At the very outset, I would appeal to readers to think impartially, rather than reject outright what doesn’t sound like music to their ears. Also, I ought to clarify that I am far from being an anti-Muslim bigot or Hindu rightist, as many of my previous pieces on this portal would make crystal clear. Nor am I an uncritical admirer of the Israeli state, and I believe that like the Pakistani state, being a country created in the name of a religion and a product of a partition of a country, it has again, like the Pakistani state (please note that I am not, in the least, making any negative generalization about the Pakistani populace), emerged as a very big human rights violator in the name of religious identity. I must also clarify that Islamism (to be distinguished from Islam as a religion) is a totalitarian ideology of imposing supposedly Islamic values and having a contemptuous attitude towards those regarded as “enemies of Islam”, and cannot be equated with the religion Islam per se (indeed, there are similar totalitarian movements in all major religious groupings across the globe), nor can the adherents of the ideology of Islamism, referred to as Islamists, be equated with Muslims in general. Nothing in this article is meant in the least to stereotype all Muslims or even all practising Muslims, and I would urge anyone with any resentment against Muslims in general to read this e-book of mine available for free download.
It was reported in February 2016 how a certain area called the Abu Fazl enclave in a tucked corner of New Delhi serves as a major hub for publication and dissemination of jihadist and extremist literature (which is not surprising for me, given the open endorsement of the Taliban by Imam Bukhari of the Jama Masjid or anecdotes I have heard from Mr. Shams Tabrez, who teaches me Urdu, of how terrorist Masood Azhar’s speeches were a rage among sections of rural Muslims in the Bhagalpur district of Bihar who had faced Hindu extremist violence during the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir agitation, as were songs praising Osama bin Laden even before 9/11). Some of the books sold by these publishers (at below market prices in order to ensure mass consumption) includes titles like “Israel’s Deliberate Deceptions” and “The Jewish Protocols – The First English-Urdu Translation of the Secret Documents of the International Zionist Plan for Greater Israel”. As evident from the titles, these books feature a very dangerous combination of conspiracies and hoaxes, clubbed together with some self-serving interpretations of the Quran and some non-contextual verses to serve as the perfect tools for instilling hatred for Jews and Israel among the masses. Some of the authors that happen to form the reading list of these publishers include Hassan Al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and Maulana Abul A’la Maududi, founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the breeding grounds for terrorists all across South Asia. Such was Maulana Maududi’s fanaticism that as a Pakistani, he wanted non-Muslims in Pakistan to not get citizens’ rights, and when asked by a rational Pakistani judge Justice Munir, whether it would be fine if Hindu-majority India decided to treat its Muslim minority in the same fashion, Maududi said he had no objection whatsoever!
Many Indian liberals are deeply ignorant of the existence of Muslim communalism in independent India, others seek to deny it and still others seek to sympathise with it, citing supposed oppression by Hindus, exaggerating Muslim victimhood (very typical of what Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz has described as the “regressive left”), but contempt for Jews, who have never harmed Indian Muslims, or sectarian tensions in India, like Shia-Sunni violence or maltreatment of Ahmedias in India, or curtailment of females’ rights in Muslim communities in India in different ways, like disallowing them from playing football or acting on stage in some cases, cannot be conveniently explained away on that basis, and while Muslims certainly shouldn’t be stereotyped in a negative fashion, Muslim extremism has its roots in a certain brand of Islamic theology and socio-political worldview based on the same, considered integral by several (not all) Muslims to their Muslim identity, even without having actually necessarily suffered maltreatment, nor can all Hindus, Jews, Christians and Buddhists the world over be labelled as “oppressors” of Muslims, and even going by the legal frameworks in theory, Muslim-majority countries often don’t give non-Muslims equal rights, while the reverse is usually true elsewhere. Indeed, there have been and are other tendencies contrary to a modern framework of human rights in other religious groupings too, but given that Islam is a relatively recent religion in world history, as Lt Gen Ata Hasnain of the Indian Army points out, it has yet to substantially undergo the churning that many other religions have undergone, and I have discussed a possible template for Muslim reformation here. Generalised bigotry towards Muslims would only help boost, not fight, Muslim extremism.
