Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Asylum for Taslima Nasrin

Asylum for Taslima Nasrin
Mike Ghouse, November 25, 2007

When it comes to intolerance the people who understand their religion the least have the loudest voices. Their narrow minded Fatwa's and their recent harassment of Ms. Nasreen in Hyderabad have earned her sympathizers, some sincere, but many such as the BJP Party are out to make political capital out of it.

The first mistake the extremists made was to issue a Fatwa against Taslima Nasrin for her statements that did not go well with the fundamentalists. "She told the Muslim women to burn the Burqa" as if she will start wearing a skirt if a westerner says "Burn the Saree, it is a sign of backwardness". Neither is a sign of backwardness, it is a culture that has evolved and no one will drop what they are used to on the sound of a word 'drop'. In a democracy, people should have the freedom to speak; the best way to combat a bad idea is to offer good ideas to compete. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2007/07/burqa-to-no-burqa.html

The second mistake the rioters made is that they did not follow their own religion. God advises in Sura 109 that when you present the word of God to the other, they may deny it, let them know that what they worship is not what you worship and at the end leave the conversation in good taste by saying 109:6 "unto you, your moral law, and unto me, mine!" They should have left her alone as there is no compulsion in matters of faith. What she believes is her belief.

The third mistake they made is violating the example of the Prophet. When he was traveling form Mecca to Taif, he was pelted with stones, he was bleeding, and at that time his associates and the Angel Gabriel were anxious to punish the miscreants. The prophet stopped them and said something to this effect. Let's not punish them, it is not the answer; instead let's pray that God may help them with Good will.

All that was needed to calm Taslima Nasrin was to ignore her, pray for her and let her do what she wanted to do. Instead, those who want to destroy Ms. Nasreen in the misused name of their own religion help to build her up.

The fourth mistake they made was in Hyderabad, where they threatened her life and nearly assaulted her, against the law of religion. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2007/08/muslims-demand-apology-from-mim.html

The fifth and a major mistake they made was not to have a debate with her on the issues. They did not have enough faith in their culture or religion to debate. Taslima would have easily lost with a debate from a few intellectuals and most likely she would not have gone on the attack binge. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2007/01/burn-burqa.html

Now, let's turn the tables.

Taslima Nasrin has gone through personal tragedies in her life, several women in the Sub-continent are abused, ordered and compelled to obey, be it a Muslim, Hindu or any family. Women in our society (all religions included) are to "listen" or "obey" their father and then husband. There is not much freedom for most women in our society, Taslima is no exception. She is raging with anger, instead of directing her anger at her perpetrators; she is directing at her religion and wing-dinging the responses from a few of her fellow religionists. It is unproductive.

The Government of Andhra Pradesh should have asked the MLA's to resign when they threatened to kill her, the government of UP should have arrested the zealot who had offered a bounty for killing her. The Indian Penal code would be sufficed to arrest them and put them through the legal system until they apologize. In addition we need to bring to the front what Qur'an tells about their attitudes "To kill a single life is like killing the whole humanity". It is not late now to go back and charge them. In a civil society, we need to punish the ones that mess up other people's life, so others don't repeat it.

What should be done with Taslima Nasrin?

First, she needs to be given a political asylum as a death threat looms for her in her native country. We have made other mistakes but that does not mean we should not do a few things right. We are a pluralistic democracy, and we should allow dissent and free debates as a part of education and learning.

Second, to remove the eternal threat against her life for the stand she takes, she needs to be engaged in debates with liberal, conservative and middle of the line Muslims scholars. If she is wrong, she will accept it and will not have a face to be hateful anymore, on the other hand, if she has grievance, let's study them and figure out the answers. Most likely it is a personal and not a religious issue.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the www.FoundationforPluralism.com and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of the www.WorldMuslimCongress.com with a simple theme: "Good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com

1 comment:

  1. Herein below is a copy of my mail to a respected Indian columnist which should serve as my comments. I may add,I intend no harm to Taslima Nasrin.
    - Manzurul Haque

    Dear Mr. Mukul Kesavan,
    (Columnist, the Telegraph)

    There are more complex ideas touching our lives than words can express. Take for example, the case of Taslima Nasrin. Reports after reports are appearing in newspapers on her. She has really hogged the limelight. Then I saw your centre-piece in the Telegraph (29/11/07) grazing the subject matter. Please don’t worry. I don’t disagree with what you have written. Rightly, you have not written much about Taslima Nasrin. The reason is obvious. The ideas on her would be too complex. A surprise relief however came from the most unexpected quarters – the Government of India, may be after much dithering. The report said: “Taslima Nasrin would continue to get shelter in India but she should refrain from activities that may hurt sentiment of the people”. With such typical governmental non-application of mind, a great truth was told.

    As we proceed from this state of equilibrium, there are things to be discussed. For example, since we harp so much about the writer, the author, the poet - Taslima Nasrin, can we bother to visit her writings for a while? Let me introduce to the Indians of all hues, the personality of Taslima Nasrin as a writer in her own words. A translated version of her work in Bangla (the English translation was done by a lady of letters, so the credit of the thought alone should go to Taslima) runs as under:

    “The other day, at Romna Park, I saw a man buying a girl for a few bucks
    I have this terrible urge to buy a man.. for 5/10 bucks
    A boy with a clean shaven chin and a cute ass
    I’ll pull him up by the collar onto my rickshaw and take him home
    Where I’ll tickle him all over and
    Slap the hell out of him with my high-heeled slippers
    And when I am done with him, “Up boy, get out here”
    In the morning, they’ll be sitting by the road, all bruised
    and battered
    Ripe boys with a chest full of hair”

    There is a great temptation to comment on the quality of what is quoted above. But I think, at least, you do not need to be told of this by me. A crucial question nevertheless arises: “what are we protecting really?” Are we protecting freedom of expression of a writer/author/poet, or we are simply protecting the freedom of expression? I always thought, art stood at a higher pedestal than (…what?) ‘craft’! Mr. Kesavan, you and many other columnists of India write several times more sense than what Taslima has been peddling (My Bangla-knowing friends have informed me about the quality of her language). But tell me, what market value do you command vis-à-vis Taslima Nasrin? And we call it free market economy!

    You know, Muslims can read and write. Yes, they are slow to pick up alien languages, but the depth of their literature in the respective languages of their respective cultures is breathtaking (I can vouchsafe for Urdu). Anyway, Muslims never regret for not being noticed by the non-Muslims, and this much goes for their fanaticism. But an important trend is, that apostate Muslims, writing trash, are being decorated by the Western intellectuals, followed by the Hindu fanatics (My hats off to Hindu intellectuals. Even Swapan Dasgupta would not stoop so low. Shourie is an exception, but I think he is an exception otherwise also, as an intellectual). My end-question therefore is: “Is it the hangover of the superpower US, hovering high over us?” If so, this is not art, this is politics. And if ‘the civilized world’ is defending the US politics, in the garb of defending art (high or low), I think Muslims have a right to protest. We cannot pay for a ‘fake’, higher than the price
    of the original, even if the auction is organized by ‘Christie’!

    I am circulating this letter to Muslim groups. I am largely in agreement with what you write, especially on areas which concern defending our Ganaga-Jamni Indian Tehzib. Please keep going. Regards.

    Manzurul Haque



Email to: SpeakerMikeGhouse@gmail.com

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797



We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration (www.UnitydayUSA.com) held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.

URL- http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2013/08/planned-muslim-response-to-quran_18.html

Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.