The Five Lenses: A Hindu Rebuttal to Ex-Muslims of North America and their Ex-Muslim Cohorts
Table of Contents for The Five Lenses
1st Lens: Atheism
2nd Lens: Anecdotal Experience
3rd Lens: Secularism
4th Lens: Nietzschean Philosophy
5th Lens: Human Rights versus Religious Tolerance
“As a refuge from the last of the three, men imagined what they called the freedom of the will; fancying that they could not justify punishing a man whose will is in a thoroughly hateful state, unless it be supposed to have come into that state through no influence of anterior circumstances. To escape from the other difficulties, a favourite contrivance has been the fiction of a contract, whereby at some unknown period all the members of society engaged to obey the laws, and consented to be punished for any disobedience to them; thereby giving to their legislators the right, which it is assumed they would not otherwise have had, of punishing them, either for their own good or for that of society. This happy thought was considered to get rid of the whole difficulty, and to legitimate the infliction of punishment, in virtue of another received maxim of justice, volenti non fit injuria; that is not unjust which is done with the consent of the person who is supposed to be hurt by it. I need hardly remark, that even if the consent were not a mere fiction, this maxim is not superior in authority to the others which it is brought in to supersede. It is, on the contrary, an instructive specimen of the loose and irregular manner in which supposed principles of justice grow up. This particular one evidently came into use as a help to the coarse exigencies of courts of law, which are sometimes obliged to be content with very uncertain presumptions, on account of the greater evils which would often arise from any attempt on their part to cut finer. But even courts of law are not able to adhere consistently to the maxim, for they allow voluntary engagements to be set aside on the ground of fraud, and sometimes on that of mere mistake or misinformation.” – John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism, pgs. 58-59.
This Lens Essay will be exposing the lack of seriousness on Ex-Muslims of North America’s (Ex-MNA’s) part on defending Secularism. First, let’s begin by examining the differences between Secularism in the Indian context and the Western context. The Wiki about Secularism in India provides a general understanding of the differences:
Comparison with Western secularism
In the West, the word secular implies three things: freedom of religion, equal citizenship to each citizen regardless of his or her religion, and the separation of religion and state. One of the core principles in the constitution of Western democracies has been this separation, with the state asserting its political authority in matters of law, while accepting every individual’s right to pursue his or her own religion and the right of religion to shape its own concepts of spirituality. Everyone is equal under law, and subject to the same laws irrespective of his or her religion, in the West.
In contrast, in India, the word secular does not mean a “thorough-going separation of religion and state” states Donald Smith. However, some separation exists. According to the Constitution of India, states Smith, there is no official state religion in India, schools that are wholly owned by the state can not mandate religious instruction (Article 28), and there can be no taxes to support any particular religion (Article 27). Overlap is permitted, whereby institutions that are not entirely financed by the state can mandate religious instruction, and state can provide financial aid to maintain and construct religious buildings or infrastructure. Furthermore, India’s constitutional framework allows “extensive state interference in religious affairs”.
According to R.A. Jahagirdar, in the Indian context, secularism has been interpreted as the equal treatment of all religions. In particular, the most significant impact of religion in everyday life of an Indian citizen is in matters of civil law – marriage, divorce, inheritance and others. The Indian Constitution allows the applicable personal law to be different if an individual’s religion is Hinduism (or another Indian religion), Islam or Christianity. However, Article 44 of the Directive Principles of State Policy adds, “the state shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. This intent for secular personal laws has been unsettling especially to Indian Muslims, states Smith, in part because they view the alteration of Muslim personal law to be a “grave violation of their freedom of religion.”
The term secularism in India also differs from the French concept for secularity, namely laïcité. While the French concept demands absence of governmental institutions in religion, as well as absence of religion in governmental institutions and schools; the Indian concept, in contrast, provides financial support to religious schools and accepts religious law over governmental institutions. The Indian structure has created incentives for various religious denominations to start and maintain schools, impart religious education, and receive partial but significant financial support from the Indian government. Similarly, the Indian government has established statutory institutions to regulate and financially administer the Islamic Central Wakf Council, historic Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries, and certain Christian religious institutions; this direct Indian government involvement in various religions is markedly different from Western secularism. According to Ashis Nandy, a better term for “Indian secularism” would be “religious tolerance”, rather than importing and redefining the Western concept of secularism.