Speaking of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion or The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion, it is an antisemitic hoax purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination. It was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages, and disseminated internationally in the early part of the 20th century, source material for the forgery consisting jointly of Dialogue aux enfers entre Machiavel et Montesquieu or Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, an 1864 political satire by Maurice Joly and a chapter from Biarritz, an 1868 novel by the antisemitic German novelist Hermann Goedsche, which had been translated into Russian in 1872.
Adolf Hitler and the Nazis publicized the text as though it were a valid document, although it had already been exposed as fraudulent. After the Nazi Party came to power in 1933, it ordered the text to be studied in German classrooms. The historian Norman Cohn suggested that Hitler used the Protocols as his primary justification for initiating the Holocaust—his ‘warrant for genocide’.
The Protocols purports to document the minutes of a late 19th-century meeting of Jewish leaders discussing their goal of global Jewish hegemony by subverting the morals of Gentiles, and by controlling the press and the world’s economies. It is still widely available today and even now sometimes presented as a genuine document, whether on the Internet or in print in numerous languages.
I do not support a lot of the propaganda one hears about Israel and Jews. Not too long ago, an employee of my brother’s, who happens to be an Indian Muslim, told me that he had given a friend of his, also an Indian Muslim, a DVD of the movie Schindler’s List on the genocide of the Jews by the Nazis, and his friend was disappointed with him for having shared with him a movie that showcased the plight of the Jews who, in his (my brother’s employee’s friend’s) opinion, ought to be hated. To cite another anecdote, again not too long ago, an Indian Muslim friend of mine who is a law student intending to specialize in human rights overseas told me that some people in her family (comprising well-to-do lawyers, and hence, educated people with considerable exposure) found her keen interest in the Holocaust surprising, and she rightly complained that it was hypocritical on the part of such Muslims to complain of being stereotyped for the wrongdoings of some but themselves doing the same for other religious groupings. Then, I recall a conversation I had with another Indian Muslim friend, who is a doctor, and she told me that the Israelis use lethal weaponry, while the Palestinians just pelt stones. I pointed out to her that on one hand, not all Israeli citizens resort to violence and on the other, there are Palestinians who also engage in suicide bombings and firing of rockets killing innocent civilians, fundamental facts that just cannot be glossed over.
But these anecdotes did not come as a surprise to me, for I recall that after the Gaza Flotilla incident in 2010 (in which Israeli commandos attacked peace activists of diverse faiths and nationalities traveling to Gaza), in the Orkut community ‘Indian Muslims’, some of the worst expletives were used for the Jews, and I saw several Indian Muslims doing the same even in other relatively peaceful times in Orkut communities and Facebook groups specifically dealing with the Israel-Palestine conflict, to the extent of praising Hitler (little do they realize that were it not for Hitler’s barbarianism, Israel would have perhaps never come into being). I was simply disgusted when I saw this video of Asaduddin Owaisi spewing venom against Jews as a collectivity (not to be confused with his brother Akbaruddin Owaisi who allegedly outraged Hindu religious sentiments), saying that they had “always been enemies of Islam” and endorsing the jihad in Palestine, without clearly specifying what he meant by jihad in this context, and I see this as being hate speech as much as the alleged hate speech delivered by Varun Gandhi in Pilibhit, also given that India has a Jewish minority, which has produced illustrious personalities like writers Nissim Ezekiel, Shiela Rohekar and Esther David (who were interestingly not Zionist) and Major Generals Jacob and Samson in the Indian Army, and indeed, like elsewhere across the globe, there are vehemently anti-Zionist Jews in India as well. Indian Jews also made great contributions to Bollywood in its formative phase, as you can read about here, here, here and here. Interestingly, while there is no dearth of rational Muslims who have condemned the communal politics of the MIM, as you can see here and here, it seems to have caught the fancy of several supposedly