BY Harsimran Kaur ON Aug 27 , 2021 IN BOOK REVIEWS, BORN A MUSLIM/GHAZALA WAHAB/NON-FICTION
Who is a Muslim?
For centuries, the question has created paradoxes and illegitimate perceptions camouflaging a Muslim with innumerable identities. To put it unpretentiously, a Muslim is a person who follows Islam, irrefutably following the holy book “Quran.” Doesn’t it sound familiar to how we describe a Hindu following Hinduism or a Christian following Christianity. But the discreditable scrutiny a Muslim goes through to sharpen his identity is obnoxious.
Is his indisputable submission to Allah a fulcrum of passive debate?
Is his irreverence to the well-established shibboleths a declaration of being a less Muslim than others?
Is a skull-cap, hijab or burqa, which are intrinsic to the validations of his lifestyle, a dismissal effrontery to make other people consider them Palaeolithic?
Is he a vision of intolerance and prejudice or a casus belli for the judgemental eyes?
The answers are a simple “YES” or “NO” but are prone to debate because of the privileged history of the Muslims and the tumultuous agony of being labelled as intolerant, invidious and unretractable.
A book on Muslims and Islam by a Muslim author is the best bet to understand the idiosyncrasies of Muslim belief and the insurmountable challenges it faces as a community. The book is a smorgasbord of Muslim theology, tactical crusades sublimating into anomalous sense of reasoning, the fervour to behold the spirit of Islam and a bonne bouche of political cloud that engulfs the Muslims for its vested interest.
The author “Ghazala Wahab” is not being a historian or a proffer of Muslim beliefs but has tried hard to remove the rotten apples from the barrel, so heavily carried by Muslim religiosity. “Born a Muslim” captures the spirit of Islam and how it has been subjugated to irrational buffoonery by certain bad elements.
The history of the origin of Islam and how it perched on the Indian throne is complex but a decisive factor of its hegemony over centuries. Its imperceptible clouding after the revolt of 1857 against the British and a conspicuous dominion of Hindu right-wing politics over the years has perpetually skin-washed them of their identity. The identity crisis is envisioned with being regressive, traditionalist, uncompromising and elusive. The author takes a strong hold on these inconceivable virtues arising out of insecurities of being labelled as a second-class citizen.
The author also fuels her discordance with certain sects in Islam who dismiss the esoteric relevance of verses by interpreting it as per their social conditioning. The verses have a bearing on channelizing one’s code of conduct, marriage, women and education. A belief that women in Islam needs to be subservient is a fallacy. The contradictory ideologies calling woman a capsized mortal is a tenet of an over-indulgent mind.
Sometimes it takes a 400 page book to correct an irrational mind of its prejudices and unwelcomed perceptions. Every religion propagates humanity and love but a human longing for arbitrary judgements and irrevocable extrapolations consider it as a fanatical dystopia causing more hatred and polarization. It is a book for the common man to understand Islam and its tenants as knowledge is the epitome of being righteous and constitutional.