Month: December 2016

Good Muslim, Bad Muslim And The Liberal Jamaat


I write this blog as a response to an article written by Anand Ranganathan in relation to a recent incident where a wife of Muslim cricketer was hounded by conservative Muslims for publishing a picture on social media while dressed in “unIslamic clothing”.

On the hypocrisy of the Muslim Liberal

The argument made by Ranganathan is this: Those who trolled Shami for posting a picture with his wife are Good Muslims because they were only “following the orders of the Quran”. Those Muslims who confronted the trolls were Bad Muslims because they were going against the prescriptions of the Quran. Ranganathan goes ahead and posts few verses from the Quran that prescribe a modest dress code for believing women. Ranganathan accuses the liberal Muslim of either trying to hide the “bad verses” from the Quran or trying to hide behind the excuse of bad interpretation when there is not much room for interpreting an obvious verse in a different way.

I broadly agree with Rangnathan that liberal Muslims try to misrepresent Quranic teachings or try their best to fit it into the morality prescribed by the liberal world view. It does not stop there, a liberal Muslim is so protective of his hypocrisy that anyone confronting his world view with the more obvious interpretation of the Quran will be quickly declared an Islamist, literalist or an Islamophobe depending on the situation. On this count Ranganathan has rightly called out the duplicity and hypocrisy of the liberal Muslim. More on this in the closing section.

On selective reading of the Quran

Selective reading of the Quran is not limited to liberals. Even the most conservative Muslims have used this technique to present their world view as the Quranic world view. For example the concept of abrogation of Quranic verses is well established among traditionalists. Other Muslims disagree.

And selective reading of the Quran is not only limited to Muslims, it is widely used by critics of Islam including Ranganathan. While Quran prescribes a modest dress code for believing men and women it also warns against public shaming of individuals.

Those who love (to see) scandal published broadcast among the Believers, will have a grievous Penalty in this life and in the Hereafter: Allah knows, and ye know not. Quran 24:19

If a reasonable person like Ranganathan reads the Quran in its entirety, as per his own prescription, he will come to a conclusion that public shaming of individuals as done to Shami and his wife goes against the prescription of the Quran. However Ranganathan is absolutely right when he points to the fact that a modest dress code is prescribed by the Quran itself. Liberal Muslims should accept this fact instead of trying to give it a liberal spin.

On the survival of Islam

The second important point made by Ranganathan is rather curious. He argues that for Islam to survive it needs the cushioning of the liberal Muslim (Bad Muslim) who shields Islam from condemnation by misrepresenting Islam as a liberal religion.

Islam is one of the most successful ideologies in the world. Western condemnation of Islam is not recent. The criticism of Islam is as old as Islam itself. Today every fourth person in the world identifies as a Muslim. By 2050 some estimates say that every third person in the world would identify as a Muslim.

So far no Muslim society has witnessed any major exodus of Muslims from Islam. A religion that survived Mongol invasions, relentless crusades, Communist era bans, Kemalism and the uninterrupted Western and Liberal obsession would need the cover of some hypocrites to guarantee its survival?

Islam is an independent ecosystem which is likely to survive irrespective of what liberals think about it. If History is anything to go by then Islam will outlast liberalism itself. Turkey is a good example. Kemalism is dead. Eighteenth century luminaries like Voltaire were scathing in their condemnation of Islam. Are there more Muslims in the twenty first century or less?  This idea that survival of Islam relies on the craftiness of hypocrite liberal Muslims is rather amusing to say the least.

That said, the argument about Islam’s resilience is not an argument for Islam being the truth, rather it is just an argument about its resilience. It is what it is.

On Zakir Naik

Going further Ranganathan presents Zakir Naik as the true Muslim who makes liberal Muslims uncomfortable because he honestly presents Islam as it is. Let us examine this argument. Naik has argued against Instant Triple Talaq and he has argued for mosque entry for women. Ironically Zakir Naik is arguing for many things that liberals argue for. Like any other Muslim, sometimes Naik gets it right, sometimes he gets it wrong. Even Ranganathan got it wrong when he claimed that stoning is punishment prescribed in the Quran.

There is not a single verse in the Quran that prescribes stoning as a punishment for anything. Yet Zakir Naik argued in favor of the punishment. There is not a single verse in the Quran that prescribes death penalty for apostasy. Yet Zakir Naik once argued for it but later corrected his view.

I am not entirely sure why Ranganathan presented Zakir Naik as the example of the “good Muslim”. If following the Quran makes one a good Muslim as Ranganathan argues then what Zakir Naik says is irrelevant because the scale of goodness or badness of a Muslim is the Quran.