secular columnists like Ajaz Ashraf. It also disheartened me to learn that a Muslim MLA in Bihar from the RJD had, some years ago, objected to the visit of an Israeli ambassador to Bihar and the signing of several agreements between the governments of Bihar and Israel, which would help in promoting economic development for the Bihari people (irrespective of religion), though I am quite sure that there would have been no such opposition from that Bihari Muslim politician had the Iraqi ambassador visited Bihar during Saddam’s tenure and such deals been signed, the genocide of the Kurds (who were Muslims) notwithstanding, or had the Sri Lankan ambassador paid a visit to Bihar, in spite of the genocide of the Tamils. Many Muslims protested against the Israeli premier’s visit to India in 2003. Also, several Indian Muslim leaders have also said that India must take into consideration “Muslim opinion” in the context of its relationship with Israel – as though Indian Muslim opinion on this issue is uniform or that all Indian Muslims, including very impoverished ones like impoverished Hindus, even have an opinion on this issue, when it actually isn’t the case. Some Muslim clerics in Kerala asked Muslims to not cheer for Western countries which are friendly with Israel in football matches (though I’m sure many Indian Muslim soccer fans won’t change their team preferences based on this cleric’s views!). Jews in Mumbai were even issued threatening letters from Muslim extremists in July 2014. There happened to be this Orkut community of Indian Jews asserting that they are Indians first that mentions posters saying “Yahudi ko maro, shaheed ho jaao” (kill a Jew and become a martyr) are put up in many Muslim areas in India but at the same time, clarifies that not all Indian Muslims are to be stereotyped for this.
Chanting the mantra of humanity does not help in dispelling misconceptions about a collectivity of people, as I have realized from my experience of engaging with Islamophobic Hindus, but a clear, coordinated attempt at dispelling prejudices, which led me to write the book that I have mentioned right at the outset of this article, can actually help if the person is open-minded enough. Hence, I would attempt to do the same here, but without delving into ludicrous conspiracy theories about 9/11 and the likes being Zionist plots, and in that context, I would just post a video of an enlightened Pakistani journalist – and in any case, there is much literature contradicting those theories. Muslim readers would do well to note that there are baseless conspiracy theories against them as well, such as the Kaba being a Shiva temple owing to the black stone vaguely resembling a Shiv-ling citing non-existent Arabic texts, and believing something only because it sounds like music to your ears does not help solve problems! To label, without any basis, all Jews outspoken in favour of tolerance to Muslims or vice versa as having some hidden agenda or being sponsored by vested interests is similar to making such a generalization for all Muslims who condemn terrorism.
Thus, at the very outset, let us examine Asaduddin Owaisi’s claim of Jews always having been enemies of Islam. Islamic theology, as a matter of fact, actually provides no room for hate-mongering or violence against any religious grouping as a collectivity, least of all Jews.
For a practising Muslim, the ultimate touchstone of any such claim would be the Quran. So, we can, at the outset, cite some verses from the Quran advocating peace, religious tolerance and human brotherhood-
“Let there be no compulsion in religion.” (2:256)
“Do not let your hatred of another people incite you to aggression. Cooperate in righteousness and piety, but not in sin and aggression.” (5:2)
“And do not let ill-will towards any folk incite you so that you swerve from dealing justly. Be just; that is nearest to heedfulness” (5:8)
“If anyone slew an innocent person, it would be as if he slew the whole mankind and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole mankind.” (5:32)
“And insult not the deities of the non-Muslims, lest they insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge.” (6:108)
“…take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.” (6:151)
“Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: For Allah loveth those who are just.” (60:8)
“You unto your religion, me unto mine.” (109:6)
In fact, even in Chapter 9 of the Quran which deals specifically with a war to be waged against those non-Muslims who violated the constitution of Medina (which gave full freedom of religion to non-Muslims), verse 6 clearly mentions that those non-Muslims who wish to make peace with the Muslims should be given sanctuary by the Muslims.
