Salman Rushdie’s Indian Mullah critics, listen to the message of Satanic Verses
Salman Rushdie’s Indian Mullah critics, the beardless as much as the bearded, have reason to celebrate. They have forced the government into surrender to their demand of keeping Rushdie away. How much ill-will they have created against Muslims in the country in this process, of course, does not matter to them. They are in a state of Jihad against India, the same as their Pakistani counterparts. Read the Urdu press where most of the columnists are Mullahs, some openly bearded, some with their beards well hidden in their stomachs. You would seldom find a good word about India. Nothing positive at all.
Salman Rushdie is a sideshow. It just came in handy as he was coming this time on the eve of important Assembly elections. This gave them an opportunity to show to their patrons how they could bully even the mighty Congress party into submission again. These Mullahs had only recently forced politicians to announce reservations for Muslims. From 4.9 percent (the Congress) to 18 percent (the Samajwadi). This has completely vitiated the atmosphere. A Hindu-Muslim polarisation is emerging where there was none. This would only benefit the enemies of India among the Hindu obscurantists. But, of course, the Mullahs do not care. Indeed they need the other; both sets of enemies of India feed on each other.
As for Salman Rushdie, does his novel Satanic Verses not offend me? Of course, it does. Are my religious sensibilities not hurt? Of course, they are. Particularly the fact that he gave prostitutes of Mecca the names of our beloved Prophet’s wives whom we revere even more than our mothers. But I think I am more hurt reading newspapers everyday when I see Mohammads reportedly committing the most heinous crimes; they lie, cheat, loot, rape, murder, massacre, do everything dreadful you can imagine. More than fifty percent of male Muslims are named Mohammad or Ahmad and as everybody knows we are the most corrupt people on earth. Prostitution is a profession Muslims women are very good at. Even when forced into business by devilish Muslims, Muslim prostitutes command a premium. Looking for prostitutes rich and corrupt Saudi men prefer to go to Muslim Indonesia rather than non-Muslim Thailand, for they can engage in halal prostitution there. Even today some of these prostitutes, I am sure, have the names of our dear Prophet’s wives and our dearest, most revered mothers. Like the name Mohammad or Ahmad among Muslim men, prophet’s wives’ names are the most popular among Muslim women.
So why should I be particularly offended if an atheist cultural Muslim and a great writer out to poke fun at us, seeking to grab our attention, in order to convey his message, tries to offend us by using that particular literary device. The important thing for me is to look at where he is pointing. All great men and women, scientists, artists, reformer, prophets, offend and blaspheme. That is part of their job profile. Prophet Mohammad was the greatest blasphemer, as was Jesus Christ before him, Moses and Mahatma Buddha, Hazrat Noah, even earlier and so on. They all blasphemed their ancestral religions, cultures, traditional mores. They all offended the religious sensibilities of their people. Their scandalised people were always their bitter opponents, often trying to kill them, before converting to their ideas, accepting their message and becoming stalwarts of the new Deen.
The Juhala, that our so-called Ulama are, cannot possibly read and understand The satanic Verses or any other piece of literature for that matter. Not many even among those who do normally read and enjoy literature are able to follow Rushdie’s fantasies to the end. Rushdie is a difficult read for many. But for the Mullahs the book would not have sold so much and would not be available for free on the internet.
Satanic verses is a book of fiction that contains dream sequences within the dream of a demented person. It is wrong to treat it as a discourse on Islam. However, like all dreams, realities do enter into the dream sequences. The episode of Satanic Verses is most likely pure fiction and creation of the determined enemies of Islam in its infant years. Deeply offended by Prophet Mohammad’s many blasphemies against their gods and goddesses, belief in whom was a part of Prophet Mohammad’s ancestral religion, the Quraish leaders, later stalwarts of Islam, wanted to kill him or defame him and his message in any way possible. They did many things in this context. Satanic verses could be just a part of that effort at maligning the messenger of God. But the fact remains that Arab Muslims of that period mentioned it and it was one of the relatively less known parts of Islamic history until Mullahs made Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses an issue.
