Monday, July 3, 2023

Never Act or React In a Manner That Demeans Your Own Conscience

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 3 July 2023 Any sane and sensible person will be appalled to hear what an uncouth man recently did in Sweden. He tore the pages of the Quran and burnt it in front of a mosque. Ironically as well as deliberately, he chose the auspicious day of Eid-al-Azha to burn the holy book. This book burning culture is absolutely reprehensible, to say the least. Years ago, in a conversation with Edward W Said at the University of Columbia where Dr Said was the resident and Emeritus Professor, Noam Chomsky said, "We seem to have slipped into a state of collective decadence and because of that our actions and reactions in a public domain are so blatantly disturbing." So very true. In Aesthetics, we use a term, Euphemistic Symbolism: Displaying restraint and sobriety by using symbols and resorting to euphemisms while criticising or condemning someone or something. You dislike Muslims and their scriptures, well, criticise in a civilised manner without stooping to tearing, burning or spitting. That's outright eyesoric and underscores your pedigree, culture and upbringing. All through his life, Shivaji fought against the Mughals and Muslim rulers. But that wasn't against the perceived Islamic oppression. Those were purely territorial battles sans a trace of religious or ideological differences. He never desecrated the Quran and captured Muslim women. This is magnanimity and breadth of vision. Vinaya Pitaka of Buddhism narrates an incident from Buddha's life. Buddha was an apatheist and he defied Vedas (he's called Vednindak by the Brahminical Hinduism) and refused to believe that Vedas were Apaurusheya (not written by humans but descended from heaven). Yet, when Prithikesh, one of his disciples who left Hinduism to follow the teachings of Buddha, tried to burn one of the Vedas, the ever-serene and eternally unagitated Buddha called him and asked, " Son, what'll you get out of burning a book you don't believe in? " " To prove that this book is useless, " Prithikesh said. " Who're you to decide and declare that this book is useless? It may be useless to you but it's still useful to a large number of people. Respect the beliefs of those people who believe in it and be decent in showing your emotions. Never act or react in a manner that demeans your own conscience." What a sublime statement, Never act or react in a manner that demeans your own conscience! This very line carries the embryo of ever-evolving humanity in its womb. People with conscience across the globe are condemning what this man did in Sweden. But the question remains, how many of us are really conscientious in these terribly turbulent times to condemn such acts in unison? Because, there're also a large number of people, who're justifying the incineration of the holy book. Yours truly has scriptures of all faiths, quasi-faiths and cults. He keeps reading them but his faith in all of them is cipher. Yet, he doesn't burn or defile any of them. By the way, I've a gold-plated copy of the Quran, safely and respectfully ensconced in the locker of a bank along with a very beautiful idol of Ganesh, made of pure ivory. Both are of no use to me in any spiritual or edifying way, but I admire them aesthetically. Isn't it enough? ---- 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 the 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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