Mirza Yawar Baig Imam & Khateeb
Mahmood Habib Masjid & Islamic Center, Hyderabad
Looking at the headlines it appears that a story is being built – gradually one article at a time; linking one incident to another, using conjecture in the place of hard evidence – to create the new bogeyman – the Indian Muslim as a ‘fifth column’. A simple search for the meaning of the term revealed this: A fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group—such as a nation or a besieged city—from within. The activities of a fifth column can be overt or clandestine. Forces gathered in secret can mobilize openly to assist an external attack. This term is also extended to organized actions by military personnel. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation, or espionage executed within defense lines by secret sympathizers with an external force.
This trend is nothing new of course but it is certainly something that has taken a new energy today from tragic happenings in the Middle East – in particular, the rise of the ISIS – the so-called Islamic State. I say so-called because strangely or not so strangely come to think of it – it contradicts every criterion of a true Islamic state, yet it calls itself that. So I gave it another name – Isn’t Isn’t – It isn’t the Islamic State by any stretch of the imagination.
The problem of course is that discourse belongs to those who choose to speak and so those who are silent are to blame if the discourse takes a turn they don’t agree with or accept. When the truth must be spoken, silence is culpable. Add to this the problem that apparently some young people who don’t have the ability or knowledge to understand international politics are getting taken in by the propaganda of the ISIS and are tending towards it. that is why I love Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s wonderful reminder:
“Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right?
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; But one must take it because it is right.”
I, as a common man, have the same access to news – papers and TV news – as anyone else. I don’t spend time on social media as I really don’t have time for chatting and whatnot that happens there. But I have read enough and do have enough of a world view to know that anyone who goes by ‘official statements’ of any political organization or by newspaper or TV headlines, without asking some critical questions, is bound to head off in the wrong direction. If there ever was a time to which the adages – deceptive appearance or wolf in sheep’s clothing – could be applied, it is this time. It appears as if all wolves are wearing sheepskin and bleating like lambs while sharpening their fangs for the fatal bite. Anyone who falls for that, needs a brain transplant.