Salman Rushdie - Satanic Verses

According to international norms, everyone has the right to expresshis views in a peaceful manner, says Maulana Wahiddudin Khan

Salman Rushdie is once again in the news. Born in India and now settled in the UK, he has been invited to the Jaipur Literature Festival that is being held from 2012 January 20 to 24. On hearing of this, a Muslim religious organisation reacted by issuing a statement demanding that the government of India should not allow Rushdie’s entry into India.

According to them, he has committed blasphemy in his book The Satanic Verses, and his visit to India will hurt the sentiments of Muslims here. According to my way of thinking, the demand by this Muslim group is completely uncalled for. They have the right to stop Rushdie from coming to their own campus, but they have no right to ban his entry into Indian soil.

Follow The Constitution India is a democratic country which is guided by a secular constitution and Muslims should know the framework of the Indian Constitution. Any demand that is alien to this constitutional framework will undoubtedly be invalid and unacceptable to the Indian government. Moreover, this kind of demand is un-Islamic.

It is against the Islamic spirit. If Muslims want to represent Islam, they must take the visit of Rushdie as an opportunity to invite the British author to enter into a dialogue, so that they may discuss the controversial point with him, and try to impress upon him their point of view. This visit to India by Rushdie gives them the chance to remove any misunderstanding of Islam by presenting their case before him in a rational manner.

There is a very relevant verse in the Quran on this subject. It reads: "If any of the non-believers seeks your protection, then let him come so that he may hear the words of God, then convey him to a place of safety" (9:6).

Holy Quran - 9:6

What The Quran Says The verse focuses on a very important Islamic principle, that Muslims should welcome everybody. According to this principle, Muslims should organise meetings with the British author. They should put their point of view before him in a rational manner, then try to present to him their point of view and their objections to his writings. If Rushdie is not convinced, they should make Dua/Prayer for him and according to the Quranic teaching, see him off amicably, without rancour.

We are living in an age of freedom. According to international norms, everyone has the right to express his views in a peaceful manner. Muslims also have right to put their point of view before Rushdie,just as he has the right to express his views — both have an equal right. Spirit Of The Age It is not good for Muslims to go against the spirit of the age. If they do so, they will only harm the religion of Islam.

They will proveby this act that George Orwell was right when he said that Islam believes in "thought-crime", although Islam is completely free of this blame. If Rushdie has published a negative book, Muslims by their negative reaction are giving the false impression that Islam does indeed believe in "thought-crime". I would, therefore, like to reiterate that Muslims should take this opportunity to have a dialogue with Rushdie and try to present the Islamic point of view to him rationally, so that he may understand the true picture of Islam.



Taslima’s writings generate a feeling of Islamophobia. But when will my fellow Muslims appreciate that threatening a Salman Rushdie or a Taslima only makes them into heroes? The Prophet would face a daily barrage of dirt thrown at him, by a woman in Mecca. His response was silent prayer. One day the dirt did not come. On inquiry, he learnt that the woman was sick. Immediately the Prophet went to her house and prayed for her recovery. Can’t we Muslims emulate our beloved Prophet? -J.S. Bandukwala

‘Satanic Verses’ has deeply hurt Muslim sensitivities and that an individual’s freedom of speech has to "harmonised" with the public interest. To my mind freedom for Indian masses is freedom from hunger, ignorance, umemployment, disease and all kinds of deprivation, not freedom to read Mr Rushdie’s sub-standard books. Freedom of speech should be used in India to spread rational and scientific ideas while avoiding insult to any religion. Since the overwhelming number of Indians are deeply religious, unlike in the West where the hold of religion has considerably weakened, care must be taken in India not to insult any religious figure directly or indirectly. -Justice Markandey Katju

Here is a fundamental question to friends and supporters of Salman Rushdie: Is the right to speech and expression absolute, without any restrictions, in any democratic society? The right to freedom of expression is recognised as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 goes on to say that the exercise of this right carries “special duties and responsibilities” and may “therefore be subject to certain restrictions” when necessary “for respect of the rights or reputation of others, or for the protection of national security or public order, or of public health or morals”. Under democratic constitutions, this right is commonly subject to limitations, such as libel, slander, obscenity, incitement to commit violence or a crime. Hate speech against any group, community, race, religion or colour is a crime in any free and democratic society of the world.
-Shahid Siddiqui (Former Member of Indian Parliament)

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