Posts Tagged ‘Islam’

Hate-Speech-is-Not-Free-Speech-1

Yes, I’m offended and that’s okay. It’s okay to be offended.

If somebody publically ridicules my father, I’m expected and allowed to be offended. I feel about my Prophet and my religion the same way and it doesn’t matter if the offender doesn’t get it. His ignorance doesn’t minimize the hurt I experience at the hands of his crude behavior. I am not ashamed of owning my hurt but that’s not the issue.

The issue is how I channel my hurt and what channels are available to me to express my hurt.

Self-defense is not synonymous with slaughter. In other words, unless the offender is physically trampling you, you probably shouldn’t kill him. There are always other, more civilized, ways of retaliating. Nicolas Sarkozy was hurt too when Sine joked about him. We all know the amazing true story where Charlie Hebdo had to fire an employee on grounds of anti-Semitism. Thus, establishing that freedom of speech is not the same as hate speech. There’s a law defining that and Sarkozy was wise enough to use that law to his advantage.

My brothers in faith would be better off to follow suit.

Using the law, not taking the law into your own hands, getting laws made that protect the Muslim faith is one narrative that the Muslim community must work on and push for. As tax-paying equal citizens of the land, we have that power and it must be recognized by the State. There was a time when anti-Semitism laws didn’t exist and it was ok to use the N word. I still remember that one book by Agatha Christie – I read it with the old title still intact. Not anymore. The basic underlying principle of these legislations was that such behavior hurt sentiments and feelings of a community. Hence, we can’t cheer for freedom of speech when it crosses over to hate speech.

Then, there’s the role of the media. There were two Muslims gunned down too at the Charlie Hebdo incident. One of them was an employee of the newspaper and the other was a policeman out there defending the freedom of the publication that mocked his faith. Why are the gunmen who killed them the true face of Islam? Why can’t Mustapha Ourrad and Ahmed Merabet be the face of their faith?

Osama Bin Laden’s journey from freedom fighter to Islamic terrorist is no secret. You, the media, told me that he was the anti-Soviet warrior who put his army on the road for peace (ref: The Independent’s article by Robert Fisk published 1993). And when he went rogue, suddenly my beliefs were to blame? That’s like the mom who is the adult in-charge of her child but blames his bad behavior on daddy’s DNA.

Why am I expected to apologize for crimes that I neither committed nor condone?

I’m originally from Pakistan. I hope the world realizes that my home country has lost more than 60,000 civilians to the same terrorist mindset that killed those 12 people in France. Why does the media narrative let a minority decide for a majority? As rightly pointed out by select columnists – when was the last time Christians/Jews/non-Muslims/atheists had to put forth a group apology for the crimes committed in the name of their beliefs? To quote one such piece, “all terrorists are Muslims except the 94% that aren’t”.

I don’t stand for Charlie Hebdo’s style of expression. It is vulgar. Killing those cartoonists was vulgar, too, and spitting out more of the same will only end in more of the same. Attack on that publication ended in attacks on several mosques in France, which only goes to show that when offended, crazies act similarly.

The best attack on fear is through knowledge and integration.

Ramadan, Hajj and their associated Eids are huge events for Muslims. I’ve been in the USA for over a decade. My children are American. They have no other homeland. Every Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanza, we hear the cheer being spread around; on TV, over the radio, newspapers, in the malls where you can easily buy the appropriate decorations. There was even a segment on Diwali or Holi (slips my mind as to which one so forgive me). We love it. It’s nice to wish all these various communities well on their big day. However, I have yet to hear a media person wish us, the Muslim Americans, a Happy Eid. Is it really that hard to accommodate that one line in your speech once or twice a year? Yes, we have two Eids. Pick the one you’d want to wish us on – I’d go with the one at the end of Ramadan, personally.

Most Muslims follow the dietary restrictions defined by Islam. We eat only Zabiha when it comes to meat and Halal is a huge ingredient in our foodstuffs. (Please, google the two or ask your neighborly Muslim for an explanation.) The grocery stores across the country sell kosher products. It wouldn’t hurt them to incorporate halal products on their shelves to facilitate their Muslim shoppers. Wouldn’t it be nice if the schools offered a halal menu for the kids who happen to be both American and Muslim? Their parents are paying taxes too, you know.

Coming from a third world, very turbulent country, if I’ve learned anything it is that when minorities, no matter how small, are crushed, forcibly made irrelevant and ignored – countries crumble. For a country to exist in peace, it is important that ALL of her people feel safe, at home, integrated and know that if they are wronged, they will be heard.

Peace be with us and within us!

This post was part of CNN’s I Am A Muslim assignment.

Advertisements

Gaza and I

Posted: July 15, 2014 in It angers me...
Tags: , , , ,

It’s the same every time. Gaza goes up in flames and so does my newsfeed. I join in too, of course, because it is a grotesque humanitarian crisis at the least. We jointly condemn it, Muslims and Jews and others. I get to read opinions and testimonials and articles that are both informative and hopeful.

