Journalist Tavleen Singh is here to make our Sunday non-boring. Today she has taken upon herself to ‘defend’ Naseeruddin Shah and the Islamists who cancelled him while accusing ‘Hindutva trolls’ of abusing him. Bollywood entertainer Naseeruddin Shah was attacked by ‘liberal’ and ‘moderate’ Muslims for urging Indian Muslims not to hail Taliban and cautioned them against celebrating Taliban returning to power in Afghanistan.
Here are five absolutely senseless things Tavleen Singh said in her column on Naseeruddin Shah.
Naseeruddin Shah was attacked by ‘bearded mullahs’
Au contraire, it was actually the educated, ‘liberal’ and Indian Muslims who identify themselves as ‘moderate’ who were quite unhappy with Shah advising Indian Muslims against siding with Taliban.
“An attack from bearded mullahs with prayer bruises on their foreheads was no surprise,” she claims in her column. One can see, so-called journalist Saba Naqvi and Editor of pro-AAP blog Janta Ka Reporter Rifat Jawait are hardly ‘bearded mullahs with prayer bruises on their forehead’.
Unlikely The Wire journalist, who was upset at Shah cautioning young Indian Muslims against glorifying Taliban is also a ‘bearded mullah’.
So you see, it was not the bearded, orthodox and overly religious men who were upset on Naseeruddin Shah’s comments. Wait. It was not only the bearded, orthodox and overly religious men who were upset on Naseeruddin Shah’s comments on Taliban, but the educated Muslims, many of whom work as journalists who were unhappy with Shah’s comments. Tavleen Singh skipping this part just shows how she just wanted to obfuscate the issue and put the blame on ‘Hindutva trolls’.
‘Hindutva trolls mocked Naseeruddin Shah’
Tavleen Singh feels that the Hindus questioning and ‘mocking’ Naseeruddin Shah for claiming India is unsafe for Muslims last year was a bigger crime than Indian Muslims attacking Shah for asking them to not glorify Taliban. She claims being a Muslim in India is not easy. She talks about cases of alleged ‘hate crimes’ where Muslim men were beaten up for not chanting Jai Shri Ram. She brings up this bogey even though there have been ample number of cases where these ‘hate crimes’ turned out to be fake.
Recently, Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of so-called fact-checking website Alt News posted a muted video of an elderly Muslim man being beaten up. He claimed that the old man was beaten up for not chanting Jai Shri Ram and that his beard was also chopped off.
In subsequent tweet he claimed that the man was forced to chant Jai Shri Ram.
It was later revealed that the old man, Abdul Samad Saifi was beaten up by his co-religionists who were upset because the ‘taveez’ (amulet) he gave them had adverse effect. Saifi was also an occultist and had made up the whole ‘Jai Shri Ram’ chant story. Here are 20 such incidents of fake ‘hate crimes’ where Muslim men had falsely claimed they were forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’
Similarly, Singh, to further her claim that Muslims in India have it hard, she cites example of one bangle seller who was allegedly beaten up in Indore for selling bangles in “Hindu area”. She conveniently forgets that that the man was accused of harassing a minor girl and was also in possession of fake Aadhaar cards. Somehow, crime such as harassing a minor girl is forgiven if accused is Muslim and that, somehow, makes it harder for Muslims to live in “Modi’s India”.
Of mushairas and qawwalis
Tavleen Singh defines Indian Islam as if it is all about mushairas, qawwalis, niharis and biryanis. As if the hardliners and Islamist group like Taliban does not enjoy mushairas and biryani themselves. So much that Naseeruddin Shah played role of a famed ghazal singer Gulfam Hassan who moved to Pakistan after partition and hosts regular concerts in Delhi. He also used to work for Pakistani intelligence in the movie and wanted to have a proxy war with India.
So clearly, mushaira and biryani loving Muslims cannot be extremists is a very weird position to hold.
Here is what Tavleen says about ‘Indian Islam’: “Mr Shah is right when he says that Indian Islam evolved into a religion that dealt well with modernity. So, it shocked me to hear a leading light of Hindutva declare on a primetime show that there was only one kind of Islam and only one kind of Muslim. He then spat out the numbers of verses in the Koran that recommend violence against infidels and unbelievers.”
