Religion as Peace: Countering Hindutva-led negative images of Islam

Hindu groups taking a rally in India | File Picture | Firstpost

In many western media outlets, we are witnessing predominantly Christian spaces and culture being influenced by Hindutva ideology to propagate messages of hatred against Islam. What these outlets forget is that Hindutva, whose birth took place in the RSS ideology in India, views all non-Hindus, including a tiny Christian minority, in India as outsiders and as a threat to its social order.

Abdul Raheem, 

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When proto-fascist ideologies occupies the driving seat in media and hate is propagated on distasteful platforms under the pretext of news or freedom of expression, it should make us sit up and question this scheme of things.

In many western (read Christian) media outlets, we are witnessing predominantly Christian spaces and culture being influenced by Hindutva ideology to propagate messages of hatred against Islam.

What these outlets forget is that Hindutva, whose birth took place in the RSS ideology in India, views all non-Hindus, including its tiny Christian minority, in India as outsiders and as a threat to its social order.

The same Hindutva is standing against every non-Hindu religion including Christianity in India. The same Hindutva has called for the destruction of Churches in India in the past. The same Hindutva demurring over the statue of Jesus. The same proto-fascist group burnt alive the Christian missionary Graham Staines along with his innocent children. It is the Hindutva ideology that elected the killer of Graham Staines to a parliamentary position.

Despite all facts and figures, it is surprising to platforms founded by Christians serving the Hindutva agenda. Encouraging Hindutva ideology under the ‘Clergy Collar’ is an act of back stabbing against the Christian community. It is standing against the emotions and feelings of the larger Christian community. Christians joining hands with Hindutva casually undermines the sacrifices of many God-fearing Christians like Graham Stain and Fr. Stan Swami.

Misinformation at core of hatred against Islam
What is often apparent on these hate-filled platforms is the demonization of Islam that takes place in one form or the other.

These platform toss misinformation like “Why Muslim parents teach their children to take the violent path?” easily and a lot of people consume this information and believe it.

Although these things are posed as questions. However, when one investigates the trend these are not questions but merely unjust, ahistorical and unfair criticisms directed against Islam and Muslims.

While questioning is a tool of debate and discussion, and should be promoted but criticism, in its limited connotation, focus entirely on the demerits of something (here Islam) and judges it accordingly.

However, one important aspect that all hatemongers forget is that “Criticism is the only reliable form of autobiography.” Unjust and unqualified criticism tells us more about the psychology of the critic than the people he or she criticizes. This criticism stems from an internal sense of dissatisfaction and a continuous effort to counter that feeling. An individual who uses this type of criticism is trying to improve a feeling of self-worth by negating the worth of the person on the other side. Criticism has its base in self-hate.

When directed against Islam, and Muslims this criticism takes the shape of Islamophobia and is used to demonize all Muslims.

From its earliest history till present, Islam always welcomes questions, discussions and debates. That is how people embraced Islam and it became the second-largest religion in a very short period.

Dialogue, debate, and missionary work is the main reason why Islam spread so vast and wide and not by swords as falsely claimed by some.

Wars are part of any religious groups and every war is either in defense of protecting the community or to gain/regain geopolitical control, and the same can be said about Muslims. Christian and Hindu wars are regarded as generic wars without any religious link, whereas the wars by Muslims, even in defence, are deliberately recorded as part of their religious expansion.

Muslim wars were nonspecific battles like any other battles in history. Not a single authentic reference to the allegation that ‘Islam spread through the sword,’ can be presented by hate-mongers and critics of Islam.

Quoting examples from the early years of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) secured the control of Kaaba (Makka) from idolaters in a peaceful manner. No war was fought and no blood shed. He, however, kept the key of Kaaba with the same previous custodian who was a non-Muslim. That incident is evidence of the fact of the inclusive nature of Islam. The victory over Makka led many families to embrace Islam. The key bearer’s family became Muslim and till today devotionally uphold the key of Kaaba. Many Kings have come and gone, but the decision of the Prophet (PBUH) remains intact.

Islam is constantly reviving the world through dialogue and discussion and not with the sword. It is universally acknowledged fact that Islam spread through its message of peace, love and respect for all.

Those who converted to Islam did not do so with any material benefit in mind. Islam doesn’t offer monetary benefits to converts. On the contrary, there are rules to be followed, which include praying five times a day, fasting for 30 consecutive days every year, compulsory charity, praying to only one God etc. These commands are the core of Islam.

Why Islam has been an attractive religion for many can be understood from these examples?

Leopold Weiss, was born to a Jewish ‘Rabbinical Family’ of Berlin, Germany. He was in search of salvation from Europe’s high culture. He started studying the religions of the world, and one day he found the answer in Islam. In search of religion and meaning, he had hours-long discussions with Muslims, and exchanged thousands of letters to various Muslims across the globe, and learned a great deal about Islam. Today, the world knows him by the name Muhammad Asad.

He was living in Germany, which is not a Muslim dominated country. However, he was attracted towards Islam by being in midst of a society that was under the influence of Christianity and European culture. No sword was hanging in the air to slay him if he did not accept Islam.

Weiss became Muslim at the age of 26 and his memoir ‘Road to Mecca’ has helped introduce Islam to countless people across the globe.

Let me present another example of the assimilative power of the message of Islam from India itself.

Balbir Singh, presently known as Mohammed Amir, was a diehard Hindutva worker. He participated in the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in 1991. He is believed to have launched the first assault on the mosque. After a couple of years of soul-searching, he accepted Islam and sought the forgiveness of Allah for the mistake he committed.

He, too, was not inspired by anything other than the peaceful message of Islam.

There are countless references and stories from the early days of Islam to this day that show us the assimilative power of Islam, which has massively contributed to it becoming the fastest-growing religion in the world.

Countering Islamophobia
To counter the Islamophobic propaganda, it is a fact that no parent will teach their children to behead another human being. Holding banners and shouting slogans are expressions of disaffection against the injustice perpetrated against Muslims in many parts of the world. These protests cannot be read to be as violent calls for death of people, as falsely construed by the many sections in the media.

There are double standards also at play which make Muslims the butt of unjust criticism. When a ‘terrorist attack takes place in the West believed to be carried by a Muslim group, the entire Muslim world or those living in the West are pressurized to condemn it. However, when a Christian terrorist stormed a mosque in Christchurch in 2019 and killed 51 Muslim worshippers, Muslims didn’t demand apologies from the Muslims. Similarly, the Muslim world didn’t world demanded Hindus to condemn Brevevik because he was inspired by proto-fascist Hindutva ideology. No one insisted Hindus apologise after the Gujarat or Makka masjid blasts in India?

All those people, including commentators and public speakers, who are standing against Islam can’t fool the world with false propaganda. These old school tactics are aged and don’t work anymore.

All people of the world must heed to what the Holy Quran enjoins, which says, “Your religion is for you, mine is for me…” (Chapter Al-Kafiroon: Verse no 109).

This message should inspire us to spread peace and respect each other. History shows us that those who preach hate are forgotten and the world only remembers the good.


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