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Death of ASI Yunus Khan, his multiple wives, several children and “propaganda”: How these Muslims are the real ‘Islamophobics’

Are these Muslims, including Zubair, calling out ANI for their tweet actually Islamophobic, to an extent that a practice sanctioned by Islam, according to AIMPLB brings shame to them when mentioned in simple reportage?

On the 10th of September, news emerged that ASI Yunus Khan, who was posted at the Delhi Crime Branch, had been found dead in his residence. There were no injury marks found on his body. When the body of the ASI was discovered, it was immediately sent for a post-mortem to ascertain the cause of death.

The body of Yunus Khan was found at the residence that he shared with his second wife and the three children he had with her. He fathered 7 children with his other wife.

News agency ANI tweeted these details without a word of opinion or a shred of value judgement.

“An ASI of Delhi Police, Yunus Khan, was found dead with no injury on his body at his residence on Mirdard Road. Body sent for post-mortem. Posted with Crime Branch, Kamla Market, Yunus is survived by 2 wives & 10 children”, tweeted ANI.

This tweet, by all accounts, was completely factual and also adhered to a standard practise by several media houses to indicate who survives the individual, who has been found dead.

ANI has in the past added this information with several such news items. Here are some examples.

Tweets by ANI
Tweets by ANI

The information of the kin that survives a deceased police officer or army official is added essentially to add an element of empathy – he served the nation, he laid his life down in the line of duty and he has left behind a family that you must remember. These men and women aren’t just names, aren’t just statistics of the several serving officers we lose, battling crime and terrorism, but real people – people whose families will grieve their absence forever.

The purpose of ANI’s tweet was perhaps precisely that. A police officer was found dead and people must remember that they leave a family behind. However, the tweet did not go down well with those who fancy themselves as the protectors of Islam and the Muslim community.

Mohammad Zubair, one of the founding propagandists of AltNews, who is out on bail, took umbrage to the tweet, claiming that ANI was spreading ‘propaganda’.

He claimed that ANI was far more interested in reporting about Yunus Khan’s multiple wives and children instead of plainly reporting about his death. Zubair basically insinuated that ANI was attempting to inspire hate against Khan by sliding in the information about his 2 wives and 10 children. Since Zubair and his co-religionists simply love to chart everything to Islamophobia and anti-Muslim propaganda, this tweet by ANI too, was bracketed in the same category.

With the innocuous tweet of a “fact-checker” taking umbrage with facts, several other trolls descended to cry “Islamophobia”. Here are just a couple of examples.

The argument that Zubair made was, of course, that some Hindus on Social Media were mocking the part about Khan being survived by 2 wives and 10 kids, and for the purpose of this article, let us concede that these Hindus are “Islamophobic“, though, a phobia is an irrational fear and the fear of a religion that espouses “sar tan se juda” slogans can hardly be called irrational.

One has to, however, wonder why Muslims themselves found this tweet problematic. It is a fact that Yunus Khan had 2 wives and 10 children. It is not a figment of ANI’s imagination. It is also a fact that polygamy is one of the essential tenets of Islam. In fact, one of the reasons that Muslims are opposed to the Uniform Civil Code is basically to preserve their right to marry multiple women. When the Supreme Court was set to hear pleas to ban Polygamy and Nikah Halala, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board had categorically stated that these are essential practices in Islam.

In their plea, the AIMPLB argued that Mohammedan law is founded essentially on the Holy Quran and the Hadith of the Prophet, and thus it cannot fall within the purview of the expression ‘laws in force’, as mentioned in Article 13 of the Constitution.  “personal laws do not derive their validity on the ground that they have been passed or made by a legislature or by other competent authority”, and that the “fundamental source of personal laws is their respective scriptural texts”, the board said to SC. This was in 2020.

In 2018, AIMPLB said, “First, the way Halala has been presented in the court is not in accordance with Shariat. This is a thought developed on the basis of media reports, which have no relation to reality. Second, we agree that marriage to four women is allowed in Islam and has Quranic sanctions, but there are certain conditions which need to be adhered to for polygamy which the courts need to be aware of and last when the court considers a live-in relationship as a legal relationship where a man can even have 12 partners then why the court does has a problem with a man having four wives?”

Of course, there are some scholars who advocate legal modernism in Islam and say that the Quranic texts only allow polygamy in exceptional circumstances. In fact, the Supreme Court in 2015 said that Polygamy has no sanction in Islam. Now, whether the Supreme Court should get into what finds sanction in the Quran or not when an overwhelming majority of Muslims, Maulanas and authorities in Islam say it does, is the matter of a separate debate. What is established beyond a reasonable doubt is the fact that Polygamy is widely practised in the Muslim community, representatives of the Muslim community, like the AIMPLB, have said that it finds Quranic sanctions and the community, by and large, is against legal modernism or alternate interpretations of their practice, however, regressive they might be.

Once this is established, the reason for widespread embarrassment when this truth is pointed out becomes far more perplexing. Regardless of whether the Hindus are mocking this practice or not, why must a pious Muslim be ashamed of practises that he believes are ordained by the Quran? When Zubair says that pointing out a mere fact about a deceased individual is “propaganda” against Muslims, one has to wonder if a large section of the Muslim community is the greatest proponent of Islamophobia.

Are these Muslims, including Zubair, calling out ANI for their tweet actually Islamophobic, to an extent that a practice sanctioned by Islam, according to AIMPLB brings shame to them when mentioned in simple reportage? Do they want tenets held close by the Islamic community to never be spoken about because they are, in reality, embarrassed of the tenets of Islam and are, therefore, Islamophobic?

In fact, the term Islamophobia itself reveals the true intent of the Muslim Brotherhood in coining this term and the Muslim community happily furthering it. Islam as a religion has to be open to criticism and it is completely rational to be scared of certain aspects of Islam or even be amused by certain aspects because they are not in tune with the age we live in. One may want to fight “Muslimphobia” and if that is the aim, the phrase used has to be that and not Islamophobia. When one shuts down all criticism of Islam and even deems quoting the Hadiths as blasphemy and mentioning simple facts about a Muslim man having multiple wives and children as “propaganda”, one can safely argue that it is not the non-Muslim who is Islamophobic but those taking offence who are truly Islamophobic since they have a fundamental problem with their own texts being quoted. 

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Nupur J Sharma
Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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