The Muslims in England got agitated against the remarks made by that popular science writer. They felt that the writer had insulted Muhammad whom they believed was their prophet. They also alleged that the writer had disparaged their holy book Quran which was supposedly downloaded from Allah through Muhammad.  They called for the ban on the work of that popular science writer and demanded his apology. A group of Indian Muslims living in Britain took out a protest march at the end of which they burnt the work of the author.

Reactions to Richard Dawkins in 2013?

No.  That was Islamist reaction to A Short History of the World (1922) by popular science fiction writer and historian H.G.Wells. The protest was organized then by an influential Islamic organization consisting mainly of Indian Muslims Jamiat-ul-Muslimin. [1]

But what is surprising in 2013 is that the number of those who have taken up guns against Dawkins, come from the so-called secular left media establishment. What Dawkins tweeted was a simple fact: that not many Muslims have Nobel prizes though they had done great things in the past.  This has unleashed a fury against Dawkins.  When Reza Aslan a born-again Islamist called Dawkins a ‘buffoon’ mum was the word with media at large.

[2] No believer asked Aslan to refrain. But left-of-the-centre British media showered unsolicited advice and vehement criticism on Dawkins. He was accused of racism even after the Oxford professor explained that Islam is not a racial category. Martin Robbins writing in the ‘Newstatesman‘ countered Dawkins saying that Dawkins is not simply criticizing a religion but is attacking a group of people in a fairly well defined geographical area, associated with a particular set of ethnicities.[3]

Actually it is not the criticism of Islam by Dawkins but the establishment-attack on Dawkins which has its roots in a racially biased colonial mindset.

That a religion or a federation of religions can be mapped over ‘a group of people in a fairly well defined geographical area, associated with a particular set of ethnicities’ is true and fairly true in the cases of Hinduism and Judaism respectively. But with Christianity, Islam and Marxism that claim does not hold water. These are proselytizing religions and their claims are universal and their agenda global.  Islamism like Marxism provides a complete blueprint for a global totalitarian regime based on Shariat.

Islamism makes lofty claims that it attacks racism and as an alternative what it provides as a replacement is an Arab supremacist prophet cult. Islamism attacks the capitalism for making a woman commodity and as an alternative provides an iron-clad theo-legal package that dehumanizes woman as nothing but a valuable property to be protected beneath the veil.  And Islamist propaganda repeatedly speaks of a golden age of Islam in which science and art and philosophy flourished under the Caliphate.

Islamism is a movement towards creating that global Caliphate once again. Every social evil in a liberal secular democracy is used as another proof of the failure of the system and Islam is projected as the only global solution. This propaganda has been going on for several decades if not for last two centuries.

Richard Dawkins a militant champion for Darwinian science in the line of Thomas Huxley has a right to be more than offended by Islamist propaganda. After all one of the chief enemies of the virulent Islamism is the science of evolution. From the godfather of Islamist creationism Harun Yahya to the village preacher of Islamism in the southernmost town of South India, the science of evolution comes for a special attack by Islamists – a conspiracy fabricated by Satanic Darwin and propagated by cunning Jews. There can be no doubt that if the theo-political agenda of Islamism gets realized in any of the modern democracies there the teaching and studying of evolution will run into troubled waters.  

In England where Dawkins lives the battle lines have been drawn. Damian Thompson the editor of Telegraph blogs points out that already one in three teachers believes that creationism should be taught in schools because devout Muslim students along with their parents regard Darwin’s teachings as blasphemous. [4] So if Richard Dawkins is bothered about the ascent of Islamism, the political Islam which has theo-fascist roots, then he is perfectly justified in attacking it with weapons he is familiar with.

There are colonial reasons for the impoverishment of vast regions of Africa where Muslims live. It is true. There can be no denying that. In fact there are many Afro-Black literature that sometimes correctly and sometimes in an exaggerated manner claim that the foundation of all world civilizations were derived from African culture. But Dawkins was not asking the Africans he was asking the Islamists.

It should be remembered that the attack of Dawkins was aimed at wealthy Islamic semi-feudal kingdoms and rogue states which are pumping millions of petro-dollars every year into a propaganda war against democracy and secularism, not only in the West but (more worrying for the current writer) also in the developing countries like India. It is precisely at these forces Dawkins is aiming his attack.

 After all the propaganda machinery of pan-Islamist axis that spans from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan,  has been for more than a quarter of a century now, pumping millions of dollars, not on scientific research, but on peddling absolutely unscientific claims of science being already there in Islam – a propaganda that has definite political agenda with expansionist ambitions. The other many millions are spent on stealing nuclear technology from the West and getting missile technology from the Marxist totalitarian states like North Korea.

Let us not forget what Dawkins tweet also mentioned Muslims doing great things in the past. Yes. Indeed they did. And there are accounts of Muslim martyrs of science that in comparison make the trial of Galileo under inquisition look like a resort vacation in luxury. When Ibn Sina (980-1037) the famed physician emphasized the primacy of reason over faith the soldiers of the religion of peace raided his house, plundered it and burnt his books. His books were banned throughout the Caliphate Empire and he was constantly on the run with threat of death looming large over him.