Mullahs claim to be hurt with the publication of the book. But there are things that hurt other too. Don’t they know that the very existence of the Holy Quran and Muslims hurts the religious sentiments of many Christians; the message of the Gospels hurts many Jews and so on. Hindus, being the most ancient, have the right to claim feeling hurt at the existence of every other religion. So what do we do? Kill each other? Don’t let one come into other’s country. Live separately? Throw rotten eggs at each other? As Ahl-e-Hadeesis do and suggest we should.
This may be news the Mullahs that others too can feel hurt. But they do. An ordinary Muslim like me too feels hurt, for instance, sometimes. I feel hurt the most when I find a Muslim, particularly one calling himself Mohammad, lying, cheating, killing, raping. No matter how offended the Quraish of Mecca were with the Prophet’s blasphemies, they never accused him of lying or cheating or any other misconduct. No one called him intolerant of even his worst enemies and his own blasphemers. They continued to consider him Al-Ameen (The Trustworthy). Never was a word breathed about him by his enemies about even the remotest sexual misdemeanour on his part. If anyone really loved Mohammad, as Mullahs claim Muslims do, they would follow him. But we Muslims, well, we can kill and die in Mohammad’s name, saving his honour, but follow him, no we can’t do that. Too difficult. Impossible. Not in our DNA. So what do we do? We create an image of Mohammad, a deviant, pervert, cruel Mohammad, whom we can follow. This is precisely what Salafi Arabs did and today’s Salafi Muslims follow.
It is only Arab Muslims, the Quraish descendants of the original inveterate enemies of Islam, who captured power after killing all members of his family in the 48th year of his demise, who started spreading stories of his “sexual prowess”, paedophilia, and other perversions, even his brutality and intolerance of Jews and other non-Muslims to justify their own predilections. Nothing in his character or the Holy Quran shows any of this intolerance or brutality or perversion. But it is the Arab Muslims who have told and even in contemporary Saudi Arabia tell stories defaming the Prophet to justify their own perversions and cruelties and intolerance. Read the classical Sira written by Salafi Arabs.
Now when an atheist Rushdie or other non-Muslims pick up these stories and tell it in their own way, make what they would make of it, we feel hurt. But do we have a right to feel hurt, particularly when we are not calling Salafi Muslims, who spread these malicious stories in the first place, with the names they deserve. The most popular televangelist among Muslims is one Dr Zakir Naik, a darling of Salafis, who sends God’s blessings to Yazid, the killer of the Prophet’s family, every time he quotes him or takes the name of this accursed person in some context. He justifies all kinds of sexual perversions in the name of Islam. But what of him. So do Saudi Ulema and Qazis, religious scholars and judges. It is the Ahl-e-Hadeesis, not a word criticising whom can appear in the Muslim Press, who finance and organise Zakir Naik’s perversions.
Now take the very name of this Saudi-financed sect, Ahl-e-Hadees. Does the very term Ahl-e-Hadees not offend an ordinary Muslim who believes that the Holy Quran is his primary scripture? Ahl-e-Hadees means people or Muslims who believe in Hadees, that is the so-called sayings of the Prophet that were collected and concocted hundreds of years after the demise of the Prophet. This was done clearly because the Quran could not be changed and another scripture was required to serve the purpose of rulers. These descendants of the inveterate enemies of Islam had to of necessity rule in the name of Islam. Their ancestors had converted to Islam after the Prophet’s victory at Mecca obviously so they could defeat the new religion from within and capture its power, use the energies it had generated for Arab expansion and imperialism.
