It plays to a trite script all the time. Some obscure loony will say something about the Prophet and the self-professed defenders of the honour of the Prophet of Islam go berserk in rage. Protests, calls for the head of the "offender", mob fury, destruction of public property - pandemonium follows.
Whether it's a YouTube clip, an obscurantist comment or a cartoon, the Muslim reaction in all these cases has been utterly predictable and irrational.
Muslims need to loosen up a bit on this offense-taking business. Why must we protest over some Hindu Mahasabha guy's obnoxious comments on the Prophet carry on for over a month? The person concerned has been arrested and the law will deal with him. Why must the clergy demand a death sentence for him? This is not Pakistan. There are no draconian blasphemy laws here, which give death for offensive words or actions against the Prophet.
No one is taking away the right of Muslims to protest when they think their Prophet has been insulted. But why the rampage, torching of public property, ransacking of police stations as we have seen in Malda? This is not faith but blind rage. Muslims lose their case with such horrendous and criminal acts. Hurt sensitivities cannot hold a state to ransom.
The last one month has seen lakhs of Muslims come out on the streets in Muzaffarnagar, Malda and many other parts of the country to protest the "insult" to their Prophet. May I ask when did we last see lakhs of Muslims marching on the streets to demand better education, health, roads, or to fight gender discrimination etc.? Why not have a huge demonstration for the modernisation of madarsas and more primary schools in Muslim-dominated areas?
Here is a proposal for the Muslim leaders and the clergy. Organise a mass protest in Delhi to urge the government to act on the demands of various Muslim women organisations for a just and codified personal law?
Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, a national coalition of Muslim women with over 70,000 members across 13 states, has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders on reforms needed in Muslim Personal Law. What they are asking for: an end to triple talaq, criminalising polygamy, maintenance for divorced women, scrapping medieval and inhuman practices such as halala (meaning that a divorced couple cannot remarry unless the female marries another man, and then her second husband dies or divorce her) among other things.
Now aren't these just demands that are long overdue? But what we see is that the same clerics and community leaders who waste no time in hitting the streets chest-beating over some insult to the Prophet are seen dragging their feet on these just demands - and in fact, many block any reform in the Muslim law as interpreted by self-serving and patriarchal mullahs. Again, I ask: can we have a lakh Muslims protesting for a gender-just Muslim law?
It's high time Muslims get real. There are many issues that inflict the community and need urgent attention. Don't defile your faith and your Prophet by running riot in his name. Remember, your prophet survived Dante's Inferno, he will also survive a loose comment, a video clip or a cartoon.
The day Muslims stop reacting like hotheads to the slightest of provocations in the name of the Prophet, such lunatic acts will lose traction. No one can offend a person who has decided not to take offence.
People who derive pleasure out of saying obnoxious things about your Prophet don't deserve your month-long protest. They just need to be ignored or laughed at.
(Mohd Asim is Senior News Editor, NDTV 24x7)
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