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By Maria Wirth
In recent years the number of ex-Muslims has been rising all over the world. On Twitter, hashtags like “Awesome without Allah” or “Ex-Muslim because…” were trending. In USA, according to a PEW Research Centre report, 23 per cent of those born in the Muslim religion don’t identify with it any longer. Most of them keep it secret. Yet, several ex-Muslims speak up on You Tube, including women.
A Turk, who grew up in Germany, went back to Turkey at the age of 16 and now lives in USA, has become popular as Apostate Prophet on You Tube, so popular that his channel has been, typically for social media giants, demonetized. Most of those ex-Muslims were at one point devout believers who never expected that they could lose faith. Apostate Prophet disclosed that he had sincerely asked Allah to never let him lose faith. Yet now he ends his videos with “Stay away from Islam”.
In Turkey, which turns politically more fundamentalist, many youngsters turn their back on Islam. The government is worried that their indoctrination policy in education doesn’t work as expected. In Saudi Arabia, too, Islam does not have the strong grip on its people which outsiders would expect from the cradle of Islam. In a Gallup poll in 2012, out of 502 Arabs surveyed, 19 percent considered themselves not as religious and 5 percent even were convinced atheists. This rate may be much higher now, since Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman officially loosened the grip of the clergy.
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Naturally, there are no vocal ex-Muslims in countries which punish blasphemy with death, like Pakistan. But why are there hardly any ex-Muslims in India which is a vibrant democracy and nobody can be forced to believe anything against his or her will? Sofiya Rangwala, is one of very few who declared on Twitter and Facebook, “I was born in a Muslim family, married to a Muslim, but I have embraced the absolute Truth, beautiful philosophy of Sanatan Dharma.”
India may be a special case, as the indoctrination into Islam is stronger than in Muslim majority countries. The clergy needs to make sure that Indian Muslims are not tempted to go back to the faith of their ancestors. So the vilification of Hindu Dharma is massive, which makes it difficult even for those who lost faith in Islam, to appreciate the wisdom of their ancestors and rather adopt the label “atheist”.
Yet there are surely several Indian Muslims who lost faith and also can see the value of Hindu Dharma. But why do these Muslims continue to identify as Muslim? The reason may be: it has advantages to belong to the ‘minority community’, for example special scholarships, etc. Further, one generally gets special treatment by media and in certain areas probably even by the police. If a Muslim returns a wallet, which he found, it may make the news. If a Hindu returns a wallet, it won’t make the news. If a Muslim commits a crime, it may be ignored by the media, or his name won’t be mentioned. If a Hindus commits the same crime, it is likely to be all over the news with his name, even if he is only a suspect.
But why do even eminent personalities, like former president Dr. Abdul Kalam, who took inspiration from the Bhagavad Gita, and thereby became in the eyes of pious Muslims as bad as a Kafir, not officially come back to the tradition of their ancestors, even though they seem to have a liking for it?
The reason may be that Hindus push these ‘Muslims-in-name-only’ back into their old identity and it is difficult for them to break free without disappointing their Hindu admirers. If a Muslim makes sensible statements or appreciates Hindu Dharma, Hindus will not only praise him but will stress that he is an ideal Muslim, which of course is based on ignorance. He is a good human being but not a good Muslim, because a good Muslim needs to look down on Kafirs and needs to do Jihad, so that only Allah is finally worshipped on earth.
It would be helpful if Hindus learnt not to push those, who want to get out, back into their identity. If someone lost faith in his religion, it’s not acceptable that others label her or him as belonging to that religion, and I speak here of myself. For example, if I am introduced as a Christian who loves Hindu Dharma, I correct that I lost faith in Christianity and consider myself a Hindu. If I allowed myself to be addressed as ‘Christian’, or if I said “I am Christian by religion”, I would not be sincere.
Or are there indeed very few “Muslims-in–name-only” in India and most still identify with Islam? I started wondering yesterday when many TV channels reported about Faiz Khan, a gau rakshak, who has a You Tube channel where he presents usually reasonable views.
He is on his way to reach Ayodhya for the Bhumi Pujan of the Ram Mandir with earth from his native village where Kausaliya, the mother of Shri Ram, is said to have been born, and he wants to be admitted at the function as it would be a statement of communal harmony. He said he is a Muslim by religion, but also a Ram bhakt, because Ram is his ancestor and Muslims see him as Imam-e-Hind.