It is this that Salman Rushdie is pointing to in his own perverted way. The victory at Mecca and the conversion of the entire city to Islam. Some must have obviously converted impressed by the bloodless victory, completely unexpected generosity of the Prophet who — unprecedented for Arabia in such situations — announced a general amnesty for all including the vicious war criminals, and so on. But many of the elite who had lost power apparently joined as an attempt at a shot at power working from within. And how successful they were! In 24 years one member of their Umayyads clan became the all-powerful Caliph of Islam. Usman bin Affan was a generous and pious man and an early Muslim. He had fought for Islam and sacrificed a lot. But he appointed all his relatives, the former elite of Mecca, as administrators in every position of power, including Muawiah the son of Abu Sufian and the father of Yezid as the governor of all-important Syria.
Now Salman Rushdie’s demented character is imagining this newly all-Muslim Mecca where clearly many have joined Islam out of convenience and not conviction. Apart from the political elite, professional prostitutes could be another such group. Islam has no room for prostitution or any kind of illicit sex. They can’t be a happy lot. Some of them must have already had the very popular names of the wives of the Prophet, as they do today. Mischievously, Rushdie gives all of them these names. He is trying to tell us that the rot in Islam dates to the day the Prophet announced a general amnesty and allowed all of the Meccans to covert.
Did the Prophet have a choice? He was a fount of compassion for humanity, Rahmat-ul-lil-Aalemeeen (A Blessing for all the worlds). He could have at least punished the war criminals and thus saved Islam and his own family from future decimation. But this is the speculation of an ordinary mortal blessed with hindsight, knowing what happened soon after. The Prophet was a prophet. There is no point speculating on that, questioning his decision. But one thing is clear in the light of what happened later: the rot started from that day of Victory and general amnesty and permission for all to convert. Of course, the Prophet could hardly have told them not to convert. He had been appointed as messenger in order to convert them to Islam and they were now willing to convert; whatever his reservations might have been, he could hardly say no.
What is Rushdie’s goal? What has he set out to achieve in The Satanic Verses? In his own words, Rushdie has set out “to name the unnameable, to point out frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.” And he doesn’t care “if rivers of blood flow from the cuts his verses inflict”. He does not recognise any jurisdiction except that of his Muse. But the world Rushdie is going to shape is full of “walking corpses, great crowds of the dead, all of them refusing to admit they are done for, corpses mutinously continuing to behave like living people, shopping, catching buses, flirting, going home to make love, smoking cigarettes.” And this is why he has decided to use the technique of extreme provocation.
What is the task before Rushdie that is so important? Worth paying the ultimate price for a ‘poet’s work’? What does he actually do in his Verses? Well, he has tried to sow doubt and confusion in the minds of the faithful. He has asked questions that they are too dead to think about. Certainty is death, for Rushdie. Confusion, fife. This man must be a manifestation of the Satan then, the faithful would naturally say. After all, sowing doubt and confusion in the minds of believers is precisely the task allotted to Shaitan in the divine scheme of things. But what his Muslim critics have, of course, forgotten is the repeated Quranic injunction to think and consider the revelations and not to believe in them unthinkingly. But why and what would you think if you have no doubt, no confusion, no questions?
One thing, however, we should learn from this tragic point in our history to which Rushdie’s demented character is directing our attention. Having too many Muslims is not necessarily a good thing. Let us stop trying to convert people unnecessarily and feeling elated at even the likes of Chander Mohan converting to Islam, even if they do so merely to commit rape of a respectable lady. Also, let us stop forcing our children to adopt our religions. Religion should not be, indeed cannot be hereditary. Let us teach our children the essentials of all religions and let them choose when they grow up, when they are capable of understanding the nature of religion, spirituality, divinity and so on. Too many Muslims are not necessarily a good thing for Islam. This to me is the message of Satanic Verses and I think this is a message worth pondering over. Had Salman Rushdie not been forced to bear the crescent of being a Muslim, he would probably not have felt forced to define and explain his identity in terms of why he was or was not a Muslim. This business of his feeling forced to convert to Islam to save his life and then reconverting to atheism when he discovers that Mullahs cannot be appeased even with his conversion is a shameful business. Shameful for him, shameful for the rest of the Muslim community! He has paid enough price for being born in a Muslim family. Now let us let him be.
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