The Ultimate Tragedy Is Not the Brutality of the Bad but the Silence of the Good
Sometimes back in Pakistan few people armed with AK-47 entered a school and Started firing the machine gun indiscriminately. Children as old as six or seven could not defend themselves and within a few minutes, the entire school was steeped in an eerie silence. Bodies of innocent children, their teachers, probably trying to save them, were all silenced and drenched in blood.
Who can forget 9/11? I was to operate a flight to New York that night and was dressed in my uniform waiting for my transport to come to pick me up. The news of the incident was being aired on television and my wife was little skeptical about my going on the flight. I got a call from the movement control that my flight has been canceled because of the event that was being unfurled in front of us. An aircraft fully laden with fuel had been used as a missile to destroy humanity.
26/11 a group of twelve men with backpacks and completely mundane in appearance went on a rampage in south Mumbai. Killing hundreds at Churchgate station, at the Taj Mahal Hotel and in and around the locality targeting restaurants, hotels and railway stations. Mumbai police immediately swung into action and finally eliminated all except one who was taken into custody.
The list is endless. Innocent lives are lost and for what? It is the innocent people, mothers, fathers, who suffer the most. They are forced to leave their habitats, homes, jobs, schools, and live in dilapidated refugee camps. No sectarian groups who perpetrate such senseless mindless war think about the crying child, the wailing mother, or the helpless father. Their only aim is to spread fear and terror all in the name of Religion.
Towards the end of February in 2002,in a place called Godhra, in the Indian state of Gujarat, about 60 people mostly from the Hindu community were burned alive in the train that was bringing them back Kar sevaks from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh in India. A judicial inquiry was commissioned and after six long years, it was found that this was an act of arson by the minority community and not a mere accident.
The perpetrators feel that they are doing a tremendous job and that by doing such an act they will be rewarded by the Divinity. God, Bhagwan, Allah, Christ, or any other name that one might give, will bless them with martyrdom. Can anybody consciously sustain such a concept?? Does Bhagwad Gita tell us to kill people?? Does the Quran teach us to inflict pain and agony on our fellow human beings?? Does the Bible tell us to keep mute and nonchalant if the neighbor is in pain and sorrow? If not then why in the name of religion are such acts perpetrated??
World over such incidents do occur with some sort of regularities and one community i.e Muslims come to the fore as the perpetrators. It is shameful and psychologically over-burdening to the Muslims living all around the world because by the irresponsible act of just a few the entire community is maligned.
Therefore it becomes necessary to find out why only Islam and the Muslims are at the center stage for all these terrorist activities and what is the role of religion in making a fanatic.
So what is Religion? We must have some idea about the evolution of religion to understand that religion helps us to bind together within the group and between the groups.
From the very beginning when the man was an advanced ape, scientifically termed as Australopithecus, he lived in groups. Living in a group has a lot of advantages, one of the prime being safety. Then there was the economic reason for the man to be in a group. During the early Paleolithic period when the man was a hunter-gatherer, he needed a well-defined group with a well-defined division of labor among the group for the group to be economically viable. The animals that were hunted were as mammoth as the wooly mammoths. When the economy shifted from hunting-gathering to agrarian, the groups needed to be much larger. Therefore there needed to be some rules, rites, rituals, and certain norms that gave the group an inherent control from within. Thus becoming a well structured social group. The rites, rituals, and certain norms were basically made for the groups to be more economically viable by creating an atmosphere of harmony and not discord at any time. Therefore we see the development of religion or a spark of it among the Neanderthals. Neanderthals were the first hominids to intentionally bury the dead. Exemplary sites include Shanidar in Iraq, Kebara Cave in Israel, and Krapina in Croatia. Some scholars, however, argue that these bodies may have been disposed of for secular reasons. Likewise, a number of archeologists propose that Middle Paleolithic societies such as Neanderthal societies may also have practiced the earliest form of totemism or animal worship in addition to their (presumably religious) burial of the dead. Emil Bächler in particular suggests (based on archeological evidence from Middle Paleolithic caves) that a widespread Middle Paleolithic Neanderthal bear cult existed.
