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Shri MJ Akbar’s very own “On Contradiction”

Its been some time since I started reading Dr. Zhisui Li’s book on The Private Life of (Chairman) Mao Zedong. I’m a slow reader and might take a bit longer to complete it. However this much I know already; Mao was a voracious reader and seems to have written a bit too. He also wrote an essay “On Contradiction“.

I’d like to cull out just one piece of his summation –

“We may now say a few words to sum up. The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the fundamental law of nature and of society and therefore also the fundamental law of thought. It stands opposed to the metaphysical world outlook. It represents a great revolution in the history of human knowledge.”

So please think about the highlighted portions above because I suspect you will need this insight to understand Shri Akbar’s latest in The Pioneer.

I will not bother about the dictionary meaning of contradiction although ‘denial‘ seems very apt to describe what follows.

The entire burden of Shri Akbar’s song seems to be that US President Barack Hussein Obama addressed Muslims of a really non-existing and illusory Muslim World instead of addressing the people(s) of an affected region vide Shri Akbar’s “Arc of Turbulence”.

He mildly chides an obliging Shri Hussein Obama and says – “I am certain about two things. I am a Muslim, and I live in this world. Now the uncertainties begin. On June 4 you gave what was heavily advertised as a major speech to the ‘Muslim world’.

And so as readers will see, an ever obliging Shri Hussein Obama is rapped for accepting as fact and being certain about the very two events Shri Akbar himself acknowledges as being true. The fact and certainty that there are Muslims and that they live in this world.

Shri Akbar’s contradiction is that he does not wish the world to see the clothes he wears. Freudian or not, his two certainties did not include the ‘fact’ that he was Indian. That seems to be uncertain still. But let me not nit-pick too much about it. Indeed it is difficult for a Muslim to think himself as Indian or belonging to any other such non-Islamic national group.

To move on..one sees Shri Akbar demanding a contra-comparison wrt how Christians relate to Jesus and politics, presumably Christian politics. He means to say if these two themes cannot be related then Muslims and Islamic politics cannot be too. Fair or not, the subject of Shri Hussein Obama’s speech was not about the Christian World.

Thereupon our uncertain ‘Indian’ begins to delicately relate to his surroundings. He tells the true tale of his belonging to the second largest Muslim community in the world, in India. He is also proud to be an equal ‘within a nation’ that also contains the largest Hindu community in the world. How nice. I think even an accomplished commenter of history and polity like Shri Akbar knows the difference between a national and a citizen. If Muslims and Hindus belonged to one nation, there would be no largest and second largest ‘community’ in the world. There would simply be one nation. either Muslim or Hindu.

But then Shri Akbar is not on religion. He seems to want to be on politics. Seeming desperate to try and delink Muslims from their Islamic politics he throws up a number of red-herrings. In due course he narrates the fact that Muslim politics in various countries are necessarily different and localized. I really wonder why Shri Akbar would think Muslim politics  in X or more number of countries would be the same? Politics changes with existing peculiar conditions and realities. However, do goals change? That’s the point. Current trends speak to the fact that Muslims, wherever they are in a minority or majority assert their Islamic identities. That is their broad and imbibed strategy. There is no need to resort to any conspiracy theories to prove this fact. If this was not fact earlier due to various localized reasons, it is so now and will be further strengthened tomorrow. I don’t yet see Shri Akbar denying this fact and certainty.

Shri Akbar seems intent on proving or more accurately, convincing the skeptic of his theory of Muslim non-Islamic politics be it as local tactics or broad global strategy.

He tells us that Indonesia, being the largest Muslim nation, does not believe in a State religion. I don’t know if this means Indonesia is a Secular or Hindu State. Its clearly not either.(But after being recognized as the largest Muslim nation, one may well ask of Shri Akbar, is it necessary to have a declared State religion? I hope readers recognize the subtle connexion. But alright. What is ShriAkbar trying to tell us here? That Indonesia, in-spite of being Islamic is tolerant of other faiths? Is tolerant of Hindus? And so Muslims are by and large tolerant of other faiths all over the world including in their own Islamic States?) But I was on Indonesia. This nation that does not ‘believe’ in a State religion is nevertheless  an esteemed member of the Organization of Islamic Conference and subscribes to its charter. One may rightly ask “so what?” Precisely my point. Why is Shri Akbar obfuscating Indonesia’s clearly owned Islamic character?

In similar fashion this celebrated journalist-author speaks of Pakistan as the first Islamic republic (deduction being there were no Islamic republics before Pakistan and thus no concept of desired Islamic political unity or Ummah, before or after.) and the fact that Islamic nations have Monarchs and Dictators as Heads of State. He tells us that Russia and China have Muslims. That Great Britain and the US and France and the rest of Europe have Muslims. So Muslims in all these far out geographical regions and pockets are different from one another. So their politics is different and so there is no ‘Muslim World’ that Shri Hussein Obama needs to address.

