The lack of any critical analysis of Islam has emboldened it as the secular world remains tied to its Abrahamic roots.
Dr. Kausik Gangopadhyay is an Associate Professor in the area of Economics at the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode. An Economist by training, Humanist in yearning, he is interested in Dharma, Culture & Civilisation. Twitter Handle: @KausikGy
At Christchurch, New Zealand, a Christian youth named Brenton Tarrant attacked two mosques on Friday and killed 50 innocent Muslims. Though this ruthless massacre is utterly condemnable, every crime in a society has a context. Indian social thinking says that any crime is a symptom of the sickness in that society. The Mahabharata categorically states that for all crimes in a society, the king must bear one-sixth part of the responsibility. If we go by the same principle, we the people who are the rulers in this age of democracy and globalisation, are responsible to some extent for this heinous crime.
A simple observation first: the media is excited beyond proportion for this massacre. Yes, it is horrible and must be condemned. The suicide bomber Adil Dar’s attack on “cow-urine drinkers” and “idolaters” at Pulwama was equally heinous. Attacks on Christians by Islamist Fulami extremists of Nigeria is equally reprehensible. However, the world media hardly made any noise when compared to the constant bombardment in the aftermath of the Christchurch attack. Is it because of the fact that the media is controlled by the “Liberals” who find Islam holier when compared with other faiths?
When the Taliban destroyed the statue of Buddha at Bamiyan, when the twin towers were attacked on the fateful day of 9/11, when the ISIS extremists killed the kaffirs, when Muslim extremists bombed London on 7/7, when office staffers of Charlie Hebdo magazine were killed for the “crime” of publishing cartoons, when hundreds of children were massacred in Beslan, Russia, when massacres happened in all major cities of the West, then the media did not call those incidences as “Islamic Terror”, even though perpetrators in all those cases were motivated by a self-described religious reason. The media reasoned to us that the Quran or that true Islam does not support those atrocities. In this case however, the media, very often, called it a White Terror.
Turning a blind eye
Now, let us examine what the killer is describing as his motive in this particular case. He is categorically against immigrants and Islam. As the attack happened in a mosque, it is possible that the case against the immigrants for him is a case against the Muslims.
The argument of the killer is summarised in the following statement of the killer:
“Islamic nations, in particular, have high birth rates, regardless of race or ethnicity, and in this there was an anti-Islamic motivation to the attacks, as well as a want for revenge against Islam for the 1300 years of war and devastation that it has brought upon the people of the West and other peoples of the world.”
Essentially, the killer is justifying this massacre by mentioning Islam's violent past. First and foremost, even if (I repeat “IF” as only a historian can verify the role of Islam in the historic violence perpetrated by Muslims) the killer is right, he's killed those who bear no responsibility for the historic violence. Secondly, if a doctrine is responsible for violence, then the duty rests in exploring the possible follies of the doctrine. A massacre is no solution. On the other hand, a massacre will only strengthen the doctrine further. The banished human rights activist Ensaf Haidar from Saudi Arabia opined that the sympathy reaped by the Islamists from this massacre will help them further their agenda of Islamism.
Now, this is where precisely lies the problem of the Secular world. where critical analysis of religion, especially Islam is rather discouraged. For the sake of argument, if we assume that the Christchurch shooter had tried to openly criticise Islam as a doctrine, his society would have stopped him to do so. Strange! And, why exactly so?
Prof. Jakob de Roover in his book Europe, Indian and the Limits of Secularism, described that what we call secularism today, is a universalized edition of Christianity. Therefore, secularism has in it the problems of an Abrahamic doctrine. The Abrahamic doctrines are faiths in which logic is a rather neglected secondary element. On the other hand, debate and discussion open up the space for logic and reason. Therefore, Abrahamic faiths do not encourage real critical analysis on religion. Similarly, secularism too keeps religion out of it purview and rational glance.
This is perhaps why the media does not encourage a real critical analysis of Islam, even when some Muslims kill others for the self-described religious reason. Some platitudes are highlighted on the discussion of faiths. Faiths do not need to go through a critically debated analysis. When Muslims appeal for banning critical thinking on Islam in the name of Islamophobia, they do so from their perspective of an Abrahamic faith. That the secularists have accepted that argument of the Muslims to a large extent, however, demonstrates the Abrahamic nature of secularism.
In India too, the clause of India Penal Code 295 does not allow real critical discussion on religion. Marx said that no criticism begins without the criticism of religion. The cultural Marxists of today have a diametrically opposite view that the criticism of Islam should be shunned.
What is happening as a consequence? When the Islamist terrorists are perpetrating massacres, then the agitated people want to understand what is the real responsibility of Islam in that massacre. A real understanding demands a real debate. However, the law strangles one to not have that debate. The agitation only increases for this lack of discussion. Eventually, that accumulated discussion gives rise to an explosion like the Christchurch shooting and innocent Muslims suffer.
Need for Inculcation of Satya and Ahimsa in All Religions
The solution lies in Indic thinking. More dharmic paths have originated in India, compared to the religions borne out of India. However, before Abrahamic doctrines arrived in India, no serious violence had erupted in India on account of spiritual preference. Among the Prophets of Abrahamic Faiths, Moses and Muhammad (PBUH) were military commanders. Jesus died at the cross, after being persecuted. However, Buddha preached in front of Sanatani temples and died a natural death in his ripe old age. The same applies to Mahavira, Charvaka or Nanak. What is the source of this violence or lack of violence?
The answer to the above question is that Indic thinking always encouraged discussion and debate among the manifold dharmic folds. Manifestation of Satya (Reality) and Ahimsa (Absence of Himsa) was the accepted Indic understanding regarding dharma. Therefore, no dharmic fold could encourage aggressive behaviour and intrusive violence. No Abrahamic faith can bring peace to the world unless they imbibe in them this quest for Satya and Ahimsa. If they are non-appreciative to any criticism and critical analysis, the mutual distrust and violence would only increase.
In one word, we need freedom of expression regarding religion to diffuse future violence.
This is an English translation of the original Bengali article published in Bangodesh.