There are verses specifically talking of fighting Jews and Christians too, but they relate to specific events when some specific people from those religious groupings posed a threat to Muslims. Also, it must be noted that Abu Bakr, Prophet Muhammad’s companion and the first Caliph, laid out rules of warfare that prohibit killing women, children and priests of any faith, cutting alive trees or even killing animals except for the sake of food.
Thus, there is no room for stereotyping an entire community as an enemy, or worse still, engaging in violence against its innocent men, women and children, going by Islam. However, let us also have a look at the Quranic verses explicitly dealing with the Jews. It must be noted that the prophets of the Jews like Moses, Abraham, David, Ishmael, Solomon, Noah and the likes are also considered prophets in Islam, which is why the Quran very explicitly states that Jews are “ahl-e-kitab” or “people of the book” or “people of the scriptures”. Now, let’s look at a Quranic verse specifically dealing with Jews-
“And among the People of the Scripture is he who, if you entrust him with a great amount [of wealth], he will return it to you. And among them is he who, if you entrust him with a [single] silver coin, he will not return it to you unless you are constantly standing over him [demanding it]. That is because they say, ‘There is no blame upon us concerning the unlearned.’ And they speak untruth about Allah while they know [it].
But yes, whoever fulfills his commitment and fears Allah – then indeed, Allah loves those who fear Him.”
Thus, the verse makes it clear that there are both good and bad Jews, just like there are good and bad people in any and every religious grouping.
Also, doctrinally, no religion is closer to Islam than Judaism. Both prohibit idol-worship, both are monotheistic, both have similar dietary regulations (halal/kosher) and both advocate circumcision for men. And unlike Christians who worship Jesus as God incarnate as His own son (an idea Islam disagrees with, regarding Jesus only as a prophet), Jews have no such beliefs or practices. In the light of this, let us have a look at the following Quranic verses-
“Say, ‘O People of the Scripture, come to a word that is equitable between us and you – that we will not worship except Allah and not associate anything with Him and not take one another as lords instead of Allah’.” (3:64)
“They are not [all] the same; among the People of the Scripture is a community standing [in obedience], reciting the verses of Allah during periods of the night and prostrating [in prayer].
They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and hasten to good deeds. And those are among the righteous.
Indeed, those who disbelieve – never will their wealth or their children avail them against Allah at all, and those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally.” (3:113-116)
Thus, it is clear that as per the Quran, not all Jews will burn in the hell-fire! Furthermore, the Quran reiterates this in the following verse-
“The believers, Jews, Sabeans, and the Christians who believe in God and the Day of Judgment and who do what is right will have nothing to fear nor will they be grieved.” (5:69)
The following verse also hints in this direction-
“Indeed, those who have believed and those who were Jews and the Sabeans and the Christians and the Zoroastrians and those who associated with Allah – Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed Allah is, over all things, Witness.” (22:17)
Pointing out the similarity in the dietary regulations between Judaism and Islam, the Quran allows Muslim men to marry Jewish women in the following verse-
“This day [all] good foods have been made lawful, and the food of those who were given the Scripture is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you.” (5:5)
In fact, the role model for every practising Muslim, Prophet Muhammad, demonstrated on several occasions how hatred can be fought by way of humanitarian affection, and if someone suggests that I, as a non-Muslim, should not take interest in Islam, then how does he/she expect non-Muslims to not misunderstand his/her religion?
In this context, I recall reading a newspaper report following the ghastly 26/11 Mumbai attacks (Nariman House, a Jewish locality, was also targeted in the same), in which Jews from Mumbai were quoted as saying that they had enjoyed excellent relations with the local Muslims for centuries, and that in a recently opened Jewish school, many Muslim parents had admitted their children as they would get halal food. Indeed, the Muslims of Mumbai impressed not only the local Jews but the world at large by refusing to bury the bodies of the terrorists, and Thomas Friedman, an American Jewish public intellectual, wrote a column praising the Muslims of Mumbai, and he has written very many columns opposing human rights violations by the Israeli state machinery and opposing Islamophobia, even supporting the demand for a mosque at Ground Zero, though as a well-wisher of Muslims, I do not support that idea owing to the polarization it can create in the American society, including possibly, violent backlashes against innocent Muslims.
