Emotions have a tremendous potential. To optimise drive for strategic action, emotions need due consideration. Since emotional dispositions characterise our identity, ideology and outlook, therefore, we need be very conscious about dealing with emotions. These starting lines provide me a direction to briefly write about an issue which is directly related to emotions. For last 9-10 days, I observed that social media, particularly Facebook, witnessed an overwhelming current of mixed reactionary emotions. Local (Kashmiri) Facebook walls are filled with “unhinged” contents expressing intense love, plumbless reverence, extreme anger and strong provocation. Some posts are suggestive of taking pride in self-ascription (with Prophet Muhammad) and some are reflective of self-manipulated love (with Islam). Similarly, some posts, on the pretext of venting anger out, are representative of coding immoral and moral in the same language. Some Facebookies are fervently demanding a harshest kind of legal intervention. And some Facebookies, accrediting all executive powers, are ordering beheading and chopping of the “criminal” in their respective illusionary courts. And, of course, surrounded by everything “emotional”, there are fewer rational posts too. Why is this emotional boom all around? And, why is this high scale of anger?
Finally, the story unfolded and the catastrophic reason for “community anger” came out. There is video of a middle aged insane man, by the name of Shabir Khanabali, uttering some scornful and “blasphemous” words against Qur’an. Local masses, including all ages and gender, moved by the irrationality of “frenzied emotions”, shared the video on all social media platforms. Consequently, the video became viral in no time. Having personally seen the video, I was shocked and I too turned impatient for a while. Nevertheless, for me, the reason was not the act of “blasphemy” but the ‘collective irrationality’ of my people. After seeing the video, I too felt to submit my protest and I too made a demand. But, my protest, in particular, is against those “vanguards of faith” who recorded the video for whatever reasons better known to them. And, in general, against all those “sense claiming people” who shared the video. I demand, from the Creator, some level of rationality and morality for such people.
Here, I can be posed with a genuine question: why do I choose to stand against “irrationality” and why not “blasphemy”? And, what is irrational about recording and sharing “blasphemy”? To the first question, which is directly connected to faith, I would like to respond with one simple answer: Qur’an does need ‘human respect’ to uphold its ‘divine sanctity’ but we, as a human society, do need a rational and moral sense to uphold our ‘humanity’. Let’s be lucid and categorical in argument. From the scriptural perspective, Qur’an is the undisputed ‘Word of God’, if so, as Muslims believe, then it doesn’t fall in that earthly space where abuse or insult does really create an effect. It is not like an ordinary fragile human content. In that case, even if all people of the world gather, fitting in one tune, to insult one single verse of Qur’an, let alone one chapter, their effort won’t account for an atomic size of “harm” to its divine sanctity; its sacredness; and its authenticity.
Now, answering to the second question, I would like to put my argument in the Islamic morality perspective. A Muslim must have a basic ability to distinguish between moral and immoral. It is an essential skill in the everyday Muslim life. A Muslim should know, at minimum level, the established frame of principles and approved methods to qualify something, be it an action, word, or symbolic representation, as morally valid or invalid. Similarly, a Muslim must know how to deal with the sensitivity of the issue when “blasphemy” is expressed in immoral and abusive words or inappropriate behaviour. In that situation, sharing the “blasphemous content” would also mean sharing the immorality of the content and multiplying the people hearing and seeing it. See, it is clear, if the first person, who video recorded Shabir Khanabali uttering loathsome language about Qur’an, would have reported the case before concerned people, instead of making it viral on internet, the ‘immorality’ expressed in the video would have reached to a lesser number of people. As a result, lesser number of people would have heard those “insulting and disgusting” words about Qur’an. People get angry when abused with reference of mother, sister, daughter or wife because, psychologically speaking, they imagine and relate to the action intended behind the expression of words. So sharing immorality means allowing more people, including children, to imagine the ‘performing side’ of the action. This is utterly nonsense and lacks “conscious approach” to measure the post-sharing impact of such content. This particular kind of “emotionality” is not demanded by religion.
The guidance that we get from the ‘Prophetic way of life’ tells us about the core relation between modesty (haya) and faith (eman). In that ‘divinely guided and socially practiced human model’, modesty is not just described as a preferable social behaviour, but it is promoted as one of the most significant requirements of faith. It is emphasized as an honourable attribute and a consistent virtue that operates within the moral dynamics of Islam. We can’t mix up the two contradicting positions. When we stand for the ‘love and honour of Qur’an’; or God and Prophet for that matter, that naturally means we have to stand for the ‘meaning and essence of Islam’. Sharing immorality and ‘love of Islam’ can’t go hand in hand. Let me make it a little clear. See, in another recent viral video, which circulated from Pakistan, I saw a young angry man yelling at a person accused of blasphemy: “You Sisterf*****, will you talk about Mustafa (attributive name of Prophet Mohammad)”. In the same video, I heard another young man shouting, “Bastard, don’t talk about my Prophet. Otherwise, I will kill you”. The comment section was also loaded with full range of abuses with reference to mother, sister and daughter of that accused person. It is a form of blasphemy too which can’t be normalized on the pretext of love. Such an attitude is indicative of what I call as ‘fractured love’- love without principles and conditions.
This ‘fractured love’ is making Muslims emotional, immoral and irrational at the same time. The phenomenon of ‘fractured love’ has developed in all Muslim societies through centuries of passive socialization and reactive culturing. So, responding to any incident of “blasphemy” within the shade of ‘fractured love’ has become our normal mental, social and political attitude. The emotional pressure of ‘fractured love’ doesn’t allow us to differentiate between Muslimah Kazab and Asia Bibi. Muslims fail to recognize that out of 1.6 billion people, one ordinary woman, having no political agenda and no global acquaintances at all, can become overnight international news because of their ‘fractured love’. It is the organised ‘fractured love’ of Asian and Middle Eastern Muslim societies, which promoted and popularized people like Taslima Nasreen and Salman Rushdie in the past. Now, for some Europeans including few neo-liberals, such people represent a “critical voice” within the Islamic discourse. Who gave them this “voice”? Thankfully, Muslims; the people of ‘fractured love’ strengthened their voice. Muslim masses, driven by reactive emotions, organised mammoth demonstrations, blocked roads and, in some cases, public buildings were set ablaze. This uncritical screaming and shouting gave them a louder “voice”. Then, as expected, more people started believing in the power of their so called “critical voice”, which was nothing but exploitation of our ‘fractured love’.
To conclude, I would request the readers to communicate the message. The message is; let’s deconstruct this ‘fractured love’ and approach things in the frame of principles. We need to develop this much of sense that an ‘insane’ person (who is not basically accountable until he regains his sanity as per the Prophetic report) or a sane person for that matter can’t delegitimize or desacralize Qur’an, Prophet or God. As a community, we have to rise above this fear, and then only we can rise above this ‘fractured love’.