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December 16, 1999


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E-Mail this column to a friend Varsha Bhosle


We feel that it is an incumbent duty of Intellectuals like us to announce to the world via the Press, our private decisions concerning our personal life. Hear ye, hear ye: We have resolved to embrace the great religion called Islam because our freedom had become frayed at the edges. We have outgrown the desire for freedom. Hinduism is too lenient for us; there is simply too much freedom... Naturally, Hindu fundamentalists are crying for our blue blood. But so are the, er... remarkably devout sections of our future co-religionists. They denounce us as a Hindu mole! We simply fail to understand! What have we said that can be construed as shedding a poor light on Islam, we ask you?!

We Intellectuals tend to come full circle: When Hagar was cast out by her husband Abram and his first wife Sarai (later christened by God as Abraham and Sarah, respectively), and was languishing in the middle of the desert, the angel of the Lord said unto her, "Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael... And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren" (Genesis 16:1-16). And, lo, Ishmael was fruitful and begat twelve princes, who begat twenty-one tribes, which multiplied into the Arab nation, the soil for our beloved Islam.

You see, we, too, were abandoned by Lord Krishna (to whom, our grandma told us when we were a twee princess, we were married) and the other 30 million Hindu gods who are presently too busy to regulate and discipline our life and protect us. It was because of these entities that we sent shockwaves through strait-laced India with our erotic works; under their influence we became the controversial rebel who exploded hypocrisies. And so we are left with no choice but to augment the augury on Ishmael: We are a wild personage, and we shall dwell here, and we shall speak frankly and fearlessly about the religion we were accidentally born into, and our hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against us. (Figuratively! You have a filthy mind!) If Allah is merciful, we will also be fruitful and beget many tribes (which we will keenly monitor, just in case they show a propensity for Buddhism).

These fundamentalists are mad at us for revealing to an interviewer that we are converting Lord Krishna, our former intimate friend and love, to Allah, as well as making him a prophet after naming him "Mohammed." They are threatening us with death. We do not see what this fuss is all about! For, as you know, "Brahma" is just a distortion of "Abraham," and Sarah is really Saraswati, and the ten thousand cows in the Vedas actually refer to the ten thousand saintly companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). As far as we're concerned, God is an abstract entity. Even so, that will not prevent us from visiting Mecca and embracing the soil of Madina asap. You see, towns and soil are also abstract entities.

In any case, we don't give a rat's ass about these fundamentalists. We have been getting calls from almost all the Muslim countries extending their support to us; many have invited us to visit their countries. Our announcement has greatly enthused the Muslim community in our state. And their enthusiasm enthused us so much that we promptly informed UNI about the welcome-to-the-fold telegram from Abdul Nasir Mahdani, founder of the Islamic Sewak Sangh, temporarily residing at Salem Central Jail, framed under various sections of the IPC, including 153 (a) spreading communal hatred, 120 (b) criminal conspiracy, 124 (a) sedition, and under the Arms Act. Now all we are waiting for are communiques from Dawood Ibrahim and Osama bin Laden. Then we can embrace the soil of Pakistan and Afghanistan, too.

If you remember, barely three years ago, we had said that we believe that God is there in every cell of our body, your body, every cell of this world. Some kind of power, that is how we thought of God. We had said that that God was good enough for us; that we didn't need "Gods trapped in mausoleums, temples, churches, mosques"; that we didn't need such "Gods who can be imprisoned." Now we know: we never did have a clue about God. God is He who's trapped in the Ka'ba. Now we are wiser: we need gods who can be imprisoned. And why just gods? A fact of life is, all feminists need to be imprisoned.

The immediate reason for our accepting Islam seems to baffle others, we do not know why: We were travelling in a car from Malabar Hill to Kandivili. We started the journey along the highway at 6.45 am. We looked at the rising sun. Surprisingly, it had the colour of a setting sun. It travelled with us and at 7.00 am, it turned white. For years we have been looking for signs telling us when to convert. Finally, we got the message: People squat. Besides, we are against the Hindu way of cremating the dead; we do not want our body to be burnt. We would prefer to rot and be gnawed away by maggots.

Hindus have abused and hurt us. They (they!) have often tried to scandalise us (us!). We cannot repose faith in Hinduism because Hindu gods never forgive. They only punish. Our feeling is that Islam is a religion of love, the religion of forgiveness. Allah is the fountainhead of love and compassion. We will write about that. We will write poems with illustrations from the Quran and the Hadeeth, the holy books containing the religious, social, civil, commercial, military, and legal codes for Muslims:

* Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you may dislike it. But you may hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows, but you do not. (Surah 2:216)

* Let believers not make friends with infidels in preference to the faithful -- he that does this has nothing to hope for from God -- except in self-defence. (Surah 3:28)

* He will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. They serve other deities besides God for whom He has revealed no sanction. The Fire shall be their home; dismal indeed is the dwelling of the evil-doers. (Surah 3:151)

* Those that deny our revelations, We will burn in fire. No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste the scourge. God is mighty and wise. (Surah 4:56)

* Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them [captive], and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (at-Taubah 9:5.10)

* Fight those who believe not in God nor the last day... nor acknowledge the religion of truth, and fight people of the book, until they pay Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Surah 9:29)

On second thoughts, we would not like to comment on controversial subjects. We have no interest in making a speech about the Shariat. Let others take care of it. We are concerned only about the good things Islam can offer to us and to the world at large. Like Omar Bakri Muhammad: "Using any biological weapons in self-defence is, in Islam, permissible, and I believe that we are currently operating under a defensive jihad... Obviously we regret what happens to people but there are always people who are war casualties." Or Uganda's Idi Amin, who slaughtered 300,000 of his people, mostly Christians, after he embraced Islam. Or Nawabzada Nabiullah Khan, the ideologue for Jamaat-i-Islami: "More science and technology is bad for civilisation. I had completed civil engineering, hence I am privy to scientific knowledge. I can tell you how corrupting that is. It even makes you question the glorious Quran. There are many Hadeeths which say that the earth is flat. But any science will tell you the earth is a sphere. But you can use the same science like relativity theory to prove that the earth is flat." Or even Abul Kalam Azad, who forced Tagore's Shantiniketan to delete "Satyam Shivam Sundaram" from its letter-head by threatening to stop governmental subsidies when he was education minister.

On second thoughts, we'll avoid this, as well. For, of course, we did not study much about Islam. We only thought about it a lot; we have been nurturing the idea in our mind for the last 27 years. We have been lonely all through our life. At nights, we used to sleep by embracing a pillow. We kept our desire a secret for long. We embraced it now, when we strongly felt the need for love and protection. NOT BY A YOUNG MUSIM LEAGUE LEADER! You have a filthy mind!

In any case, we do not bother about the reactions from people like you. Our secularist community has expressed happiness at our exercising our freedom. You know, secularists are good people: they fully support conversion from Hinduism. The only time they lose their cool is when fundamentalists begin reconversion drives. If you remember, in March, Congressman Sultan Ahmed, CPI-M's Robin Dey and nominated member Rosemary Gellian Hart raised the matter of the VHP's paraavartan yagna in the West Bengal assembly and condemned the extremists for their vile deed and demanded that the VHP be banned. Such is their mettle.

On the whole, the response has been very elating. At this stage of life, how else could we have collected so much goodwill and publicity? We profited from our Prophet. The only jarring note came from Bharatiya Vichara Kendram director, and thinker, P Parameswaran: "May the Lord save Islam."

When the temptress dons the purdah...

Varsha Bhosle

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