On Punishment for Adultery

Ranganathan has pointed to the severe punishment  prescribed in the Quran for cheating on the spouse. Modern India has punishment for adultery enshrined in the law. There are at least sixteen states in the US where you can land in jail for cheating on your spouse. Even from the liberal perspective cheating on spouse cannot be prescribed as a good value. But should there be severe punishment for cheating on the spouse? The societies that put a high premium on the value of family structure would say yes, the societies that do not put a high value on family structure would say no.

The moral scale of a society varies all across the world. That said, you will rarely hear of a Muslim man or a woman getting lashes for adultery. Either Muslims make very loyal partners due to fear of punishment or this punishment is not very common. I cant say for sure.

From the point of view of the liberal Sharia, Ranganathan is right in criticizing a severe punishment for adultery as a liberal society does not put a very high premium on family structure. A liberal society favors individualism over group values.

On The Way Out

From what I understood after reading a rather confusing last part of the the article, a good Muslim is in fact a bad human being. Because a good Muslim lacks empathy, kindness, remorse and reconciliation. This is strange because all the verses of the Quran (except one) start with the declaration of compassion and mercy as Godly qualities. There are many verses in the Quran that declare forgiveness as a Godly quality. Quran says that forgiveness is better than retribution. Quran emphasizes on the need to be patient. As per Quran only remorse and repentance from bad deeds can get your sins forgiven. And then there is a special emphasis on kindness. In fact to be kind is called true righteousness. More than any ritual, Quran says that it is important to be kind.

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is righteousness- to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the Allah fearing – 2:177

Charity is one of the fundamental pillars of Islam. So I don’t quite understand how a good Muslim would necessarily be a bad human being. Yes there are parts of the Quran that would be extremely troubling for a liberal. Islam is not a pacifist religion. In certain narrow conditions it prescribes war and violence. In other conditions it prescribes tolerance, compassion and equity with non believers. Islam also leans towards patriarchy, another fact that would be very troubling for a liberal.

It is also not necessary for Muslims to follow every harsh diktat mentioned in the Quran. And it does not make them a bad Muslims. For example, millions of Hindus have worked in Muslim countries over several decades and none of them were charged Jizya. Forget about Jizya they were not even charged taxes that are normally charged in India and Western countries.

Is Islam a good religion or a bad religion is for an individual to decide. I do not believe that Islam is an inherently evil religion or that a follower of Islam can only necessarily be a bad human being.

Is a liberal Muslim an Islamophobe?

Ranganathan argues that a liberal Muslim is in fact an Islamophobe who fears Islam and is afraid to discuss Quran in its entirety. I believe that is not the case. A liberal Muslim is more scared of the Liberal Jamaat and its judgemental character than being scared of the Quran.

One could argue that the Liberal Jamaat is just as intolerant or dogmatic as the religious Jamaat. Some Muslims find it extremely difficult to be accepted by their liberal peers while being Muslim. These Muslims try their best to force-fit Islam into the liberal world view because if they don’t then their intolerant liberal peers will label them as Islamist. As Ranganathan’s article argues, A good Muslim is in fact a bad human being. In such conditions I would not judge liberal Muslim too harshly because they are just trying to survive in an extremely intolerant society.






Where does India stand as compared to countries with Muslim majority?

Annoyed by the regressive attitude of some Indians, the Savarna Liberal thundered “Do we want to become like Saudi Arabia?” This has become a liberal tradition. Pick a random Muslim country and present it as the worst case scenario. India is supposed to guard its higher values so it does not turn into a hell hole like some random Islamic country. In this blog I will try and see where Muslim countries stand as compared India which is of course a country with a progressive and liberal outlook.


Female Parliamentarians of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s male to female ratio at birth is same as that of United States, Australia, Norway or UK. India’s male to female ratio is among the worst in the world. Only two other countries have done worse than India. There are 50 million fewer females in India as compared to males. This skewed ratio is a result rampant female foeticide. The biggest female genocide in the history of humanity is happening in India. But let us ignore this for a while and pretend that India is significantly better than any random Muslim country.

India is the only country in the world where half of its population does not have access to toilets. The first known toilets were built in 2800 BC. In few weeks we will be in 2017 AD. Just by this measure India becomes the most socially backward society in the world. All major Muslim countries have been able to provide toilets to their citizens. Recently Bangladesh declared that it has ended open defecation. But perhaps there may be other things that make India significantly better than Muslim countries?

