The WhatsApp Republic: Unfriending Saudi King Salman And Learning To Be Politically Savvy


Our mornings earlier started with roosters crowing, loud gurgles of the old neighbor, swoosh-swoosh of water flowing (If it is flowing from the taps for the few lucky Indians.) or the sweet sweeps of large brooms cleaning the front-yards. Gone are those backward days. Now our Ache din start with screechy Good mornings, from our phones as early in the day as is possible. Fuming at such ‘important’ messages is made easy by the next missive on Vipasana from Baba Ramdev stable. Before you could even start work of the day, there are some 752 messages from the groups; you have been added to, without your consent because what is consent?  In WhatsApp Republic it’s an unnecessary word, a dystopian Republic where it’s dangerous to have questions and one where people eat drink sleep and make misery online.

Among other virtues, WhatsApp has been known to lull your conscience to sleep, numb your senses (if you are getting hundred messages per minute during IST, that is a given.] and making any logical argument ( rare yet possible in WhatsApp Republic) null and void. Despite such benefits [Add to it, it’s being free, we Indians love anything that comes free. We will buy a whole tree if you give us one lemon free with it.] Mornings start with Good Warnings, oops, mornings and evenings end with compulsory Good night messages. In between I guess the “Whatsapp Forwards Manufacture Unlimited “factories work hard night long, creating some enlightened stuff for the common general innocent masses of the Republic, for the next WhatsApp Good Warning.

Now go back to your phone and check how many Whatsapp messages have been delivered to you, meanwhile?

Winner is a loser here.

WhatsApp originator Jan Koum an immigrant lived on a hillock where running water was a luxury. This man must have known the value and worth of hard work, and taking a cue from its founders, we see so many hard workers, day and night busy on his venture, yes, working hard, to bind India together through rumours of cow-mongering, child-lifting, loving the wrong person [ Thou shall love under our supervision.]  and such like from Delhi to Kanyakumari. The WhatsApp factory runs like a well oiled wagon chasing a cattle transport vehicle.

We Muslims hit the target, when it comes to WhatsApp . But we are more interested in emotion-mongering. Though the old tradition of chain messages still exists( where you die, if you don’t forward or your son meets with an accident.) , we have moved on to videos that make us teary. In a tear hurry we forward them to all. Recently a video showing a Malaysian head of the family dying mid family-prayer went viral on Muslim Whatsapp. The sobs start after the family completes their prayer. Message says,it’s the height of piety. Our Muslim bros shed buckets of tears for this ‘supposed’ death but have no idea what Rohingya plight is all about, whose features are not very dissimilar to the healthy Malaysians. mashaAllah!

We do share emotional pain of others. One must agree.

Recent Trump visit got prime time importance on  Whatsapp Republic. But you see our perspectives are totally different. In one such forward Trump is seen obliging King Salman and having water from his right hand.The Ummah was joyous! The Whatsapp Ummah was ‘more’ over joyous. The tyrant US had been made to bow down to Muslims. The message said,

King Salman tells Mr. Trump to drink with the right hand and he immediately did it. But Muslims find it difficult to adopt this Sunnah. Why?

This why is mysteriously an enlightened entity here, if you get the ‘drift’ of it.  It’s useless to ask whether any Whats’app forward can be enlightened. There are two things to be learnt, of course from King Salman.

1: Dawah by Practice:

Look, how King Salman is asking President Trump to be a good boy and drink in the Islamic way, from his right hand. This is called Dawah with practical demonstration.

The best dawah is through our virtuous balanced conduct, our humane ways of behavior. Imagine if our marriages were dowry free, everyone in the world, would be in awe of us saying, Muslims treat their women respectfully. Wow! But in the absence of that, distributing pamphlets and getting into long drawn out speeches, and clichéd arguments, make people yawn.

2: Self-Preservation at any cost.

Dear ummah can try emulating the king.  For this they would need to be Pragmatic, Practical and Professional, in their attitude and the way of handling the issues. Let’s be like King Salman, who mends all fences, minds nothing else but shrewd business, and keeps in mind his and his people’s profit above everything else. King Salman did what was best for him and his people. This is called Self-preservation. It came expensive for him, around 110 billion $ arms deal. Try calculating it in Indian demonetized Rupees and chances are you asking for a glass of cold water.

But this Whatsapp Ummah is beyond any care, at last they had made ‘Gold Medalist in killing Muslims’ take advice from the “leader of the ummah” . Never mind if the caretakers of the Kaaba, didn’t (or couldn’t.) ask Trump to stop bombing countries in faith, or about Rohingyas or stopping the oppression at Gaza? Of the Palestinians, their brothers in faith and race?

Nope. They didn’t. ( Or couldn’t.)

Let’s learn from King Salman. Let’s be pragmatic and think  Self Preservation. If he being a billionaire, trillionnaire or more can be self preserving, we should be more so. Let’s come out of all our illusions. There is no global leader today worthy enough, deserving of our respect. We need to be on our toes to bring our people to prosperity of thought and living.

Also,let’s understand, not every occasion is an occasion for dawah. Restrain and discretion are important civil values. Learn to hold your horses. Not every occasion is a good chance. The best dawah[call to Islam] comes through your virtuous conduct, behavior and character.

We see two kind of sharp reactions to Saudi Arab on the social media. One is full of hatred towards its policies, second revering it as the true leader of the Muslims of the world because of their service to the two holiest places in Islam. The venom that spills over, among these faith-brothers is enough to put out your spirit for the rest of the week. Interestingly and generally most of the world takes Saudi to be a terrorist supporter but United States of America, takes it to be its buddy.  Irony dies, err, closes its accounts on Facebook and Twitter, when some of us celebrate Saudi Kings as leaders of the elusive ummah while decrying US of A for its bombings and vile shenanigans in the Muslim countries.

Let’s take care of our own basic issues first. Let’s come out of all our illusions about anyone being our Savior or  Messiah.  No one, absolutely no one is coming to your aid or rescue if you find yourself in a situation. You have to help yourself. And help your fellow beings. Let Saudi do what it deems fit for its survival and good benefit, and let us stop fuming over its foreign policy nor expect it to come to our aid.  Abusing or idolizing Saudi just won’t do.

Also note, the House of Sauds are doing nothing for Islam and the Muslims, what they are doing is called, Self preservation.

Let’s stop outraging or defending Aal e Saud and their alleged lack of brotherly feelings for the Muslims and take care of our own issues. We are the best people to do our job. Make your politics local. Be strong at the base. Think of your own profits first and say a little prayer. Let’s learn to be politically savvy.

Next time your fingers crave for a WhatsApp forward, take a deep breath, go and talk to a friend in real, teach a child, help them speak a language, sketch a portrait  , paint a picture or just listen to their dreamy child talk. Our future needs such basic work out for it to be bright. I have seen scholarly people discuss problems of the country sipping teas, sitting near open drainage, trash heaps and screaming horns of chaotic traffic. That indeed needs courage.  We excel in our ability to, ’not see’, the issues and problems staring in our face. Not seeing is not feeling. If we really feel our situation should change for the better in today’s India, then we need to hold hands together. To become the source of strength for our youngsters can be the first step.

Dr.Asma Anjum Khan is Asst prof of English. She has written for  prestigious national and international publications on social ethical  and gender related issues. Twitter @Khanum00



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