Some Fundamentals (2):
Doing one's homework is more than desirable!
Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq
Associate Professor of Economics and Finance
Upper Iowa University
Dear Shetubondhon Friends,
Third, even more importantly, in the unrestrained passion for secularism as the panacea for our problems, the author failed to deal with issue with fairness and balance. Let's take the following two statements of Dr. Jaffor Ullah from "A Monkey Machination" and some from his other writings.
1. >Religious strife had skyrocketed in this tiny land, lately.
The author was referring to Bangladesh in the above statement. This statement is undeniably unbalanced. Bangladesh as a country and a society is in deep trouble, where basic security of human life, property, and dignity is not secured anymore. If anyone claims that this is attributable to religion or Islam, they better have a little bit of conscience and do their homework to argue as such. One can merely see how the intra-party conflicts are taking toll in terms of human life and property, whether it is Awami League, BNP or other parties. Another level of trouble is at the inter-party level, a part of which also involves religious groups as well. While personally I disagree with the parties, such as Jamaate Islami, in regard to their share of the ongoing violence, one has to totally defy the reality to suggest that their violence or role is in some way disproportionate compared to what is going on among the other parties, whether at the intra-party or inter-party level. We will ignore the fact that there is much more deep-rooted, widespread, grassroot violence going on in the society that does not have much to do either with politics or religion - violence that is simply criminal in nature. Thus, such attempt to spook us with such claim that "Religious strife had skyrocketed in this tiny land, lately", without any acknowledgement that strife in general has gone up drastically in Bangladesh, and equally or more so among those who shun, or indifferent to, religion, is simply an unfair and unbalanced statement.
That even the fighting Mullahs are behind others, may be not "far behind", is what Dr. Jaffor Ullah himself thinks, as in another of his work. In an article "Heavenly Freedom at midnight" [http://www.dailystarnews.com/199907/17/n9071709.htm#BODY1], Dr. Jaffor Ullah wrote: "Violence is becoming so commonplace in Bangladesh that if you think only streetwise Mastans in Bangladesh could embroil in fistfights, then think again. As the society is bolting towards the "cherished goal" of incivility, the activists Mullahs are not far behind the petite Mastans. They are religiously learning the art of hooliganism." Thus, in his own words violence in Bangladesh is becoming commonplace. Well, actually it is not becoming - it already is!
Referring to a fight among two rival religious groups, representing two local area mosques, Dr. Jaffor Ullah, prepares the readers, AS IF SUCH THING IS UNHEARD OF, "Are you ready for this one, though? Then promise me you won't laugh your heart out. Laughing could be cathartic, but too much of it could be hazardous to your physical and mental health. So read at your own risk. Don't you blame this newspaper for any mishap that may result from reading this hilarious write-up. No litigation, please! Molla'r Dou'r Mashjid Ta'k (A Mullah can hardly run beyond the Mosque) Some Mullah's of Bangladesh have proved all over again that indeed they can only go up to a Mosque even if it means fidgeting and fighting with one another. This has to be the most hilarious news so far this year emanating from Bangladesh. Are you ready for this one. Let us have the drum roll please! Trraram..Trraram..Trraram.."
Well, I am surprised that to some people fighting among religious groups is a kind of unheard of thing. Indeed, it is not that uncommon at all. But if it IS kind of unheard of, as the author seems to suggest, then how does one jump from such unheard of type incident in 1999 to "skyrocketing religious strife"? More importantly, what struck me most is the very attitude toward such incident. "Trraram..Trraram..Trraram.."!!! I did not know that whether the fight of Mullahs or non-Mullahs should be treated in such a discriminating way that this would be so delectable as to be a laugh therapy. Are we not getting enough laughs? Maybe Mullahs should fight more so that we can "laugh our heart out"! Without getting cathartic, of course.