I’m utterly astounded by Shri Akbar’s propensity to insult the intelligence of anyone who cares to read him!

Next Shri Akbar takes full advantage of Shri Hussein Obama’s bent frame in order to kick his behind. His patronizing acknowledgement of the US President’s withering apologies for perceived Christian aggression on Islam is a piece of art. But the fault lies elsewhere. Does not Shri Hussein Obama understand that to deny something in politics is the equal of admission to its presence?

In Shri Akbar’s own words – At one point you were kind enough to suggest that “America is not — and never will be — at war with Islam”. But no sane person ever accused America of being at war with Islam. America would have to be a theocracy, with Inquisition as its preferred domestic policy, and conversion as the principal instrument of foreign affairs, to declare war on Islam. I hope you will not accuse me of being pedantic, in the sense of calling a toothache a gum-ache. The conflation of Islam and Muslims is precisely the kind of misconception that encourages pre-nation-state fantasies like the revival of a Caliphate.”

But then as surely as ice turns to water..the admission – “One might add that while every Muslim was deeply committed to his faith, political disputes among Muslims began with the election of the very first Caliph, Hazrat Abu Bakr. Muslims see themselves as a brotherhood, not a nation-hood. I ask, does anybody see linguistic purists nod wildly? Am I, a Hindu, now much relieved that Muslims across the world see themselves as a “Brotherhood” and not as a “nation”?

The good journo-author cannot seem to stop himself. He needs to bring more clarity to his obvious deceit.

“If Islam is sufficient glue for nationalism, why would Arabs be living in 22 countries? “

And why not? When the Jews could be spread all over the world as citizens in their own different countries..and yet  remained a nation, why cannot it happen to Muslims ?

Because Islamic States are different?

Then what about the OIC? And other such worldwide Islamic organizations that are supported by Islamic States?

What or who can say still that Muslims have given up their pre-nation-state desire for a Caliphate?

After all this Shri Akbar pretends not to understand the relevance of the “West” as a side in the debate with Islam. Need one tell him that the “West” is the Judeo-Christian world? Or is it that by denying this identity and by covering up as he does, his own Islamic identity vide the “Muslim World”, he leaves the field open to un-interrupted flow and spread of Islamic influence in that part of the world? We are used to seeing this scheme being worked in India where the Hindu identity of this country is denied and the fact that it houses the “second largest Muslim population” in the world, is applauded and advertised. This great country’s administration even applied for membership to the OIC in 1969! I’m certain Shri Akbar had nothing to say about that event because he hasn’t.

An assertion of a non-Islamic identity by the peoples of this world is equivalent to a call for war against Islam according to Shri Akbar. Therefore he says, “Peace requires a different idiom.” Yes, the idiom of surrender and pervasive dhimmitude.

Elsewhere in the article –

President Bush is chided as one who united Muslims of the world against the West. He is supposed to have achieved what no Islamic leader could, unity amongst the Ummah. I want to smile at Shri Akbar. Shri Bush did everything in his power to ensure that the US was not at war with Islam. Much like his successor, he was ever obliging of Islamic sensibilities. This “warrior against Islam” projection of Shri Bush is a disservice to his liberality.

And Muslims need no lesson in democracy Shri Akbar asserts. Why? Because “Muslims of Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh and India, who add up to nearly half the Muslim population, are not democracy-deficient.” One need hardly say more even though it makes little sense for Shri Akbar to defend Muslims or Islam against an accusation of being democracy-deficient. But given his proclivities of differentiating the religion of Islam from the politics of Islam, it does seem better to play the “I too democracy” tune.  

Disagreeing with the intended audience (the purported Muslim World) of Shri Hussein Obama, Shri Akbar however agrees that Cairo was the appropriate location to make that speech. And really, the President, instead of addressing the Muslim World should have meant what Shri Akbar terms “The Arc of Turbulence” ie the region between the Nile (Egypt) and Indus (Pakistan).

But what is this Arc of Turbulence?

Let’s start from the (Nile)-Egypt>Israel>Syria>Iraq>Jordan>Saudi Arabia>UAE>Iran>Afghanistan>Pakistan (Indus). The only outlier in this list would be Israel. Is this not the Muslim World? Let me rephrase; Are the issues intertwined with this region not of concern to the Muslims across the globe?

Why is Shri Akbar so keen on denying the existence of a very real pan Islamic identity amongst the world’s Muslims even when he himself sees his Muslim identity as the only other certainty in life apart from the fact of his life in this world?

Read again – “The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the fundamental law of nature and of society and therefore also the fundamental law of thought.”

There is unambiguous meaning in Shri Akbar’s espousal of a non-pan Islamic identity to the world’s Muslims. There is unity in this contradiction.

– Namaste

Reference – Speech of Barack Hussein Obama


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