Although I have not blogged since December 2020, rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. I’ve just been busier than a one-armed suicide bomber. I taught a month-long intensive, online world history course over Christmas. And I’ve published seven articles over at The Stream in the interim. Then spring term began. But enough excuses! Once more unto the blogging breach!
And what better topic than an ideological, and legal, spat over the Quran? According to The Indian Express (March 14, 2021), “PIL by Shia board’s former chief on Quran draws massive backlash.” One Wasim Rizvi filed Public Interest Litigation (akin to a class action suit, it seems) “seeking the removal of 26 verses from the Quran that he alleged promote terrorism and jihad.” The reaction was swift–and brutal. Sunni and Shia clerics in Uttar Pradesh condemned Rizvi for “insulting the Quran” and “hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims.” The General Secretary of the Indian Ulama’s Assembly slammed him as a “Yazidi.” Not to be outdone, the head of an Islamic Welfare Association, Hasnain Jaffrey, literally put a bounty of ₹20,000 on Rizvi’s head. “Whoever will bring the head of Wasim Rizvi, I will reward them” with 20,000 Indian rupees. Refusing to totally lose his head, a Kashmiri BJP (ruling Hindu nationalist party) politician merely filed a criminal complaint against Rizvi for “spreading hatred.” This FIR (FIrst Information Report) states that “the Quran teaches us peace, not violence” and that “any kind of blasphemous act against the Holy Quran is intolerable to humanity in general and Muslims in particular.” Yet another BJP pol called on the Indian government to “act quickly against Rizvi and arrest him for….hurting the religious sentiments of billions of Muslims across the globe,” adding that “Rizvi’s remarks are unacceptable and…Quran teaches love, brotherhood and peace, not violence.”
- Mr. Rizvi is a brave and honest man. I will pray for him. I have long said that Shia (yes, even the Twelver brand) Islam is potentially more flexible and moderate than the majority Sunni version, because Shias are allowed to read the Quran in non-literal ways. If they can survive, that is. And the holy book of the world’s second-largest religion needs cleansing of its archaic exhortations to violence; doing so with the hadiths (Muhammad’s alleged sayings) is necessary but insufficient to defang that religion. But Rizvi is too optimistic, for there are actually some 164 jihad verses in the Quran. Still, Rizvi was willing to acknowledge the problem.
- Muslims constantly assert that Islam is the one, true religion. (Fair enough–we Christians make the same argument about our faith.) But many Muslims (and some non-Muslims) go much further, contending that Islam is tougher, more masculine than other religions–particularly that milksop, “loser” one whose founder was crucified. So the irony is thick enough to cut with a scimitar when Muslims prove so laughably thin-skinned and, well, downright wimpy. They get their feelings hurt–at least according to their leaders–by the very suggestion that parts of their holy book promote violence. And I’ve never understood how an inanimate collection of writings can be “insulted.” Have you ever heard of “insulting the Bible?” I think not. Seriously, Muslims: grow up and, as one of my old military buddies used to say, “grow a pair.”
- Remember: Allah, in the Quran, teaches “love, brotherhood and peace, not violence.” And since Wasim Rizvi implied otherwise–off with his head!
- Finally, I leave you with this Tweet from the Muslim World League. See if you can square it with this fracas among Indian Muslims: