Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan, who enjoys immense fan following and love of admirers across the country, has been under attack by Muslim trolls on social media for posting a picture of his youngest son Abram praying in front of a murti of Shri Ganesh in their home, with a caption “Our Ganpati ‘Pappa’ is home, as the lil one calls him”.
SRK posted a pic of his son praying to the Ganpati which triggered peaceful biraders in masse. this is the situation of educated ones & these comments were just few in thousands of abuses he is getting now. pic.twitter.com/GmwRSbSFMp
— Squint Neon (@squintneon) September 16, 2018
So SRK decided to post a picture of the Ganpati idol they've brought home pic.twitter.com/UlJXclFSSO
— Ripper (@Ace_Of_Pace) September 16, 2018
It was a simple, heart-warming, innocent picture of a little kid praying to Sri Ganesh, in a city and state where Ganesh Chaturthi is the biggest festival celebrated with great pomp and vigor. But the reactions and comments on this post show the ugly reality of what inter-faith relations & the much touted ‘composite culture’ (aka Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb) actually mean in this country, when it comes to the dialogue between Hindu Dharma and Islam.
The overwhelming majority of SRK’s Muslim fans who responded to this picture posted by him were blunt in their disapproval – “Are you a Muslim?” they asked him point-blank, because a ‘true Muslim’ would never promote ‘idolatory’. To be fair to these critics, they are bang on about ‘idol worship’ being seen as a major sin which condemns one to everlasting hell, as per Islam’s primary sources i.e. Quran and Hadith.
Some of the other vitriol directed towards SRK – ‘you have committed the greatest act of sin and it is unforgivable by God (Allah)’, ‘you are practicing idolatry, polytheism…and pushing your little son towards it.’ Some nasty comments also ask him to teach his children to follow ONLY Islam.
But why have such fundamentalist & exclusivist beliefs been allowed to take deep root in a multi-religious country like Bharat where ~ 1 billion Hindus live cheek to jowl with ~200 million Muslims? Lets face it – if non-Hindus in Bharat cannot even accept the most widespread form of Hindu worship which is murti puja (what Abrahamics refer to as ‘idol worship’) as a legitimate form of religious expression, then all this talk of communal harmony and syncretism is just so much hot air! It is the fundamentalist adherents of Abrahamic religions -Islam & Christianity- that do not accord MUTUAL RESPECT to Hindu Dharma, not the other way around.
What makes this worse if the fact that SRK’s wife, Gauri, is a Hindu (she has not converted to Islam as per information available in the public sphere), so shouldn’t children of such an interfaith marriage be taught to to learn and respect both religions and cultures?
Our left-liberals will either ignore this issue or try to deflect by creating false equivalence with examples of Hindus trolling Hindu celebrities for offending Hindu beliefs. But the issue here is not of Shah Rukh offending Muslim beliefs by bad-mouthing Islam’s prophet, or vilifying mosques as some Hindu celebrities did by generalizing Hindu temples as rape centres during the recent Asifa protests. Shah Rukh just posted an image of his child worshipping a Sri Ganesh murti – surely his Hindu wife would expect their children to have an appreciation of Hindu religion, just as the Quran finds a prominent place in the SRK household.
Lets look at another celebrity marriage, to make this point even more clear to our left-liberal friends who might still be feigning ignorance. Sanjay Dutt’s father was a Hindu and mother Muslim. He went to the extent of breaking the law and arming himself with an illegally procured automatic rifle to ‘protect himself and his Muslim friends’ during the 1993 Mumbai riots. A few years back, Sanjay Dutt married Maanyata (born Dilnaaz Shaikh) – media reports are sketchy on whether Maanyata converted to Hindu Dharma or not. But the couple had twins in 2010 and gave them the Persian/Middle-Eastern names Shahraan and Iqra. Now, Sanjay Dutt regularly celebrates Eid at his house, while also celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi. Not one Hindu has trolled or abused him for this. For a Hindu, accepting others’ way of life comes naturally, especially in an interfaith relation.
Not long back, Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan and his ex-wife Amrita Singh’s daughter Sara Ali Khan had faced a similar situation online. She, along with her mother and brother Ibrahim, had visited a Hindu temple. After offering prayers, she was seen donating money, food and clothes to the less fortunate outside the temple. But even this didn’t go well with the Muslim fundamentalists who criticized this young girl for practicing her right to freedom of religion. Even in her case, she has interfaith parents.
On the flip side, when Hindu celebrities throw Iftar parties and visit dargahs, they are praised by one and all (including Muslim fundamentalists) for upholding the secular fabric of Bharat and practising so called Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb. But if a Muslim dares to express a hint of this Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb, the same bigots troll them and teach what it means to be a ‘proper Muslim’.
SRK got abused for the ‘sin’ of allowing a Ganesh murti in his house, despite mostly toeing the mainstream Muslim line on socio-political issues in the country. In 2015, he joined the bandwagon of celebrities calling Bharat an ‘intolerant country’ under PM Modi. Back in 2010, he had also supported inclusion of Pakistani cricketers in IPL and called Pakistan a ‘great neighbour’, at a time when the wounds of the horrific 26/11/08 Mumbai terror attack were still raw. SRK has even chosen to maintain a tactical silence on regressive Muslim social practises like triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy. He and other feminist-minded Bollywood activists have completely ignored the issue of radicalized Muslim grooming gangs preying on Hindu girls in places like West UP, North Kerala, West Bengal etc.
But what ‘liberal’ Muslims like SRK cannot forget is that the smallest of infractions can land them in the dreaded category of munafiq (hypocrites, outward Muslims but not genuinely so), which can have potentially life-threatening consequences. One post showing Ganesh-puja in his home has invited the ire of his Muslim fans who are teaching him to behave like a ‘Muslim’. Is this the reason why ‘liberal’ Muslims like Javed Akhtar, Aamir Khan spend so much time sermonizing Hindus to be tolerant – they know that any such gratuitous advice to their own Muslim brethren will boomerang big time and demean them even more in the eyes of practising Muslims?
Is this Islamic intolerance the real elephant in the room which our liberals prefer to ignore?
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