At the Crossroads

Self-contradictory, destructive, inflammable and socially immobile, would be the few words to describe the pathetic state of Indian Muslims. The followers of one god, the believers in the last messenger are caught in a very crucial juncture. What the destiny holds is blurred, the past is bloodied, emotions are on a high and the road to progress blocked, writes TALHA CHAWDHURY

 

All are aching souls

Doubting their existence

 

Rumbling in the darkness

Crashing in the daylight

 

Hearts in the past

Emotions torn in the future

 

Digging own graves

Waiting to be buried…alive

 

Loads of worries have enveloped the mind. Exasperations, desperations and frustrations are on the verge of exploding on every Indian Muslim’s mind. “The government is biased, the media wants to crucify us, in such a situation what can we do?” This is the only possible solution or to say the reason for the massive backlog.

For ages none have rose to achieve the lost glory or reason to put an end to the distress. Dog fights amongst the Muslims have ensured that vested politicians maintain sway over the country’s politics. Just imagine, if the entire Muslim population were to speak as one, the whole world would shudder.

Looking at the state at the world around us gives goose bumps to one and all. Anti-Islamic forces are teeming up to put an end to this “menace called Islam” once and for all. After experiencing such catastrophes through our own eyes, aren’t we ashamed of ourselves? With such weighty issues surrounding us we all are quarreling if we are to tell ‘Ameen’ loudly or softly! Sounds atrocious right?

Sadly, it’s very much true. There are few questions that need to be left to the individual to decide. Why do we all scream about and hold each others throat. Our primary concern should be to see that every Muslim offers Salah on time. That he does no un-Islamic activity. Our aim should be to alleviate the status of lakhs of Muslims, suffering brutal hardships. Many are living in conditions that are not fit for a human being. Are we really concerned about them?

There are many issues troubling our masses. One of the very major problems is the straying away of Muslim youth. This problem is a very great resource if utilized properly. But alas! Our youth are more passionate about the western culture, the vulgar ideals and the shameless idols. This dangerous phenomenon has bitten the Muslim population very hard, especially in the region of the Indian sub-continent. The following lines hold a very brief discussion on the main problems with the Muslim teenagers.

It is an agreed fact that the media has been harshly critical of the Muslims. None of us have tried anything in particular to counter this view, excepting a few stray examples. But then our participation in the mainstream media is an altogether another debate. The point is that prejudices of the “mass media” have bought a great downfall in the morale of our masses.

The brandishing of Muslims as terrorists and fundamentalists has all affected a great deal on the psyche of the Muslim masses. There are basically two ways to fight any accusation. First, you go forward and prove your opponent wrong. In a sense you take offensive action. Second, is to lie down and defend yourself or stay silent regarding the whole issue. This gives a boost to the person who has cast false accusations on you. Unfortunately the younger generation of Muslims these days have resorted to the second option.

Just to prove that we are not of those “stereotyped Muslims” the youth have gone all out to impress their ‘modern friends.’ To make this very clear let me give you a very appropriate example. Just look at the terrible state of Turkey. Once the epitome of Islamic state, where the caliph resided with all glory, is now a state of utter chaos. The very “modernistic leader” Mustafa Kemal went all out to wipe out Islam from the face of Turkey. All in this in the name of secularism. He firstly banned the caliphate and proceeded to remove any symbol that talked about Islam. He banned azan in Arabic and he illegitimated the symbol of modesty – Hijab. The state language was changed from Arabic to Latin and the glorious Islamic history was scrapped from the educational system. This led to generations being devoid of any Islamic thought. Thousands of Islamists thinkers were persecuted on charges of rebelling against the “secular state.” All this in the country where more than 90% of the population is Muslims!

Now, seeing thousands of young Turks marching on the streets of Istanbul, my heart bleeds… These people are denouncing the presidential candidate of Erdogan’s Party, who supposedly has Islamists roots! And what’s more, “How could he think of it? His wife wears a headscarf!” the pinnacle of women’s chastity (Hijab) is banned in all public places in Turkey. All this blasphemy only to impress our ‘modern friends.’ And guess who these are? None other than the European Union. EU does not want an Islamic country to join its ranks. Therefore ban everything even close to the most “perfect way of life.”

