Friday, August 19, 2022

Violent Elimination of a Rationalist

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 19 August 2022 Every year since August 20, 2013, I feel terribly sad and anguished on this day, remembering the violent death of the rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar. Dr Narendra Dabholkar ---- He was gunned down by Hindu extremists for his relentless crusade against all irrational beliefs and superstitions. He once told me in Poona that he always believed in the famous statement of Edmund Burke that superstition is the religion of feeble minds. Immediately after his violent death, Kalburgi, Pansare and Gauri Lankesh were also shot dead for similar views and fearless rationality. Yet, Mysore-based rationalist K S Bhagawan and Poona-based Rajan Khan refuse to buckle under any pressure or threats from the religionists. I wrote to the then CM of Maharashtra and the PM of India to declare August 20 as The Day of Reason. Alas, my entreaties and requests fell on deaf years. At this juncture, when the followers of all religions, particularly Islam and Hinduism, are neck-deep in the quagmire of all sorts of religious superstitions and meaningless beliefs, the relevance of people like Dr Dabholkar and Kalburgi increases manifold. Reason is forever at loggerheads with superstition. Sir Carveth Reid wrote, ' Superstitions are the illegitimate offspring of a religion, ' in his Magnum Opus ' Man and his superstitions, ' though he later removed the word ' illegitimate'. I once met a very educated Muslim gentleman at the office of Dr Dabholkar. In spite of his unflinching faith in Allah, he never offered namaaz or observed roza. He also never went for Haj. That gentleman told me that he required none, not even Muhammad and Qur'an to come in between his commune and connect with Allah. " All others are insignificant, " his words still echo in my mind. He never blew his own trumpet, despite his sincere involvement and association with numerous welfare activities for all people sans their faiths. I call him Momin ( a true Muslim). Social reformer of Maharashtra, Hamid Umar Dalwai also said the same thing, though he was an atheist and had no belief in Allah. Apropos, Dabholkar named his son Hamid after this great reformer Hamid Dalwai. This also shows the magnanimity and breadth of Dabholkar's vision that he gave his son a ' Muslim' name. Otherwise, we're so damn backward that even an 'educated' Hindu will not christen his or her son as Tariq, Aslam or Ghulam....ohhhh, Muslim names! And no Muslim will call his daughter Rachna or son, Sumit. Sociologist Jagannath Banerjee stated in his Doctoral thesis on the growing religious superstitions across the world, esp. in India, that the basic religious sacraments often break into three S: Superstitions, Shenanigans and Shibboleths. All these terms are originally related to the decadence in religion. Spirituality worsens into religion. Religion degenerates into rituals. Rituals slip into superstitions and horrific as well as discriminatory practices like a menstruating woman being impure or sacrificing an innocent animal to appease some blood-thirsty deity or a sadistic and sanguinary Allah who doesn't send down a ' revelation' that killing animals in his name is unIslamic or inhuman. Alas, there's no Muhammad to receive Allah's 'divine' messages in these rotten times! Whenever a reformer raises these uncomfortable questions, he or she is targeted by the fanatics. But the question is: How long will the society be able to throttle the voice of reason and logic? May the sane people, who're actually few and far between, like the slain rationalists Dabholkar, Gauri Lankesh and the likes of them, come together and bring about a tectonic, nay cataclysmic, change by pulling the society out of the cesspool of obscurantism. I'm waiting for that day before getting killed by a random zealot, guided and intoxicated by his scripture, god and faith. ----- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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