At first I didn’t believe it was the same Faiz Khan whose videos I liked, but it was indeed him. I felt greatly disappointed that he doesn’t realize that he should never go for Bhoomi Puja. Hindus are very good natured and some support his move, or maybe even encourage it. But this historic moment, when finally Sri Ram is getting back his palace, which was destroyed by barbarians of the same religion which the forefathers of Faiz Khan have adopted and which he has not rejected, even though he could have done so, is not the time to flaunt communal harmony which anyway always rests completely on Hindu shoulders.
By saying that he is a Muslim by religion, Faiz Khan voluntarily closed the option to declare himself an ex-Muslim, or at least declare that he doesn’t believe certain tenets of Islam, for example that Hindus are the worst of creatures (Quran 98.6) and much more terrible things. Wanting to join the Puja shows that he takes the amity and ignorance of Hindus for granted. Just because of his name, he expects being welcomed in the small gathering whereas Hindus, who fought and suffered for the Ram Mandir, have been asked to watch the Puja on TV. Or did he never get over the Islamic teaching which he would have heard as a kid: that Muslims are superior?
I greatly appreciate his activism to save cows and that he often understands the side of Hindus in his videos. Most of the time he comes across as a reasonable human being. But as long as he doesn’t reject certain important tenets of his religion which require him to look down and even hate Hindus, he should not be present at this special moment in history where Hindus have finally reclaimed their very holy place 500 years after it was destroyed by brutal Muslim invaders.
Sad, if he lacks sensitivity and doesn’t realize it himself. If he is denied entry, mainstream media worldwide will come down heavily on Hindus though they never come down heavily on restrictions in Saudi Arabia or China. In any case media is likely to find some reason, to come down heavily on Hindus…
AUTHOR’S BIO– Maria Wirth is a German and came to India on a stop over on her way to Australia after finishing her psychology studies at Hamburg University. She visited the Ardha Kumbha Mela in Haridwar in April 1980 where she met Sri Anandamayi Ma and Devaraha Baba, two renowned saints. With their blessings, she continued to live in India and never went to Australia. She has also written the book “Thank you India – a German woman’s journey to the wisdom of yoga”. You can checkout her Twitter Handle here.
Every child who grew up in the 90s and the early 00s has certainly grown up around Tom and Jerry, the adorable, infamous cat-chases-mouse cartoon. The idea of naughtiness and playing mischief had the standards that this particular series set for children and defined how much wreckage was funny enough.
The show's creators, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera initially named their characters Jasper and Jinx. They did not plan for the fame that Tom and Jerry brought them when they released a movie by the name of "Puss Gets the Boot". This movie featured a certain cat and mouse who were a notorious pair, named Jasper and Jinx. When the movie became a hit, the names of the characters were changed and the show shot to fame.
Tom and Jerry became a go-to cartoon for children in the early 00s, and it was one of those shows with a firm foundation, that had already been in the running for decades. The original template had been planned nearly 80 years ago, and the makers did not change it. The music that was played in the many episodes, made a breakthrough in its own way. It is the most easily recognizable melody with utterly nostalgic associations.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons Image credit: wikimedia commons
A set of supporting characters were defined for the show, to occasionally take the focus off the original pair. There was a large, black woman named Mammy Two Shoes and a bulldog who took Jerry's side. Mammy Two Shoes was discontinued because her character portrayed racist tendencies. A tall white woman replaced her, who was kinder and loved mice. Either of the women's faces was never revealed.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons. There are a host of other shows besides this that aim to replicate the same aspects of the cartoon but do not come close at all. Despite the immense amount of violence in the show, it is a beloved pastime of parents and children alike.
Keywords: Tom and Jerry, Cartoon, Hanna and Barbera, Television
One of India's leading private museums, the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) Bengaluru, has released new primary research conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, on audience behaviour in India's cultural sector. While more than half of the respondents thought the arts and culture are essential, they rarely manage to make time for it. The majority (60.6 per cent), mostly young people under 30, felt Indian museums could present more engaging content, and most perceived culture as anthropological/ sociological. Of the diverse categories included, music emerged as the most popular cultural activity.
