The voices of sanity from the Indian Muslim Community have been raised against their own for opposing Rushdie’s visit to the Jaipur Literary Festival.
India’s leading Islamic theologian Maulana Wahiddudin Khan described calls for banning Rushdie or his book “alien to our secular constitution” and un-Islamic. “It’s against the Islamic spirit,” he wrote in his TOI’s Speaking Tree column. He quoted a verse from the Quran to make his point. “It reads: ‘If any of the non-believers seeks your protection, then let him come so that he may hear the words of God, then convey him to a place of safety’.” The Maulana wrote that Muslims should engage and put their points of view in a rational manner. “If Rushdie is not convinced, they should make ‘dua’ for him and, according to the Quranic teaching, see him off amicably, without rancour.”
Journalist Seema Mustafa said “the role of media and particularly TV” was “reprehensible” for they “strengthened the Muslim stereotype by bringing unidentifiable mullahs to say what they want to reinforce this stereotypes”. She echoed a growing number of Muslims who are sore about the tendency to present reactionaries as the sole spokespersons of the community while ignoring saner voices.
National Minorities Commission chief Wajahat Habibullah echoed Seema Mustafa in part, saying, “The whole thing seems a publicity effort.” He said while serving under threat in J&K to say that Rushdie should have come. “While I was posted in J&K, I was told that I should not even move out of my house. But I had to do my job.”
Poet Manzar Bhopali mocked the mullahs, saying they were opposing Rushdie without even reading his books.
“The book describes the Holy Kaba and the Prophet in extremely derogatory terms.” Mumbai lawyer Yusuf Muchala said he had read ‘The Satanic Verses’ and found it “offensive”. But he insisted that Rushdie should not be banned from the fest where he was to discuss literature.
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