Telling the Paradise from a Fools Paradise

It just cant get more hilarious, even comical. Not that this is something novel I’m beginning to highlight, but an age-old trait that has come to define the response of the Muslim community to contemporary issues and challenges.

Religion may not exactly be, but does come across as the opium of the masses as long as those occupying the highest pedestals in the mosques, mandirs and monasteries continue to engage the  imagination of masses by highlighting exclusively and entirely those issues that have to do with the “other world” – the world that lies beneath the crest of earth or beyond the lofty heavens up there! Insofar as Islam is concerned, that’s fine as long as the premonition, the good tidings for being rewarded for one’s actions on earth was NOT confined merely to the five pillars of Islam that comprise the faith in the oneness of Allah and Mohammad (PBUH) as his messenger, Namaz, Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), Roza (fasting during Ramadhan and Zakat (mandatory charity).

However, what these “thekedars” of religions  sorely miss to address is to highlight the other side of the picture: that a diehard, stubborn allegiance to the ‘letter’ of these principles is a zero sum game unless such practices are buttressed by the spirit of these principles that call for a no nonsense effort to attain to a state of piety, spirituality and self consciousness. The latter demand a serious endeavour on the part of the individual to inculcate virtue, to race for doing good deeds, NEVER EVER to compromise on truth for what it is and to stand for the weak and the underprivileged, whichever faith or religious denomination the latter may happen to belong to.

This afternoon as I was staying at home located as it’s within a hearing distance from what was being blurted out from a neighbouring mosque, I didn’t notice one single reference by the holier-than-thou Islamic scholar to on any of the issues I have talked about above. Not even a passing reference was made in his haranguing speech about one of the most gut wrenching spectacles where four innocent Kashmiris were martyred by the security forces that was witnessed here a couple of days ago just a few meters away from where the same mosque is located. On the contrary, what was indeed remarkable was the sheer lung power of the man in the pulpit crying hoarse in roundly denouncing those who don’t pray or don’t fast or whatever, while foreboding the ultimate punishment that has been reserved for them in the Hereafter! Again, while I have no issues with that either, what troubles me deeply and puts me off completely is this studied silence, this self-serving “strategy” or call it political correctness on the part of the Clergy to avoid broaching an issue that may even remotely sound being of “sensitive nature” and that may put him in harm’s way. But that’s no reason, no excuse to avoid drawing attention to an issue that has shaken the conscience of all the right thinking people, wherever they are. The fact is that  as opposed to that, true faith and Emaan entail the bitter truth to be told – to the authority – to point out the ways in which injustice has become a new normal where right to individual privacy has become anachronistic, individual rights are being denied, human rights violated, innocents killed and private properties ransacked and torched. 

A failure to address what have come to define themselves as social, apart from being political issues here in Kashmir renders these noisy, boisterous sermons as banal, meaningless, lacklustre and even outrageous. These puritan sermonisers would do well to remember that there is nothing like a free lunch, a free ride to janna’h, if you like. Together with their teeming millions of followers, they feel secure in the belief that they have chosen the path of least resistance, which it of course is, as long as the practice is confined to the letter and not the SPIRIT of these injunctions that demands a lot of effort, toil and sweat from the individual, apart from acting with courage and conviction regardless of the consequences. By doing so, they are living – or at least hope to live – in a paradise no doubt – but a fool’s paradise, in essence!

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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Written by M A Sofi


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