"Will Nupur Sharma ever lead a normal life? Should moderate Muslims speak up?" - A commentary - Part 4
I hate to be borne out in such a horrible way, but this sorry state of affairs obtains only because too many people, in their self-righteous ignorance and arrogance, insist on making a distinction between so-called "radical" Muslims and "moderate" Muslims.
I was adding the finishing touches to this final Part of my commentary on Robert Spencer's response to the Nupur Sharma controversy, when, in stunning serendipity, news broke of another very similar controversy, involving the same troublesome people baying for the blood of someone from the same subcontinent who also dared to say something truthful about Islam: a Muslim had just stabbed Salman Rushdie in the United States in obedience to Ayatollah Khomeini's call on Valentine's Day 1989, that Muslims must murder the author. The chilling serendipity deepens in that Spencer had just the other day suggested the United States as a possible place where Sharma might find safety from Muslims.
Maybe in the West, but the West is not in that great a shape anymore either. But you know Salman Rushdie, the Islamic Republic of Iran put the death sentence on him in 1989 and he lived in hiding for years and then he came out from hiding. ...He probably has guards. He would probably be stupid not to have guards, because anything can happen anytime, and especially in India, where there's a much larger Muslim population. She’s [at] a tremendous risk. It would seem like the only possibility she could have of living something close to a normal life would be to get out of India and go somewhere into Europe or Canada or the United States and even then she'd have to be very careful.
The jihad murder attempt on Rushdie on 12 August 2022 drew a slew of Muslim supremacist bravado as it did when the mediaeval freak aroused Muslims to murder over a generation ago, to be precise, nine years before Rushdie's would-be murderer had even been born. A tweet by one Zaid Hamid reads:
Salman Rushdie stabbed! When you do blasphemy against the Holy Prophet, you will always face this threat even after decades. This is one sensitive nerve of Muslims you should never poke.
The appropriate response to this, of course, would be "Who the Hell do these people think they are?" and a barrage of insults against Muhammad. But the point here is that Muslims are people for whom an order issued a thousand years ago remains as valid today as the day it was issued. It is very hard to be taken seriously when one points this out. But the fact that it is hard to believe does not alter it. Unfortunately, people die because this warning is dismissed and the people who sound it are vilified and abused. The New York state trooper and the sheriff's deputy, presumably both armed, might for all intents and purposes, not have been there at all.
I hate to be borne out in such a horrible way, but this sorry state of affairs obtains only because too many people, in their self-righteous ignorance and arrogance, insist on making a distinction between so-called "radical" Muslims and "moderate" Muslims. There must be a nice Muslim somewhere who will keep their fantasies afloat. We are told that if we do not make this distinction, then we become like them. I insist on not making this distinction, yet I have no desire to kill anyone. I guess I must be the exception to that glib truism. I am really uncomfortable with how many times Spencer repeats, "There are a lot of Muslims who are never going to be violent and they're no threat to the non-Muslims around them." Yes, the first part of the statement might be true, but he is no position to assure people earmarked for death that, "They're no threat to the non-Muslims around them." This is unconscionable, and I would certainly not appreciate such advice when I am fearing for my life and it is not possible to tell which Muslim is out to kill me and which Muslim is not. Spencer has no idea what might be said in the very next khutbah. This is not a theoretical point.
It has sadly come to pass that the Constitution of "the land of the free" can no more protect Nupur Sharma than it can its own citizen, Sir Salman Rushdie, even with a New York state trooper and a sheriff's deputy, presumably both armed, by his side. In Rushdie's case, they were there only to ensure an orderly line-up for the author's autograph. What else could possibly go wrong? We must not think that every Muslim present might be there to carry out Khomeini's order. To do so would be to become like them. Now a man lies in hospital fighting for his life. And if he survives, it will not be over, because he will not been killed. The order was not to maim; the order was to kill.
I do not say these things to support either Salman Rushdie or Nupur Sharma; for all I know, they might both disagree with me. But while there is still some freedom of speech left in the world, I will go on record as saying that Islam is meaningless without Muslims, and people who go by that demonym do so because they adhere to Islam. It is folly for the kufaar to presume to divine a Muslim's devoutness, and on the basis of such guesswork, pronounce a particular Muslim trustworthy, or worse, even admit them into the country. It is also grossly irresponsible. After saying all that, I still have no desire to kill anyone. I have clearly not become like them.
