TWO unrelated and very different events, one far away from us and the other in our own country — KP, to be specific — have given us cause to lament. Perhaps it is time to take notice.
Truth and justice tend to lose their meaning when fabulously rich countries and their extremely wealthy rulers are unwilling and unable to provide food, water and medicines to thousands of battered people, the majority of them children.
As a genocide in real time is being carried out by a rogue state targeting a small strip of land that has been deprived of human living conditions for decades, and which is constantly bombarded with ammunition provided by the world’s ‘best democracies and custodians of human rights’, nearly two billion Muslims remain voiceless.
There is no end in sight to the sufferings of the Palestinians, except painful death, or a crippled life. The world’s leaders look on. Of course, one can try and find some peace in the thought of the Day of Judgement, when all criminals will be brought before their victims and given just punishment.
If one can do so, one might pray that those who remained silent or looked away when they could have done something would also be considered abettors and facilitators of these horrendous deeds.
As these words are being written, one is very conscious of the fact that the Palestinian cause is neither in favour of Muslims nor against Jews or Christians. It is a tragedy wrought upon the people of a land through the connivance of the West and some Arab states.
Their land was usurped and constantly encroached upon by Jews sent from Europe until they were restricted to a narrow strip and blocked from support from others.
It just so happens that the majority of Palestinians are Muslims who have not merely been forsaken, but deliberately left to fend off Israeli settlers and the terrible Israeli military that has learnt much from their avowed enemy, Hitler.
Muslim rulers are busy in displays of pomp.
The Muslim world, in general, is besotted with navel gazing and their rulers are busy amassing wealth and in displays of pomp. It is no wonder then, that of the 57 Muslim countries that have formed a toothless organisation, only one had the gumption to expel the Israeli ambassador in protest against the bestiality of the Israeli military. Bolivia, a non-Muslim country, has also cut ties, as has South Africa and a few others.
As these words are written, Israel has bombarded heavily populated refugee camps while Palestinians are trying to find bodies in the rubble that Gaza has become.
Thousands of Palestinians have lost their lives in this mass-scale slaughter while the wheels of the world continue to churn out the usual rhetoric. This holocaust is presided over by none other than the US.
The other event, which has caused much concern, is the coerced affidavit that was signed by a young teacher who had to swear that Darwin’s theory of evolution, that he was teaching, was false and that he believed women are inferior to men.
As he signed this ludicrous declaration (otherwise he would have had to suffer dire consequences along with his loved ones), he was flanked by many self-declared custodians of faith. They are merely another incarnation of the men who have over the centuries denied, denounced and hounded men of science and those who would have dared to attempt to question common beliefs.
This piece is not about whether or not Darwin’s theory is against Islamic belief. Many renowned Islamic scholars have suggested that the theory does not deny in any way statements in the Quran that explain how the first human being came into existence.
What is most reprehensible is that a religion that is critical of how the clergy in earlier faiths concentrated power in the hands of a few, has been misused to threaten and force a person to deny his opinions. The Islamic way of dealing with statements that some believe are religiously wrong would be to have calm, scholarly and compassionate discussions.
Let us keep Darwin’s contentious theory aside. Which Quranic injunction did these ‘men of religion’ refer to when they had the young man vouch for male superiority?
The one about having two male witnesses to a financial deal or the one to bring another woman to court in case the first one forgets? Both can be argued on the basis of the need of the time and the socioeconomic conditions in the seventh versus the 21st century.
No wonder, then, that the Muslim world has been unable to produce women and men of knowledge, wisdom and understanding in significant numbers, who are able to express differences of opinions and beliefs without confronting hatred and bigotry.
The clerics in KP are a mere microcosm of the obscurantism that assails the Muslim world. It has become impotent and self-serving, and its rulers seek power, rather than justice and compassion.
The writer is a contributor with an interest in religion.
Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2023