19 September, 2012


I am often accused by my Muslim believer friends that I am usually more harsh on them. [If I really am, perhaps I love them more!] What follows here is likely to be seen in defense of Muslims.


“Saudi Arab doesn’t allow temples or other venues of idol worship in its territory.”

The general impression – flowing from this – seems to imply that Muslims are more fundamentalist and unilateralists.

Personally, I wish every country allows everybody, everywhere, to practice their faith in their own private sphere, or convert to another faith or disbelief.

However, contrary to this singularly unsavoury perception of Muslims, a number of others also practice such hegemony.

Consider these:

- Jains do not allow anything remotely non-vegetarian within the Jain holy town of Palitana. Indeed, they have managed to get the slaughter houses closed at Ahmedabad, during the nearly two weeks of Paryushan festival.

- Hindus do not allow non-Hindus inside many temples. The sun temple and the Guruvayoor temple, for instance. Even Indira Gandhi – having been married to Feroz Gandhi, a Parsi – was not allowed in the Orissa temple.

- A number of Hindu housing societies across India, and far too many in Gujarat, do not allow non-vegetarians to buy or hire a house, or even live as paying guests. Several of my Hindu friends have to eat their chicken, meat or even eggs secretly even inside their house! RM, for instance, routinely packs the waste like egg-shell or bones in translucent bag, carries it along on his way to office, and drops it into a dustbin far away.

Let’s remember, too, that while the Saudi constitution is wholly Islamic and that, too, of the Wahabi version, the Indian state is secular. Again, let us remember that no mosque is banned to men of any faith, anywhere.

Let’s take another example:

“Muslims do not pay obeisance to Hindu or Jain idols whereas Hindus are catholic enough to offer respects at Dargahs.” Prima facie, this, too, goes to paint the Muslims in bad colours.

Contrast this, however, with the following:

As between a devout Hindu and a devout Muslim, invited by each other to dine, who is more likely to agree more readily, and who might have reservations?

Here the devout vegetarian Hindu is less likely to be willing to eat at the Musilm friend’s house. The devout Muslim is unlikely to harbour any reservations in eating at his Hindu friend’s house. Why is the Muslim behaving more catholically here?

Just as meat eating is taboo for the vegetarian Hindu, idol worship is so for the Muslim. Notice that basically both are adhering to their respective religious dictats.


“Muslims do not take kindly to any sarcasm and ridicule of their prophet, Mohammed, or their holy book, the Quran. They resort to violent protests on a sundry cartoon or a light hearted film. One can admit that a majority of Muslims shun violence, but nearly all definitely protest, and vociferously. Why?”

How many Muslims have we come across caricaturing and ridiculing the holy figures of other religions for pastime?

Despite their ‘our religion is the final truth’ philosophy most Muslims thoroughly disapprove of ridiculing icons of other religions for fun. Hardly did any religious Muslim defend M F Hussain’s nudes of Hindu Goddesses.

For Muslims religion happens to be a far more serious business than for most. This, incidentally, also is responsible for their resistance to change.

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