It may also be noted that there are several Hadiths that necessitate La Ilaha Ilallah (the belief in one formless God) as a prerequisite for going to heaven, but do not mention accepting the prophethood of Muhammad as being a necessary prerequisite. You can see many such Hadiths here, and going by that logic, devout Jews would most definitely qualify to go to heaven as per Islamic theology.
Thus, Islamic theology provides no room for hate-mongering or violence against innocent Jews. In fact, the role model for every practising Muslim, Prophet Muhammad, demonstrated how hatred can be fought against by way of humanitarian affection by enquiring about the health of an old woman (who was not Muslim) throwing garbage at him daily. Hatred can never drive out hatred.
I know there would indeed be some Muslims who would argue that I should not talk about Islam, being a non-Muslim, but the question is – if no non-Muslim were to have taken interest in Islam, then how would non-Muslims embrace it (though I personally have no such intentions) or at least not misunderstand it?
However, moving beyond theology, let us examine some of the stereotypes that exist about Jews. All Jews are not elite businessmen controlling the economies of their respective countries. Many of them are not that well off and are into other vocations. Even in Israel, for instance, there are Jews who are doctors, teachers, labourers, taxi drivers and the likes. Furthermore, while it is true that historically, many of the rich money-lenders in Europe were Jews, it is because the Catholic Church had prohibited usury then, and since Christians then were extremely intolerant of the Jews, blaming successive generations of theirs for the crucifixion of Christ (even though ironically, the New Testament of the Bible accords the Jews a special status of being “God’s chosen people”), the Jews had no other way to survive but for becoming money-lenders so that they could be allowed to survive, and though Deuteronomy 23:19 in the Old Testament of the Bible, which the Jews believe in, explicitly mentions that usury is barred for “brothers”, the brotherhood was taken to mean fellow Jews, which meant they could lend money to Christians.
Further, let us explore the creation of Israel and the human rights violations committed by elements in the Israeli state machinery and see whether these have the consent of the entire Jewish community globally. Speaking of the creation of Israel, many Jews, including those living in Palestine, had opposed its creation strongly, including Albert Einstein (have a look at this letter written by Einstein and several other eminent American Jews). Einstein had said-
“I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish state. My awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest.”
Erich Fromm, a Jewish social psychologist, went to the extent of saying the following-
“The claim of the Jews to the Land of Israel cannot be a realistic political claim. If all nations would suddenly claim territories in which their forefathers lived two thousand years ago, this world would be a madhouse.”
Israel indeed has a thriving civil society that fights for the rights of Palestinians, and here is an article about them. Indeed, many Israeli writers have condemned the wrongdoings of their own government.
There are Israeli Jewish playwrights who have tried to sensitize people to the Palestinian narrative through their plays. There are strongly anti-Zionist, religious Jews who want to undo the creation of Israel, have the Palestinian refugees return and live as Palestinian citizens (have a look at this article and this one), though I do not believe this is a practical proposition. There is a group of Jewish women called ‘Women in Black’ protesting against human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, and as one of their members, following the noble tenets of Judaism puts it – “I couldn’t be a Jew and not get involved with Women in Black.” A Swedish activist of Israeli origin declared after being attacked aboard the Gaza Flotilla – “We promise that we will go again and again to Gaza, until Gaza and Palestine are free.” There are also more moderate Zionists criticizing hard-line Zionist positions and praising Islam as a beautiful religion and hard-line Zionists are annoyed with the space the liberals have come to occupy (just like communal Hindus despise tolerant Hindus calling them “pseudo-secular” or even “sickular”), these ‘liberals’ including some Jews who go to the extent of being biased in favour of the Arabs! There have been several instances of Jews and Muslims saving lives of people of the other religious grouping in the spirit of humanity, which lies at the heart of all religions – speaking specifically of Islam, verse 5:32 of the Quran cited above makes it clear that saving the life of any innocent human being amounts to saving the entire humanity) and of Jews having built mosques for Muslims.
