Disclaimer: Since one cannot pen a word about terrorism without being accused of being a sympathizer, especially if your name rings Muslim, I would like to clarify that I do not endorse any sort of violence anywhere.
With the terror attack outside the Prophet’s mosque in Medina on July 5, what we term ‘Muslim’ terrorism seems to be on a new juncture. Maybe like a crazy crusade that will fire a shot at the Christ as well.
Most mornings I wake up to Facebook posts of well-meaning people asking Muslims to condemn the ‘Muslim’ terrorists who are detonating themselves at some part of the world or the other. Then there are those who analyze the ‘essence’ of Muslim violence where Quran becomes the brown equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan Bible.
A friend once rightly said, “Violence is a result of simplifications”. He was talking in the context of the imaginative ways in which sections of ‘Muslim’ population in Assam who are viewed as immigrants are killed off in diverse cycles of violence. Approaching complex lived realities through a simple lens of ‘us’ and ‘them ‘or ‘good’ and ‘evil’ can hardly ever lead us anywhere. No one is inherently evil or non-violent. Each of us is capable of joining a riot to clean the nation of unwanted outsiders, is capable of abusing our partners, and making mental cages for our children.
Terrorism cannot be looked at as THE unimaginable violence. As opposed to the very imaginable violence of state actors including USA, NATO or every other little or big kingdom with a nice army and a license to kill. When there are “legitimate” bombings, hangings, firings etc., it makes the ground for illegitimate killings to take place. As many researchers have pointed out, the very existence of States rests on the premise that only they have the right to violence; unless of course you are peacefully beating your wife without much sound effects inside your home.
If you are looking for the ‘inherent’ violence of Quran or other religious texts, you might as well skip through various state constitutions to find the ‘essence’ of violence. Religious texts like Quran, Bible etc., came out of specific contexts that existed thousands of years ago and their journey through diverse geographies and time spans have shaped and reshaped them. There is hardly any ‘Islamic’ essence which travels across centuries like a hardened virus, erupting out as bombs at our contemporary time. Religious texts are words that can be interpreted in various ways. They can be made into different formations; to kill, to plunder, to heal, to make peace. Islam is a religion of peace or that of terror; you can configure it in both ways.
Speaking about Muslims, it is a nice joke to place 22 percent or more of the world’s population of about 1.6 billion people across diverse nations, races, languages, classes and what not, into a single ‘family’. More importantly, each member of the ‘family’ is responsible for the acts of any one else. I guess I belong to a 1.6 billion strong mafia gang.
There are different formations of Islam and Muslim. As a Sudanese friend once reminded me, in Africa there are Muslim women who do not cover their breasts. As for the violent eruptions of ‘Muslim’ terror, one needs to look at the diverse local as well as global factors that prompt such eruptions and the reasons that make them ‘Muslim’. There is no Muslim essence that can be found, DNA tested for violence and made to apologize for different cycles of violence at the crack of each dawn. What becomes ‘Muslim’/’Islam’ depends on diverse circumstances. We need to look at what gets named as Islam instead of looking for what is Islam.
And, may be I need to end by adding why this is a note from a ‘Muslim’. It is because names are dangerous and you cannot leave the territory of being named. ‘Muslim’, ‘Jew’, ‘black’, ‘queer’, ‘woman’, ‘immigrant’- these are names which you cannot leave as if they were old baggage. On their basis you will be killed in a riot, send to a concentration camp, dragged off to custodial death, gunned down, raped or drowned. That doesn’t mean that owners of such names cannot run death squads or settler colonies of violence.
I have a request to those among you who do not carry the burden of such names on your shoulders. Those of you who don’t have to carry apology stickers on your foreheads about the ‘Christian’ Nazi violence…. those of you who are not personally held responsible for the ‘evil’ strain in Hinduism that harvests dead bodies at regular intervals…those of you who are not called upon to form the ‘moderate’ white block against the virus of inherent ‘white’ violence. Can you please excuse us, the bearers of unimaginable horrors, from coming every morning to ward off your fears with our sincere apologies?
Based on the weather updates of hate, the author is perceived as a Muslim, woman, immigrant, brown etc. She carries many apology stickers to placate different levels of mistrust.