I wrote the article “Muslims, friends of Hindus” before the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. These attacks were really shocking. Though they happened in Mumbai they could have happened in almost any city; in the UK, America or almost anywhere. Now that this method of attack has been tried there is a very real possibility that it will be used elsewhere in the world. The level of inhumanity was chilling. One sentence that left me near to tears was from the BBC news:
“My husband was behind me and all of a sudden gunfire broke out in the corridor and they had executed a six-year-old in front of his parents.”
So, after this can I still be hopeful about Muslim and Hindu relations? Some bloggers that I respect point out how many Muslims won’t unconditionally condemn the attacks, instead giving a half apology and then trying to justify them. I sympathise with a lot of what littleindian says. From what I have read from the Qur’an I have to agree that there does seem to be a lot that could encourage violence against non-Muslims. On the other hand I would not want the Vedas judged by someone who just read a couple of chapters. As I said before, if the Gita had been interpreted by warlike imperialists for centuries then people might well look at this as an encouragement to violence. The Christian Bible has been used to justify crusades, massacres and execution of dissenters in the past. Maybe any comprehensive religious book can be interpreted or misinterpreted.
Those who carried out the attacks and those who supported them and helped to arrange it deserve to be pursued mercilessly and brought to justice. But despite my opinions on the Qur’an there are still many, many people who interpret it peacefully. They live peacefully with their neighbours and just want a normal family life. They interpret Jihad as an internal struggle for righteousness rather than a fight against other beliefs. I know Muslims who are as disgusted by the attacks as anyone else, and who do condemn it unconditionally.
These Muslims should not be tarred by the same brush as the terrorists. As the attacks unfolded I did feel despair that there could ever be peace between Muslims and Hindus. I thought that perhaps the peaceful Muslims were the exception rather than the rule. In the end though there must be hope. At one time the “troubles” in Northern Ireland seemed unsolvable. I remember when if you saw someone in a bus with an Irish accent carrying a bag you would keep an eye out “just in case” they left something behind. Today, though there are still a few incidents in Northern Ireland these are generally seen by all as criminal acts. A corner has been turned.
We should also not forget that just over half a century ago the West was fighting an enemy who had unquestioning loyalty for their cause. Their religious beliefs taught them to follow their leader unquestioningly as a manifestation of God, and to show no mercy to enemies. Their cruelty to prisoners was renowned, many of whom were beheaded or worked until they died. Their tactics included suicide attacks. In just a couple of decades their reputation changed totally, and now they are seen as staunch allies of democracy and peace.
For those who have not worked it out I am talking about the Japanese. Their Shinto religion taught them unquestioning loyalty and ruthlessness, though now it is interpreted as peace and nature loving. The suicide attacks included the famous Kamakaze bombings, but also leaving troops behind enemy lines to attack after territory was taken. If the reputation of the Japanese and their interpretation of Shinto can change so much it is not impossible that one day Islam will be interpreted and seen in the same way. It could be in our lifetime.
We must hope and support the moderates. Of course we need vigilance and those who do engage in terrorism should be shown no mercy. Those who don’t engage in terrorism should have our full support though. All of the incidents of Muslims supporting Hindus mentioned in my last post still stand. Muslims are still friends to Hindus.
Never before in its history of facing some of the bloodiest terrorist attacks has India felt so collectively crippled as it does today. It demands action, not just fancy words and empty promises from politicians.
A lot of this is our mistake, why do we elect such leaders who go upto the extent of destroying humanity to gain power. It’s high time we as individuals take up the responsibilty our nation and our fellow human beings. The question is how ?
Well heres how.. http://goindia360.blogspot.com/2008/12/all-indians-need-to-act-now.html
I followed the pingback to read your article. I wish to make a few points.
As you know in Mahabharata, at the start of the battle, Arjuna sees his step-brothers in the opposing army and questions why he had to fight.
Let us accept the war refered to is the historical event and not allegorical is some argues.
The Gita – is a narration of the alleged conversation between Krishna and Arjuna on the battle field following Arjuna’s refusal to fight.
Of the eighteen chapters of the Gita, it is only in two, the second and third, where Krishna instructs Arjuna of his duties as a warrior on a battlefield and why in certain situations war becomes necessary and the reasons why Arjuna had to fight that War. The rest of the text is Krishna revealing his true identity and discusses soul, religion, yoga, philosophy etc.
This was a conversation between two individuals about a specific task at hand. It does not advice battle against “non-believers”, idolators, or establishing a global hindu nation.
The text in Quran, gives a directive to fight a war against
1. obpression and injustice – I have no problems with that.
2. against non-believers who refuse to believe.
I have serious objections to that. It goes against my fundamental belief in equal human rights.
