‘Those Who Insult Prophet Have Agendas, Muslims Must Not Fall Into Their Trap’

Maulana Qamar Sultan, a 52-year-old Shia cleric from Ghaziabad (UP), says the Quran did not call for violence when Prophet was called names in Mecca

Let me start with a famous story from the life of Prophet Muhammad. The story goes that an old woman in Mecca would throw garbage on the doorstep of the Prophet in defiance of his message, and one day she fell sick and could not throw the garbage. The Prophet visited her to know her wellbeing. She was so awe-struck by his character that she accepted his Prophet-hood and embraced Islam.

The moral of the story is: you do not reciprocate hateful gestures with hate. If you want a different outcome, hate should be dealt with differently.

Besides, the Prophet in his entire lifetime never commanded any war because he was being disrespected by those people. Even the Quran never commanded the Prophet for the same.

On the contrary, when the Prophet was called names by the people of Mecca, the Quran replied with words, not with any call for violence or retribution.

When the Prophet was called ignorant, the Quran stated, “He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom.” ~ (3:164)

When he was called mad, the Quran said: “By the grace of your Lord, you ˹O Prophet˺ are not insane.” ~ (68:2). There are various such replies all over the Quran rebutting the insults thrown at the Prophet, but there’s not a single verse that says that Muslims should wage war against the people of Mecca for insulting him.

Maulana Qamar Sultan counsels restraint to all law-abiding citizens of the country

It is evident from history that all great personalities faced love and hate from the people they served. We have the example of Mahatma Gandhi, a personality who is revered across the world but he became the victim of hate. The opinion about Gandhi is still divided as there’s one group of people in this country who have little respect for him and heaps insults on him while worshipping his killer.

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Those who insult the Prophet have hidden agendas. They want Muslims to retaliate. It is high time Muslims understood this and avoid falling into their trap. We should be cautious and not protest violently but should take a different way of protest. I strongly condemn all the killings and violence committed in the name of the Prophet.

However, I would also like to present the counterargument to the whole case through some pertinent questions. Why do we expect only Muslims to be subservient and not protest over insulting remarks made on their Prophet? Why aren’t we acknowledging the restraints shown by those crores of Muslims who didn’t vent their anger publicly but protested silently? Why are Muslims being lynched openly? The questions go on…

I realize the blame game will not solve the problem, but we have to be objective in our approach. This country belongs to everyone. Our Constitution is clear about unifying the people. It has gone to the level of respecting the sentiments of people, belonging to different castes, creeds, tribes, and religions.

We should follow the Constitution in its letter and spirit. We should stop making offensive comments about others and we should also stop reacting if such comments are made. If we want a peaceful nation everyone must show restraint.

As told to Md Tausif Alam

‘Udaipur Incident A Result of Policing & Local Intelligence Failure’

Former IPS Amitabh Thakur, while condemning the Udaipur beheading incident, says it shows a complete lack of foresight by local police in taking preventive action

There has been all-round condemnation of the gruesome killing of Kanhaiyalal in Udaipur. There is also anger among people over the ISIS-style beheading and posting of its video on social media. However, the incident should not be used as a pretext to further vitiate the environment. An active role of local administration and state government is of importance. There were severe lapses that resulted in the incident and we must draw lessons from it.

First, there was a clear lack of foresight or judgment on part of local police. If, according to media reports, the criminals had issued a threat some time ago on social media and had also attacked him, why was any action not taken? Were they waiting for something to happen? Media reports indicate that Kanhaiyalal, the victim, was also attacked a few days ago, but instead of acting on his written complaint, the police merely played ‘middleman’ to sort out and hush up the matter.

Second, there was failure of local intelligence on part of the district administration and Udaipur police. For, one of the perpetrators had visited Pakistan lately and mentioned in a phone call about something spectacular to happen in Udaipur.

Although the police were quick to nab the criminals, this does not omit their incompetency in taking pre-emptive action. Were they sleeping or waiting for the matter to blow out of proportion. Part of policing involves stopping the crime to happen, not just chasing criminals after the unlawful act.