A liberal Canadian Muslim intellectual of Pakistani origin, Tarek Fatah, has, in his acclaimed book The Jew is Not My Enemy highlighted another devastating impact anti-Semitism has had on the Islamic world by deepening the sectarian divide among Muslims. While Islamists have targeted Fatah alleging that he denigrates Islam and stereotypes Muslims in a negative fashion, these are false allegations. Fatah defended Islam from the vile attacks made on it by ex-Muslim Wafa Sultan (here is an article by an Islam-basher criticizing Fatah for the same), and far from stereotyping all Muslims in a negative fashion, Fatah has clearly stated-
“Unfortunately, whereas the religious right in Islam is well funded and well organised, the liberal secular Muslim is too busy leading a 9-to-5 life, paying his mortgage and providing for his family and thus has no time or resources to challenge the Islamist extremists.”
Now, coming back to what he has to say about anti-Semitism deepening the sectarian divide among Muslims, please read these excerpts from his book.
In fact, historically speaking, several Arab Muslim rulers like Salahadin, Umar and Suleiman were very tolerant to the Jews, even giving them positions of power, and so were also the Arab kings who ruled over Spain. Even today, interestingly, in Iran, for example, which is a vociferous critic of Israel, Jewish citizens of Iran are given complete religious freedom, and they run their own hospitals, libraries, religious schools and even a newspaper, and a seat is reserved for them in the Israeli parliament, and they also have a history of contributions to the Iranian army. Many of them are proud Iranians refusing to migrate to Israel, even rejecting monetary incentives by the Israeli government. Iranian Jews have also come out on the streets protesting against human rights violations by the Israeli state machinery (just as Indian Muslims have often publicly protested against wrong actions by elements in the Pakistani state machinery). Ayotullah Khomeni, in spite of his extremist outlook, had rightly declared that Iranian Jews ought not to be seen as extension of Israel. To know more about this, please have a look at these videos here and here. However, I do condemn the anti-Israel hate-mongering by very many (though not all) Iranian politicians.
This widespread antisemitism, which Muslim reformer Bassam Tibi has described as “a contamination of Islam” exists owing to a flawed narrative of global Muslim victimhood, which in turn, bases itself on the concept of a Muslim ummah or a global Muslim fraternity, which is anachronistic in a time when we have pluralistic nation-states with strong bonds of secular nationalism within them on one hand and international human rights activism (people of diverse faiths and nationalities boarded the Gaza Flotilla) on the other, for as many Muslims point out, the fundamentals of Islam lie in its five pillars. Even going by the Islamic scriptures, humanism and country-oriented nationalism trump pan-religious nationalism, as you can see here.
Thus, Muslims in their respective countries, following their religious edicts, should be humanistic nationalists of their respective countries devoted to the truth. To defend the wrong actions of Muslims is not in line with Islam. Prophet Muhammad himself said that Muslims must stop fellow Muslims from oppressing anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim. To quote the relevant Hadith (Shahi Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 43, Hadith Number 624)-
“Narated By Anas : Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one.’ People asked, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?’ The Prophet said, ‘By preventing him from oppressing others’.”
Thus, Pakistani Muslims, for example, while being loyal to their country, ought to be vocal against those in their country who resort to terrorism against innocent Indians (including Muslims, for bombs and bullets don’t differentiate on the basis of religion, and indeed, Indian Muslims have been victims of attacks by Pakistani terrorists), Afghans (most of whom are Muslims) and non-Muslims in their own country, other than human rights violations by their security personnel in Balochistan and the erstwhile East Pakistan, and to their credit, many of them have (I have written an article praising such Pakistani Muslims). As for those believing in conspiracy theories, they ought to read this article.
