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A Mufti engages governor Arif Khan for a debate

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Prasad Binoy
Prasad Binoy
Binoy Shanker Prasad holds a PhD from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Originally from Darbhanga, Bihar (India), Binoy lives with his family in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). He is a former UGC teacher fellow at JNU in India and a Fulbright Scholar in the USA. Author of scholarly works including a book, Violence Against Minorities, Gandhi in the Age of Globalization (a monograph) and a collection of poems, Dr Prasad has taught International Politics and Political Sociology at Ryerson University, Centennial College and McMaster University. He has guest-lectured at such institutions as the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), George Mason Univ., Univ of Madison-Wisconsin, and Redeemer Univ. Socially active, Binoy has also been a two-term president of Hamilton based India-Canada Society (2006-08 and 2018-20).

Dr Binoy Shanker Prasad

My attention was drawn to a YouTube video posted by Aalami Factz where the host, Mufti Yasir Nadeem Al Wajidi, had engaged Governor Arif Khan in a discussion on Islam and terrorism. Normally, I would have skipped the posting, but the fact that the governor had consented to having a dialogue with the Mufti, I thought, along with his guest, the Mufti might be interested in finding a peaceful way to bring the scourge of global Islamic terrorism to an end. Therefore, I listened to the entire discussion dispassionately. 

What I found to my dismay was that the Mufti was trying his best to prove that he was smarter and more knowledgeable than Governor Arif Khan. However, he must have at best impressed his own followers only. There was not a single point on which he could get agreement from the person he had invited on his show. 

First of all, Wajidi appeared to have wanted to debate with his guest. In that case, he must not have put on the panel a third person who in her own words admitted that Islam was a “complicated” religion “in Arabic” and they shouldn’t be making it more complicated. Bankruptcy of her knowledge about Islam and Indian history was quite obvious. She was trying to prove that the RSS, the BJP’s mother organization, was a terrorist organization like Taliban and Jaish-e-Muhammad. She should have known that the RSS has set up a Muslim Rashtriya Manch to bring the two communities together in India. 

Secondly, the Mufti never gave a chance to Governor Khan to complete his statements/thoughts and was constantly interrupting or talking over him. It was gracious of the Governor to have continued with the session. It was quite clear in the entire debate that wherever Islam was shown in poor light by its own history, scriptures or the writings of the critics, Wajidi would not allow them into the realm of discussion.

Certain Hadees, or quotations, for example, he would claim to be “fabricated”. He falsely tried to prove that Hidaya was taught the world over as a part of Islamic history and not as the foundation of the Islamic laws, Sharia or Islamic jurisprudence. That it would be mandated in any land the moment it was captured by the Islamists and turned into Dar-ul-Islam. Could the Mufti guarantee that once Islamists ruled Hindustan as a consequence of Ghazwa-e-Hind, the Quran would not be the constitution of the land just like all 56+ Islamist countries in the world?

Has Hindustan not gone through that historic experience where non-Muslims (known as kafirs) were treated as second class citizens, dhimmis, and had to pay jizya for protection. Do we not see what happened in Afghanistan right before our eyes?

With a straight face, the Mufti was insisting that the books, literature or teachings that were against the tenets of Hindustan as a nation state or against a civic-modern society weren’t taught in Madrasas, especially in the Deobandi schools in India. He conveniently excluded the Madarsa products of India from the Madrasa-trained graduates from other countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan. To Arif Khan’s question as to why Madrasas were not prioritizing subjects like medicine, physics, or psychology, the Mufti had no answer. 

The Mufti’s Islamic sectarian trait showed up when he questioned Arif Khan if he represented his nation or his community (i.e., whether he belonged to the Sunni community or to the larger Umma). It’s a common knowledge Islamists believed more in Umma than in the constitution or the sovereign authority of the land they lived in.

They didn’t have to have allegiance to or territorial fraternity with people if they didn’t happen to be Muslims. That’s one of the reasons why Muslims become victims of “ghettoization” in the non-Islamic countries they settle in.  

The Mufti was championing democratic rights of the Muslims who opposed legislations like abolition of triple talaq in India. He couldn’t point out a single Islamic country where dissidence, freedom of speech and the right to protest were allowed? Arif Khan, on the other hand, explained how he was himself a target of three fatal attacks by the Islamists in India.

In the end, I felt like suggesting to the Mufti, if he was serious about bringing an end to the Islamist violence/ terrorism or, at least reducing the communal enmity in India, he should work toward insulating the Hindustani Muslims from the influence of the Islamists as they operate in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and now in Bangladesh too. 

Scholars of Islam say repeatedly Islam meant ‘submission’ and not ‘peace’ that included offering one’s life for a change of heart. The world is terrorized because of the activities of the Islamists, a point Arif Khan was trying to put across. Muslims in India and abroad can’t be associated with Islamism, which is a violent political ideology. To win over the hearts and minds of the world, well meaning Muslims will have to reform the shape of Islam and present it anew to the world.

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Prasad Binoy
Prasad Binoy
Binoy Shanker Prasad holds a PhD from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Originally from Darbhanga, Bihar (India), Binoy lives with his family in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). He is a former UGC teacher fellow at JNU in India and a Fulbright Scholar in the USA. Author of scholarly works including a book, Violence Against Minorities, Gandhi in the Age of Globalization (a monograph) and a collection of poems, Dr Prasad has taught International Politics and Political Sociology at Ryerson University, Centennial College and McMaster University. He has guest-lectured at such institutions as the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), George Mason Univ., Univ of Madison-Wisconsin, and Redeemer Univ. Socially active, Binoy has also been a two-term president of Hamilton based India-Canada Society (2006-08 and 2018-20).
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