Several countries take the sensible precaution of restricting the presence and practice of Islam on their territory, from non-recognition and total prohibition to restrictions on specific practices and public visibility. Formerly communist Central and Eastern Europe are notable for their vigilance in this regard. They ought to be far more blunt and forthright, rather than circumspect, about their wish to be safe from Muslims, not immigrants, Muslims.
Real pathos comes across in interviewer Minnie's perplexity, when she asks Robert Spencer:
When Sam[uel] Paty was killed in France, and then Charlie Hebdo happened in France, we all were so sad and it got a lot of international attention, but these killings in India that are happening right now, they get no international coverage whatsoever. What is it that the world has against Hindus, sir? Do Hindu lives not matter?
"What is it that the world has against Hindus, sir? Do Hindu lives not matter?" I remember this kind of pathetic lack of self-respect amongst my parents' generation under Apartheid in South Africa. "We are people, we are people. We are people, we are people." They begged for recognition as human beings, and for compassion on that basis. Even though not nearly as thorough-going, it is the same mentality as that of a slave yearning for a kinder master. Be nice to us, please, we are people, too. Do our lives not matter? Whether such Hindu pathos is to be laid at the feet of Mahatma Gandhi, whether it is a hangover from dhimmitude under Muslim rule, or whether it stems from something inherent to Hinduism, is not yet clear to me.
Robert Spencer points Minnie in the right direction: "I hate to say it, but there is a concerted effort in the West to stigmatise and demonise Hindus under the guise of combating this supposedly right-wing fascist movement of Hindutva." Even some ex-Muslims are part of that concerted effort, in which Iran has a major hand. "The ultimate lesson is that the Hindu lives don't matter."
Minnie asks the crucial question, and it is amazing that such a question should even come up: "Sir, can this jihad be won over by appeasement, by appeasing them?" In a sense, this is simply a less damning version of the question, "Do Hindu lives not matter?" How much appeasing, exactly, do Hindus have in mind? Give them Kerala and then they'll be quiet? That's almost as bad as the secular chattering classes of Tel Aviv saying, let them have Jerusalem, if that's so important to them, and let us have peace. Mordechai Kedar has some prize words to say about this.
If, after a millennium of Muslims raping your country, you still don't know that jihad is unappeasable, then you really do have a problem. It came to light recently that during Sri Lanka's negotiating (or renegotiating) terms with China over the latter's use of the notorious debt-trap Hambantota port, India put its foot down and forced Sri Lanka to extract from the Chinese a promise that they would not use the port for military purposes. That's showing them! Today came the news that Sri Lanka is allowing a Chinese spy ship to dock in the port. Exactly how many Galwands India needs is not clear.
Finally, Spencer travels full circle and gets real. "This brings us back to the beginning. Weakness invites aggression. Appeasement appears to be weak and it only is going to embolden the aggressor." Minnie's body language at this point suggests that she has come to a complete dead end. No more ideas; out of options. She stammers further, "So what do they do? Just put them in jail, punish them according to the Sharia, because we can't do that."
Spencer recounts one effective strategy from Indian history for curtailing rampant jihad, the pre-1857 British strategy of ignoring the Muslims altogether and dealing only with the Hindus. The war-faring Muslims soon impoverished themselves and their leaders stopped the violence against the British. Spencer highlights this as a demonstration of strength and its impact on the behaviour of Muslims.
As for Indian international timidity, I alluded to this earlier. The mantra of bashing British colonialism still bedevils India's assessment of its place in the world. Imagine a huge country jutting right into the busiest shipping lane in the world, with the Strait of Malacca through which all Chinese trade must pass, just a spit away, getting its soldiers clubbed to death and its borders constantly violated by China, and then engaging in months of fruitless talks only to get China to return to their part of the agreement, rather than impounding a few Chinese oil tankers and then dictating terms. That's how you behave if you're a grown-up country wanting to be taken seriously. India has had over seventy years to come to terms with adulthood. It's lukewarm attitude towards the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue shows that it is still not sure whether it is just a post-colonial country or a self-conscious world player. Treading lightly around Russia and China is the international equivalent of treading lightly around Muslims.
