The metaphors sometimes get delightfully mixed. The puns are often too well intended. The turn of phrase too sudden. But there can be little doubt that M.J. Akbar is a master wordsmith.
In today’s Deccan Herald, the veteran editor and author weighs in on the war of stereotypes over the proposal to build a mosque at the site of the World Trade Center towers in New York City:
“Can there be any rational reason for such subliminal fear of a house without a door?
“A mosque has no door; it is always open to anyone. Submission is the guiding force of its spirit and simplicity is its objective. There is equality in the lines of prayer. Servant stands beside master to bow, at the same moment, before the Lord. Divisions and pretensions dissipate.
“The whole world, as the great Indian theologian and mass leader Maulana Abul Kalam Azad used to say, is god’s mosque. Nations may claim to act in the name of god, but god does not need nations. A mosque is neither factory nor fortress: why should it arouse either envy or fear?
“Whatever else Islam might be it cannot be fascist. True, there are some Muslims who are fascist, but why blame Islam for the tyranny of despots? No one blames the Roman Catholic Church for Mussolini. Terrorists conspire. A conspiracy is hatched behind closed doors. A mosque has no door.”
Read the full article: A mosque has no door
Leaving aside all the wordsmith English, it is common sense to understand that building a mosque is
a) At best insensitive to the victims of WTC
b) At worst it is the Islamic tradition of building mosques in their conquered territory.
First, Churumuri gets it wrong, as usual. The mosque is not to be built at ground zero but two blocks away.
>>why blame Islam for the tyranny of despots?
Simple, because Muslims and other pseud-seculars themselves link them to Islam. Why else would protests be held in Shivajinagar when Saddam Hussein is executed? Or terrorists from distant Kerala quote Palestine issue or Iraq war as source of their anger?
I remember this 2008 documentary “Religious” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0815241/) by Bill Maher.
He nicely juxtapositions science and religion, and the contrast is striking!
Fundamentally – Science teaches us to doubt everything, and Religion teaches us to believe (Faith) everything it says. It isn’t too tough a choice for me to make – I don’t like irrationality of any Religion at all.
However – I disagree with Bill Maher’s notion that any Religion is dangerous. It is counterproductive to a certain extent, as history teaches us that religions either adopt or disappear. And adopting religions are the ones that can moderate the extreme view points, being flexible to modern realities.
Any attempt at stamping out or coercing a people from practicing their faith is counter productive – for that is the anti-thesis of scientific thought. Because – Science by definition has to doubt every theory till its proven. Which means – it also has to doubt the theory of atheism or any anti-thesis for a religion.
So, at best a follower of Scientific discipline has to be agnostic to the points made by any religion – he should neither believe, nor rule it out without proof.
Anyway, here is why a mosque in NY should be a non issue:
1. Moral View: Just because the perpetrators of WTC atrocity were muslims, and people who supported them claimed to have done it for the cause of Islam – it shouldn’t mean that the religion as a whole should be banished from US (or any other country). If that’s indeed the case, then churches too should be banished from various places, for the various atrocities committed by Christians over the centuries. Even in USA the worst atrocities on Black and Native Americans were done by Christians.
2. Legalistic View: Proposed mosque is close to the demolished WTC, not on the spot. As long as there isn’t a criteria that rules out a religious place in mid-town NY, there is no sense in opposing this.
3. Pragmatic View: Democratic world can’t help moderate Islam by being intolerant of it. It can only do so by promoting moderate practitioners of the religion, while discouraging the vitriolic and intemperate elements (like Zakir Naik), and punishing the violent elements.
If it is open as MJ Akbar is professing.. can I bring in my Krishna idol?
Key issue here is mistrust of the religion whose main book says kill all infidels..
Next Mr M J Akbar will comment against the plan to open a muslim friendly gay bar being planned next to the proposed mosque near ground zero.
>whose main book says kill all infidels..
It is not the book or religion itself that is the source of mistrust. It’s the interpretation. Saner elements will interpret sanely and insane elements will use the same words for justifying violence.