When people fight or resort to violence, except in legitimate cases, one can or should feel only pity or sadness - some anger too. Whether the fight involves two factions of BCL, JCD, ICS, or BCL-BCD, BCL-ICS, or two groups of Mullahs, this type of senseless violence saddens me. I can understand that monkeys would laugh at us when we, Mullahs or non-Mullahs, fight. That is because even monkeys don't have any senseless fight. But I thought we should be a tad bit better than our tailed, ancestral relatives. Unless of course, even though we are tail-less, we are "lej-bishishto". There are times when I feel like shedding a few drops of tears. But laugh? Anyway, different people have different kind of sensitivity and perspective.
2. >Religious strife had skyrocketed in this tiny land, lately. More people are attending Bishwa Ejtema
Since I won't presume that the author was deliberately being disingenuous, giving him the benefit of doubt, I better presume that he is somewhat confused. Otherwise, there does not seem to be any other explanation for using "More people are attending Bishwa Ejtema" as a corroborative indication of "skyrocketing" "religious strife." The reason I bring this up is because anyone who knows about the Tabligh Jamaat would acknowledge that they are among the ULTRA-pacifists. They have a level of pacifism and detachment from the social reality that, while people can disagree with their simplistic, dogmatic, tradition-bound orientation and I fundamentally disagree with it too, but no informed and conscientious person would suggest that they have anything to do with the "skyrocketing" "religious strife" in Bangladesh.
Indeed, Dr. Jaffor's confusion about Tabligh Jamaat in regard to Bishwa Ijtema is also manifested in his incorrect classification of Islamic groups as he discussed in "Heavenly Freedom at Midnight", where he stated: "realize it or not there are two main schools of thoughts prevalent in Bangladesh as far as Islam is concerned." Two MAIN schools of thoughts, Deobondi and Wahabi (Tablighi), prevalent in Bangladesh as far as Islam is concerned? Dr. Jaffor is a "research scientist" (if you did not know) and therefore, any such major impressionistic mistake is excusable, because after all it is not his professional or academic domain and when people talk about religion, somehow they rarely insist on themselves some minimal standard of homework or due diligence. This is also indicated by his misplaced history. He wrote about Tabligh Jamaat "The second school of thought came, again from India, in early sixties". Indeed, the work of Tabligh in Bengal, or East Bengal to be more specific, spread not too long after Tabligh started its work under its founding leadership of Maulana Ilyas in 1927. [The Case of Tablighi Jamaat, Barbara Metcalf, http://www.webonthenet.com/Articles/JamaatByBarbaraMetcalf.htm ]
Furthermore, my preliminary search indicates that the "heavenly fight" involving the Eid-e-Miladunnabi did not involve Tabligh Jamaat. So, there must be some other kind of confusions, which is quite plausible in light of his inaccurate classification of Islamic groups into two MAIN schools, Deobandi and Tablighi (Wahabi). I am discussing these matters with extensive details so that others can understand how such religion-related discussions often lack objectivity, appropriate level of sensitivity and homework. When even quoting or referring to someone requires some minimal degree of protocols, providing high testimonials to someone's work containing "every word" as "pure truth" requires a much higher standard. Please feel free to correct me, if I am wrong.
Notwithstanding the fact that I have some basic disagreement with the movement, that the vast majority of those congregating people in Ijtema are ultra-pacificist, except a good number of opportunists among those who rush to join the Akheri Munajat not to be left out of the blessings, including the PM, the president and the opposition leaders, etc. I believe the same can be said about the vast majority of those millions attending the Kumbha Mela, who might be viewed by others as simpletons, but in reality are no more than peace-loving devotees seeking short cuts to their salvation as our tradition-bound, dogmatic culture has shaped their pattern and mode of thinking and aspirations.
Yes, there is a danger that such devotees can easily be turned into tool of conflict by many conniving, powerful ones, but even then in case of, at least, Tabligh Jamaat that is not the case. Fighting against fanaticism can't be effective when we lump everyone together in stereotypical fashion as demonstrated in the works of Dr. Jaffor Ullah.
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