“War is against the teachings of the Holy Quran. I’m not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger. We don’t take part in Christian wars or wars of any unbelievers.”
This is what US boxer Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay before he converted to Islam, had to say when he refused to join the US army (register for the draft) for the Vietnam War. He was convicted for his stand, though the conviction was overturned a few years later thanks to the US constitution that grants one immense personal liberty.
However, what Ali professed was similar to what two-nation theory believes in – where Muslims are part of one common nation (the ummah) and the political boundaries of a country don’t define the concept of a nation. He put his faith above his country. In fact, at that time, Ali was a member of an orgnanisation called “Nation of Islam” that considered white people as evil and asked for separation of races.
Back then, though Ali became a villain for many, he could also get a lot of support as he presented his extremist religious beliefs nicely peppered with talks about injustice against black people in the US. The larger anti-war sentiments also made him a hero for many, who were willing to ignore his extremist religious views as it came wrapped in talks of justice, equality, peace, and brotherhood (though Muhammad Ali’s idea of brotherhood was entirely different then).
Incidentally, this same strategy is adopted by Jihad waging Kashmiris to get popular ‘liberal’ support in India – they camouflage their religious supremacist beliefs under the garb of human rights, injustice, and self-determination.
A terrorist openly says that he is fighting for Islam but our liberals just want to hear that there is injustice in Kashmir. Almost similar to what the left back in US heard only race and injustice against black people though Ali said that he was refusing the draft as “I either have to obey the laws of the land or the laws of Allah.”
If one has to fight against terrorism, one has to drop the political correctness and call a spade a spade. This camouflaging of religious bigotry and supremacism has to be called out.
But guess what our media does. It has problems with camouflage military caps that Indian cricket team wore on Friday in a match against Australia.
And most absurdly, an Assistant Editor in Times of India asked the Indian team to emulate Muhammad Ali who refused to back his own army. He called the Indian team “wannabe Army men” for this symbolic standing by our men in uniform who have been battling supremacist ideologies and sacrificing their lives to keep us safe.
What does this person want by asking the Indian cricketers to take inspiration from Muhammad Ali? That someone like Mohammed Shami should have refused to wear the cap citing his religious beliefs and should have claimed that Indian Army is fighting Muslims in Kashmir? In fact, almost certainly, if such an incident takes place, it will be a dream come true for our ‘liberal’ media.
Muhammad Ali was a great boxer, he was a sporting legend. But that doesn’t mean that everything he said or did becomes a gold standard. Years later after the draft incident, Ali accepted that some of his beliefs were too extreme and he left the Nation Of Islam, though he continued following Sunni Islam. There are also speculations that perhaps Ali feared being killed by the Nation Of Islam if he didn’t take such an extremist position.
However, for some in our media, his beliefs and deeds are worth emulating and our Indian cricketers did a great disservice to sports by standing by the army instead of refusing to support the army. This article in Times of India was not the only one, another one in Huffington Post’s also attacked the cricketers for sporting the camouflage military caps.
In recent times, there has been a spurt of articles that have tried to attack nationalism and downplay Islamic bigotry. Not just downplay, but a series of articles have been published to whitewash the bigotry; an alleged hate tracker declared that the terrorist who blew up people for ‘drinking cow urine’ was not communal.
Such narrative is being built not just in political or ideological fields, but as we can see, now it is being pushed in sports too. Entertainment was already captured with such narratives being championed by various placard friendly Bollywood celebrities.
Pakistan ha surely got its narrative right, and currently it’s leading by an innings and 44 runs.