If, in this 21st century, ever a movement arises says the Gita (based on those two chapters of Gita) gives hindus the directive
1. to be intolerent of all other religions,
2. to wage wars to convert the entire world into hinduism 3. or to kill to wipe out a religion in entirely
– I will be one of the firsts to denounce it and burn those pages.
I expect all “moderate” muslims to do that.
I am fed up of hearing that those who kill in the name of Islam are not muslims.
Of course they are.
To me they are the honest followers of Islam – who are simply practicing what is written without denying their true directive.
I am unable to trust a “moderate muslim” for I will never know how fundamental are their unspoken beliefs.
Of course the Gita is outlining times when the only just course is to fight. I also agree that the Qur’an does seem to incite war against people of different faiths.
I think we do have to be wary, what you say about not being sure what a moderate Muslim’s unspoken beliefs certainly seems to have been true in Mumbai. They think that some of the perpetrators worked under cover for months to gain information on targets.
That said I believe it is possible to assume good faith whilst at the same time being prepared for the opposite. After all many of the people we meet could secretly be thinking about robbing us or worse. We are careful but we don’t go around thinking the worst of people.
I really think that this is what we have to do. I don’t think it would be possible or even the right thing to do to convert every Muslim to a different religion. This means that change must come from within. We should support the moderates, at the same time remaining vigilant. Long term I think this is the only hope.
I have thought about it some more, in fact I have been thinking about this post for some time. I have come to the conclusion that you are right about the big difference between the Mahbharata and the Qur’an. I think I can sum up the differences very succinctly.
The Qur’an tells Muslims to fight non-Muslims and generally divides people into two opposing groups. The Gita never does this, and in fact makes it clear that many great and just warriors will die on both sides. The Gita is about fighting for justice, whereas the Qur’an is about fighting non-Muslims.
Even so, I think that pragmatically we have to encourage those peaceful Muslims who look past this. As I said we are not going to be able to make all Muslims change their faith even if we wanted to.
some day when just, equitable, tolerant, and unifying political and social structures take root in India, and an overwhelming majority rejects in the strongest terms the fundamentalists radicals coming to power riding on the wave of despicable savage behavior, India can then move to heel wounds and provide psychological and mental help to all affected, Then we will see a decline in this kind of senseless terrorism, homegrown and imported because the terrorists will not aided by the locals.
[Tandava: inline video changed to link] http://goo.gl/i55BC
I think the seeds of divisions have been sown, it is up to Indians to unite and fight this common enemy or be the pawns and savages and destroy this country.
I agree with you 100% that Hindus also have to stop violence. I hope that you are not saying that you think that attacks on Hindus are justified because of previous incidents. Anyone of any Religion who supports or takes part in terrorist or criminal activities should be brought to justice. Those not involved should not share any “communal blame”.
There can be no peace where there is a cycle of incidents and revenge. The violent Muslims say that the Mumbai attacks were because of the Gujarat Riots. The violent Hindus say that the Gujarat Riots were a response to the Godhra train burning and so on, I am sure there is an endless list of previous incidents on both sides. I am sure that most of the Muslims killed in the Gujarat riots were innocent of harming anyone. We know that most of the people killed in Mumbai were innocent. This is why “revenge” attacks on both sides have to stop.
Of course we don’t really know what the motivation of the Mumbai attack was. Given that they targeted US and UK passport holders and were all or mostly Pakistani citizens it is fairly likely that the Gujarat Riots were not the cause. Whatever the cause though, for Hindus blaming all Muslims is not the right answer. Similarly Muslims should not blame all Hindus for previous incidents.
the truth gets perpetually distorted.
Commentors pick and choose reports of events out of context of the continuity of events.
The islamic violence and atrocities of hindus has been on going since the 10th century, but the loudest clamour is about the Babri Masjid incident and the Hindu backlash post Godhra.
Before the British arrived, hindus were subjected repeated atrocities under the muslim rulers. After independence, it is a natural expectation that hindus will no longer be treated different. After all we are the majority.
But it was not to be. Since independence, Hindus have been backstabbed by the “pseudo-secularist” politicians, who have relied on muslim votes to stay in power. The events of the present communal violence can be attributed to these politicions.
This is a non-Indian’s research into india’s “secularism” – Mr Elst is hated by the pseudo-secularists and communists alike. His work has repeatedly shown the hypocrisy and double standards of successive governments.
An Interview With Koenraad Elst
It is shameful that a foreigner is trying to establish the truth in India, while some opportunist Indians are covering up.
The loudest argument says the present muslim atrocities are retaliation to “hindu nationalism” – to justify the argument one has to trace back the chain of events of history to find who is retaliating against who.