Likewise, Indian Muslims (and Indians of other religions) must condemn human rights violations by the Israeli state machinery but must also condemn human rights violations in the form of terrorist attacks by sections of Palestinians. And, in the spirit of humanism, while opposing human rights violations anywhere and everywhere, also, in the spirit of Indian nationalism, place Indian national interests at the forefront of analyzing India’s foreign policy. If India having economic and strategic relations with Israel helps the cause of our prosperity and security, then our Indian Muslim brothers and sisters should have no objection to the same, and indeed, they too have only to gain. Many Indian Muslims have indeed contributed in a positive way to our national security, like nuclear scientist Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam (who is a son of a Muslim cleric and received madrasa education in his childhood along with regular schooling) and hundreds who have defended India’s frontiers against Pakistan, many even winning gallantry awards. Brigadier Mohammad Usman and Havaldar Abdul Hamid stand out in our military lore.
In fact, speaking of Islam not coming in the way of delinking oneself from one’s race or tribe, it may be mentioned that Pathan (also known as Pashtun or Pakhtun) Muslims possibly have Jewish ancestry, which has even reflected in many of their customs, and in this context, I would request readers to have a look at this article and this article on an Indian Pathan Muslim who is a lover of Israel and studying there, who alludes to the possibility of this theory being accurate, and here’s a video on him too.
The votaries of global Muslim victimhood portray any conflict between a Muslim and a non-Muslim country as an attack on the Muslim ummah, and cite the US occupation of Iraq for gaining control over oil reserves in the same light, overlooking that Pakistan invaded the sovereign kingdom of Balochistan (and the case in Kashmir is very different) for the same reason, and these very people hardly point out that US neo-imperialism reflected themselves in the Vietnam war too, when Vietnam is not a Muslim-majority country or that Indian military and paramilitary personnel have committed excesses not only in Muslim-majority Kashmir but even Hindu-majority Assam, just as the Pakistani military has committed excesses in Muslim-majority Balochistan and (the erstwhile) East Pakistan. Perhaps no country in the world has a fully clean human rights record, judging by international human rights documents (which also mention access to food, housing and a clean environment as human rights); so, it makes little sense to single out Israel and demonize it. Saudi Arabia is also a US ally and perhaps has the worst human rights record, wrongly justifying the same under the banner of Islam (here’s an article on that by a Muslim), but how often do we hear these Islamists bashing Saudi Arabia, even when it decided to demolish historic mosques (have a look at this article and this one too) or when it bombs innocent civilians in Yemen. In fact, Israel is a stable democracy, and democracy is a doctrine close to Islamic theology (the concept of shura in the Quran) with some political parties in Israel emphasizing peaceful relations with the Palestinians, and one such political party has indeed even made considerable electoral headway. There are Israeli Jewish journalists ridiculing their own extremist leaders, and peace-loving Israelis are vocal on the social media too!
Also, Palestinians living in the occupied territories apart, it must be noted that Muslims residing within the borders of Israel have been conferred equal rights as Israeli citizens, and have become army generals, cabinet ministers, Supreme Court judges and the likes, other than being governed by their own personal laws, and with any non-Muslim having complete freedom to embrace Islam as his/her faith. Muslims in Israel, like in India or the United States, enjoy better civil liberties than Muslims in many, if not most or even all, Islamic states do, and in many cases, even better security of life and property (take, for instance, Pakistan, where Shia-Sunni clashes, Sindhi-Mohajir clashes in places like Karachi, secessionist violence in Balochistan, and most importantly, in the current context, terrorist attacks by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have taken far more lives of innocent Muslims in recent years than Hindu-Muslim clashes in India). In this context, this video of a practising Muslim of Pakistani origin who changed from being antisemetic to being a lover of Israel is a must-watch, and even this news report recounting the experience of an Indian Muslim delegation to Israel is a must-read.
