The rise of the Muslim Bloc: Overtures of Imran Khan’s UN speech
Quote: “Islamophobia or Radical Islam” are the tip of the Iceberg, the story runs deeper. So is it then that Muslims are doing *something* that is greatly upsetting their non-Muslim hosts? Is it just one thing or is it a combination? Why is it that the Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Atheists, even LGBTQ face nothing of the wrath the likes of which Muslims face? What is it that they’re doing wrong that people from Norway to Texas to NZ are storming into their places of worship and mercilessly killing them? Or in the case of Indian Kashmir simply rampaging whatever rights were agreed upon with them? Why are Muslims simply an object of hatred for most of the world we live in today? Why are Muslims considered unequal citizens, disloyal and a threat?”
When I was young, a teacher in class gave me an exam tip: 50% or more of the answer lies in the question itself.
Never have the children of God been any less kinder to one another in history. The world has seen dominance of one religion over another. Before Jesus, Judaism was en vogue, then came the Roman Empire and then, from the 8th till the 13th century, Islam spread only to be taken over in the Crusades by the Christians in the 14th century.
It is interesting to note that Christianity is the dominant world religion with 2.4 billion followers or 33% of the world’s population, followed by Islam, (1.8 billion/24.1%), Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist (1.2 billion/16%) and Hinduism (1.15 billion/15%).
The Jews probably had the roughest end of the deal among all religions, even today they represent only 0.2% of the world’s population, or around 14 million – contrast that with the holocaust where 6 million, almost half of the Jewish population in today’s term was exterminated in the most inhuman way imaginable by the Nazis many of whom were Protestants (known as “German Christians) of the time.
The tragedy that befell the Jews is beyond words, and any amount of human sympathy falls short in recognition of their pain and suffering. However, psychologically speaking, such extremities of pain may not necessarily bring the best out of people, a heightened sense of protectionism and self-defense, even against imaginary “threats” is often the outcome. Take, for example, the fact that the Palestinians are ill equipped in any possible sense to be considered a “threat” for Israel, in contrast to the Nazis of yesteryears, there is simply no comparison between the two! Yet Israel sees them as an existential threat, and I can empathize with them given what they have suffered, for the only way to perceive their mindset is for you to step into Jewish shoes, and that is easier said than done. I can feel in my lifelong interfaith interactions that the Christians are perhaps the most sensitive to the Jewish people, whilst the Muslims are skeptical at best and bring old rivalry into play then pure humanitarian sentiment of a people wronged to an inhuman magnitude in recent history. The Hindus are manipulative and play on Jewish fears of Islam trying to dominate them, for the most part they (the Jewish people) don’t see Christian’s at least as an overt threat.
If you ask a Muslim today, they will tell you the world is divided in two blocs, the Muslim and the non-Muslim bloc, where the latter appears pretty much ganged up on the former. But then, is it really so? Again in my breadth and depth of interfaith work I have realized that for the most part the Muslims themselves are to blame, a superiority complex rhetoric in the face of the least economic, academic, governance, law & order or human rights development within the Muslim circles is the primary reason for their haughtiness.
Let me assure you, I pride myself in being fair, reasonable and logical, I see Muslims from that perspective without any bias for it happens to be a faith I practice, albeit, with a lot of caveats that a mainstream Muslim may find highly offensive bordering on delusion or heresy if not both.
Recent chain of events post 9/11 have portrayed Muslims as hardliners and fundamentalists who would kill at the drop of a hat. Often in the most ingenious of ways. 9/11 in itself was mind boggling, all the preparation that went into it, the rituals of faith that have time stamped Muslims as “the” bad guys for at least a few more decades. Then there was the rise of Al Qaeda and ISIS, I can still disgustingly remember how Daniel Pearl was executed and how ISIS beheaded James Foley. Characters like “Jihadi John”, Osama bin Laden, Mulla Umer, Qaddafi, Saddam Hussain, all had one thing in common, an unfathomable hatred for Americans, Jews and Christians in general. They were then and even today role models to many.
This does not, in any way, means that Muslims are more of a threat to civilization then the hardliners in Christianity, Judaism, Atheists, Hinduism and even Buddhism. Case in point, recent mosque shootings in New Zealand, Norway and the US. Anders Behring Breivi, Brenton Tarrant or Craig Stephen Hicks (an Atheist) who shot 3 (Muslim) students in North Carolina because the women did “Hijab” and they were, obviously, Muslims as graphically detailed in the Ted Talk by Suzanne Barakat, the sister of Deah Shaddy Barakat, murdered before his time along with his wife and her sister. Craig Hicks was watching his life disintegrate as these Muslim kids were pursuing the “American Dream” as this third marriage was falling apart – his dream and that of many like his is confounded by a stronger work ethic of migrants, images of 9/11, “Sharia”, “Radical Islam”, “Hijab” and so forth. Interestingly in a TedTalk, Samina Ali, an Indian-American spoke beautifully (and sarcastically) at length with proof from the scripture, about how the current concept of Hijab is completely lopsided. And that it is the primary reason why Hijab donning Muslim women in the West are attacked as hundreds of cases on record the world over amply prove.
So is it then that Muslims are doing *something* that is greatly upsetting their non-Muslim hosts? Is it just one thing or is it a combination? Why is it that the Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Atheists, even LGBTQ face nothing of the wrath the likes of which Muslims face? What is it that they’re doing wrong that people from Norway to Texas to NZ are storming into their places of worship and mercilessly killing them? Or in the case of Indian Kashmir simply rampaging whatever rights were agreed upon with them? Why are Muslims simply an object of hatred for most of the world we live in today? Why Muslims are considered unequal citizens, disloyal and a threat? Does it have anything to do with honor killings of their sisters and daughters who use their right to marry? Or does it have an inkling with the burning of American flags in Muslim countries. The rather obvious anti-Semitism too? Or the fact that Muslims have been involved in high profile acts of violence from 9/11 and counting?