Take for instance Hindu holy book of Bhagavadgita where lord Krishna tells a hesitant Arjuna to kill his relatives and gurus for the sake of his Dharma. Read and explained in a right context, it makes perfect sense.
But, It is easy for a crafty preacher to take this out of context and exhort people to kill their family members in case of a Family property dispute. Or worse – justify any killings in the name of ‘dharma’!
So, All holy texts can lend themselves to good or bad interpretations and Islam certainly has some of the worst possible Interpreters and that needs to change. And there has to be encouragement for reforms and moderate views to change this situation.
Instead of promoting such enlightened interpretations, if we mistrust quarter of all humanity, I don’t think we’ll get very far. :(
It’s a play of bigotry and skulduggery. And so far into this drama, Michael Bloomberg is the guy who has emerged smelling of roses – amongst the main actors. He is a Republican and a Jew. He has demolished some of the most abiding stereotypes that many have built over the years about Republicans and Jews.
The ‘Ground Zero’ mosque is not at Ground Zero. The proposed mosque/community center ie Cordoba House is 2 blocks away from Ground Zero – it’s at 45-51 Park Place. There could have been many civic reasons to oppose a religious center there – traffic, Congregational activities in a residential area and so on. But both the community board and Landmarks commission have apparently voted for it. Check a view here.
Bloomberg stands by it as a Mayor or as a guardian of rule of law should be. His stand may change tomorrow but as of now he seems to say if they are playing by the rules then I ought to play ball too. He has spine and conviction.
Many of the others have flunked the bigotry test. They have let their emotions and votebanks ride over reason and laws of the land.
Now coming to skulduggery, I wonder why the promoters of this particular project – Cordoba house had to choose this particular location for the construction of a structure. I don’t know a thing about the promoters and their motive/s. But couldn’t they have chosen a place reasonably away from Ground Zero? Perhaps a less controversial location?
It’s not to condone the bigotry on display in their opposition’s camp. But perhaps they could’ve avoided this stirring of the hornet’s nest as I don’t see any absolutely compelling reason to build this community center right there where it’s planned and there alone.
As Humphrey Bogart says in Casablanca… ‘Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.’
>But couldn’t they have chosen a place reasonably away from Ground Zero? Perhaps a less controversial location?
I do understand the sentiments involved in this. There is no wisdom in doing things that may hurt others.
In an ideal world everyone would defer to other’s sentiment, and try and not to hurt others.
But, we don’t live in an ideal world, that’s why we have laws, police and courts. Laws which are made after considerable thought.
Trying to build a mosque close to WTC is the act of people – who are like adolescent rebels. Anyone who has dealt with an adolescent teen would know that trying to restrict them will only beget more acts of rebellion.
Best thing to set some ground rules, and ignore all actions within those rules.
Mussolini and Hitler did not get their ideas about world domination from the bible. Thats why we don’t blame the Roman Catholic Church. But Al-Qaeda and LeT get their ideas from the Quran.
We are not even allowed to play music in the neighbourhood of a mosque, and he says anyone is allowed to enter a mosque! Who does MJ Akbar think Hindus are, a bunch of fools? May be in Nehruvian times but not now!
“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” … A very good quote by Karl Marx. The second farcical happening need not be a lesser tragedy but it is still farce because we ignore history and let it repeat again and again.
Agreed that in a secular setting one has freedom to practice one’s religion namely build a mosque/temple/church. American Administration is right and just to allow the mosque to be built if not on Ground Zero, may be two blocks away. Where is the guarantee that it will not be demolished, in near future, by some agitated citizens belonging to families of those slained in the WTC blast or some fundamentalist Catholic ‘Kar Sevaks’. What if it leads to more retaliations and terror attacks as it has happened in the past elsewhere? Are Americans ready to suffer such consequences? What about the Imam who want to build his mosque only there? Is he insensitive to the tragedy that happened there and hurt of the people affected?
The problem is one never learns from history and lets it recycle for ever.