The report is based on a survey of 500 people, which included school and college students, professionals across sectors, homemakers and senior citizens. The first initiative of its kind in the cultural space, the report shares valuable insights into the behaviour and expectations of Indian audiences engaging with a broad range of cultural activities. As part of MAP's mission to foster meaningful connections between communities and the cultural sector globally, which includes its innovative digital programme Museums Without Borders, the report shares a wealth of insights that can help museums across the country understand their audiences better. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.
As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities. | Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Speaking on the recent report, Kamini Sawhney, Director, Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), said, "MAP is focused on changing the notion of a museum in India, by enabling more relevant and inclusive programming, both online and in our space in Bengaluru. The audience research commissioned by MAP, and conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, provides valuable, and actionable insights which we hope will help museums across the country better understand their consumer base, improve decision making and deepen social impact." As much as 62.3 per cent college students and 47.6 per cent professionals/homemakers perceive culture as anthropological and sociological. Music was the most popular cultural event likely to be attended, followed by heritage tours and plays/comedy shows for Indian audiences.
Over 70 per cent of college students visit museums with family and friends; working professionals, homemakers and senior citizens also predominantly visit with groups/ spouses (indicating a need to focus on increased group programming/facilitation). As much as 68 per cent of people were optimistic about going outdoors for activities and events in 2021. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.(IANS/MBI)
Keywords: Art, Culture, India, Museum, Music
What is the best way to save Goa from deforestation?
Drinking feni, may well be the answer, says the secretary of the Goa Cashew Feni Distillers and Bottlers Association Hansel Vaz, who on Thursday said, that sipping the state's unique alcoholic drink and making it popular would directly aid the greening of Goa's hills and other barren landscapes.
"To get more cashews, we need to plant more trees. I always say, by drinking feni you will save Goa, because we will be planting more cashew trees and we will have greener hills. The beauty of cashew is you do not need fertile land. You can grow it on a hill which can provide no nutrition. We will be able to grow more trees, if we can sell feni properly," Vaz said. Vaz's comments come at a time when the hillsides of the coastal state have witnessed significant deforestation for real estate development and for infrastructure projects. Feni is manufactured by fermenting and double distilling juice from the cashew apple.
Best way to keep Goa green is to grab yourself a glass of feni. | IANS
Addressing a press conference in Panaji, Vaz also said that the promotion of feni was also in sync with the Prime Minister's vision for India to go "vocal for local". "There is no conglomerate, multinational company owning the drink. So every time we sell feni, it is a direct cash injection into Goa. If you sell a feni cocktail in Calangute (a popular beach village), it makes a direct impact in Valpoi and Bicholim, because this money is going down there," the Association official said at a press conference in Panaji.
The Association held the media briefing to announce a road map ahead for the feni industry, especially vis a vis streamlining aspects related to production, standardisation and marketing of the brew to make it popular in other Indian states and abroad.
The efforts to streamline the state "heritage drink" comes a month after the Goa government notified a formal policy, 'Goa Feni Policy 2021', which covers 26 different varieties of feni distilled in the state. "There were many barriers related to feni, which the policy has now addressed," treasurer of the Association Tukaram Haldankar said. One such hurdle was the previous government classification, which described feni as "country liquor", which would deter tourists from purchasing the drink. The reclassification of feni as a state "heritage drink" has lent dignity to the brew which has been manufactured locally in Goa since the 16th century.
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. | Photo by Ishvani Hans on Unsplash
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. "We request the government to allow the sale of feni in duty free stores in airports and cruise liner terminals. The government should also support us through the department of Tourism, so that feni can be promoted in its programmes. iIf you go to Scotland, they promote Scotch. Goa should promote its feni to Goa," Haldankar said, adding that traditional distillers should also be given subsidies and other measures should be taken to standardise feni, which he said, "would require further subsidies and financial assistance from the government".
"It should be a standard product like scotch, champagne," Haldankar said. "Like Mexico's tequila, Russian vodka and Japan's sake, we need to export our feni across the country and the world and the local distillers should also benefit economically," president of the Association Gurudutt Bhakta also said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: deforestation,cashew,distillers,association,government, goa, feni, India