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Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel – ARSHIA MALIK

The title is a quote from Samuel Johnson and the following is an elaboration of how it is true. 

There is an inherent war going on in Islam and Muslim society. Muslims are waking up to the fact (what my friend Aarti Tikoo Singh, Foreign and Strategic Affairs Editor with IANS, India, from Anantnag, Kashmir keeps reiterating) that the Middle East which so far thrived on hate politics fuelled literally by oil is showing signs of changed foreign policies towards Israel, and South Asia, especially India.  

She says, "... the war by proxy approach, quest for grabbing more territory and ideological exclusiveness has got to stop if it does not want to erupt in civil war. Islamism ideology will have to be replaced with inclusiveness and tolerance." 

In his Heartland Analyst article, Liquid Jihad, Arindam Mukherjee, says it all in the opening paragraph:

 "There are two lines of thought that have emerged while trying to address the issue of the current global crisis of Islam versus the Rest. The good thing is that both these sides admit that there is a problem. And while one line and their followers carefully try to skirt the issue of the involvement of the West to put the entire blame on radical Islam, the other side doesn’t take any prisoners and holds the West responsible for every crisis." 

I have spent over two decades battling Islamism (radical and political Islam) in my hometown of Srinagar, exposing the obscurantist elite dynasties and politicians with their hypocritical stances, their half-separatist politics, their collaboration with an enemy state. I have had to contend with the confused, constantly agitated, aggrieved and selected outrage of Indian Muslims, fuelled by the same Ashraaf (elites) intellectuals, politicians and scholars, keeping 700 million citizens in a perpetual two-nation, two-identities state for political gains over the Oppression Olympics. 

There are constantly new challenges coming up for us reformers in Islam. Being a skeptic Muslim who constantly educates people about the glorious critical thinking traditions in medieval Islam right up to the modern age, we now have to address Muslimphobic elements and anti-Muslim bigotry.

Our network of the 'silent majority' working towards reform now finds that the majority Hindus, awakening to new awareness about their ridicule and othering have started adapting the same obscurantist stance of Indian Muslims, as described by the great reformist Hamid Dalwai, and confirming the majority patriotism, their loyalty, their idea of India by questioning the patriotism of Muslims. It speaks a lot for the love of the country displayed by the majority, their weak pride about our shared heritage, our common roots, our shared history, culture and traditions. 

Is a Hindu patriotic only if he/she can force a person of Muslim heritage to say "Bharat Mata ki Jai"? Will the secular credentials of the majority be confirmed if they target random people with Muslim sounding names, people of Muslim heritage irrespective of whether they are secular, ex, lapsed, agnostic, atheist, heretic, skeptic or cultural Muslims?

Look at the kinds of Muslims there are. Some simply celebrate their Muslim heritage and culture, always standing against the regressive traditions and aspirations of the Muslim community. As Arindam Mukherjee quoted what is not happening in the Muslim community, Muslim critics are trying to take prisoners from the Ummah - holding them accountable for not just the terrorism, bloodshed and violence but also the obscurantism, the denial, the apologia, the constant Olympics of Oppression.

It is not easy, especially if fatwas, bounties and 'suparis' (targeted assassinations) are what is usually the response from even the moderates. The Rushdie Affair, Avijit Roy's murder, the assassination of Theo van Gogh just to send a message to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. the most formidable critic of regressive practices in Islam like FGM (female genital mutilation); Malala Yousuzai, and our very own H. Farook from Coimbatore, India, murdered by his friends after they infiltrated a WhatsApp group of Indian atheists. It is life-threatening to question the text, the Prophet's life, the four Rightly-guided Caliphs, and eventually the dynasties which started the destructive Arab Conquests. 

In some countries, forget exploring heresy, any deviation from the mono-narrative or official version can get one sentenced to lashes (Raif Badawi case), jailed or executed or beheaded. Since there are brave Muslims who have taken the cudgels on behalf of the community to reform the religion, call out extremist preachers and proselytizers. 

So can the majority give us a break? Can the majority understand our deadly battle within Islam - brother against brother, daughters against fathers, wives against husbands, sons against extremist preachers, sisters against the morality brigades, incest surviving children from madrasas, interfaith couples, inter caste couples, and the absent support from the State, relying on a Constitution that gives personal laws to communities?

This is our country - Sikhs, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jains, Buddhists, atheists, non-religious, seculars. We have to build it together, each community has their own reformist battles and wars. India's fault lines have always been exploited by enemy states and the Western world with its "Oriental" and Left-Liberal eye, completely dismissing the strong underlying secular fabric that even the British-induced, Muslim-League manipulated Partition could not destroy. 

She endures because the first line of defence against extremism are Muslims themselves, because there are more Hindus calling against anti-Muslim bigotry than Muslims themselves. Next time any Hindu feels like calling out a Muslim to show their patriotism, remember he or she may be far more patriotic than you could imagine, they just choose not to show it, but work quietly in building the nation. 

It is easy to be a goon on the street and garner support, it is far harder to work towards nation-building in the only way one can, in my case teaching and the pen. 

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