It was in hiding that Ibn Sina produced his classic Al-Quanun. This is despite the fact that he used calm quite meditation in the mosque as a means of revitalizing himself while he deeply contemplated some scientific problems.   Muhammed Al Razi (865-925), another medical scientist, was not that successful in evading the religious authorities. Famous as Arabic Galen and referred to as ‘the most brilliant genius’ of his age, his radical views regarding the superiority of reason over faith got him into conflict with the Islamic authorities. The Emir of Bukhara ordered that he should be struck on his head with his own book on medicine until either the book was torn or his head got broken. At the end of the beating Al Razi became completely blind and this was attributed to the divine punishment from Allah. [5]

Secular humanism would have triumphed in the Islamic world, and also in countries like India where there was sizable Islamic population, had colonialism not intervened. British were not averse to use pan-Islamist sentiments to gather support as well as win Islamic princes to their side when they were establishing their empire in India.  In 1903 an Indian Muslim Abdullah al-Sharawardy was allowed by the British government to establish the ‘Pan-Islamic Society’ in London.

Christian sympathy towards a fellow Abrahamic creed, as against siding with a philosophically monist, perceived as polytheist Hinduism, nurtured the pan-Islamic forces strongly in India. This was also reinforced by the policy of ‘Divide et Impera‘ of the colonial administrators. Sir Sydney Haldane Olivier, who was the Secretary of State for India in 1924, confessed in London Times that ‘there was a predominant bias in British Officialdom in favour of Muslim community, partly on the ground of closer sympathy but more largely as a make-weight against nationalism’. [6] A consequence of this India policy was that the Pan-Islamist activities also increased in Britain as in the case of attack on H.G.Wells. The left too could not stand the temptation of harnessing the pan-Islamic forces to their political advantage.

Lenin used in his propaganda war against the British, the Jihadists making an exodus from India through Afghanistan to fight for the re-establishment of Caliphate in Turkey. Lenin even went on to say that the activities of ‘our Soviet Republic’ in ‘Afghanistan, India and other Muslim countries’ outside Russia are the same as our activities among the numerous Muslims and other non-Russian people inside Russia. [7]

Thus the recognition of Islam, a religion, as a legitimate political category with no national or ethnic borders has been done by forces as diverse as colonialists. anti-colonial nationalists and Marxist.  Churchill, his arch rival Gandhi and Lenin the Marxist dictator though so diverse in their ideologies and contexts, each had cosied up to Pan-Islam for their own reasons with usually disastrous consequences for humanity.

During the Second World War Britain tried to compete with Nazi Germany in placating the pan-Islamist tendencies.  Though both Hindus and Muslims had fought in the British army during the First World War the British government explicitly stated that it would provide a site for a mosque in London and would contribute 100,000 pounds as a ‘tribute to thousands of Indian Muslim soldiers who died defending the British Empire’. BBC repeatedly aired this decision in its broadcasts.

The ceremony for the mosque held on 21 November 1944  could even be called the first post-war pan-Islamic meet with the ministers of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghan ministers presented to the British king George VI and the guard of honour was provided by Indian Muslim soldiers in British army, who would in three years from the Islamic state of Pakistan.[8] It is not an accident that the notoriously pseudo-scientific Commission on Scientific Signs in the Quran and Sunnah which was sponsored by Saudi, had its first conference at Islamabad Pakistan.

The Saudi-Pak Pan-Islamic axis had been forged in colonial Britain. The legacy has continued well into the post-colonial period. Soviet as well as the West supported now virulently evolved forms of pan-Islamist elements in Palestine and Afghanistan respectively. In India this legacy of strengthening pan-Islamist political forces was done in the name of secularism which has now become a euphemism for encouraging fundamentalist vote banks.

So when Prof. Dawkins takes on Islamist propaganda he is not targeting any community, culture, ethnicity or race.  He is challenging a danger to free thinking and democracy – a challenge that has been supported by the powers in various establishments for various vested interests. And when Dawkins makes secular humanism, not religious or cultural arrogance, as the basis of his criticism, he is doing all humanity an immense service and is undoing a Frankenstein monster in whose creation the British played no minor part.

References:

[1] Susheila Nasta, India in Britain: South Asian Networks and Connections: 1858-1950, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, p.88

[2] Sopies Heawood, Reza Aslan on Zealot, Fox News and Richard DawkinsThe Guardian, 14-Aug-2013

[3] Martin Robbins, Atheism is maturing, and it will leave Richard Dawkins behindNewstatesman, August 2013

[4] Damian Thompson, Islam is the reason British teachers are suddenly happy to teach creationismTelegraph blog dated 7-Nov-2008

[5] A.N.Kothare et al, Of Science and Scientists: An anthology of anecdotes, National Book Trust of India, 2004, pp.4-5, pp.123-4

[6]Quoted in ‘Political Thinkers of Modern India: Lala Lajpat Rai‘, (Ed. by Verinder Grover), Volume 15, Deep and Deep Publications, 1993, p.308

[7] Nirula, India and the Soviet Union, 1917 to 1947, APH Publishing, 2005, p.26

[8] Susheila Nasta, India in Britain: South Asian Networks and Connections: 1858-1950, Palgrave Macmillan,2012, p.90

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Aravindan Neelakandan

Co-author of acclaimed book "Breaking India", Aravindan Neelakandan has worked for the past decade with an NGO in Tamil Nadu serving marginalized rural communities in sustainable agriculture. He is also a popular science writer in Tamil and is part of the editorial team of highly popular Tamil web portal www.tamilhindu.com.

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