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Here, I shall like to point out the swiftness of the Uttar Pradesh Police when it comes to preventing hate crimes. They are hyperactive and watchful on social media to foresee any attempt to poison the atmosphere. I bet you post something communally sensitive and you will find UP Police at your doorstep soon enough to mend your mentality.

Another issue here is religion and social sensitivity. How can a social media post hurt someone’s sentiment so much that they will offer a bounty on someone’s head! This kind of mind-set and the design to spread hatred and violence in the name of religion are fatal to our country and society. The incident was a challenge to the system as the criminals were so arrogant that they issued death threats to the Prime Minister in a video after the killing.

We Indians are a country-loving community and we should not get carried away with inciting posts. Everyone is standing in support of Kanhaiyalal’s family and this is the reflection of our ethics and culture.

There can be no justification for violence in the name of religion and swift legal action must be taken to set a precedent. For this to happen, this matter should be dealt with a fast-track court and verdict must be delivered in under three months. The incident in Rajasthan should act as an eye-opener for the police and the government. They must shore up local intelligence and remain watchful to prevent a repeat incident of this nature.

As told to Rajat Rai

‘BJP Wants Muslims to React Violently; They Haven’t Taken The Bait’

Sohail Hashmi, a Delhi-based writer, filmmaker and heritage activist, says the reaction of Gulf countries on hate speech in India is extremely selective

There are two sides to the issue of the BJP spokespersons indulging in hate speech. One, the set pattern of aggression or victimhood driven by the same and ultimate purpose: communal polarisation. Second, that they can make highly derogatory statements from public platforms, and no action will be taken against them.

This would repeatedly amount to total violation of all laws, provocative declarations, triggering an atmosphere of violence and animosity towards a community. But, no action will ever be taken.

The Prime Minister says that we must preserve our diversity, but his rank and file is constantly doing the opposite: violence, putting houses on fire, attacking religious places, stopping namaz in public spaces, lynching etc. There is lip service, but the pattern continues.

This time, there has been outrage in the Gulf countries. The hate speech and actions against the minorities in our country have become regular. They transgressed the limits this time because they attacked the founder of a religion. Basically, yet again, they are merely testing the ground. The overall project is to provoke the minorities to come out on the streets and perhaps turn violent, and then they can be blamed and condemned, and another wave of polarization can be manufactured.

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The minorities, till this day, have not fallen to this sinister bait, since the last eight years. They simply refused to play this game. And, yet, violence has happened in Kanpur this time.

The vice president was visiting the Gulf countries. A dinner for him has been reportedly called off. Many stores out there have stopped selling Indian products. If the situation becomes too bad, they might stop importing Indian products.

Besides, there are millions of skilled and migrant professionals and workers in the Gulf who sustain the Indian economy by pumping back billions in foreign exchange. This is no small change. With mass unemployment on the rise in contemporary India, across the class spectrum, and especially hitting the poor and workers the most, what will happen if there is enforced migration from the Gulf, back to India, adding to the intense and widespread economic crisis and joblessness here.

The BJP spokespersons have not been punished. Suspension etc, is no punishment in a country where riots have happened and many times the victims have been hounded, as in North-east Delhi. Or, the manner they have put charges against people who are simply peaceful dissenters, like the young Muslim scholars from JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia etc, currently languishing in jail for such a long time.

They can brandish guns, indulge routinely in hate speech, provoke violence – but nothing will ever happen to them. They will always get away.

As for the reaction of the Gulf countries, it seems that as and when repeated assaults on human and democratic rights happen in India, they look the other way. The moment the Prophet is attacked, they express outrage. While such attacks and hate speech should be universally condemned and punished, and this goes for all religions, it would be worthwhile if the Gulf countries also take up the routine and relentless assaults on the very existence of the peaceful minorities in India — under the current regime. That would mark a significant departure.

Considering that most ot the countries in the Gulf are autocracies, it is not really expected that they would care for democratic rights anywhere in the world.

As told to Amit Sengupta