Ayotallah Khomeini

Prophet Muhammad movie in Indian homes is an edgy affair

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Nobody knows how the debut of movie “Muhammad, Messenger of God” in Indian homes next week would be reacted to by millions of Indian Muslims.

A new player in the Over The Top (OTT) streaming platforms, Don Cinema, run by an Indian Mehmood Ali, would release the movie on its App on July 21–a month which closes with Bakra Eid, or the Festival of the Sacrifice, considered holier than Eid al-Fitr, the two Islamic holidays celebrated world over.

The film’s score has been composed by that Mozart of Madras, A.R. Rahman, who had a fatwa issued against him on this movie itself six years ago, as it was on its Iranian film-maker Majid Majidi by a little-known Indian Islamic organisation, Raza Academy. Rahman was asked to read Kalima (The Word) again and re-solemnize his marriage.

The same organisation has issued a bugle again for this “intolerable” act by Don Cinema, wondering why Muslims are always the “target” even when it’s known that a “Muslim will die in honour than to see or hear even the slightest insult on his Holy Prophet.” The Academy has ended its appeal with the unveiled threat that it would cause “unrest” and “law and order” problem.

This movie on the Prophet of Islam was state-sponsored by Iran and released world over in 2015 but Saudi Arabia has banned it and so have a score of other Islamic countries who profess faith in Sunni Islam. As is known, Iran is the centre of Shia faith and Saudi Arabia of Sunni and the two have been violently divided over many a century over its purity.

The film took seven years in the making and has been hailed as a masterpiece by moviegoers yet the depiction of Prophet Muhammad, or anybody embodying him in art, cartoon or movies, is a taboo disapproved by Islamic theologians. Very few have crossed the redline and not paid the price.

In 2005, cartoons on the Islamic Prophet published by a Danish newspaper led to violent protests, attack on embassies and consumer boycotts and left scores of people dead.

In 2015, Islamic militants smoked out 12 lives at the offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo for depicting the Prophet in cartoons which were termed blasphemous.

Salman Rushdie’s is an episode known world over as his 1988 book “The Satanic Verses” fell into crosshairs with Islam’s adherents and Iran’s late supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, calling on Muslims world over to kill the author.

Closer home, Kamlesh Tiwari, a Hindu nationalist politician, had his throat slit inside his home by two Islamic fundamentalists for calling the Prophet Muhammad as the first homosexual last year.

The movie which depicts the early life of Prophet Muhammad, claims to show Islam in good light and spread its message of peace and brotherhood which has been tarred by jihadis and terrorists in recent decades. It’s been mainly shot in Iran but when elephants were required for the movie, India refused permission to filmmakers who later opted for South Africa.

As it shaped up the storyline went thus:

An attack on Mecca is ordered to destroy the Kaaba by the order of Abraha, King of Habasha. One of his commanders lead a force of thousands of soldiers, horses and elephants. As the army reaches the gate of Mecca, the elephants halt and refuse to move on the divine order. Next, small birds in millions release a hail of stones onto the invaders and the army is wiped out. A month later, the Prophet Muhammad is born. This pre-Islamic Arabia is seen through the eyes of the Prophet Muhammad from birth to the age of 13.

The movie at no point shows the face of the Prophet. Only his hand and feet in the cradle as a baby, and a child from the back is shown. The identity of the boy who played the Prophet Muhammad has not been revealed so far.

The apprehension on reception of this movie in India is valid. The first attempt to depict the Prophet Muhammad in a movie called “The Message” happened 43 years ago. In 1976, Anthony Quinn played the Prophet’s uncle Hamza. The film didn’t depict the Prophet Muhammad’s face on screen but Muslims were offended nevertheless. The movie’s director, Syrian Moustapha Al-Akkad was killed in a 2005 suicide bombing in Amman. It’s not confirmed though whether the attack was related to the movie.

In 1977, gun-terrorists sieged the B’nai B’rith building in Washington DC and demanded the movie’s release in the United States to be cancelled or they would blow up the building. A policeman and a journalist died in the standoff.

Interestingly, this movie was released in 2018 in Saudi Arabia after a 42-year ban. It became the first Arabic title to get a theatrical release in Saudi Arabia. Since it was approved by the Middle East censors, many other Islamic countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Lebanon, Ethiopia etc also released the movie. This is only one of the two movies ever made on The Prophet, the other being the present one by the Iranian director.

It’s not clear how the release of this Iranian movie would play out in India. It’s unlikely the radical Islamic elements in India would look the other way. Even though the Shias in India might keep their peace since the movie has the blessing of Islamic Republic of Iran, the Sunnis would take the leaf out of Saudi Arabia’s book and all hell could break loose. For all we know, Don Cinema could itself develop cold feet. One surely can’t take one’s eyes off the movie even before one has seen it.

