One God, One Humanity

July 14, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Ananya S Guha

What happens if a preacher talks about his religion and apparently ‘inspires’ some youth to go and commit acts of terror? How do we account for the fact that his preaching, his sermons have aroused brutal atavistic passions?

That is the exact allegation against Zakir Naik, a preacher, activist of the Islamic faith in India. The controversy surrounding him rests on the conjecture that his preaching on television has influenced Muslim youth and prompted them to commit the dastardly Dhaka killings on the fateful day of 1st July 2016. Naik has of course stated that this was not the case and his speeches were not inflammatory. Incidentally he has been acknowledged for his erudition not only on Islamic faith, but Christian theology and Hinduism as well. He is known for his talks on TV channels like Peace TV which incidentally has been banned in some countries.

Legitimate legal action against him is not only debatable but complex as there is no tangible evidence to show that he had extremist or terrorist connections. I have used these two expressions ‘extremist’ and ‘terrorist’ because they suffer from a linguistic ambiguity, especially in countries like India where the words ‘militant’, ‘extremist’ and ‘terrorist’ are variants of people who kill to espouse a certain cause. So if the perpetrators of the ghastly Dhaka killings were terrorists, they were so one supposes because they singled out certain people only who were not conversant with Islamic faith or the Bengali language. That action can only spill fear in the denizens of the world. Zakir Naik perhaps did not know that he could cause such ‘terror’ in the minds of some fanatic youths or could as a result of the killings infuse a dreaded  fear in the world. What then, about the killing of the policemen in Dallas in the US? Was the perpetrator a ‘terrorist’ or a demented person? Who could have ‘influenced’ him?

The world has been worked up in such a way today, that distorted ideologies on wrong premises are sullying religious beliefs. Similarly doctrinaire creeds on racial superiority or inferiority rule the roost and signal killing, ghettoising people into the dreaded ‘them’ and ‘us’ syndromes’. Zakir Naik’s actions may be dubbed as religious fanaticism, but how do we measure and on what basis that his preaching even if volatile could provoke some youth to murder? The intangibles in life remain intangibles, there is no tangible proof of inner feelings, intrinsic dislike or hatred. The cover up can be a direct denial, even if it is not the truth- but who assesses such ‘truths’ which even I’m sure legal jurisprudence cannot grapple with.

In the midst of all the killings in the world, frenetic as they were in the last month or so, a relatively ‘unknown’ person passed away in Pakistan on the 9th July 2016. He was ‘Maulana’ Abdul Sattar Edhi, a humanitarian worker belonging to the Muslim faith. He was known in Pakistan and other parts of the world but he becomes unknown in the face of terror. Terror is talked about, the media almost rhapsodises on it, but his death goes unnoticed. To have a glimpse of his life is to know how he tended to the poor, the unwanted, such as single mothers, how he did relief work in earthquakes or went to Africa to tend to the those not cared for, how he set up hospitals and organised relief camps in centres all over Pakistan, with his base at Karachi. Yet his death went largely unnoticed.

 

Abdul Sattar Edhi

 

Few in India remember that he looked after an Indian deaf and mute girl, who had to stay back in Pakistan against her desire and finally repatriated her. No one will talk about such lights in the midst of a pervasive darkness. No, we love the darkness, it is adventurous and excites our little passions. His funeral was attended by the top political brass of Pakistan who cut across political lines to pay their last respects, in the midst of tight military security. The light has not been totally snuffed out from our lives. We can take solace on that. One Abul Sattar Edhi  may not be enough but when there is a massive light off or fuse, one person dangling a lantern  in the midst of darkness is a beacon of hope to the world. In his ambulances Abdul Sattar Edhi would carry not only ailing Muslims but Christians and Hindus as well.

We have; a category of  people who desperately believe in one God only, we have also another-  who uphold the virtue of one God in all humanity. Did he proselytise, was he a fanatic, perhaps yes of love and caring. Did he influence people, we do not know, just as we do not know the extent of Zakir Naik’s ‘influence’ on the Bangladeshi youths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ananya S Guha

Ananya S Guha was born and brought up in Shillong, North East India. He has seven collections of poetry and his poems have been published worldwide. They have also been featured in several anthologies. He is also a columnist, critic and editor. He now is a Regional Director at the Indira Gandhi National Open University and holds a doctoral degree on the novels of William Golding.

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