Only 12% of seats are held by women in the Indian parliament. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Somalia all have a higher proportion of seats held by women in their parliaments as compared to India. On UN’s gender index India is behind all major Muslim countries including Bangladesh and Pakistan.  A child born in India is far more likely to be malnourished than a child born in Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe or Somalia.

Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Indonesia all have better literacy rate for females as compared to India.  In spite of being the most conservative countries, Saudi Arabia and Iran have achieved cent percent literacy among females. While India has a seen a massive 10% decline in female workforce participation in the past decade Saudi Arabia is seeing a record increase. A recent report on honor killings in India has documented an 800 percent rise in such cases.So not only are these countries better for women today, these countries are continuously improving as India regresses.

Bangladesh is the only major Muslim majority country in the world that has a worse record on child marriage as compared to India. Even in India a girl born in a Hindu family is more likely to become a child bride as compared to a girl born in a Muslim family.

Now let us have a look at some other issues like capital punishment. India is a progressive country that applies capital punishment in the rarest of the rare case but a barbaric country like Saudi Arabia regularly beheads people for crimes and dissent. It appears we finally found an issue on which India is better than Saudi Arabia. But wait, India has killed 11,820 people in police custody in five years. These people are often killed as a result of extreme torture inside lockups. Hardly any police officer is brought to justice for these killings. In fact in some cases policemen have been rewarded for killing people in fake encounters. It is safe to assume that Indian state carries out these murders as a matter of policy.

Saudi Arabia and some other Muslim countries have blasphemy laws. Surely India can’t be as regressive as Muslim countries.  India is a free society where freedom of expression is a protected value. However I am not sure why India regularly jails people for “hurting religious sentiments”. A Muslim cleric was arrested and beaten in court for a mild criticism of a Hindu festival. A Muslim preacher is facing charge of promoting enmity between communities because in his opinion Mecca is holier than Amritsar.

There is a constant pressure on minorities in India to adopt a Uniform Civil Code which is simply a euphemism for Uniform Hindu Code (like beef ban). Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia allow customary laws for their Hindu population without continuously hounding them for reforms or trying to impose Sharia over them. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia have taken tough measures against Islamist extremism with a number of Islamist extremists either killed in army action or hanged after due process. India has never hanged a Hindu terrorist since Godse. Even the most dreaded Hindu terrorist Maya Kodnani is out on bail even after getting convicted in the murder of 96 men, women and children. Indian jails are full of Muslim, Dalits and tribals. The brutalization of minorities in India is among the worst in the world outside of war zones.

In most parts of India beef is banned because of a Hindu religious law that gives a holy status to the cow. People who are arrested on the charges of eating or selling beef are either tortured in jails or are simple killed by Hindu militias. In most parts of the Muslim world there is no restriction on minorities if they want to consume alcohol or pork. Some Muslim farmers in Morocco supply pigs to the European market. Malaysia is famous for its pork delicacies. There are pork shops in UAE. There are only a handful of Muslim countries that ban pork and alcohol for non Muslims. Perhaps only Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) is an arm of US department of State that performs security assessments of cities overseas. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE all fall under the low risk category while  Indian cities like Delhi and Bombay are classified as Medium risk cities with a cautionary note about sexual attacks on women.

For a moment let us ignore all this and focus on the real issue of Saudis exporting extremism to countries like India. In a special investigation conducted by NDTV on the foreign funding of Madrasas (Islamic Schools) it was revealed that Saudi Arabia only contributed Rs 4.5 Cr since 2013. A good part of this is sent by Indian Muslims working in Saudi Arabia but let us ignore that for the sake of argument. India has a population of around 170 million Muslims. So Saudi Arabia is investing $ 0.001 per Muslim per year in India to spread their version of Islam. Either this is the best return on investment ever recorded or savarna liberals don’t know what they are talking about.

But please don’t be disappointed after reading this. Let us be happy thinking that women still can’t drive in Saudi Arabia. 99% of women in India don’t have access to a car while 100% women in Saudi Arabia can’t drive a car. This should be considered the sole point on which we can say with utmost confidence that India is far better place than Saudi Arabia to be a woman.

All the facts mentioned in this blog are easily verifiable.This of course does not mean that Muslim majority countries are Utopias, far from it. There is a lot of progress to be made on gender justice, women empowerment and education. Progressive Muslims in these Muslim countries are working on these issues and perhaps that is the reason they don’t get the time to obsess with Hinduism or India. They are too busy fixing their own society to be bothered about others. Hope Savarna Liberals stop sniffing the cocaine of superiority complex and start working towards the betterment of India and Hindu society.