Photo: Google

Sacrilege-ing the divinity

Incident(s):
Someone left a copy of the Qur’an at the puja altar in the eastern district of Comilla. When the holy book was found there, a sectarian group used the photograph on social media in order to fan hatred in the society. Fanatic Muslims vandalized many puja altars across the country. Paramilitary border guards were deployed in 23 districts. Four humans died in the process. Conflicts have arisen in many places.

Analysis one:
Someone or a group or a political lobby who wanted to use religious sentiment as a tool to create unrest in the country in order to embarrass the government. It’s possible that they were trying to create an opportunity that may have led to making the government unstable.

Analysis two:
Someone who knew that this incident would evolve into a dangerous situation for the citizens belonging to the minority religious ethnicity. When the minorities are in danger, that “someone” would come forward and protect them, trying to prove that the “someone” is always by their side.

Analysis three:
Internationally or regionally-connected lobbies that have always wanted to give Bangladesh a bad name may have covertly arranged this. For them, Bangladesh has always been a laboratory for testing various experiments.

Analysis four:
A die-hard extremist might have done this of his or her own volition to just enjoy the show afterwards.
I wouldn’t analyze anymore, and I must say that the above four scenarios are all speculations. They may have happened as well as may not have happened. One conclusion, however, is pretty certain, that whoever had done this wanted to incite hatred, unrest, and conflict.

The old tactic
Who would believe, in his or her sane mind, that some Hindus in Comilla had the courage, in a predominantly Muslim land, to desecrate the holy book of Islam? Nobody except a few psychologically stunted persons and the conflict-mongers. This is an old tactic, and we have seen this in the past in our country as well as in all countries in the world.
In our country, in recent memory, we have seen the mob attack on a Buddhist village in Ramu, violence on the Hindu community in Nasirnagar, atrocities on local Hindus in Pabna’s Santhia, and attacks on the minority communities in Bhola.
If we dig into the history a bit deeper, there would be thousands of such evil attempts to create social unrest that led to political conflicts.
So, the incidence of placing the Islamic holy book at the Hindu altar is not believable.

Sacrilege
When someone talks negatively of the dominant religion in Bangladesh, most people get stressed, angry, and sad. Quite natural. We would obviously get angry to hear any form of negativity about something that we passionately follow.
However, the questions about us being sincerely religious are many. Are we really passionately religious? Do we follow our religion by heart? Why do we use religion as a tool to hurt others? Why do we still misinterpret the same holy scriptures that we say that we passionately love? Why do we raise an instant war without even knowing what really happened?
And finally: Do we know our religion?
If we did, we wouldn’t be corrupt, we wouldn’t cheat others, we wouldn’t murder and we wouldn’t rape.
There are many religious countries where these crimes are much less in number because the citizens there believe in religion and the divinity of the religion. If religion is to be a way of life, we must follow the religion by heart, not abuse it for other gains.
Observing the religious teachings and practices for five decades, I have no other option but to conclude that we actually don’t believe in religion and the divinity associated with it. We showcase our religion for establishing an identity and abuse that identity to hegemonize others.
There’s no Godly element in our religious practices. We have successfully sacrileged divinity in this land. Hatred cannot be religion.
If I call myself a Muslim, I, first, have to be a role model for Islam and be able to make myself loveable to others.

The end note
I think we ourselves allowed this to happen for a long time. We didn’t, sincerely, roll out the remedial measures that may have stopped or reduced this religious hatred in Bangladesh. We don’t want a Bangladesh where Muslims attack the Hindus or other citizens belonging to other religious groups.
As far as we remember, as many as 33 cases filed in connection with the attack in Ramu, violence in Nasirnagar, atrocities in Santhia, attack in Bhola were being tried in the court of law. Most of them were still stuck in the investigation phase, and no one was punished.
Now that we’re saying that the criminal would be identified and be punished, we might as well mean what we’re saying.

First published in Dhaka Tribune on 17 October 2021.

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