March 15, 2008

On Moses and Aurangazeb

Aurangazeb's army demolishing a Hindu temple

More than a week has passed since I read the report. All this while, I held my breath fearing the worst. Will there be violent protests on the streets of Moscow, Paris, London, Los Angeles, New York, and Mumbai? How many innocent bystanders will be killed in random firings of Kalashnikovs and home made explosives? Will they burn effigies of George Bush and Gordon Brown on the streets of Tel Aviv, for being silent spectators to this ultimate blasphemy? Will Cecille B. De Mille turn in his grave for the vilification of his hero of the Ten Commandments?

Guardian reported a week ago:

The Bible tells us that when the Children of Israel left Egypt, they had a 40-year trip through the desert before reaching the Promised Land. Now a leading Israeli academic has a new theory about exactly what kind of trip it was.
In the philosophy journal Time and Mind, Benny Shanon states that key events of the Old Testament are actually records of visions by ancient Israelites high on hallucinogens. Shanon is a professor at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, where he used to head the psychology department...
The psychedelic substance is a drink called Ayahuasca... So, when Moses first encountered God, he was high. "Encountering the divine is one of the most powerful experiences associated with high-level Ayahuasca inebriation," claims Shanon.

Here's someone delivering the ultimate insult to Moses — he was stoned high when he claimed to have seen god — and what was the reaction? No calls for the murder of Bill Shannon as there were for the Danish cartoonists, Salman Rushdie, or Taslima Nasreen. No suicide bombing, no explosions. Not even a whimper of a protest march on the streets of Tel Aviv. Only deafening silence from the millions of Jewish faithfuls around the world. Weren't their sentiments hurt by this scandalous report on the state of Moses's mind when he personally received the ten commandments from his god? Barring scattered murmurs of disagreement from a few rabbis, Shannon's contention has received scarce attention from both the Jewish community and the media.

For a contrast with the civil discourse on Moses's alleged hallucinations, try this one from Chennai, India:

French journalist Francois Gautier's Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT) has painstakingly -- and at great expense -- put together a collection of 40 miniatures and firmans that tell the story of Aurangzeb's rule [a notoriously cruel Muslim emperor of India]. The exhibition is called Aurangzeb as he was according to Mughal records. "We have taken care to present all facets of Aurangzeb, including his piety," says Gautier...
On March 5, a group of 15 Muslims (Gautier says "they were no more than six") affiliated to the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, Manitha Neethi Paasarai and other Muslim organisations, entered the exhibition hall and confronted FACT volunteers who were present there. Raising their voice, they rubbished the show and alleged that it did not portray the right image of 'their' Aurangzeb.
By Thursday, March 7, "higher authorities" in Tamil Nadu Government had issued instructions to the police to shut down the exhibition. [Assistant Commissioner of Police KN Murali], along with his men, stormed into the exhibition hall on Thursday evening and began taking down the paintings. "He was looking for the paintings showing the destruction of Somnath and Kesava Rai temples. He threw them to the floor," said a FACT volunteer...
The police say they acted after receiving "three complaints that the show would disturb communal harmony". They wanted the exhibition to be shut down immediately as the next day was Friday. The police also forcibly took into custody three FACT volunteers -- Saraswathi (65), D Vijayalakshmi (62) and Malathi (47) -- although women cannot be detained after sunset in police stations. They were not allowed to contact their families.

Were it a case of self-censorship under pressure or a bunch of Islamo-fascists vandalizing the exhibits and forcing the organizers to shut down the exhibition, it would have been just another milestone in the peace march of this religion. Unfortunately, the culprits here are the law enforcement officers of a democratic and secular state. What a shame!

Evidently, it's not only the prophet of Islam, who is beyond any reproach. The character and behavior of every ayatollah, caliph, and emperor of the Islamic world, dead or alive, cannot be called into question either. Those who dare will be doing so only at a grave risk to their life and property.

What is it that the apologists for Islam never seem to tire of asserting? Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance?

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