Sheikh Nissar

Communalizing Pandemic

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A mass Muslim evangelical event held in Delhi last month is going through a lot of criticism. Already plagued by Islamophobia, which has bolstered anti-Islamic sentiments in secular India, pushing Muslims into deep realms of tyranny and injustice, the Tablighi’s Jamaat’s in Delhi’s Nazamudin area has provided yet another reason for posting provocative stuff against the community.

Although rationality and logic tells us ‘emotive stuff or hatred cannot ward off catastrophe’, instead it creates dykes of hatred to hurdle brooks of love. In the face of politics-driven ploy to conceal the systematic administrative failures, people have no option left, except blaming Muslims, because media is hell-bent on defending government and blaming the community.

In these days of befallen calamity, bleary-eyed people see this unstoppable catastrophe through the prism of hatred when whole world is in hunt for a vaccine. A religious congregation by Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area received a lot of criticism from all sides when Indian media declared it hot-spot for Covid-19. The numbers produced by media houses were too fantastic, far from facts, yet capable to instigate netizens. No unanimous argument has been produced on number of attendees and victims. Instead of fighting unfaltering pandemic, the fourth pillar of ailing democracy –media– fanned the fire of prevailing wave of anti-Islamic sentiments that involuntarily compelled people to post virulent stuff on social media, even abusing Muslims for their faith. People tweeting stuff with hashtags like “Tablighi virus are more dangerous than any virus” is peeling off the layers of obscure hatred.

The scary numbers of Covid-19 deaths and positive cases all over the world motivated even grim people to seek refuge in God. In this situation of chaos, people are self-convinced to sacrifice everything if Covid-19 will spare their lives. Everybody, rich or poor, got self-quarantined. We cannot falsify the noisome outcomes of mass gathering but the abnormal behavior towards fellow citizens is disheartening too.

Mutual understanding may heal our wounds and provide deliverance. We should accept it as nature’s retribution for our malpractices— non-judicious exploitation of natural resources, hurting environment, mass destruction through wars, etc. If coronavirus was nature’s punishment for a particular faith, then it wouldn’t have broken out in atheist China and caused havoc in Christian Italy and Muslim Iran.

Before blaming Tablighi Jamaat, the fact-sheet of event shows that even Health ministry at that time wasn’t much concerned about Covid-19 when this gathering happened. While it is irresponsible on part of Tablighi Jamaat to have held the event, government authorities also failed and acted as mere spectators till Covid-19 flood engulfed the whole country.

Though expected but sudden, the decision of lock down left no choice for Tablighi Jamaat as well as all other stranded laborers all over country, except to encamp in religious places or other such places.

It is time to introspect and stop from blaming Muslims. Tablighi Jamaat volunteers are the ones who are also known for their social work. Taking advantage of less numbers, incapable leadership and global outrage against Muslims, the false propaganda to plot Tablighi Jamaat in coronavirus spread is an irrational argument and sheer injustice with democratic ideals.

Already declared a global pandemic, if government needs to hide its failures to combat Covid-19, then Tablighi Jamaat is a meritorious scapegoat chosen for it. The anti-Islamic virus that was dormant in India completed its incubation few years ago. Nourished by the media, it is consuming Muslims already.

By the way, it is a fact that it was the same Tablighi Jamaat that  had declared participation in first war of independence (1857) as jihad.

It is time we ask ourselves: can virus be contained by blaming Muslims?



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