Indian concept of secularism, where religious laws supersede state laws and the state is expected to even-handedly involve itself in religion, is a controversial subject. Any attempts and demand by the Indian populace to a uniform civil code is considered a threat to right to religious personal laws by Indian Muslims.
Ex-Muslims of North America fail to even acknowledge these important differences and share news articles that purposefully and uncritically confuse the definitions. This does have dangerous consequences because the Indian National Congress party that Ex-MNA supported for a lengthy amount of time has been in favor of Sharia Courts. Meanwhile, the BJP has vigorously been in favor of a Uniform Civil Code which would grant equality under the law for all Indian citizens, remove Islamic Personal Laws from discriminating against Muslim women, and legalize same-sex marriage for the LGBT/LGBH (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Hijra/Transgender) people in India. The BJP has been seeking to make the UCC law as part of its political promises and yet they get curbed by the Indian National Congress party due to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) wanting to keep Sharia intact for Muslim Indians. Respected Western news organizations explicitly argue in favor of Sharia in India, Leftist Indian organizations that Ex-MNA has shared news articles from have equivocated on the issue by ignoring the fact Muslim women in India suffer under Sharia, other Leftist Indian organizations make-up pathetic excuses against UCC, and throughout all of this Ex-MNA has been silent on this issue. If they’re supporting Secular values, then why are they ignoring the BJP supporting Secular laws removing religious personal laws so that all Indians can live equally in India with regards to marriage, divorce, and rights of inheritance? Why did they not acknowledge their mistake in supporting the Indian National Congress, which supports Sharia courts on behalf of Muslim men, especially after I had shared this news article with Stephanie Tessier via email?
Truth be told, my support for the BJP is conditional and only began when I examined Indian politics from the lens of furthering Secularism. That’s honestly all it was. It wasn’t any animosity towards Muslims, it wasn’t fear or hatred or bigotry, and it certainly wasn’t “tribalism” which I had been accused of by some Ex-Muslims. I simply examined both parties and asked the question “Which Political Party in India is furthering the cause of Secular Values?” and it was unambiguously the BJP party thus far. Which means that if the BJP wasn’t supporting Secular causes, then I wouldn’t support them because they wouldn’t be in furthering Secular interests. Likewise, the issues they pushed for helped further the cause of Secularism, but I had to be realistic on what the limitations and potential problems would be. The removal of article 370 and push to integrate Jammu and Kashmir back into the Indian Union helped solidify the prominence of a Secular Republic and Secular values above the terrorist-infested Islamic State of Pakistan which does nothing to protect its religious minorities from rape conversions and other forms of violence or the brutal Communist dictatorship of China with its concentration camps of Uyghur Muslims. While internet blackouts aren’t good, it seems a necessary and temporary first step to push forward into integrating it back into the Indian Union and allowing Secular morality to become the norm. While many idealists might want independence, the fact is that military force is what determines the world and having a Secular Republic and Secular values take hold is the best outcome for what is now Jammu and Kashmir as one union territory and Ladakh as another union territory of India. For instance, prominent BJP officials were adamant about ridding Jammu and Kashmir of child marriages in favor of Secular laws. To better understand this, here’s a video I made where I combined two of Youtuber Sham Sharma’s articulate criticisms in defense of Secularism as the basis of the BJP’s actions in integrating Jammu and Kashmir:
Note: Please skip to 7:56, if it doesn’t begin at the time stamp like it is suppose to. Also, please consider supporting Sham Sharma, he has two Youtube channels where he comments on US or Indian politics in English or Hindi respectively. I’ve been a fan of his for awhile and I have donated to his Patreon.
Livemint, a generally pro-India news organization from what I’ve seen of their website, was keen on pointing out in a February 28, 2020 news article on how the Indian government led by the BJP had integrated several of India’s Secular laws into the new Union territories which reads as follows:
NEW DELHI : The Indian Penal Code, 1860, Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, Representation Of People Act, 1950, Census Act 1948 and Prevention Of Corruption Act, 1988, are among the laws which will be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir following Union Cabinet’s decision on Wednesday to approve adaptation of central laws under concurrent list to the Union Territory.
The cabinet had approved the order for adaptation of Central Acts in the Union Territory under Section 96 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. As a result, 37 central laws which were not applicable to the union territory will now be applicable.