Those who have not read the centuries’ history of muslims in india in continuity, are not in a position to comment on this issue. That includes many hindus – for whom to be seen to be secular is fashionable.
Sorry, forgot to mention.
do you sincerely believe that?
Where is the end point of ‘being careful’ and the start of thinking the worst?
Why do we lock our doors, put alarms in cars, demand more police on the beat, have customs at airports, CCTV in street corners and metal detectors Xray surveillance – for every single passenger boarding a flight.
For there is no clear line of demarcation.
In reality, we work backwards, we take a definite point, the worst possibility about everyonel – and try to rule out the danger.
We say we are being ‘careful’ for we feel uncomfortable to acknowledge the reality.
Thank you for your thought-provoking comments. I agree totally that secularism should mean treating everyone the same. The only area that religious laws should be allowed are in areas not covered by national law. I think it is perfectly acceptable for people to go to a Beth Din court or a Sharia court to decide something like divorce settlements and then have the civil courts ratify the decision. Anything past that is wrong.
From what I have heard about Indian politics they do go much further than secularism. Some of this is the “decisive minority” affect, where a certain minority who can swing an election are pandered to much more than they deserve. You can see this in the Scots vote in the UK (where they get much more tax money spent on them per person than the English) and in other countries. It does seem to go deeper than that though, perhaps the mistaken belief that if you give money to a bully they will leave you alone. We see the same thing in the UK to a certain extent with the government paying £1 million to fund the training of Muslim Imams, but not paying anything for Hindu Pundits, Jewish Rabbis, or Christian Priests. And there is all the pro Muslim TV coverage such as “Make Me a Muslim“. In any case I fully agree that it is wrong to give one group preferential treatment.
I am not sure that looking at history is helpful today. Britain too had a shameful past relating to India, but I hope that we have put that behind us now. I don’t believe that our attitude to today’s Japanese should be influenced by the history of Japan in the war for example.
I have thought about this and I think that the answer is partly. As I said in the article, during the Irish troubles I would worry about Irish people on buses carrying bags. Of course as far as I know none of the Irish people I met were terrorists. I understand what you mean when you say:
Sometimes I think this too. I have worried when I get on an aeroplane with a group of Muslims in traditional dress, but like the Irish men on the bus this is many many times likely to be a groundless worry than an actual threat. In both cases I feel bad about my unjustified feelings.
I think that it is possible to be wary but to treat individuals with respect. I agree that this needs a certain amount of mental gymnastics, but you can be careful because of people in general without attributing it to individuals. Ideally we would be prepared for the worst whilst expecting the best from people.
not looking back at the history is a mistake.
In SA, they had Truth and Reconciliation Commission where without blaming anyone the truth was discussed. Many who had supported apartheid openly apologised.
Hindus suffered for 7 centuries under Islam, is not disputed. Anguish is not so easily forgotten. It has persisted in suspicion, anger and hatred of muslims for generations. The wounds were re-opened with the Partition.
Hindus never had a closure. Instead the truth is denied, and suppressed.
You cannot draw a parallel between Ireland and Islamic terror. Irish movement was with a clear objective. The Islamic Jihad for a Caliphate is never admitted. the irish movement was localised to GB – the Islamic movement is global. The Irish wanted freedom, Islam wants to dominate.
They have succeeded in so well in gaining geographical territory – the creeping islamisation. They will migrate, settle and increase their numbers and then one day demand their own constitution and independence. Pakistan, Kosovo, couldn’t manage Kashmir.
What would you say if Bradford wanted to become an independent nation like Kosovo? Have a mandate? They will win it.
If al-Qaeda does manage to establish an islamic caliphate, do you reckon the “moderate muslims” will oppose it?
As I have said I trust a declared Islamist extremist for being honest – I will never be able to trust a “moderate muslim”. For at the heart of hearts it is their devout belief the whole world should be under Islam and Shariya Law.
I hope I am dead and gone when they do take over. And they will I have no doubts – their biggest strength is people who will continue to give them the benefit of doubt – till it is too late.
I am a realist.
I can understand your view, but I do think there is still hope. Don’t forget that violence to heretics and those of other religions is also the only logical conclusion of fundamentalist Christianity also. Martin Luther thought that Anabaptists should be killed, and was himself “ permitted to be killed” by the Catholics. Now you will find very few Christians that support this view.
True we should learn from history, but we should not hold anybody to account for things that happened before they were born. Maybe you are a realist and I am a fool, but I do still see the possibility of peace in the future.
the hope you have of peace in future relies on you and everyone like yourself – to find the facts for yourself.
To find the truth as it has evolved over the centuries – and not rely on unsubstantiated comments and propaganda.
