What would RTH do?

That is the question.

If I were in a highschool yearbook, they would vote me most likely to die of a lynch mob. That does not prevent me from opening my mouth and serving a warm hearty cup of STFU to people who deserve it. My dark scathing humor will leave no matter of existence untouched. My innocence will touch your soul.

Welcome to a warped world turned inside out and upside down. All sorts of discretion advised.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Suffering Islamophobia?

You have hope!

What is Islamophobia?

It is an acute specialized strain of hypochondria. The patient is always perpetually alarmed over the thought of Islam. A harmless rabbi or a bearded deer hunter in fatigues can cause severe panic attacks. This rare strain of hypochondria is a genetic disorder amidst some Americans, especially Americans aligning with the Tea Party movement. Although, it has been found in other nationalities and political beliefs as well. Symptoms are usually asinine ignorance and ludicrous inductive leaps like Peter King. In worst cases IQ is reduced to that of the likes of Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman. It is non fatal except in cases where people jumped out of vehicles due to the presence of brown colored or bearded passengers, or children playing with different looking toys.

But there is hope!

You are an American. You suffer the dreadful disease of Islamophobia. You worry that extremism is eating away at your country from within. You cannot travel in peace or even leave your house in peace. You worry that before you know it Sharia laws will be implemented in USA. If things don't change fast you are most likely to die of heart attack and blood pressure, rather than an act of terrorism. (Those wily bastards did figure out biological heart attack causing warfare). But there is hope. You might be American and irrational fear might be your middle name, but there is hope that someday you might be cured of this Islamophobia.

My Credentials

I'm a born and raised Hindu, a Hindu Brahmin to be precise. I went to a Catholic school, Fr. Agnels to be precise. Some of my best friends growing up were Muslim. My name is a Hebrew name. That qualifies me pretty significantly to clear up some bullshit religious stereotypes and misconceptions.

Lets begin with some baby steps.

Now that we have experienced some mildly gay-porn six pack exposure. Lets watch the full music video which was banned in Saudi Arabia for being to explicit. 

His name is Khan, Shahrukh Khan. He is the most well known Bollywood celebrity across the globe. His face has appeared on the covers of Time and National Geographic magazine. He has statues at Madame Tussauds. He makes men and women swoon over him. He is Muslim and was once upon a time randomly detained at a US airport, because Americans could not fathom the pure Godliness of one Muslim man.

This Muslim also studied in a Catholic school, St. Columbus in Delhi. To also be noted is that he married his childhood sweetheart, a Hindu woman in a traditional Hindu ceremony. Neither of them converted and their kids are being raised Hindu-Muslim.

There is more.

His name is also Khan, Salman Khan. He is another Bollywood superstar and Muslim. The following images are not from any movies or fake scenes. These are images of the everyday Salman Khan.

Above you see Salman Khan and his stepmom praying to Lord Ganesha, a Hindu deity. Salman Khan and his family celebrate the annual Ganesh Chaturthi Hindu festival, and conduct the religious rites. They are practicing Muslims and there are fatwas against them for this. However, Salman and his family celebrate this and other religious festivals for the spirit of embracing culture and secularism and their stepmom who is Anglo-Indian. Salman's older brother Arbaaz married a Punjabi Catholic. Despite being married to a Muslim, Malaika Arora Khan has full freedom to practice Catholicism and her kids are baptized Catholics.

The video above is Salman Khan's stepmom and a Muslim mans wife dancing one of Bollywood's most iconic cabaret numbers.

The video above is Salman Khan's sister-in-law and a Muslim mans wife dancing a classic Bollywood seductive item song. Both dancing with men.

There is more to the list of renown Muslim in the arts and entertainment from the subcontinent. It would be tedious to write details about them all. Movie stars: Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Fardeen Khan, Imran Khan,Zayed Khan, Feroze Khan, Sanjay Khan. Musicians - Zakir Hussain (tabla maestro), A.R Rahman (Oscar winning composer), Adnan Sami, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Ali Zafar, Atif Aslam (singers), Junoon (Rock Band), Lyricists - Gulzaar, Javed Akhtar (in fact Urdu is one of the most romantic and poetic languages, more so than French I would add).

Many will be more interested in women and Bollywood has a plethora of those as well. Some Bollywood legends like Nargis and Mumtaz were women. Today we have Soha Ali Khan, Tabu (Tabbasum Hashmi) and female Muslim models like Gauhar Khan and Negar Khan. Muslim women like Farah Khan and Zoya Akhtar are making movies.Eighties Pakistani pop legend was Nazia Hassan and today we have Annie and others.

And why yes, they do have pop concerts in Pakistan. That is Annie performing. Although subdued compared to western concerts, there sure as hell is no head scarves or face veils. But Mahiya deserves he music video as well.

Before I move on I cannot miss mentioning India's tennis sensation, sex symbol and Muslim female athlete Sania Mirza.

I also have to add that before Americans choose to point fingers at Muslims on mistreating women or having lower status for women, I have to point out that two Muslim nations Pakistan and Bangladesh have chosen to have women be the leaders of their nation, in the short span of their sovereign identities. In contrast over two centuries and Americans have still not found women capable enough. And puh-lease lets not compare the likes of Sarah Palin to the bold eloquence and intellect of people like Benazir Bhutto.

