Holy war

It takes a sacrilegious video to unite the Muslim world

If attacking the US, German, British consulates, killing people who had nothing to do with that sacrilegious video and banning YouTube wasn’t enough, our government has now announced a holiday to mark the “Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool Day”. Even if one were to ignore Pakistan’s fragile economy and the fact that every single holiday costs some serious dough to the national exchequer, if you need to take a day off to remember the person you believe to be your spiritual role model, there is something seriously wrong with your faith. And why now? Just because an idiot patches up a 14-minute-footage to insult your religious sentiments, you need to soothe your inner insecurities by taking a day off from work? Faith, they say, is supposed to move mountains, but ours can’t even take a pathetic attempt at mocking religion –that’s how strong it is.

Violence in the name of religion is the natural corollary of this insecurity. We don’t realize that by getting all worked up and manifesting hostility there is no one that is insulting our religion more than our own selves. The message being given out by the Muslim world is simple: all you need to do is wake up one fine day, post something idiotic on the internet and we’d come out in hordes, either demonstrating hostility by burning down our own property or attacking American consulates to pacify our souls. And if we are of the ‘moderate’ creed our ‘protest’ would be non-violent, which would involve waking up late afternoon, doing nothing all day, and rejoicing at the fact that we get a three-day weekend. So basically our expression of religiosity involves two things: violence or indolence.

Both violence and indolence have unfortunately been incorporated into the Muslim ethos. We’d be Shias and Sunnis and kill each other over trivial sectarian differences not missing out on any opportunity to depict aggression, loathe and despise until someone else gives us the slightest of excuse to redirect that detestation. And then we’d be the flag bearers of Islam, all under one flag, calling for the heads of every single ‘non-believer’ on the surface of the planet. It indeed is a pity that it takes disrespect and scorn to imbue ‘religious’ sentiments inside us – it is a pity it takes a blasphemous video to unite the Muslim world.

Here’s a question: is Islam the only religion that is being mocked on the internet? Do we see Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists or Jains burning their own countries or the consulates of other nations protesting insults against their religions? Sure, Islam calls for due punishment for blasphemers, but then so do most of the religions. Why is there a $3.3 million – raised from the original $2.7 million after the YouTube video in discussion – killing bounty for Salman Rushdie while Dan Brown still leads a relatively peaceful life despite his blasphemous allegations against Jesus Christ in The Da Vinci Code? Were core Christian beliefs not hurt by said accusations?

Sentiments of every single religion are being put to the sword all over the world on a daily basis and chopping off heads – or even calling for it in the name of religion – is a medieval way of protecting your ideological beliefs. You want to make sure people respect your religion? Stop reacting exactly like the maker of this video would’ve wanted you to react; stop being the primary antagonist of the script that was designed to defame your religion.

Followers of all religions can dig out something blasphemous from even the sheer existence of other religions owing to their interpretations of their own beliefs. Do we not realize that by killing someone because of blasphemy against Islam, we’re giving other religions the license to kill Muslims according to their interpretation of their own ideologies? And if it continues, this would take us all the way back to the holy wars and crusades, and we’d all be clamoring “an eye for an eye” as we vie to cement our religious superiority by dint of the proverbial sword –were it an eye for an eye anymore, we’d all be blind.

If you really want to launch a holy war, if you really want to ensure that the flag of Islam flies higher than the rest of the religions let’s fight against other ideologies and see followers of which religion can make this world a better, a more peaceful place to live in. If you really want to launch jihad, struggle against your own intolerance and insensitivity for other beliefs first – amateur B-grade film makers should be the least of your concerns.

The writer is a staff member and can be reached at [email protected]

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