 

 

Why Islam is such a magnet for suicide-bombers?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

 

 

 

 

 

(Picture caption: IS has released the photo of Lanka suicide bombers with mastermind Zahran Hashim in the middle.)

Islamic State (IS) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has resurfaced and claimed that suicide-bombings in Sri Lanka which left over 250 dead was a revenge for being ousted in Baghouz, their last stronghold in Syria.

Now try to make sense. Lanka terror ring-leader Moulvi Zahram Hashim blows himself up. As does most in his family. Filthy rich young Ahmed Ibrahim (31) and Ilham Ibrahim (31) self-destruct themselves as does the wife of latter with her three children.  I mean all this for a cause a world away? To give up everything you have for a place which has only 10,000 for population, no historical or holy value nor any family roots? I mean for what?

Why Islam is such a magnet for suicide-bombers?

Islam teaches its adherents that the present life is transitory and should only be a preparation for afterlife. Death is the goal, how you reach it leads to the prize of eternal life.

It’s one of the core teachings of the Quran. “Only he who is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have attained the object (of life): for the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception (3:185).”

And how do you reach this goal? Both the Quran and the hadith tells you that most glorious Muslims are those who are warriors to the cause of Allah. They not only must welcome the war but also death in war because it gives you the highest of the seven levels of paradise. All your sins are immediately forgiven. This afterlife is invoked five times a day during ritual prayers. Islam has the tradition of individual martyrs not only committing suicide but also killing others for religious reasons.

So don’t you believe that it all began with 9/11 when suicide bombers plunged into world trade towers in New York. In 1980 a 13-year-old Iranian kid blew himself up under an Iraqi tank during the Iran-Iraq War ( Ayotallah Khomeini declared the boy a national hero in its wake). In 1983, suicide bombing of the US marine corps in Lebanon left 241 American military personnel dead. For Shias and Sunnis this is the most common method to kill each other. Already this year we have grave suicide-bombing in Afghanistan and Pulwama, the latter with the embedded threat of a nuclear holocaust.

And don’t be mistaken that Muslim clerics call it “suicide.” For them this is shahada (martyrdom). Suicide is born out of a feeling of hopelessness. In case of martyrdom, it’s a fulfillment of a successful life.  Streets and squares are named after them. Newspapers describe such funerals as “wedding” of their heroes. Mothers of suicide-bombers talk as if their sons had gone off to get married.

Mariam Farhat is known as “mother of martyrs” in Palestine. She encouraged three of her sons to attack Israel that cost them their lives.  Listen to her words: “Sons are precious but for the sake of Allah, what is precious becomes cheap.” But does she condone her sons taking innocent lives? “Yes. Because I love my son. And I wanted to choose the best for him. And the best is not life in this world.” (That’s why you have the hadith: Paradise lies under the feet of the mothers.)

It’s true of most of Muslim world. On Egyptian TV, you have preachers exhorting kids “the love of martyrdom for the sake of Allah.” On Al Jazeera, 10-year-old kids are swearing to be martyrs. In Somalia, fathers are recruiting their kids to become suicide bombers and film their “martyrdom” feats. Same with leaders of Boko Haram who want their children to be martyrs.

In 2014, a British-born woman Umm Layth tweeted on her new life as wife of a Syrian IS fighter: “There’s no way to describe the feeling of sitting with the sisters and waiting on news of whose husband has attained shahada. She has thousands of followers on twitter.

Former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir captured this bewilderment perfectly: “We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

In Islam, paradise is a goal, a destination infinitely more preferred to the one on earth. The most spectacular way to enter paradise is as a martyr, by the open embrace of an early death. Martyrdom is the most effective pathway to paradise.

And what’s this paradise?

The Quran has a very vivid description of it: “In them will be maidens, chaste, restraining  their glances, whom no man or jinn before them has touched (55: 46-50).”

Al-Ghazzali, second only to Prophet Muhammad in terms of importance, narrates a hadith thus:

“These places (in paradise) are built of emeralds and jewels and in each buildings there will be 70 rooms of red colour and in each room seventy sub-rooms of green colour and in each sub-room there will be one throne and over each throne, seventy beds of varied colours and on each bed a girl having sweet black eyes..there will be seven girls in each room…each believer will be given such strength in the morning as he can cohabit with them.”

These virgins “do not sleep do not get pregnant, do not menstruate, spit, or blow their noses, and are never sick.”

In early 2013, more than 120 Muslim scholars from around the world signed a letter denouncing Islamic State as “un-Islamic.” Yet the letter doesn’t question the concept of martyrdom or challenges the primacy of afterlife.

It’s such half measures which don’t allow reform and put the world in perennial danger.