The answer is very simple:
To be truly secular, one has to respect every human’s basic rights. The religions that do not acknowledge those rights are the birthplace of religious terrorism. It always has been – and will be.
I do not have hope,
because I know very few will stand up to criticise these religions.
you may find this interesting.
That was a very interesting link.
The way I see it, none of these events has anything to do with religion. It is about Politics and Economics. What is the real deal with India and Pakistan? Both want Kashmir. Pakistan wants it to be Figuratively Free while making it a puppet under its governance. India wants it for strategic, religious, economic and cultural purposes. So its about Territory, not Religion… Religion is just an excuse. Its one of the easiest ways to incite people into doing anything with all their might if their sense of perceived religion or national honour is at stake.
Was there this much media coverage in ALL parts of the world for the incidents at Vadhodara? No. Was there such coverage for the Steins Murder case? Yes. Was there such coverage for all the murdered, raped, displaced Kashmiri Pundits? No. Was there such immense attention for all of the dead Hindus in Kashmir after the Independence? No. Was there any coverage for the forcibly changed demographics within Kashmir? No. Was there uninterrupted coverage for the Taj Mahal Hotel hostage, bomb blasts situation? Yes. So whats the common denominator here? If you want to get the world’s attention, then target foreign nationals,especially from the First world nations or someone who is really rich and forms a significant factor in the Country’s economy(in this case the well known Indian Industrialist dynasty of the Tata’s). They did that and we lapped it all up like hungry cats.
As for Friendship, to say that groups of people are friends is an illusion. We are friends based on individuals within the groups. If more are willing to stake themselves to building relationship on both sides, we have a possibility of a Nations, religions being friends, else we have unequal relationships – of master/slave, of rich/lackey, of puppets/puppeteer, of loser/winner.
My very late, cynical, two cents take on this event.
Having faith, hope and good intentions is quaint, but in this instance, pathetic. Hope is why you tolerate crap that should be stopped. Tolerance is why the world is full of fucked people who have no intention of changing. And faith is why we’re at war with eachother. I’m sorry hippy, but it’s time someone told you to pull your dumbass head in and shut your bong hole. I’m tired of the expectation that I keep an open mind to people who (despite never having met me) want me, my family and my way of life destroyed. Why would I tolerate that? Are you that completely stupid or are you spooked by confrontation, hippy? Accepting people who hate you is not tolerance – it’s pathetic. Me reading your comments and bothering to post a reply – that’s tolerance. Look it up hippy. I’m more than comfortable saying I DON’T LIKE MUSLIMS. (I realise that comment is inflamatory – another victory to terrorism. The death of free speach. We live in a time when I can’t speak ill of people trying to attack me. Thanks for that, hippies…)
Let me clarify: I think muslims are stupid misguided fools, just like Christians, hindus, Scientologists, whatever. They’re all the same. Religion reminds me of English Soccer. Pick a team, support it blindly and attack anyone who supports a rival team. And just like soccer hooligans, religeous folk are dickheads. There. I said it. Somebody had to…
If you want to be tolerant, start with tolerating the opinions of people from your own country who want to celebrate OUR way of life, rather than see it perish. Just a thought. Hippy.
Gday Chav (Since you assume I’m a hippy, weary I think it fair to assume you are a chav).
It seems that you have not read the article. I quite clearly say that those Muslims responsible for the attacks deserve to be caught and punished. I am not saying that people who hate you and want to destroy your way of life should be tolerated, Chav.
Well Chav, I see that your philosophy is that every person in every religion hates all others, and your solution is to hate them all. It seems to me, Chav, that that makes you just like the way you perceive them. In my view a better philosophy is to assume that others are acting in good faith, but be prepared for deception. You see Chav, I don’t recommend that you should be unprepared for terrorists, or that you should tolerate people who fall into that category.
I can see from your IP address, Chav, that you are in Australia. I can assure you that I am tolerant of Australians in the UK. I certainly don’t want to stop anyone from peacefully celebrating their way of life. I think the calls from some people to ban Christmas decorations and so on are silly. Christians, Hindus, Jews, Wiccans and everyone should celebrate their own religious festivals and allow others to do the same.
Perhaps rather than worrying about how Australians will be treated in the UK and elsewhere you should think about how Australia accepts people from other cultures. (Not that I am saying it is bad, I am sure not all Australians are that narrow minded). Just a thought, Chav.
Good grief, Weary or whoever you are — hippies??? What era are you from? I didn’t realise the BNP had invaded Australia now. And mind your language.
I think India government (especially, Sonia govt.) does not have the political or international acumen to deal with this scenario. India is a soft nation and so can be easily pushed around. Look at the terror attacks one after the another. The latest example is Mumabi.