By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam
18 Aug 2012
In an article that featured in a reputed Urdu newspaper, some Delhi-based Muslim youths are reportedly appealing to boycott the Buddhist shops and not to buy anything from the Buddhist Monastery Market located at Majnu Ka Teela in Delhi. They are doing the campaign by texting each other SMSes and emails. (Sahafat, Delhi, 16 August 2012) They think that Myanmar, being a Buddhist-ruled government, is deliberately not taking any action to better the situation of the Muslims.
In another news item we read that in Lucknow and Allahabad, people took to streets and their protests turned violent. They damaged vehicles, beat up people and broke the cameras of media persons. In the Buddha Park in Lucknow, the statue of the Buddha became the target of these miscreants, who call themselves ‘Muslims’. They don’t realise that Buddha must be one of the prophets (peace be upon all of them) sent by God and his stature is thus in no way lower than our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Attempts were made to deface the statue but they remained unsuccessful.
The same story was repeated in Allahabad and Kanpur. However situation was brought under control with the police rightly acting tough.
The spill over of the sectarian violence that began in early June in Myanmar’s Rakhine state is affecting not only its surrounding regions but also the minds of the people. The state’s majority Buddhist Rakhines have been frequently clashing with the Muslim Rohingyas, who are called Bengalis and not considered a fellow ethnic community.
Going back to the history it may be recalled that Dhaka has not succeeded in repatriating the thousands of Rohingyas who crossed the border in 1978 and 1991-92. Myanmar has repeatedly refused to take back the refugees, questioning their identity. Repatriation has been slow as Myanmar has been insisting on determining the identity of the refugees as many of them either had not acquired a state identity or had to leave everything behind to save their lives. The ethnic Rohingya Muslims, classified under a 1982 law as stateless citizens, have been treated as illegal immigrants in Myanmar.
Myanmar is a multi-religious country with 60 million people. It has 89% Buddhists. The rest are Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Bahais. The bulk of the Muslim population entered what was then Burma as indentured labourers from the Indian subcontinent during the British rule.
The recent unrest in Myanmar began after the law-enforcers in the Rakhine state detained three Rohingya men in connection with the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman. The news spread like a wild fire, that the Rohingya men were responsible for the offence, the Buddhists retaliated by attacking and killing 10 Muslims, who were not Rohingyas. In retaliations that followed, a huge number of people were killed and many cases of arson and loot took place, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency in the troubled areas.
Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to play a reconciliatory role in the changed political scenario. She has urged the nation’s majority to show sympathy towards minority groups. President Thein Sein is also taking positive steps to end the long-standing armed conflicts with the country’s ethnic minorities.
A class conflict is being given a communal shape by the Muslims by using the fear psychology. Muslims have a habit of acting as victims, and behaving as if they are constantly being oppressed by the non-Muslims. Hence, they argue, if they do not retaliate then they will be subjugated in all the countries where they are minorities. They say that their ‘rights’ are being violated in the non-Muslim majority country, so it is a must for them to cry for their rights.
Perhaps they fail to realise that most Muslim countries, around the world, are famous because of the violations of the rights of the non-Muslims. The best examples would be Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. In Saudi Arabia, there are only two options given: either you become a fundamentalist Muslim or you become a radical Muslim. There is no third option. Actually, it is the only country on the face of this earth that does not allow any religious building to be built except the mosque. They do not know the Quran, written in their own mother-tongue, which says:
“And had it not been that Allah checks one set of people with another, the monasteries and churches, the synagogues and the mosques, in which His praise is abundantly celebrated would have been utterly destroyed” (22:40)
In Pakistan not a single high post has been ever held by a non-Muslim. The state of non-Muslims, especially Hindus in Pakistan is pathetic. No wonder they want to settle in India.
In India we have had four Muslim Presidents, the highest official post in our political system. The Bollywood is virtually ‘ruled’ by the Muslims. In every field of human endeavour, whether it is sport or science and technology, Muslims in India have made their mark, obviously because they not only had the talent but were given the opportunity, unlike in many non-Muslim states, where the minorities are maimed.
If, applying the same “logic”, the “logic” of these Muslims calling for boycott of Buddhist shops, the Hindus in India do the same thing here to their Muslim brothers as a protest against gross mistreatment of Hindus in Pakistan, then imagine what will happen. They would perhaps have a ‘right’ to do it, again applying the “reasoning” of these Muslims. It is a matter of personal choice. If our Hindu brothers do not want anything from the Muslim shops or markets in India then we cannot force them or even say that it is illegal. The only thing we can do and we have been doing on such occasions or even without any occasion, is claiming that ‘it is a conspiracy by the infidels to wipe out Islam from the face of the earth’.
We must see any picture from various angles to get the real meaning. Rights are for all, we cannot compartmentalise the rights and say that it is exclusively for Muslims only. We only talk of equal rights but seldom do we act on it. Muslims are protesting against the ill-treatment of Muslims in Myanmar, but why aren’t they protesting the ill-treatment of their Hindu brothers in non-Muslim countries, especially in Pakistan?
Muslims are being conditioned to see only the half side of the picture, i.e., only their side of the picture. We are hypocrites; we differentiate between people only because of their belief. We have a right to demand our rights as long as we give others their rights. Our talk of religious freedom is of no avail unless we give others their freedom of religion. I would like to end by quoting a verse from the Quran: Lakum deenakum waleya deen; to you be your way and to me mine”. But the irony is that some Muslims are not willing to accept this as a valid or legitimate part of Quran. One frequent commenter on New Age Islam Mr Mohd Yunus (not to be confused with Mr. Muhammad Yunus, the frequent columnist of New Age Islam and joint author of a famous book of Qur’anic exegesis) says in a recent post: “What you and Janab Yunus sahib(1) and some others are expressing is based on Meccan verses. Unfortunately Meccan verses are abrogated by Medinian verses. Lakum Deenikum waleya deen does not hold water because later verses say that only acceptable religion is Islam in the eyes of Allah.
I am not alone in this world to have this view. Quran is, according to Muslims, for every place and time. So are the Medinian verses.”
So, you can see, we Muslims have a long way to go in sorting out our myriad problems. As the editor of this website Mr. Sultan Shahin once told the Muslim world from the august forum of the United Nations and I am paraphrasing: “We Muslims have not done our home work for almost millennia. We better join the task with utmost seriousness and urgency.”
Aiman Reyaz is a regular New Age Islam columnist.