Those ‘perpetrators’ do not embody Muslim community

hindu muslim madrasa

Brazen call for financial embargo against Muslims, by BJP MP Parvesh Verma, demonstrates new churn in communalism in India. He was speaking at a protest march conducted by VHP and other right-wing organizations against the murder of Manish Kumar, who was killed by three men with ‘Muslim names’ in Sundar Nagri locality earlier this month.

According to police reports Manish Kumar was stabbed to death in broad daylight, because of individual enmity. The murderers had threatened him with dire consequences if he refused to withdraw complaint against them. The act of murder is condemnable and maximum punishment should be ensured to perpetrators without any leniency.

But what ensued was toxic Muslim community-baiting. Speaking in the event, MP exhorted the audience to boycott entire Muslim community financially. Even the family has spoken against communalization of the issue and has requested expedition of justice. This has been the trend in recent times. Acts of few Muslims are lumped together and blamed on whole community. In Ankita Murder Case in Jharkhand, where a prurient Muslim youth pored petrol and set her on fire, entire community was put in the dock. The pertinent question is that if entire Muslim community to be held responsible for the delinquencies of few members.

While the tendency to equate all acts of Muslims with Islam and Muslim community in general may be politically expedient, it misses the opportunity to identify criminal acts purely motivated by religious ideals and other acts solely because of individual prodding. To put it bluntly, some acts, say murder of Kanhaiya Lal Teli in Rajasthan by few radicalized Muslim youths for allegation of prophetic blasphemy, are motivated purely by the misconstrued understanding of Islam. it demands different treatment while the acts of few criminal elements with scant regard to the religious teachings are be countered in different perspective.

Islam, like any other religion, enjoins some positive actions and abstention from few. ‘Shariat’, which is guidelines for practical daily life is a rejoinder for moral requisition for shared prosperity for all. Much of the Muslims do not abide by those commands completely, or few selectively follow it when it suits them temporally and spatially. According to Islam, a human life from cradle to grave is to be governed by its postulations. In strictest term, only those who, rather than being born to Islam, practices religion according to its tenets are to be understood as ‘Muslims’ while approaching the nature of commission of crimes by Muslims. Or there will be ‘cultural Muslims’ who follows religion spiritually without outward ritual expressions.

Islam and Muslim community should be confronted in the case of a Muslim who spreads libel against the nation due to his conviction that India is land of infidels. Conversion through allurement, rancid communal hatred because of misplaced belief in Islamic supremacy are issues that should be addressed to Islam and Muslim community directly. The moral and intellectual motivation for such crimes is sourced from religion, albeit misjudged out of context.

While few wayward Muslims with fancy Arabian monikers are to commit crimes, it should be understood from wider sociological perspective. Diagnosis should be conducted to examine whether religious moors prompted him or not. I am not bluffing outlandishly that Islam is anathema to violence and all members adhering to Islam are fool-proof infallibles.  Only such understanding will make conducive means for social cohesion.

Like any religion, Islam is a broader theoretical conceptualization, brought into practice by human acts. Furthermore, religions are more susceptible to exploitation through misinterpretation due to general emotional affinity populace has with that. It is a truism, that Islam is an evolving religion which is fructified through constructive interaction of critiques and assimilation. The right to critique religion for better version of it is an intrinsic concept of Islam.

I am not decrying all and sundry who censure Islam as malevolent or rancorous to Islam and Muslim. Creative criticism creates avenues for rectification of Islam, which is amalgamation of abstract ideas brought into life through concrete practices.

But, to blame entire Muslim community for the obnoxious activities of few Muslims is misplaced and prejudiced. Any individual, irrespective of his religious affiliation, is a creation of surroundings. Hence, criminal activities of Muslims not practicing religion should not be hoisted upon the community who like others detest such elements. At the same time, if religion supplies grounds for criminal activities, it should be highlighted and remedied for.

Vilification of entire Muslim community for some stray incidents will further deepen communal polarization. Dangerously, it will create alienation paranoia among the community, which is fertile manure for radicalism to thrive on.

Mubashir VP is a research scholar at Jamia Millia Islamia. He tweets @mubashirdhiu


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