March 1999 News

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My Islam does Not Teach Me to Kill

8th March 1999
The Times of India
By: Sultan Shahin

The religion of those who have been on a killing spree in Jammu and Kashmir, is completely alien to my understanding of Islam. I am deeply offended to think that I share my religion with such marauders. But what about those who claim to represent Muslims and are the most vociferous defenders of the faith? And where are the ulema, the learned men and women of Islam? Surely these scholars owe it to Islam to speak up against a crime?

As for the Muslim leaders, their silence is even more painful than the killings in Jammu. That hapless Hindus were massacred on the eve of the Prime Minister's visit ot Pakistan makes it clear that for these murderers -- who call themselves Muslims and have the support of a so-called Islamic state -- human beings are merely a pawn in their political game. And the myopic, self-serving and self-styled leaders of the Muslim community have no compunction in virtually endorsing these barbaric acts with their total silence.

Devilish Acts

Until a week ago, several of them, particularly the Shahi Imams, father and son, were crying themselves hoarse against a mere visa granted to Salman Rushdie. Rushdie's magnum opus, The Satanic Verses, is still banned; he continues to remain under the life sentence ordered by Ayatullah Khomeini, in violation of all canons of civilised behaviour. Even if he makes use of his visa, he will not be able to move around freely. But apparently his very presence on the country's soil will offend these great defenders of Islamic faith and bring Qeyamat, the cataclysmic day of judgement, closer.

What kind of a faith is it that does not mind the presence of dastardly killers of innocent people on the country's soil, but will protest against the presence of a great writer who happens to have inherited this faith and is trying to contribute towards its evolution into a more modern religion? Is the Islam of the Shahi Imam or Syed Shahabuddin the same religion that we Muslims have inherited and some of us have consciously chosen to accept as our way of life?

The Hindus of Jammu and Kashmir must be feeling terribly insecure. They are bound to wonder what kind of religion Islam is that it allows its followers to commit such devilish acts with impunity, ostensibly to further its own cause? For, this is what these devils claim -- that they are out to establish an Islamic state in Jammu and Kashmir.

From the standpoint of th Hindus, it must seem as if these brutes represent true Islam; further, that they must have the support of Muslims going by the latter's silence. Had it been otherwise, surely these crimes could not have been perpetuated in the name of Islam? Muslims kill Ahmediyas in Pakistan for calling their worship-places `masjids' and for reciting the Islamic kalima, La Ilaha IllalLah, Mohamadur Rasoolullah, (There is no God except Allah and Mohammad is his Prophet). The Ahmediyas are doomed to die simply because they disagree with them on the interpretation of an expression that occurs only once in the Holy Quran. Would a tolerant community have allowed these cowardly murderers to go around indulging in such senseless killings and thus denigrating the great religion of peace, Islam? Is Islam really a religion of peace?

Religion of Peace

Hindus in Jammu and elsewhere must be asking these questions. They have every right to. I have no idea how so-called Muslim leaders view their religion. But the religion I inherited and later chose to identify with is truly a religion of peace. The revelation of divinity in Islam is specifically described as compassion. Allah calls Himself Rahmanir Rahim, the very acme of kindness and compassion, at least 124 times and assures of His mercy 173 times in Holy Quran. Although Islam "allowed" its followers to defend themselves with weapons of war at a time when they truly faced annihilation, it has been very strict in enforcing respect for the human rights of civilians and prisoners of war.

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