Friday, February 1, 2013

Book Review: Offence: The Muslim Case By Kamila Shamsie

The latest example of Muslim offence is Kamal Haasan’s Viswaroopam. When some Muslims leaders were showed its preview they felt offended some part of the movie, so they filed a petition to ban the movie. The next moment, the Pandora’s Box has just broken, and from every corner, furore came to condemn, not the movie, or part of the movie, but the offended Muslims! Most of the critics of offended Muslim cried the freedom of expression, creativity and all other hells. This book primarily asks why the offended Muslims are always projected to the fore. Taking the example of Pakistan and its history of offended Muslims, she tries to find out the changing nature of ‘declaring offence’ in Pakistan. Those who protested vehemently in 1990s are not so offended by the same issues, but instead new forces come forward to condemn and protest to new offences. This book is an historical journey and exploration of earlier Pakistan and new Pakistan. Taking the protect against the offence felt by Muslims in Pre-Independence days of India (Pakistan too), as a case point, she argues that the same strategy is maintained in the latest scenario also. There were cries of Jihad during 1857, but the landscape shifted afterwards. The sudden cry after the 1857 was an intellectual discourse for accommodating to security with safe guards for the defeated and demoralized Muslim community. Syed Ahmed Khan took the mantle and started some reformations. Keeping this idea in mind, he declared that Jihad is not applicable in the case of British rulers, but he was strongly defending Islam in other matters when he engaged the issue of Urdu language Vs. Hindi.

When the word offence of Muslim comes to our mind, we have certain pictures already there as the protest against Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, Danish Cartoon, Toddy bear called Muhammad etc. Interestingly always the opposite side of the offence will be the US or western country. Kamila asks that why has the violently offended Muslims become such a prominent figure. So the mainstream media propagate that Islam lends itself to violence.  So along with the offences, there are a number of terms emerged related to the offended Muslims such as hardliners, non-hardliners, moderate Muslims, secular Muslims etc.