks more than a lot. Read her at your own risk.
The piece first appeared on TwoCircles.net
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Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on ‘JNU and Its Tradition(s) of Dissent’, edited by Malavika Binny, JNU, Delhi, India.