Turn away from the trivial

The tragedy of the Muslim community is that it often gets swayed by emotions, at the cost of reason. In the last few days, we have seen Muslim groups becoming hysterical about Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam, about Salman Rushdie's planned visit to Kolkata, about a Kashmiri all-girls rock band. A cleric only has utter the word fatwa for news channels to go on overdrive. Let me take these three examples further. Vishwaroopam is a one-dimensional film about a Muslim "good cop" who goes undercover to unearth a sinister dirty bomb plan hatched by al-Qaeda. The film deserves no attention. It should never have taken more than paid advertising space. Some media-watch group could have computed the space wasted in covering a hugely violent masala film. As for Rushdie, isn't a quarter century of news coverage enough? Why should more newsprint be wasted on him?

As for the all girls' band, it was blown up only for anti-Muslim sensationalism.

There is another factor that compounds the above-mentioned waste of human energy. These issues provide a ready stick for hardline groups and the media to use on Muslims. In our state of emotion, which is created and whipped up by the print, visual and social media, we Muslims do not see that we are playing into the hands of the very forces that are out to hurt us. The more we show our anger, the more the TV anchors bait us, the more we fall into the stereotype created about us, and so we are condemned to remain on the fringes of sane society.

My own great-grandfather was a maulana, Maulana Altaf Husain Hali, who raised his voice for the girl child, women's education and the plight of widows in his writings 150 years ago. Had he lived in 21st century, he would have continued his crusade, ignoring Vishwaroopam, Rushdie and the rock band. These issues are of no importance for truly secular, and truly religious, leaders, who have a mission derived from their study of the underlying philosophy of religious thought. The other great maulana who has deeply influenced me and others of my generation is Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who would have done what my great-grandfather would have. I have been enriched by certain alims and maulanas. It is to their sensibilities that I appeal.

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