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 Blooming Stars

Programming, Deprogramming, and Reprogramming the World – 12

            Islam means total submission to Allah; it is unconditional surrender to God. The emphasis on absolute surrender is Islam’s main contribution to religion. The introduction of polygamy in Islam, in this case, more than one wife in the one-man-one-woman, hitherto strict monogamous injunction of marriage in monotheistic religions opens up a new area of discourse. This would seriously affect human sexuality, and alter the relationship between genders. In the utterly humiliating caste-ridden days of the Mughal empire in India wherein non-Muslims were charged an extra jizya tax (per capita tax levied on non-Islamic citizens in an Islamic state), Islam was an attraction. Interestingly secular India is currently reported to have more Muslims than Muslim Pakistan. In the very harsh days of colonialism in Africa, racism in the USA, and casteism in India many persons became Muslims to save their own identity and human dignity.

            For instance, in the very brutal colonial Belgian-Congo of old (currently the Democratic Republic of Congo), the henchmen of King Leopold II of Belgium would hack the limbs of native, black laborers if they did not produce the pre-determined quota of rubber from the rubber trees. Even as late as 1960’s when struggles for ordinary human and civil rights for racial equality, that we take for granted now, were led by Martin Luther King in the US, African-Americans (then known as blacks) were not allowed to drink from the same water fountains as the whites, or use the same toilets as the whites, or rent a room for the night in a hotel, quite a few black Christians repudiated the extremely intolerant, racist, un-Christian Christians, and joined the Nation of Islam to save their own humanity. Human dignity, economic incentives, special privileges, preferential treatments, concessions, and alleviation of suffering were all very potent factors in changing religions or conversion to Islam or Christianity at all times.

            Many Muslim countries are in turmoil as they are struggling to come to terms with the modern world, and usher in democracy and human rights. It is lamentable that a non-Muslim scripture will not be tolerated in Saudi Arabia or a non-Muslim will not be allowed to be buried there. It is also very deplorable that the UN or world community has not facilitated a nation state for Palestinians whose gaping wound has been festering with excruciating pain in front of humanity ever since 1948 with no healing answer in sight. Israel in its self-complacent smugness should not continue to subject Palestinians to humiliating inhuman conditions that they themselves suffered under Nazi Germany. While they are not literally and viciously killing Palestinians as Hitler did with them in the Holocaust, they are killing the Palestinian spirit and putting them through ever-increasing anguish and pain through their uncompromising, might-is-right oppressive measures.

            United States needs to step up to the plate and do what is right and not enable Israel in its arrogant, intransigent, and ultimately self-defeating attitude and short-sighted policy. What Holocaust, a great blot on humanity, vividly taught all of us is when we diminish humanity in one human being we diminish humanity in all. Pakistan, a Muslim nation, is at the cross-roads. It is not sure whether it wants to choose democracy or theocracy. One thing is clear that reports coming from there, there is no freedom of religion there. In a recent survey the majority of the people of Pakistan expressed their desire for theocracy. People in Pakistan (and India) are also fed up with the old time colonial bureaucracy that takes years to settle disputes or impart justice. It is very important that Pakistan succeeds and becomes a nation that respects human rights for all. Pakistan as a failed state spawning terrorist groups will be a calamity for humanity. Jihad (struggle), a troubling concept, can be understood as the global conquest by Islam. Some Islamic groups consider jihad as the sixth pillar of Islam; the five pillars delineating the basic tenets of Islam being shahadah (creed), salat (daily prayers), sawm (fasting during the Islamic month of Ramdan), zakat (almsgiving), hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).

            Some Muslim authorities link “greater” jihad with spiritual self-perfection and “lesser” jihad with warfare. Even though most Muslims interpret jihad as a form of defensive warfare, there is great confusion related to this word. It is very important that various Muslim authorities very clearly and loudly clarify what jihad means or should mean for all. Unfortunately Islam has been hijacked by a very tiny minority of fundamentalist, fanatic, and intolerant groups of Muslims wreaking havoc on humanity by unleashing wanton destruction and terror. One wonders if the main stream Muslims are enabling them by not speaking out against them forcefully. Fortunately the winds of democracy and human rights are blowing over the Middle East and the Arab world. The United States and other nations cannot cozy up with Arab dictators for oil while keeping mum about their human rights record. A world without social justice and human rights is safe for nobody. Reprogramming humanity in fairness and justice for all is very important before all other principles and values.


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