I should like to return to what I think is the core weakness in Robert Spencer's position: that of thinking of the Muslim as a voluntary agent in Islam, free to choose whether and how he or she practices this religion. In Part 3 I dealt with how Spencer's offer will register with Muslims. To remind the reader, Spencer says:
They don't want to limit the freedom of religion. ...The problem is that the governments of the world, don't want to limit the freedom of religion, and they don't understand that Islam is political as well as religious, and that it is expansionist, violent and aggressive in its political aspects. ...So the solution is really very simple but nobody wants to listen. Nobody wants to take it up, and that would be to say, 'You were perfectly free to practice Islam in the United States, in India and Europe, wherever you want, no trouble at all, unless you begin to break the laws of the land. Then you will be prosecuted'.
What Robert Spencer misses is that it is not up to him, or governments, or even Muslims, which parts of their religion they refrain from practicing. If Shari'a says that there is scholarly consensus on the matter ('ijma'a), then it is absolute, non-negotiable, permanent. It can never change until the end of the world. To say to a Muslim, you may settle in our land and practice Islam, provided you never do x, y and z, and there happens to be scholarly consensus on any of it, the Muslim will agree so he or she can gain entry, but their number one priority is going to be to first, get special dispensation to practice the 'ijma'a parts of Shari'a (Dr Yasir Qadhi is hard at work on this), then to remove the infidel law that stands in the way of Shari'a, but always with the clear aim of eventually making such Shari'a stipulations part of the law of whatever jurisdiction the Muslims happen to find themselves in.
I would agree with Robert Spencer if the purpose of his offer were to gradually decrees the orbit of Islam, and make it increasingly difficult for the Muslim to practice it. An example of such a move is the Indian law banning triple talaq. It simply makes it increasingly hard for Muslims to be Muslims. Think of it as constructive dhimma. Indeed, Shari'a stipulates that if conditions in kafir lands become such that Muslims can no longer practice Islam, that they must emigrate from such land to where they can practice Islam. Now that is Shari'a that I can live with.
As a counter to Spencer's solution, the solution that I would propose is to simply make it impossible for Muslims to practice Islam: no mosques, no Islamic centres, no halal, no Ramadan, no Islamic charities, no madrassas, etc. Let's see how long that Muslim population sticks around. If India, with a Muslim minority of 197 million, can start rolling back Shari'a, it should be possible for any government to get the situation under control and reverse jihad.
I am grateful for Robert Spencer’s engaging with Hindus in general and Hindutva in particular. All these public exchanges give me access to perspectives that I might otherwise not have encountered. Despite some of the weaknesses I see in Minnie's perceptions, she and her fellow Hindus are clearly turning a page after the decades-long malaise of tiptoeing around Muslims and never talking about the horrors the Musselmans have inflicted on what was once a great civilisation. Robert Spencer is a part of that reawakening. Long may he be productive.
- Samuel Paty was a French schoolteacher beheaded by a young Muslim immigrant in the street in Paris, after Muslims agitated for his murder in the wake his using a cartoon of Muhammad as teaching material in his lesson on free speech. Muslims had no problem with the murder, but their anger raged for months, not only at Paty's lesson, but also at non-Muslim revulsion to his beheading. After over forty thousand recorded Muslim murders since 9/11 alone, so-called "Moderate" Muslims are still Muslim. When are they going to leave Islam? Will someone kindly explain what "moderate" means? Charlie Hebdo is a weekly satirical magazine published in Paris. After the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a series of cartoons of Muhammad in October 2005, Muslims unleashed mayhem in several cities around the Muslim world and threatened the lives of the cartoonists and the newspaper staff. In 2006, 2011 and in September 2012, Charlie Hebdo published a series of cartoons of Muhammad. On 7 January 2015, two Muslim terrorists burst into the Charlie Hebdo editorial staff meeting, and to shouts of "Allahu-akbar," sprayed the staff with bullets. Twelve murders were successful, eleven were unsuccessful. Muslims do this sort of thing to kill, not to injure.
- See, e.g., ex-Muslim Harris Sultan's attempts to smear Robert Spencer as a bigot in a series of videos on his Harris Sultan YouTube channel around mid-June to mid-July 2022.