I think the answer is pretty clear. Apart from the above, richer Muslims who do not need to move to the West for usually terrible living circumstances at home, most Muslims who go to the West follow a strict code of existence (hijab and all albeit contrary to the faith as per Samina Ali’s TedTalk), long beards, singled out, while fellow Muslims conduct terror attacks instilling fear and hate in the hearts and minds of their hosts. And then there are these long, never ending and elusive explanations of “we are not like them” (the evil who plot and enact terror and hate) – add to this centuries old hatred instilled in both sides from the days of Jihad’s and Crusades.
In this backdrop Imran Khan’s speech at the UN GA on September 27, 2019 was refreshing, he spoke of things no other Muslim leader speaks off, though I’m sure they all know and feel not very differently. Imran became the voice of the “Ummah” and was met with immediate recognition and fame in most of the Muslim world. In Indian Kashmir, young boys broke the curfew in exhilaration after his speech and were welcomed by the Indian Army’s cold, nameless, heartless bullets. He spoke of Islamophobia and tried to bust the myth of “Radical Islam” with a one liner of an argument that is as good as a politician can get to. He spoke his heart out, but not his mind, he spoke of the possibility of nuclear war between India and Pakistan without any argument or logic. It was apparent his heart was in control in those 50 minutes at the UN General Assembly on that day. His words were more of an outburst of a people contained for decades by the Jews, Christians and Hindus. And he succeeded in getting at least 2 allies: Turkey and Malaysia in the short run.
So it appears a game of thrones then religion alone as of centuries. This time the Muslims are rising to the occasion and challenging the leadership of the West in collusion with Israel and India. Two clear camps. While the Russians and Chinese are happily benefitting from either side they can, their only agenda is economics, not power, and personally I think it is a wiser choice. For sound economies make people happy, while wars wear them out and ultimately turn the tables on the warmongers themselves.
This is the beginning of the Muslim bloc, decades ago King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and Zulfikar Bhutto of Pakistan had similar aims, we all know how they met their end.
Almost everything that Imran Khan said was thought provoking, even if inflammatory, he was describing pain for the “Ummah” in his heart, but he missed the point in my opinion. There is an even more apt question to ask? Is Muslim leadership, unity, whatever you call it, relevant? Or is Muslim renaissance a more realistic aim?
I would rather that Imran Khan and Muslim leaders, instead of criticizing the West for singling them out alongside India and Israel, should rather focus on addressing their own ills, which are many to say the least. Muslim nations, apart from the oil rich, have usually terrible governments, there is apathy and corruption in the name of democracy, poverty and lack of education stares at their face. So much so that women donning Hijab and men with footlong beards set foot in the West as migrants. A comedy of errors or a total contrast, whatever you call it. This then is the core issue, migration of Muslims to the West that is unwanted by the hosts for they clearly violate their principles of life all said and done. If Muslims had, for example, a better life in their own countries why would they ever migrate? How many Americans or Europeans, Canadian, Australians, Kiwis, Japanese, Singaporeans or South Koreans do you know who have migrated to Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia or any other Muslim country? Hardly any in comparison, not even 0.0000000000001% of the Muslims who beg, borrow, steal, risk their lives in containers or flimsy boats from Libya to Italy and so on, to say “Allahu Akbar” in the West. Do you not “get it” that the West doesn’t like “Allahu Akbar”? If they did you wouldn’t have had centuries of Crusades with them, from Andalus to Spain. They even colonized almost all Muslim lands and often not Arabic but English or French, even today are official languages in many Muslim countries!
“Islamophobia or Radical Islam” are the tip of the Iceberg, the story runs deeper, much deeper, and leaders like Imran Khan among others need to do some soul searching. I’ve outlined some food for thought above. However, let me assure you, macho tit for tat won’t work, simply because you do not have the strength to match your claims, you don’t have enough to feed your people how could you embark on a war? You cannot militarily go against this West, India, Israel troika, you simply cannot! And my 2 cents are that EVEN if you could, to WHAT avail? Why not have a higher aim, of making YOUR countries more attractive for them to live and work in? The day you achieve this aim there will be NO Islamophobia just as there is no Hinduphobia (though I believe there should be, as at 15% of the worlds’ population they truly have some practices that need evaluation, killings over cows and so on), or Jewishphobia or Buddhistphobia or Atheistphobia. Why ONLY Islamophobia? Why only “Radical Islam” and no “Radical XYZ”?
Today I reflect on my teachers’ advice of yesteryears, to look for the answer within the question itself. And so should Imran Khan when he asks these poignant questions. And they day he does, and reflects on them too, he will not need to threaten India with a nuclear bomb, a country with 90% of the people living in unhygienic, below poverty levels and instead become a friend of India’s poor. For they have no friends. Their leaders are after power, divisiveness is the easiest route to power as we’ve seen amply practiced in the US and India. The people of India are hence orphaned with an illusion of grandeur (nuclear power, huge economy etc doesn’t change the reality of those whose lives are spent from birth till death on Mumbai’s pedestrian walks). And that should lead Imran to an even more poignant realization, that the people of Pakistan are no better off than the Indians.
Building a Muslim bloc to counter the West may sound sexy, cool and give a rush of adrenalin. But is it really what is required? Will it further an increasing divide? Should there be a deeper soul searching below the tip of the iceberg of hatred, religious intolerance, racism, bias, discrimination?
If I had my way I would compile a list of BEST PRACTICES of all countries, including those Mr Khan or other Muslim leaders or people may consider as “enemies” – and learn from them.
Because learning is life, and the day we stop learning we cease to exist intellectually, even if we have a pulse.