Buddhism facts

Nupur Sharma controversy: what are the basic facts?

Lately Nupur Sharma, a 37-year-old poker superstar spokesperson for BJP, has caused such controversy that it has caused a big shake-up in the Muslim world, especially in the Middle East region, to such an extent that part of the Arab Muslim nations have withdrawn or suspended trade relations with India. The whole story not once clearly explained by the media, both mainstream and social, is just very simple without much substance: a Hindu activist discovered the fact that the Gyanvapi Mosque located in Banaras, Uttar Pradesh, was actually built by Aurangzeb in 1669. when demolishing an old Shiva temple. So, as usual, a hustle and bustle ensued and the Hindu frontliners demanded the right to enter the gates of the mosque, perform Hindu rituals and pray within the premises. The case eventually reached the courts; and the case, after initially being heard by nearly every court of jurisdiction, including the Supreme Court, remains pending today.

When the Hindus demanded entry, rather vehemently, the Muslim defendants resisted saying that the ‘Shiv Ling’ found there after the excavation was not a deity but a man-carved fountain head. While the controversy still raged, the TV sharks continued to host talk shows to bring the truth to the people by interpreting their findings from the shows’ cacophonous debates. The Times Now hosted one in which Nupur, a commendably eloquent polyglot, attempted to deny and neutralize a Muslim respondent’s imaginary claims that the “Shiv Ling” was just an ordinary object, losing his temper and making caustic remarks about the Prophet Muhammad. To only imply that Muslims are morally corruptible, she spilled something not really appropriate or relevant on the occasion. She said that even Muhammad, the founder of Islam after becoming a prophet ten years later at the age of 50, needed wives to help him with the housework, looking after his children and help him to invite people to Islam. He wanted to marry an old widow called ‘Sawda’ and also Abu Bakr’s daughter, ‘Aisha’ who was only six or nine years old. The Prophet consummated the marriage while Aisha was still a child. Although the enraged Muslim respondents insisted that Aisha’s age had reached 17 or 18 when she married the Prophet, Nupur hit back with points that would not fit anywhere.

Thus, Nupur’s remarks have caused serious hurt among Muslims around the world. The BJP government was in a tough spot as the remark could not be defended in any way. Thus, party bosses disavowed Nupur’s statements, saying the unacceptable outpourings came from fringe elements, not in line with the principles that the tolerant and secular Saffron Brigade pursued and preached. The other guy Naveen Jindal, also a party spokesperson, was expelled from the party for making irresponsible non-secular statements. Although Nupur and Naveen later apologized unconditionally, they have yet to be taken care of. The controversy is not extinguished; it is still raging and Muslims in the Middle East are still ranting against Indian authorities for the sin of Nupur and Naveen. It was, of course, inappropriate of Nupur to have made such irresponsible statements about the Prophet which were absolutely out of context and in poor taste as the whole world watched.

Now, some basic truths about Islam need to be clarified, as many Muslims have degenerated into fanatical creatures for never reading to understand the Holy Quran and spreading the wrong message: if Allah had ordered Muslims to kill all non -Muslims called “kafirs”, the prophet and his powerful companions would not have left alive any non-Muslim tribe in Arabia. It is also quite ridiculous to say that any belief system, including the Islamic one, can be shoved down a human being’s throat at the point of a sword, a lie that has actually been propagated by Christian missionaries who came later. It is impossible that a religion or faith that preaches the murder of all who do not embrace it could hardly capture the minds and hearts of millions throughout history.

What is never discussed is the fact that Islamic law forbids forced conversion, following the Quranic principle that there is “no compulsion in religion” (Quran 2:256). The only verse that directly mentions blasphemy (sabb) is Q6:108. The verse calls on Muslims not to blaspheme against the deities of other religions, lest the people of that religion retaliate by blaspheming against Allah. However, it is true that “all forms of idolatry are condemned in Islam. (Quran 112:2)’. Accordingly, Muslims hold that anyone who worships gods or deities other than Allah is a sin that will only result in separation from Allah, and nothing more.

In the United States of America as well as in other Western countries, Muslims are quite successful in convincing non-Muslims, instead of trying to kill them, that Islam is more tolerant than Judaism and in all case the Christian coalition. Of course, we can cite examples of Muslims killing non-Muslims, but at the same time, Christians also killed non-Christians! God does not command any believer to go and kill. Only egocentric and violent attitudes trigger in men the desire to kill the other.

Accurate observations indicate that only Muslims in the Middle East region became violent in the past centuries due to the struggle for survival against vagaries of climate, lack of water, vegetation and constant battle for supremacy among Islamic sub-races and communities, apart from the ongoing threat of Jewish Israel, rehabilitated there after World War II. The largest Muslim country, Indonesia has the coolest and most devout Muslims in the world. The same goes for former Soviet states in Central Asia like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The people of these countries are everyday more hospitable and tolerant than most Hindus and Christians or Buddhists in China. Even Muslims in Afghanistan, barring the hardline Taliban or similar outfits, are gentle and kind.

What we don’t know is that it is not the Islam of the Prophet Muhammad that is intolerant or violent; it is only the humans in the fold who do bad things by interpreting the principles as it suits them. There is no religion that prescribes intolerance, hatred of any kind, rancor and annihilation of human beings of other religions.