The evolution of religion is closely connected with the evolution of the mind and behavioral modernity. Now the world over what has presumably happened is this, that when societies started building up due to the more stable economy of agriculture early humans ceased to become nomadic and live comfortably in social groups. They realized that severe storms or severe rains or severe hurricanes and blizzards could destroy their crops and so they, now being evolved in their thinking process and behavioral attributes, started to fear the elements of nature and they thought that the nature was somehow angry on them and that they needed to appease nature and so they started pleasing nature and its elements by certain rites and rituals to the extent of sacrificing humans in order to appease the Gods of wind, rain, fire, and earth. RELIGION CAME INTO BEING.
I being a Hindu have read the Quran and I have found that nowhere does the Quran mentions the merciless killing of anyone. In fact, in his article “Islam and the Environment,” Arafat El-Ashi, director of the Muslim World League in Canada, writes “Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) said that “ To kill one innocent human is like killing the whole of humanity, and to save just one human amount to saving the whole of humanity". Can we possibly find a better way of emphasizing the sanctity of human life?. The Quran is the religious testament of Islam where it says that even if your neighbor is a non-believer and he is hungry it becomes your responsibility to see that he is fed and doesn’t sleep hungry.
The concept of Jihad is completely skewered by the maulvis and the Imams in today’s times. In the Quran nowhere does it say that kill the innocent in order to appease Allah. The word Jihad has a completely different connotation in the Quran. Jihad means to wage a war, but the war on what or whom is the question. In Hinduism, the Vedas speak about the seven evils residing in our mind and they are greed, jealousy, anger, attachment, lust, possessiveness, and pride. We have to literally wage a war within us to be free from all these seven sins to be the ultimate human. The Quran also says so and to eliminate these sins the Quran says we have to do a jihad against them and this is termed as “Jihad ul Akbar” which means the ultimate war. So nowhere does it say that kill the innocent? The symbolic process of the same is enacted during the Haj pilgrimage where the pilgrim throwing stones at the jamarāt is part of the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. During this ritual, Muslim pilgrims throw pebbles at three pillars called jamarāt, in the city of Mina just east of Mecca. It is one of a series of ritual acts that must be performed in the Hajj.
Therefore the question is why there is fanaticism among Muslims or the Abhramic religions. How does a Moulana or a priest motivate the people so much so that the people become ready to die for the cause that the Moulana or the Priest preaches? Imagine the mental strength of those terrorists who piloted the aircraft into the World trade center. They could see the building approach before them at tremendous speed and yet they kept on flying towards it. The ultimate fear of human beings is that of death or injury and when one does not have that fear he or she then is the most dangerous person on earth. So the question therefore is, does the Quran instruct the followers to lay their lives inflicting death and pain to the innocents. ?
For this, we need to understand the basic difference between Hinduism or the Sanatan Dharma with the other religions. Hinduism, as opposed to popular knowledge, is not a religion but a way of life. Hence it is called a “Dharma” and Sanatan means ageless which means that Hinduism is a way of life ever since humans developed into society. When the nomadic lifestyle of the humans became more stationary due to the advent of agriculture and it started to turn into a functional group then there came a need to put forth certain checks and balances and rites and rituals and the way of life developed and that is “Sanatan Dharma”. So in Hinduism, there is no one prophet from whom the religion starts unlike Islam which starts from Adam, or Christianity which starts from Jesus, though it actually came to existence 135 years after the death of Jesus, or Buddhism after Gautama Buddha or Jainism after Mahavir and so on.
Again Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, are all a part of the Sanatan Dharma, hence they are just an offshoot of Hinduism so it is only the Abhramic religion that are left to interpret their holy books. Another important fact and a difference between other religions and Hinduism are that one has to take birth into the dharma. One cannot and is not considered a Hindu if one is converted to Hinduism but one can get converted to Islam, or Christianity, or Buddhism, or Jainism. True Muslims are only in the middle east Afghanistan and Persia that is Iran. In the rest of the world, the Muslims are converted from their initial religion. All the way to far east Indonesia, Malaysia, etc populations were not Muslim long ago but they slowly converted the populace. India has a long history of debauchery the Muslim rulers ever since Babur came to India. India was very rich in its heritage and social structure and very rich in terms of jewels and precious stones. The Islamic Rulers plundered the wealth for their pleasure and in the process of their rule they forced their subjects to convert to their faith and today’s Muslim population in India are the progenies of those converted population.
