Bangladesh belongs to people of all faiths
When I saw the letter on social media, I didn’t want to believe it.
My journalistic psyche advised me to inquire further. I did. I asked a few journalist friends whether the letter was truly sent to the deputy police commissioner’s office in Dhaka’s Uttara Sector 3.
The letter was protesting the celebration of Durga Puja in Uttara’s Friends Club field. It had been written by some “elakabashis,” which bore no signature, but had a few receipt stamps of the authorities including our city development authority.
First point to ponder -- “elakabashi” is a vague term. Something like filing a case against 1,000 unidentified people.
However, a Hindu-bashing Muslim coterie, like many coteries, has certainly thought that puja shouldn’t be celebrated in Bangladesh and they decided to send the letter to the authorities. If we look at the language of the letter, we find that the Hindus were threatened with dire consequences if they continued with their puja celebrations.
To my mind, the letter came as an example of hate, and some people are radically-energized to spread that hate. This is also an extreme form of intolerance -- of some Muslims against Hindus. I didn’t expect this from a populace who claim themselves to be Muslims.
If you notice carefully, we have not passed a single year in recent history when idols were not demolished by hooligans. Come puja celebrations, some have always attacked the places of worship and vandalized the idols. This shows the intolerant psychology of some so-called Muslims who commit such crimes in the name of protecting their religion.
The letter tried to uphold many prophets, including the Prophet of Islam. My heart bleeds when some Muslims cite the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SM) and harm the followers of other religions without even knowing the teachings of the Prophet. They haven't even read of the time, life, and practices of Prophet Muhammad (SM).
If they tried to know the Prophet’s life, they would be ashamed of their doings in his name.
The Prophet of Islam did remove the statues from the Kaaba in order to free that society from polytheism from a pagan society in order to establish monotheism, faith in a single God. Not everyone, at that time, was polytheist in Arabia at that time. Jews and Christians were already in existence in that society. The Prophet of Islam didn’t force anyone to follow Islam.
He, through his values and good deeds, proved that Islam was worth following as a religion, and people adopted Islam as their own.
The Prophet never fought any single war without being attacked first.
Therefore, it is unfortunate if we forget the teachings of the Prophet and use religion as a tool of exploitation.
We have also failed to learn about Hinduism. We have to understand that Hindus are not pagans; they also believe in one single God, but the symbols of God are different from that of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.
Coming back to the letter’s threats, I have to say that Bangladesh wasn’t liberated to keep a section, the followers of different faiths, in fear. Bangladesh belongs to everybody, followers of each and every faith. If we fail to rise above the belief that Bangladesh is a land for only Muslims, we will give Islam a bad name.
We cannot make the mistake of giving Islam a bad name due to our ignorance. We cannot tarnish the image of Islam just because of our misled dream for a cocooned kingdom only meant for Islam.
I wish we analyzed ourselves as Muslims; I wish we looked deep into our souls as Muslims and as humans. How much did we achieve in order to claim ourselves as Muslims, as Islam has taught us? Our jingoistic attitude to prove ourselves as Muslims raises many questions.
Why is the country submerged in widespread corruption, why are there so many rapes, why do we exploit the poor in such an Islamic environment?
Our faith should have made us the best humans on Earth, if we claim to be Muslims.
But that didn’t happen, did it?
And that’s exactly why we should stop bragging about being Muslims without being true Muslims.
The duty of Muslims is to look after others, ensure their safety, security, and peace. If we keep a section of our population constantly in fear, then we should stop calling ourselves Muslims.
Let us go out and sincerely ask the Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians of this country how they are passing their days, how they are. Have we ever done that?
We never cared to think about them; we never asked them how safe and peaceful they are in a country dominated by Muslims.
And let us spare some of our time to read and know about Islam and the teachings of the Prophet. It’s a pity that we don’t do that. We keep dwelling on hearsay. Islam is not a religion of hate; there’s absolutely no room for hatred in Islam.
If we want to preach and uphold Islam, let us, first, follow Islam and be Muslims, otherwise our claim as Muslims will remain a fallacy.
Ekram Kabir is a yogi, a story-teller, and a communications professional. His other works can be found on ekramkabir.com.