“But, It is easy for a crafty preacher to take this out of context and exhort people to kill their family members in case of a Family property dispute. Or worse – justify any killings in the name of ‘dharma’!”
harkol, nauseating balance sir. nauseasting is mild btw. u will say anything to convey the impression that all evil is exactly like all good. i can simply ask you to tell me how many “crafty preachers” have used the gita to pit family against family etc etc but that will be an insult to me.
i have read many comments of urs. u write well but ur reasoning on such tpics and this craving for poilitically correct equivalence is puke inducing.
while on the subject, the US would be correct to close down all mosques instead of erecting one more. fools.
germany has closed down a similar “center” after 10 years from the time rats came out of that hole and destroyed the towers in NY. they too wanted to see if the “center” can bring peace between muslims and west.
free democracies may have many obligations. the obligation to commit suicide need not be forced upon them. all intellectual calisthenics in support of mosques where they shud not belong, notwithstanding.
in fact, i wud think muslims shud first start giving the space thy demand from non muslims out of right. wonder why no one wants to speak about that? kashta alva? so arm twist obliging fools in the name of legal ante, bigotry ante, bible ante, gita ante.
Seriously – what is ‘political correctness’? If you strip it down to its skeletons, it is about non-confrontation. Avoiding a conflict.
I am open to confronting people with a radical view points. Hindu, Muslim or otherwie. I simply don’t believe in puking on thoughts I don’t agree with. I put forward a rational argument, with factual basis, and open to correct my opinion if a logical/factual basis is provided.
For example: Your question about who has misused the teachings of Gita (Hindu religious book)…
One example – Nathuram Godse, a brainwashed youth who murdered Gandhi, made a statement at his murder trial that gives us a good insight in to how he’d have been indoctrinated to a point to kill a person, whom he too considered a great soul. For him Gandhi was like Bhishma or Drona, who stood on the side of ‘Adharma’ and he had to kill Gandhi for supporting ‘Adharma’. He went to the gallows, holding a Gita in his hand.
So, Any religious indoctrination leads to clouding of thought. Islam or otherwise.
Now, if you want to puke, I suggest you do it a bit away from your keyboard – Electronics and puke don’t go well together.. ;-)
this is what i’m talking about. when i question your balance, you pull godse ’48 into the picture. actually i thought you’d pull bg tilak and his ganeshotsava :) not very good because its not very accurate.
you make a lot of assumptions about godse. fact is he was not brainwashed into anything. he quit the rss bcs he felt it had deviated and he fell out with savarkar bcs he thought savarkar was being too mild in times of crises.
of course he believed gandhi was a great man but he also knew, unlike many nowadays and even in those days, he knew that great men can make great mistakes that cost a lot of ppl a lot of grief. he felt gandhi shud be held accountable for his actions. i guess he wud have been equally happy if gandhi had simply resigned after his disastrous run.
linking the “adharmic” to being a “kafir” shows confusion on both sides. your trying to mine for sand in a swimming pool.
i doubt youve read may it please your honour or perhaps its poor recall, but here’s that portion you quote. and yes, my criticism of your lack of balance stays.
56. Since the year 1920, that is to say after the dismiss of Lokamanya Tilak, Gandhiji’s influence in the Congress first increased and then became supreme. His activities for public awakening were phenomenal in their intensity and were reinforced by the slogan of truth and non-violence which h& ostentatiously paraded before the country. No sensible or enlightened person could object to these. slogans; in fact there is nothing new or original in them. They are implicit in every constitutional public movement. To imagine that the bulk of mankind is or. con ever become capable of scrupulous adherance to these lofty principles in its normal life from day to day is a more dream. In fact honour duty and love of one’s own kith and kin and country might often compel us to disregard non-violence. I could never conceive that an armed resistance to the aggressor Is unjust. I will consider it a religious and,moral duty to resist and if possible to overpower such an enemy by the use of force. Shree Ramchandra killed Ravan in a tumultuous fight and relieved Sita. Shree Krishna killed Kansa to end his wickedness. In the Mahabharat Arjun had to fight and slay, quite a number of his. friends and relations including the revered Bhishma, because the latter was on the side of the aggressor. It is my firm belief that in dubbing Rama, Krishna and Arjuna as guilty of violence is to betray a total ignorance of the springs of human action. It was the heroic fight put up by the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj that first checked and eventually destroyed Muslim tyranny in India. It was absolutely correct tactics for Shivaji to kill Afzal Khan as the latter would otherwise have surely killed him. In condemning Shivaji, Rana Pratap and Guru Govind as misguided patriots, Gandhiji has merely exposed his self- conceit.