Contrast this with the actions of a companion of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Once he was at the court of a Roman king having his dinner. Accidentally a morsel of food fell from his hand. He immediately picked it up and cleaned the dust and ate. Seeing this person sitting next to him retorted saying that this was uncharacteristic in the Roman court. To which the companion of prophet gave a reply fit to be scripted in immortal dialogues: “Do you think I will leave my dear Prophet’s Sunnah, for this Roman…?”

‘Cultures, values, traditions all go down the bin, Let us go to the bar down some gin.’ This has become the motto of youth these days. Very fatal identity crises has assumed place here. This leads to absurdity in life. When life comes to a grinding halt due to an identity crises even bleak ray of hope is enough to drive people towards it. Same has happened here, the youth in their prime years lose track of life.

The radically different western culture offers a paradise for those who want to rebel against their culture. Thus, teens hungrily jump at it without giving second thoughts as to what is right and what is wrong. This rising dissatisfaction comes to the fore when we scrutinize the behavior of Muslim youth in educational institutes around us. Muslim students distance themselves away from questions regarding Islam and misconceptions surrounding it. Many hesitate to talk about it as it may lead to being called the fundamentalist. This distancing includes disinterest in Salah and other day to day activities as Muslims. Herein lies the major drawback. By doing this we are not just proving ourselves wrong but are also losing sight of our aim.

It needs to be reminded to the youth that Islam is the ‘most perfect way of life.’ It is completely based on reasoning and has very liberal sense. There is nothing about Islam that is not modern or blindly traditional. It adapts to every age without getting altered in contents. The prejudice by the non-Muslims is just a temporary phenomenon fostered by the anti-Muslim forces. Prove the inherent identity as the best among the herd. Then just wait and watch. This is a job requiring a lot of endurance and equal amount of patience.

The other very prominent misinterpretation concerning the Muslim youth is the failure to differentiate between Westernization and Modernization. Modernism is basically the rejection of traditional and accepted ideas and seeks to find new ways of expression. Therefore it is but obvious that it decries religious thoughts as they come under the “traditional and accepted” category. This ideology was succeeded by a more amusing one – the Post-Modernistic thought. Here there is a denial of all absolute truths. It all boils down to an individual and his choices. “This is wrong, maybe for you but not for me.” That’s it. There is no further argument.

This philosophical movement has hit the youth in general and Muslim youth in particular, quiet hard. It is being propounded in the mainstream media and is getting absorbed in the youth in a very unintentional way. Captions like, “I don’t give a damn,” and “Who cares,” have effectively forwarded this irrational attitude. Due to this idiosyncratic way of thought the teens have been astonishingly stubborn. Elders who find some flaws in them, comment on it and get back a very blunt “I know,” as an answer. This blocks all further intellectual and mental progress. For questions which cannot be answered with ‘I know’s’ are substituted with a meek shaking of the head and a very criminal silence ensures that the conversation is killed. (This remarkable stubbornness calls for compliment!).

What we all tend to confuse is with the aspects of Modernity and Westernity. You may dress up in a western style (without losing sense of Islamic limits, of course) but there is a very conspicuous change when it comes to thinking on western or so to call Modern lines. Being modern does not imply abandoning purdah, rubbishing Sunnah and glorifying vulgar western icons. It means a very careful balance between the two. Islam promotes fashion in an aesthetic sense like no other religion. You can look amazingly charismatic by dressing up in Islamic limits. Whereas, the western concept of fashion really puzzles me. How can you be fashionable with hardly any clothes on! Seriously this is something to think about.

Being western implies adapting to western lifestyle. Being modern would probably imply keeping the mind open to fresh inputs of knowledge. It leads to scrutinizing various philosophies and ideologies in a very unbiased perspective. After this we could grasp a few good things into out lives seeing to that they are within Islamic limits.

With this endeavor in mind we have to climb the mountain full of boulders and rough terrain. Stopping not once till we reach the peak. From where we enter into the abode of “the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful.”

All are aching souls,

Doubting their existence.

 

Superfluous character,

Punctured by desire.

 

Aiming for the stars

From deep down in mines.