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Islamic Society ( 30 May 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Zaira Wasim Showcases What Is Wrong with Muslims

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

 

31 May 2020

 

Zaira Wasim tweeted a Quranic verse which talks of God’s wrath on ‘sinful’ people. The verse in question is 7:133 which reads,

 

So We sent upon them the flood and locusts and lice and frogs and blood: Signs openly self-explained: But they were steeped in arrogance, A people given to sin’.

 

 Zaira Wasim’s Tweet

This verse talks about how God punished the people of Egypt for disobeying his commands. The story and the context within which it is set is common to Islam, Christianity and Judaism. But to quote this verse in a context when locusts are actually devastating crops in many parts of India is to say that God is sending them to punish Indians who are not just arrogant but also knee-deep in sin.

 

Zaira Wasim has quit Twitter and Instagram after receiving flak for her tweet about locust attacks.

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Zaira would have us believe that the farmer whose crops were laid waste by swarms of locusts is only himself to be blamed because despite clear signs and warnings from God, he did not mend his ways. It is pertinent to recall that that the young actor recently quit Bollywood after discovering that Islam does not allow her to work in such a profession. Ever since, she has been tweeting verses from the Quran and narrations from Hadees with the zeal of a new convert. 

 

Since most Indians are Hindus, this particular tweet of Zaira is insulting because it is basically telling them that they are in sin as they do not worship the one true God and do not walk on the path shown by Islam. In an atmosphere where religious tolerance is the need of the hour, this tweet of hers will only add fuel to the fire.

 

Nearly eight decades ago, Gandhi blamed the practice of untouchability for the devastating earthquake of 1934, which brought death and destruction in Nepal and Bihar. Gandhi suggested that the earthquake was ‘a divine chastisement for the great sin we have committed against those whom we describe as Harijans’. It was certainly wrong of Gandhi to invent religious reasons for a natural phenomenon and was rightly chastised by Tagore. Yet, he had a higher purpose for doing so: eradicating a social evil which had plagued Hinduism for centuries.

 

Zaira’s tweet serves no such higher purpose. Rather, it makes fun of millions of Hindus just for having a different religious orientation.

 

This problem is not limited to Zaira Wasim. Many Muslims share her position. While some rightly called her out, most ended up supporting her, arguing that the attacks on her are only the latest example of Islamophobia in India. Some even went to the extent of saying that it is her freedom of expression to do so. Certainly, freedom of expression should be absolute and should also mean the freedom to offend, but most Muslims do not understand that those critiquing her are also exercising their freedom of expression.

 

Even when Muslims realise that a certain Quranic verse is problematic, they end up justifying it because they think that critiquing the Quran is blasphemous. The Muslim belief that each and every word of the Quran is true and eternal is partly the reason why we see even sane Muslims justifying the stance of Zaira and many others like her. As the ‘uncreated’ word of God, the Quran becomes coeval with the Almighty Himself and therefore finding faults within the Quran becomes tantamount to finding faults with God. It was this blind deference to this religious text which a group of Muslim philosophers called the Mutazilas were trying to challenge but which eventually did not succeed. They argued that the Quran was ‘created’, which could have paved the way for revisions or the development of critical hermeneutics of the text.

 

The Christians were able to make this possible because they believe that the Bible is inspired by God but is not the literal word of God. In taking the position that the Quran is word of God, Muslims have tied themselves up, as this position does not allow any criticism of this text.

 

Immanuel Kant argued that Enlightenment, which changed the face of Europe, was not possible without the praxis of criticism. Critique is fundamental to the progress of knowledge, it opens up newer perspectives of looking at the self and the world, which unfortunately is in short supply in much of the Muslim world. Our intellectual stagnancy can be linked to our reluctance of not being critical towards some of the core assumptions in Islam.

 

Till the time we do not ask some tough questions related to our religious tradition, Muslims like Zaira Wasim will continue to write in a language which is insensitive and ignorant, to say the least. The really unfortunate part though, is that they will continue to do so in all earnestness, without realising that they are doing immense harm to the society in which they are living.

 

Arshad Alam is a NewAgeIslam.com columnist

 

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-society/arshad-alam,-new-age-islam/zaira-wasim-showcases-what-is-wrong-with-muslims/d/121994

 

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  1. Mr. Arshad crosses all limits of reasonableness and logical thinking while interpreting a simple quote of Zaira Wasim. He does so partly because he has little understanding of the Quran.

    Allah does not send calamities without forewarning and making known what Allah is unhappy with. It is not for us to interpret "Acts of God" any way we wish. The calamities that followed forewarnings through prophets form part of the story of each prophetic mission.

    Not every natural calamity is a punishment from Allah. For example, read the story of Yusuf (pbuh). The King has a dream and Yusuf interprets the dream as a period of 7 years of plenty followed by 7 years of famine. He takes charge and shows how to store and preserve food grains in times of plenty and manage during the period of the long famine without suffering to the people. In this story is a lesson that natural calamities have natural causes unrelated to the bevaviour of the people and the people must do all that is possible to anticipate and prepare for these occurrences to mitigate the harm and suffering.

    Now coming to Zaira's quote, it is clear that she sees the punishment of Allah in the calamities but her beliefs are not different from the beliefs of others irrespective of their religion. If Arshad had put himself in Zaira's shoes, he would have understood what she may have most likely meant. We know that her people have suffered a prolonged lockdown. It is understandable that she sees the lockdown on account of the virus as a lesson to the rest of the world which ignored the plight of her people. Why go beyond the obvious and interpret it as an attack on the faith of others? 

    By Naseer Ahmed 07/06/2020 03:12:49
  2. A correct stand. A good article with lucid reasoning ,besides exposition of historical roots of the debate. 
    By Alam Zafir 01/06/2020 03:18:33
  3. "We" refers to we the thinking people. It does not include you. And I never said I am the only one who reads the Quran correctly. I did not even say I read the Quran correctly. I am sorry if I am the cause of your being distraught.
    By Ghulam Faruki 31/05/2020 23:28:51
  4. Once a journalist asked musician A R Rahman who his favourite personality was. His quick answer was Prophet Mohammad. Being in films does not mean that you should forget your religious roots. Zaira Wasim speaks from the Quran and Hadith. So what's wrong? In a country where leaders and activists openly make brazen communal remarks (Goli maro saalon ko) a mere qouting of a verse of the Quranis interpreted as communal and aimed at Hindus. Natural disasters and calamities are believed to be the result of wrath of Allah or of God's in all the religions. Even in Hinduism. She just reminded Indians that these calamities are a warning for us collectively as we have sunk deep into sins. Apada ( which in Persian became afat) are the result of collective paap. It is believed by Hindus. So Zaira Waseem's tweet was only reminding Indians of their sinful ways so that they could reform themselves. There is nothing communal and religion specific.
    By Arshad 31/05/2020 22:30:09
  5.  We require introspection of our own thoughts and beliefs to be able to realize a plural and secular framework in tandem with our traditions
    By Meera 31/05/2020 22:27:33