>when i question your balance
You do yourself a great dis-service. Being balanced is a good thing, opens you to more than one limited, biased, overweight perspective.
>you pull godse ’48 into the picture
You mean the way VHP keeps talking about the muslim invaders etc. etc.? And historic wrongs etc?
I was talking of how a Human psyche is susceptible to be swayed by religious fervor. There are large swathe of muslims who are swayed, There is a large swathe of cristians who used to be swayed, and Hindu’s aren’t really an exception. The concept of “Dharma Yudha” is a war of the righteous, which was used by kings of yester years to invoke a religious fervor. It is still used by the likes of VHP.
Godse was an youngster who was swayed by religious fervor. I am a huge Gandhi fan, and participated in Gandhi essay and quiz competitions in Mangalore (circa late 70s, early 80s). So, though my readings are about 35+ years dated now, I remember the gist of most of his works, and related readings on his assassination. So, that was the instant recall, I had when you asked about who gets misled by the preaching of religious books.
Anyway, his speech is chilling and the religious fervor is self-evident. For anyone wanting to read: http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=365
> he felt gandhi shud be held accountable for his actions. i guess he wud have been equally happy if gandhi had simply resigned after his disastrous run.
Precisely my point. ‘He Felt’ on the basis of his understanding of his great religion, that to safeguard one’s faith/religion/folks, he would be right to kill another man. It is only an incremental different for a bunch of guys to run a plane into to WTC, to defend ‘their faith’.
In 1993, In Mangalore, in front of Rambhavan Complex, a video parlor owner in his 20s was stabbed and killed by a few Hindu activists. I knew this person personally and he was a very nice, hardworking and honest man. His only mistake – He was a muslim, who got caught by a hindu mob, in a religiously charged post-babri atmosphere, after he closed his shop.
You think the guys who killed him did it without being taken over by a religious fervor, born out of years of hate filled indoctrination??
Try this – Hold a knife and try to cut someone’s fingertip. You and I can’t, leave alone kill a man. Even a murderer typically has a motive. He won’t kill an innocent.
But, a person, who is keyed up enough by religious fervor can. It is just that there are countries like Pakistan, which have made it their business to promote such religious fervor, and India prosecutes folks like Abhinav Bharat, when they cross a line. But, to think only muslims can be swayed is to live in a fools paradise.
To add a bit more. I know a few folks from Mangalore, who were part of the Ayodhya demolition, and have seen a video they shot where they stormed the structure and demolished it, all culminating in a pooja by Pejawara Mutt seer.
These are otherwise perfectly normal folks, who are very helpful, decent, honest folks. These are folks, who couldn’t break a pot, if you gave them one and asked them to break it. But, they were simply a different men during the Shila Poojan and Ayodhya demolition time. They were taken over by a zeal, that can’t be explained.
As they rightly say, religion is the opiate of the masses.
I think OBAMA has rightly said he won’t comment on the wisdom of building a $200million Islamic center and mosque in NY.
Is it any wonder that muslim countries have barely contributed to the relief efforts in the worst Pakistani floods in living memory? It is a Kuwaiti businessman who is putting together a fund for that mosque. And Kuwait, second richest oil nation, has offered just $5m for pakistan!
Wonder why these folks can’t collect the money and aid poor Muslims in distress instead of a grand mosque! Speaks a lot about skewed thinking.
“Can a plot be hatched in a house without a door?” — we know that this is plain bullshit.
To quote Tayyip Erdogan,Turkeys PM,
“The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers”…So, the “mosque” is not only or merely a “house of worship” but the “barracks” in the permanent war that exists, that must exist, between Muslim and Infidel.