The recent attacks on Hindus in India, under a Govt mostly elected by Hindus, have once again thrown up the same question: Is it possible to dialogue with today’s Islam ? Does it listen to reason ? Does plain logic work ? Will it ever stop killing innocent people in the name of God ?
We keep hearing that what happens in the Valley of Kashmir, or the Mumbai attacks, are the work of the ISI of Pakistan or Bangladeshi extremists. But what they don’t say is that it would be impossible for these people to function unless they have a lot of ground sympathy amongst local Indian Muslims. And the question has to be asked again: why should Indian Muslims go against their own Government, which has done so much for them since Independence ? Why should Indian Muslims target India, a country where they have more freedom than in say Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia ?
Every time also, the Government comes out with the same litany: “these acts are meant to create communal violence, be peaceful, don’t react”. Which basically means, “ You Hindus (who are targeted), keep quiet and get killed. Who cares anyway”. And a few months later, another blast takes the lives of a few more innocent Hindus. But how long will the Hindus keep quiet? This is the question that the Indian Government has to ask itself. Gujarat has paved the way: However reprehensible these acts of mass vengeance were, they have shown that Hindus keep quiet for a long time: they get riled at, they are made fun of, they are despised, their women raped, men killed, children burnt in trains and one day they blow up – and blow up badly. Riots don’t erupt in a few days: they are the fruit of decades, of generations even, of suppressed anger, of frustration, of a silent majority which sees itself more and more marginalized and taken for granted.
Yes, we do occasionally come across wonderful Muslims, open, friendly, who have somehow preserved the knowledge that all religions are the same, that Islam in India owes a lot to the tolerance of Indians, that Hinduism, yoga, meditation and pranayama, are India’s gifts to the world and can be practiced by Muslims, Christians and Hindus alike. I have personally met quite a few of them, within the Art Of Living Family, for example. But they are such rarities. And even those educated Muslims, whom you can talk to, will not go as far as criticizing the Koran. Look at Javed Akhtar’s poetic tearjerker on the Bombay blasts (“As a human being, I shudder to think how can my fellow humans do something so heinous? Are these terrorists made of flesh and blood? Do they laugh and cry like us”?). Not once Akhtar, who has made a favourite pastime of deriding Hindu Gurus, said that all these crimes are committed in the name of Islam and the Koran, “his” religion and “his” Scriptures…
So will Islam ultimately convert itself? Because the problem is not with Muslims, but with the Koran. Will it, instead of feeling totally paranoiac, thinking that it is under attack everywhere, whether it is Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, or France, realize that it is actually Islam which is the aggressor all over the world, that Muslims who have settled in France or India, or the UK, and which these countries have sincerely accepted, giving them citizenship and the same rights as any French, Indian or German citizens, are actually biting the hand that fed them ? Will the mullahs of Islam accept to sit down and reform the Koran, which is a perfectly acceptable scripture for the Middle ages, when mentalities were very different, but which today still propagates an aggressive, exclusive, and dangerous zeal in its children?
This is what we are all hoping for. This is what most Western leaders secretly crave for, when they go out of their way to praise and favour the moderate Muslims of their country. This is what spiritual leaders like His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar are attempting, with a certain amount of success, by speaking to Muslim leaders, fostering ties in Muslim countries such as Iraq or Afghanistan, or reforming Kashmiri terrorists through meditation.
Unfortunately, time is running out. Muslims in India and elsewhere in the world do not understand is that we are slowly losing our innocence. At the moment, Islam still benefits from the sympathy of the media, which constantly negates Islamic fundamentalism, making a hero for instance of the Chechen warlord Shamil Bassayev, recently killed, who organized the gruesome massacre of hundreds of children in Beslan and a villain of Vladimir Putin (or a hero of Sadddam Hussain and a monster of Bush) but it is slowly losing that sympathy. Sooner or later nearly the entire world will wage a war against Islam, from Europe to China, from the Ural to Pakistan.
There will also come a time, which is not very far, where everybody will become wary of anything Islamic. Anyone looking slightly Muslim, in a plane, in a train, in a shopping mall, will be looked upon suspiciously. Anybody with a Muslim name will have problems entering any country. Those who have Muslim friends will quietly stop seeing them or find some excuses not to meet them. It is already happening. Muslims will cry themselves hoarse and speak of persecution. But they will have only themselves to blame: they did not speak up as a community when innocents all over the world were killed in the name of their religion .
And this may be the way Islam will slowly disappear. Muslims with a little common sense, or just maybe with a sense of survival, will start changing their names quietly, they will stop going to the Mosque, they will send their children to Christian or Hindu schools. Governments will clamp down so hard on their own Muslims, there will be so many restrictions on them, that entire families, will move out of the Muslim enclaves you find all over the world, to resettle elsewhere. Jehadis facing certain death even if they are not suicide bombers, will melt back in civilian life. Muslims will slowly lose faith in the righteousness and the power of their own religion, become atheists, or even embrace back Hinduism, as 90% of Muslims in India are Hindu converts. It may take a few decades, a hundred years even, But Islam will surely disappear in the alleys of history and what look now like menacing, dangerous, foreboding force will be looked upon as just another religion that came and passed away..
Unless Islam converts itself…
Francois is the South Asia correspondent of the French magazine Valeurs Actuelles (valeursactuelles.fr), as well as the editor in chief of the Paris-based La Revue de l’Inde, published by Harmattan.fr. He is also the author of “A History of India as it Happened” (Har Anand, Delhi). He is has built a museum in Pune, Lohegaon.