According to Home Ministry, 37 central Acts that will be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir also include Income-Tax Act, 1961, Protection Of Human Rights Act, 1993, Official Languages Act, 1963, Press Council Act, 1978, Press and Registration Of Books Act, 1867, Insolvency And Bankruptcy Code, 2016, Census Act, 1948, Public Debt Act, 1944, Indian Forest Act, 1927 and All India Services Act, 1951.
The Arbitration And Conciliation Act, 1996, Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation And Resettlement Act, 2013, Limitation Act, 1963, the Court-Fees Act, 1870, Textiles Committee Act, 1963, Securitization And Reconstruction Of Financial Assets And Enforcement Of Security Interest Act, 2002, Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1966 and National Co-Operative Development Corporation Act, 1962 will also be applicable to the union territory.
Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 came into force on October 31 last year and the erstwhile state was reorganised into Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
All the central laws which are applicable to other parts of the country are now applicable to Jammu and Kashmir from October 31.
The release said it is necessary to adapt central laws made under the concurrent list, with required modifications and amendments, for ensuring administrative effectiveness and smooth transition with respect to Jammu and Kashmir to remove any ambiguity in their application.
According to Section 96 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the Central Government has requisite powers to make adaptations and modifications of the laws whether by way of repeal or amendment. (ANI)
Other cases of the BJP changing India’s laws in favor of Secularism was abolishing Triple Talaq, this has been portrayed as Far-right bigotry having some odd benefits by Ex-Muslim atheists, when in actuality it is because most Muslim Indian women have a favorable view of the BJP, have indicated in surveys the BJP gave their demographic that they support abolishing Triple Talaq as an important issue, and if the BJP pushes for this issue then Muslim Indian women indicated that they would vote for them. This act of rudimentary democracy working and Muslim Indian women pushing in favor of their own rights as part of their democracy was re-contextualized as the Far-right Hindutva boogeyman having accidentally made a positive contribution by Ex-Muslim Atheists who work with Ex-MNA. The BJP has also vigorously campaigned against female foeticide in India and this is such a bipartisan issue that even the generally Anti-India Al Jazeera has acknowledged the Modi government’s benign work.
This is not to focus exclusively on the positives, there are plenty of criticisms. Listening to genuine critics of the BJP was also quite fascinating. For example, on Youtuber Kushal Mehra’s Carvaka Podcast, he interviewed a Kashmiri Muslim Indian journalist by the name of Ifra Jan and her reasons for being opposed to Article 370’s removal and the discussion eventually moved onto her views on the BJP itself. She explained that she had found the WhatsApp which selectively showed Muslim domestic violence to be very discriminatory on the part of the BJP, she felt that the nationalism in India was worryingly increasing to a point where she felt people didn’t even want to question the BJP when it came to topics of civil liberties, similarly she felt the Global Left across the world has made it difficult to talk about the real problems of Jihad and Islamization, she felt annoyed that Indian Muslims like herself were being lumped as a monolith alongside those disgusting grooming gangs of those Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims which have nothing to do with Indian Muslims who are obviously more ethical than them (Kushal chimed in to add that he did find Indian Muslims to be nicer than Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims who seem more extreme from his experience), and to my genuine surprise, Ifra Jan explained that the Indian National Congress party was far more brutal to Kashmiri Muslims in crushing insurgency than anything the BJP has done and she bluntly stated to check the number of casualties when the Indian National Congress was in power compared to the BJP, even citing the Amarnath agitation of 2008. The numbers didn’t lie. Ifra further explained that other insurrection movements like Maoists were brutally put down far more during the INC’s reign than the BJP and that the Indian National Congress had even shot dead peaceful protesters while the BJP was the one garnering sympathy from political parties in insurgent areas because they treated those groups much nicer by comparison. The general argument of hers was that while the Indian National Congress party seemed to make nice spiels about supporting breakaway movements, once they got into power then they were far more brutal than the BJP have ever been thus far. For Ifra, there was no reason to vote for the current Indian National Congress party even if she dislikes the BJP; she can’t support the BJP either despite admitting that the BJP has some good points (such as her support for UCC by the BJP) that the INC simply doesn’t have. From my own understanding, I’m personally wary of the violation of privacy rights by some members of the BJP, which thankfully the checks and balances system in India seems to be putting a stop to unlike other instances where India’s judiciary are ignoring fundamental human rights that the BJP pushes for. Unlike the US, where checks and balances have proven to rarely work, India’s checks and balances system seems to be growing stronger overall, so there is room for optimism in the near-future.