India has condemned human rights violations by the Israeli state machinery time and again, as it well should, but why should it not develop friendly relations with Israel? I have the same attitude towards a section of Indian Tamils that doesn’t want India to have good relations with Sri Lanka owing to the problems of the Sri Lankan Tamils, and as an Indian, I emphasize that Indian Tamils should see themselves as Indians first (have a look at this article of mine), and indeed, I expect even Indian Jews to identify with India rather than Israel as many of them do (and I dislike the fact that some Indian Jews join the Israeli defence forces rather than their Indian counterparts), and for that matter, speaking for myself, as an Indian Hindu, even I identify more with Indians of other faiths rather than Nepalese or Indonesian Hindus or American whites who have embraced Hinduism, for example.
Interestingly, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said that he had no problem with India having friendly relations with Israel, appreciating India’s commitment to the Palestinian cause. In fact, India supports a pragmatic solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, which necessitates the creation of an independent Palestine alongside Israel, a solution supported even by many moderate Palestinians, but that will be possible only if a section of Palestinians that is resorting to terrorism gives up that un-Islamic path and Israel can feel secure that Palestinians recognize its right to exist. The creation of Israel was wrong even in my opinion (though there are many others, including those not in the least prejudiced against Muslims and even Muslims themselves who disagree), but undoing it would neither be practically possible nor even fair after so many decades. It would be akin to partition refugees in India and Pakistan going back to their homelands on the other side of the border and trying to reclaim their houses from those currently living there or Red Indians in Canada and the United States wanting to drive out everyone else living in those countries (including very many converts to Islam and Muslim immigrants from across the globe)!
Such a compromise in the larger interest of peace is in line with the tenets of Islam. To quote from an article –
“Sheikh bin Bayyah reminds us that Prophet Mohammed signed the treaty of Hudaibiyah with his oppressors to keep peace in society. When his opponents rejected the first line of the treaty drafted by Muslims, the Prophet erased references to Allah as ‘compassionate and merciful’ in line with demands from Mecca’s non-Muslims. Not content, they then required the Prophet delete mention of ‘Mohammed, the Prophet of God’ – in other words, the Prophet’s entire raison d’être was rejected. The Prophet made the changes, the Hudaibiyah agreement was signed. At what price? The very basis of belief in God’s characteristics and the Prophet’s purpose dismissed – but agreed by the Prophet himself for maintaining wider peace in society.”
While Prophet Muhammad’s life does illustrate this beautifully, let me cite a verse from the Quran to drive home this point-
“And do not make [your oath by] Allah an excuse against being righteous and fearing Allah and making peace among people. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” (2:224)
Explaining this verse, Prophet Muhammad said-
“If anyone takes a solemn oath [that he would do or refrain from doing such-and such a thing], and thereupon realizes that something else would be a more righteous course, then let him do that which is more righteous, and let him break his oath and then atone for it.”
Thus, Prophet Muhammad even suggested that compromises could be made on the tenets of Islam for the larger cause of peace and goodwill; here, it’s only a question of recognizing the territorial integrity of a country in existence since decades, and indeed, the Holocaust was among the most terrible events in world history. Once that is done, Israel would have no excuse to hold on to Gaza and West Bank, and non-violent resistance of the Gandhian variety (which has no room for stone-pelting) can help win more international sympathy for the creation of an independent Palestine. Indeed, Mahatma Gandhi (read this article to clarify any misconceptions you may have about him), who had opposed the creation of Israel, used to read the Quran in Arabic with understanding and was killed by a Hindu extremist for trying to protect and safeguard Indian Muslims in the wake of the partition, had said that satyagraha is a form of jihad!
Also, to all those left-leaning non-Muslims who act as apologists of Islamism, I may point out that be it the Communist Party of Pakistan being banned soon after Pakistan’s creation despite large sections of the Communist Party of India (including those with Hindu names) having supported the creation of Pakistan, the purging of communists by Islamists in Iran after the shah was defeated despite both having fought together against the shah, communists like Abdul Sattar Ranjoor being targeted by Islamist militants in Kashmir and so on. For extreme Islamists, leftists can be used as “useful idiots”, but this atheistic ideology has no room in their larger project. Believe it or not, in one of the pieces of antisemetic literature hailed even by several mainstream Arab journalists, Marxism has been described as …….. a Jewish conspiracy!
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