Or where is the progressive spirit, modernization and tolerance when a so called conservative Muslim country like Pakistan embraces cross dressing drag Queen Ali Saleem/Nawazish Ali as a beloved television talk show host while we Americans would violently shun such behavior?

But what about Muslims from outside the subcontinent.

Good question!

Lets start with a question for you. How would you react if this man sat next to you on a flight?

If you asked for an autograph, excellent decision.
If you yawned and slept, a fairly good choice.
If you covered in fear and prayed for safety from the terrorist. Shame on you.

This man is Hashim Amla, a South African cricket player. A soft spoken person, great cricketer and sportsman, and has a sparkling smile. Yes, he is of Indian origin. However, shame on people when they stereotype on appearances. It is even more shameful when South Africa a nation once rife with apartheid has made amends and has people of all races and religions cheering loudly for Amla when he bats. It is downright disgusting when our so called progressive nation choose to have trials on people expressing their faith, while the South African cricket board makes procedural exceptions in sports sponsorship to honor Amla's religious beliefs of alcohol prohibition.

How about if this man sat next to you.

If you asked for an autograph, you are a brave one.
If your face went white for seeing a ghost, you are but human.
If you yawned and slept, fair enough.
If you worried about terrorism, what the fuck is wrong with you dude?

That was a bit of a trick question. That man is not a Muslim, but legendary English cricket player W.G Grace. In cricketing worlds he is an icon. Amla has the best cricketing beard since W.G. Yes, he is a bit scary and gruff looking. But goes to show how appearances are deceptive. You thought a British bloke to be a terrorist.

Anyway, I won't go into Islam in cricket because that has to be another book.

But looking internationally what about Danish DJ Aligator (Iranian Aliasghar Movasati) or Danish pop duo Toy Box  (Iranian-Pakistani) or Swedish singer Arash (Iran-Azberijan) or Khaled (Algerian) or Amr Diab (Egyptan).

Pop Quiz again. What would you do if this beauty Queen sat next to you in the plane.

If you covered in fear, excellent, your fear of Muslims is at least consistent. If you did not, you found nothing wrong in the first Arabic-Indonesian Miss Indonesia a country that is 88% Muslim.

How about this beautiful family on your plane?

I hope you covered in fear because that is King Abdullah II of Jordan and his family. Lets take a look at their Muslim queen Rania of a Muslim nation.

Above you see two facets of a Muslim woman. One offering prayers at pilgrimage in Mecca, the other just up and about everyday.

Russian tennis player Dinara Safina is a Muslim.

So is American comedian Dave Chappelle.


Islamic terrorism and extremism is indeed a global concern at issue. However, the issue is not the religion itself, but the people who wield it. People may claim that Islam has violent verses or preaches violence. The execution of the text lies in interpretation. The Bible is another popular religious text that has been interpreted in different ways by so many different sects, and the Bible has its share of violence too. Even in my religion Lord Krishna urges Arjuna to wage righteous war against his enemies, who also happen to be kin, his cousins. We Hindus could interpret that as explicit violent war, but most of us are peaceful humans who interpret it as taking a peaceful stance for what we believe in. Most Muslims also happen to be peaceful people.

It is a myth that all Muslims are old fashioned, conservatives who insist on head scarves, face veils and polygamy. Islam actually has people of all races, from various cultures. In many parts it has adapted to local cultures and is also progressive and modern in many regions. Muslim activists across the globe are fighting against extremist leaders, against polygamy, for gay rights, womens rights etc. It is just that good people doing good things is not always news worthy. Every religion has its good and bad, the liberals and extremists, so it is with Islam.

You really cannot stereotype or profile people. There are whites, blacks, Asians, Arabs and Indians who are Muslims. An Arabic or Persian name also does not always signify Islam but could also be the names of Arabic Jews or Christians. Moreover, not all people who follow religious traditions like beards or head-scarves are extremist or even Muslim really. Think about rabbis, Sikhs and other religions who wear beards. Even amidst Hindu conservatives a veil or purdah is expected. Conservativeness does not translate to violence either. Even amidst Christians and Jews and every religion, we have some hard core believers who are the most peaceful people we can know.

Above all in times like today we ought to realize that Muslims across the globe are just people. They are just ordinary people, making an ordinary living. They too have dreams and goals and aspirations, just like us. And funnily enough just like we love our freedom and democracy, they value it just the way we do. That is why Muslim nations across the world are shunning authoritarian theocratic governments and seeking honest democratic governments. It is about time we started looking at the world, full of people just like us. It is about time we respected people and treated them based on their merit, not on our ignorant biases or assumptions.

We are all good reasonable people, and it is true the world is full of good people and bad people. We have good Christians, bad Christians, good Blacks, bad Blacks, good Asians, bad Asians, good Muslims and bad Muslims. We can be fair, meet the people, see what they stand for and then decide whether we can respect that or not. Stereotypes and persecution gains us nothing, but crumbles the fabric of our society with hurt and mistrust.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the informative blog. Nice to see open minded people still around in the world!