Note: Please consider supporting Kushal Mehra’s The Carvaka Podcast, if you’re a bilingual speaker of English and Hindi. Kushal’s Patreon is just $5 and he provides intriguing analyses on Indian literature, interviews with prominent Indian figures, and explains his own views as a self-stylized Dharmic Skeptic.
Going through an exhaustive list of the pros and cons of the BJP would be beyond the scope of this lens essay, but I hope the chief point has been made clear: Ex-Muslims of North America is not focusing on furthering the cause of Secular values as they claim. Ex-MNA doesn’t even seem to consider the inner workings of India’s domestic politics when sharing laughably ignorant Western articles treating the RSS, Hindutva, and the BJP as a monolithic force. The RSS, a male-only group, has worked to gain favor and support from Muslim and Christian men and seem to be neutral to the misogynistic Islamic concept of Triple Talaq to appease some of the Muslim men who are part of their organization (there is division among RSS supportive Muslims who support or reject it). Somewhat paradoxically, the RSS has a sister organization (which also has the acronym RSS) that isn’t officially part of the RSS where women join in support of goals similar to the RSS, and this sister organization – while recruiting Muslim women to join – is explicitly against Triple Talaq and polygamy. Nevertheless, the male-oriented RSS seems to remain neutral to Triple Talaq to appease Muslim Indian men part of their organization who may dislike the idea of Secular laws influencing Sharia. By contrast, the BJP has adamantly pushed against Triple Talaq as a political promise to Muslim Indian women who vote for them. If it was a purely monolithic organization of Hindu extremists, why does this divide exist and why did the BJP keep their promise to Muslim Indian women despite it being against what the RSS wanted to appease some Muslim Indian men? This isn’t a case of anti-Muslim bigotry, it is a case of the BJP listening to and empowering the rights of Muslim Indian women specifically because that’s what Muslim Indian women wanted. It is a democratic system that is working correctly to resolve problems. If Ex-Muslims of North America is all about supporting Secularism and empowering women’s rights, why did they ignore even this? Why did some of their associates even portray it as an instance of Right-wing bigotry having a few positives? The answer is simple: Ex-MNA refuses to listen to people (especially not from India), they refuse to accept when the evidence proves them wrong, and they refuse to credit Secular triumphs if the people doing it are grouped as “right-wing” in their views. Notwithstanding, Ex-MNA’s selective news articles on human rights in India, which does the most damage to discredit their claims of supporting enlightenment values and human rights.
Finally, it should be made clear that Secularism does not require any belief in universal values and that organizations can be both Secular and nationalist. Judging from how I’ve observed the BJP and the policies that it pushed for, I’d argue they currently fit the role of Secular Nationalists more than anything else. The very idea of Secular Nationalists seems foreign to Western audiences, but that’s why it is important to judge a nation-state based on their own values instead of pushing our Left-Right partisan politics upon the entire world and ignorantly assuming it is all the same, since that is recipe for misjudging entire countries and leads to much confusion. Now, it is true that this wouldn’t necessarily be their position in the future and that the BJP could change as the INC has, but that remains to be seen based on their policy advocacy and actions. Ex-MNA’s simplistic good versus evil dynamic, ignorantly shoving Western Left-Right tribalism upon India’s internal politics, only proves they’re too lazy and ignorant to be on par with the higher level of civil discourse of Indians in India. If Ex-MNA had bothered to learn more about social identity politics from actual psychological research, they would have known that their negative views towards tribalism is completely useless. Henri Tajfel, the Holocaust victim turned Social Psychologist, who pioneered work on social identity studies in clinical psychology trials, found that humans are “groupist” by nature and we instantaneously conceive group dynamics between different sets of people. Tajfel conducted study after study that continued to shock psychology studies during his time and went so far as to conduct a study where all he did was point at people at random and told them that they were blue or green with no incentives (monetary or otherwise) and then asked them to share fictional money with the other people around them. The blues and greens exclusively only shared with their own “blue” or “green” group; when Tajfel questioned why, the blues and greens who shared fictional money simply said that the other people were the same “blue” or “green” team like them. That is how ingrained the so-called “tribalism” is in the human psyche. Groupist politics and groupist behavior is a norm of human social dynamics that will never go away. It’s laughable that, while Ex-MNA claims to be rising above it, only ever seems to be slaves to this groupist mentality specifically because they’re supporting tribalism above the secularism that they claim to cherish.