And then there’s this status:

Boycott them! Let’s all go to war and show them what the Muslim Ummah can do!

Er…yes. I would looooove to see what the Muslim Ummah can do apart from bombing each other. I mean seriously, what, WHAT is that one glorious thing that the Ummah can do to strike fear in the hearts of enemies by showing them exactly how glorious the Ummah is? Please, share! I’m dying to know. And guess what, countless actually have died. Yet, the secret isn’t out.

I understand it can be complicated what with the seventy two million and a quarter sects we have. The divide alone is exhausting. Besides, one sect’s definition of glory is so acutely different from the others. Not to mention, even before we begin to define glory, we need to define who qualifies to be a Muslim. It is no longer enough to declare there is no God except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Last Messenger, and believe in the articles and pillars of said faith – but you also have to blow up shrines now. Else you’re no good. You also have to say no to birthdays, every kind of cultural event and national holiday and God forbid should you even consider to be inclined to be creative. Doom will find you and – well – doom you.

Also, you must impose the beliefs of that one country over your own people because those beliefs, for some insane reason (probably for lack of your own intellect and tolerance), inspire you. Get real, please. The Kingdom (not even an Islamic concept by the way) of Saudi Arabia is a Wahhabi state. More than half of Pakistan (and the rest of the Muslim world) is not. But does that stop the crazies from forcing it down everyone’s throats? Nope!

As if these problems were not enough, we have corrupt governments, corrupt people, and misplaced anger. The religious fanatics are out to get the liberals just as much as the liberal bigots are out to kill the fanatics. There’s an atmosphere of mass hysteria that keeps blowing up in all our faces every now and then.

The world watches the fireworks.

There isn’t much that can be added to this mix except for maybe I don’t know, a tiny tip, perhaps? Something like freakin’ charity begins at freakin’ home? I mean yes please, build your army and show that perpetrator – the one who just raped and killed a minor in your own city, the one who just killed his wife because he’d had too much to drink, she who just stole a newborn from the hospital, those who kidnapped a man for ransom and then tortured him for fun, those who spread hate and see it bear fruits for them. The list is never ending. And when you’re done with all that, once your own house is in order, once you’ve saved your Titanic from sinking, then, you can cure the world outside of it.

I feel the same way about boycotting products. Many of my friends have taken this stand and I respect their sentiments but personally, I just don’t see the point. I’m not even going to contest the case of the millions of employees around the world, including Muslims, working for products on the ‘let’s boycott this and hurt Israel list’ because we all know that.

I would say I did like the decision of the Presbyterian Church to divest in protest, though. It probably didn’t hurt Israel’s economy but it did send out a powerful message, enough to get a reaction from the said country’s embassy.

Now, if we can just get our mosques to do that…

But that won’t happen. Why? Because chances are (about 99% of them) that your beloved mosque where you’ve just received hidaya after being a Muslim all your life only to find you were following the wrong sect, is funded by Saudi Arabia. They’d rather not boycott. Why?

  1. What they’ll tell you – We cannot make this choice for the followers. You have to do this yourself.
  2. What they won’t tell you – Saudi Arabia doesn’t give a damn and will not divest anything for the sake of humanity because it is much too invested in killing a far greater number of Muslims (the wrong kind of Muslims, mind you) in Iraq and Pakistan and such through ISIS and Taliban and such. Not to mention Bahrain. So sorry. No can do.

So, boycott KSA for killing Muslims now? Let’s not buy any more petrol/gold/pilgrimage to Mecca. Yes, the Pilgrimage – you do realize that Hijaz alone is a huge part of the Saudi economy, right? Can’t do that? Okay, how about boycotting China for the way they’re treating our brethren? Virtually everything we use is made in China. Please, tell me again how will you survive when all the Muslim world produces is – bad news? How about Bangladesh? You have heard about what they’re doing to the Rohingya Muslims there, right?

Usually after such a rant I’m thrashed with queries on the line of so should we just idly stand by and watch and do nothing?

My response: I never said that. By all means, support Gaza. Just don’t make it a seasonal thing. Gaza is not a Facebook profile picture or a cover photo or a placard that one just whips out every time Gaza bleeds. Sure, it makes us feel nice and holy to do so but it doesn’t help the cause.

The only thing that can make that miracle materialize is if we stop the murderers amongst us. Stop the massacre that’s taking place in our own lands every day. And stop blaming the West for it, too. We in Pakistan especially love to do just that by the way. So, I’ll say this to my countrymen – grow up! You are a nuclear power with a fully functional army, air force, navy, intelligence. If you still can’t protect your people, then they probably deserve to die.

In this conflict, I truly find no one else to blame but the glorious Muslim Ummah that is nowhere to be found. In the words of George Galloway – and I’ll leave you with that thought:

photo