The thing is that it is indeed true that there is only one kind of Islam which believes in the Quran and that the Quran refers to all those who do not believe in Allah as Kafirs, and killing and beheading Kafirs is permissible as per the Islamic holy book.
Surah 4 (An-Nisa) Verse 56:
Indeed, those who disbelieve in Our verses – We will drive them into a fire. Every time their skins are roasted through, We will replace them with other skins so they may taste the punishment. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted in Might and Wise.
Surah 98 (Al-Bayyinah) Verse 6:
Indeed, they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the worst of creatures.
Surah 4 (An-Nisa) Verse 34:
Men are in charge of women by (right of) what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them, guard. But those (wives) from whom you fear arrogance – (first) advise them; (then if they persist), forsake them in bed; and (finally) strike them. But if they obey you (once more), seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.
This is universal Islam and ‘Indian Islam’ is really no different.
Things started changing for Indian Muslims in 90s
Tavleen Singh then very conveniently, without being explicit, tried to blame the Indian Muslims asserting their religious identity was an outcome of the demolition of disputed structure at Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya often referred to as “Babri Masjid”. The structure was demolished on 6th December, 1992 leading to widespread communal riots in the country. She talks about the 90s in Kashmir but very cleverly ignores the Kashmiri Hindu exodus where the Islamists and terrorists supported by Pakistan drove away Hindus from their very homes.
Tavleen, like many ‘liberals’ wants to believe that the seeds of radical Islam in India were sown only in the 1990s. However, truth is far from reality.
We do not need to go as far back as the partition of India after the Independence. When Muslim hardliners carved out a chunk of India into a separate Islamic country. And let us also not talk about how millions of Bengali Hindus were slaughtered. Or in 1921 Moplah Massacre in Kerala where thousands of Hindus were killed just for being Hindus.
The truth is that the seeds of radical Islam in India were sown somewhere in the late 70s and 80s with Saudi Arabia started the international propagation of Salafism and Wahhabism. Funded by petroleum exports, this was world’s largest propaganda campaign. Hundreds of Islamic colleges, Islamic centres, mosques, madarsas were built in countries with Muslim as well as non-Muslim majority. Millions of copies of the Quran were printed and distributed worldwide.
In around 70s and 80s, many Indians, especially Muslims went to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries for work. They would return as ‘purer’ version of Islamic belief. With the monies, bigger mosques and madarsas were built in India, including in rural parts.
The Muslims in India had now started identifying themselves as Muslims and wanted to know and embrace their religion unadulterated.
This was followed by the reversal of Shah Bano judgement by the Rajiv Gandhi government. In 1986, the Indian state headed by Rajiv Gandhi set a dangerous precedent of catapulting to Muslim hardliners. The Mohd. Ahmad Khan vs. Shah Bano Begum & Others case and the subsequent legislation passed by the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1986 is often remembered as one of the most important moment in India’s political history.
So, no, Tavleen Singh, you may have noticed radical Islam in India in 90s, after you took break from your mushairas and concerts, but the radical elements have always been around.
Indian Muslims learnt from Indic religions
Tavleen had saved the best nonsensical stuff for the last. To conclude, Singh claims that Indian Muslims have ‘dealt with modern world’ better and that they have learnt a great deal from Indic religions. No, Talveen, no Indian Muslim, even an educated one would admit this. That’s shirk.
Further, to see demonstration of how well Indian Muslims live with people of other Indic religions, have a look at Kashmir where the Hindus were driven out of their homes and had to wait for 30 long years for abrogation of Article 370 for them to go back home. Even recently in Noorpur, Uttar Pradesh, Hindus had to put up ‘on sale’ boards on their homes and were considering fleeing their homes fearing persecution from hooligans of Muslim community.
Moreover, Pakistan was Indian Islam only till partition in 1947. Look where the minorities in Pakistan stand. Had it not been for persecution of religious minorities in neighbouring islamic countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, Indian government would not even need to bring in Citizenship Amendment Act to fast-track Indian citizenship for those who had escaped persecution in these countries just because of their non-Muslim identity.
What Tavleen Singh says are nice good words by her while living in safe and posh spaces. And now that people like her have repeated them so many times that they have started believing their Utopia.