The very recent phenomenon world over is the Islamisation of the population of the place wherever the Muslims reside. Great Britain, Germany, parts of Europe, all have the same issues. In Islam as well as in Christianity, the concept of birth control is viewed as sin. Christians all over the world are much literate than the Muslims and they have understood the need for birth control but among the Muslims, the concept of using birth control methods is viewed as a sin and hence the population of the Muslims is increasing whereas the population of other religious faiths is decreasing. Again in the Quran, there is a provision of polygamy, though under strict guidance and reasons but those guiding principles are conveniently brushed aside and a Muslim man ends up marrying more than one wife. Certain government policies are also responsible for the increase in the number of Muslims world over. Let’s take for example the UK. I met a Muslim man at a bus stand and we started talking. I asked him what he does and he very proudly said that the government gives him dole as he is a UK citizen. He went on to say that each member of the family receives the dole (govt handout) and a government house too. The area of government accommodation depends on the number of family members. I was taken aback. He then said that earlier they were allotted a one-bedroom house but now that he has two children they have been given a two-bedroom accommodation and plus a dole of seventy pounds per person per week. He is collecting a dole of three hundred and twenty pounds per week. Education is free and so is health care. Such government policies are actually a deterrent for anyone to try to seek a job but an excellent impetus to do nothing and enjoy on someone else’s money ( Taxpayers ).
Another very pertinent reason could be the lack of formal education among the Muslims. Most of the Muslim children are put into madrasas where they are taught the Quran and very unfortunate is the fact that the maulanas themselves do not know Arabic. The Quran is written in Arabic and therefore it is left to the maulanas to interpret the Quran as they please. The concept of Jihad is explained as the killing of the non-Muslims and the reward that Allah will confer upon the jihadist is the gift of seventy-four virgins waiting for them in heaven ( Jannat ). The Jihadists are taught that the Quran commands the disciples of Allah to either convert the non-believers or kill them if they do not accept Islam. This is exactly what is happening to the Hindus living in Pakistan. When seventy four years ago Pakistan was created there were fourteen percent Hindus, six percent Christians, and other religions but today only three to four percent Hindus are present in Pakistan. The jihadis are also encouraged to destroy any symbols or institutions of other religion and the Bamiyan Buddha obliteration in Afghanistan is a glaring example.
The fault, therefore, does not lie with the religious text. In fact, The Quran is the only religion that preaches love and compassion to the extent that if one’s neighbor irrespective of his religion goes hungry at night then it becomes the responsibility of the person to feed him. In fact, The hadith which says that killing one human being is like killing the entire humanity, the creation of Allah. The fault lies with the maulanas, who preach in the mosques and who does not know to read Arabic and have learned the Quran by just mechanically memorizing it the same way the present-day children do in the madrasas, who interpret the Quran wrongly and who preach hatred and indoctrinates the gullible Islamic youths in the name of the virgins waiting to massacre innocents. The huge population of the Muslims is less educated and economically also they are not so well to do. Therefore to inculcate the skewered concept of jihad with the lure of money virgins in the afterlife is very easy. Statistically, the Muslim community in the world has more youngsters than the old and they would do anything to earn money given the poverty that they live in. What better way than to follow the so-called Moulana's version of the Quran and get paid for it too and also attain respect in the society. Society does not understand Quran in its true sense and neither does the youths of the same society.
Religion, be it any, does not preach hatred nor does it preach sectarianism. Every religion preaches the dictum of live and let live including Islam. It is the personal agendas of the maulanas who preach such drastic dictums by taking advantage of the inability to read the Quran as it is written and understanding it.
Long time back when I was reading the book, The Godfather, written by Mario Puzo I came upon a wonderful quote that is so very relevant in this scenario. The Quote, “the ultimate tragedy is not the brutality of the bad but the silence of the good”. So true it is in today’s scenario. Actually, the perpetrators of fanaticism and barbarism are very few in numbers but they are concerted in their thoughts and action and hence the devastations. The people with the negative thoughts are united in their act of devastation and barbarism. With the advent of social media, it has become very easy to gather like-minded actors as they are very very less in numbers. Whereas the number of good people are the maximum in the population worldwide in numbers. They are compassionate, they are humane, and they are the ones that work towards the upliftment of the society irrespective of religion. Even with the advent of social media somehow the good does not come as a cohesive force. The positive thoughts and energy of such people are scattered all over but they are not focused on the evildoers. The good people are therefore, I would say, disorganized and that is why the bad apparently wins every time.
The world, therefore, is suffering the silence of the good in today’s world and that really is the ultimate tragedy.