Leaving Islam




The Heavenly Assembly of the Last Day

By Abul Kasem
  turag.jpg (21196 bytes)

Ijtema venue on the bank of Turag River near Tongi, Bangladesh  

I wrote this short essay because I read in today’s newspaper from Bangladesh that Biswa Ijtema or World Congregation will start from Friday Dec 13 and will continue until Sunday Dec 15, 2002. This hosting of marathon preaching session has a colorful history going back to 1950s.

During our University days, we had a few friends who always used to pester us for praying, fasting, Qur’an Tilawat, going for Jumma prayer, and all other Islamic rituals to cleanse our souls.  Whenever we used to see them coming to our rooms to distribute their ‘Hedayat’ and ‘Bayan’ to us, we used to slip away from our rooms just to avoid them.  However, they were very clever to catch many of us when we were on the walk or even when we were on our way to communal shower or even to toilets.  Such a vicious pest they were!

Who were they?  Yes, they were none but the Tabligh-e-Jamaat adherents.  Their headquarters was the Kakrail mosque, just adjacent to the famous Ramna Green (i.e., Ramna Park).  Then this mosque was still under construction.  Nonetheless, it became the nerve center for these diehard Islamists.

What did they want from us?  It was anyone’s guess why were they such persistent Islamic zealots.  What motivated them?  We simply had no clue.  However, because they were sort of religious preacher/s we dare not confront them intellectually neither we would treat them with disrespect.  We simply tried to avoid them as much as possible.

That was the biggest mistake of our generation.  When the freedom fighting came around in 1971, we found them to be on the side of the Pakistanis and were not at all ashamed to say that Bengalis were not true Muslims and that we deserved Allah’s punishment.  Had we confronted them those days we could have nipped their secret agenda in the bud.

Today, this Tablig-e-Jamaat has become a huge multi-headed Hydra.  Many will say that they are innocent and pious Muslims preaching only the tolerant/moderate Islam; therefore, we should not be so alarmed at their growth.

This is a very simplistic view of this movement.  Make no mistake that the Tablig has the same agenda as any other Islamic Party in Bangladesh, that is, to establish an Islamic Paradise in Bangladesh.  The only difference is that their methodology is much more subliminal, insidious, cunning and shrewd.  They are bent upon totally changing the mindset of the Bangalees to 100% Islamic zeal.  During our youthful days, the movement was completely a matter of this Tabligh party only.  No Government of any color ever lent any support or provided encouragement to them.  However, slowly, they had been able to change all this.  It is now a multimillion-dollar religious business funded by the petro-dollar of the Middle East and now supported by most political parties in Bangladesh including the so-called secularist parties like AL and BNP.

Now consider the following:

1. Ijtema had been going on since early 1950s in Kakrail Mosque funded by the Saudi Government.

2. The venue was shifted to Tongi in mid 1960s (1965 or 1966) because of its popularity.

3. Two army despots popularized it to the point that more than 2 million (all estimate, no real head count) devotees attend it every year.  If the head count is correct, then, this is the Numero Uno (Number One) Islamic congregation bypassing the Hajj ceremony.  Still then, Dhaka's myriad newspapers call it number two congregation only after Hajj.  These newspaper editors are too worried that if they bill Ijtema as number one gathering, then the sanctity of Hajj will be diminished and they can't let that happen.  Therefore, they have to fib and there is nothing wrong in fibbing, huh?

4.  The government and private business shut down during those 3 days making Bangladesh non-competitive in this age of globalization.

5.  Marathon preaching session goes on for 3 days brainwashing the people to work for Akheraat (next world) but not for this world.

6. They have separate tents for foreigners, big bureaucrats, businessmen, and even for army high officials.  Therefore, forget this concept of egalitarianism (Shammobaad).  This is all in the Holy Book only. No reflection of this ever shows up in the Ijtema ground near Turag River.

7. Through the Tafsir-al-Qur'an, Bayan, Waz, etc., they are making Bangladesh a backward nation.  The Mullah’s preaching is anti women.  Thus, if 50% of Bangladesh people are maligned by the dictums of these preachers, then why do we need this congregation?

Many may still argue that there is nothing wrong in preaching the peaceful Islam through Tabligh Jamaat.  If we accept this childish view, then we may even say what is wrong with the 60,000 or so madrassahs that have mushroomed in recent times in Bangladesh with the help of petro-dollars.  Well, we are now reaping the bitter harvest from these religious seminaries, the harvest being the mindless terror/killing/bombing/ethnic cleansing and whatnot.

Therefore, we can notice a clear, straightforward relationship between more peaceful Islam preaching and more terror activities.  The more petro-dollar, the more Islam, the more Tabligh, the more bombing, the more destruction and the more ethnic cleansing.  A vicious cycle has been established and there is very little clue how an impoverished nation like Bangladesh can get out of this vicious cycle.

In conclusion, I say: we must stop this show of piety.  Islam should be reduced to Kalima, Namaz, Roza, Hajj, Zakat, Toupi (only the round one!), Zainamaj, Tasbih, Alkhalla, beard, Pagri (Turban), Surma, Attor  (fragrance) etc., at personal level.  No public gathering should be allowed.  Enough damaged has already been done in the name of Islam.  Let us make Bangladesh society more pragmatic and in tune with this modern world rather than the Akherat.  If one takes the Akherat part seriously, then the charm of Islam falls flat.  The Mullahs attending the Ijtema won't let that happen.  They will endlessly emphasize the Akheraat over this mortal world.  That’s a sure thing.
Abul Kasem writes from Sydney, Australia.  His e-mail address is: [email protected]







Articles Op-ed Authors Debates Leaving Islam FAQ
Comments Library Gallery Video Clips Books Sina's Challenge

  ©  copyright You may translate and publish the articles in this site only if you provide a link to the original page.