OPINION

Taslima Nasrin, The Outcast

November 27, 2007
Raza Rumi

Taslima Nasrin is now a "sensation" of another kind in India. She has attracted the attention of those segments of the Indian media that love selling anything that brings Islam and Muslims related controversies into the public domain. The BJP is also espousing her cause. Probably she is a rebel (some would say heretic) Muslim. Anyway, her uninformed rant on Islam should not be taken seriously while her right to express herself remains inalienable and non-negotiable.

I had seen her controversial book Lajja or Shame and found it to be a mediocre book, full of invective, half-baked stuff and prosaic writing. Even my friends who read it in Bangla were not impressed by its literary value.

She had to leave Bangladesh and moved to Europe and then we found out that she had landed in India, later in Calcutta to be close to her Bengali roots. But of course, this was not to be.

I am not sure what will happen to her. However, she has become an overnight star - once again. A woman expelled from the Muslim bounds of culture and religious acceptance.

Perhaps she is wronged. Perhaps not. But one thing is clear that BJP support will do her no good. This will undermine her cause for freedom of expression that is essentially a secular issue and aligning her persona and writings to the Islam bashing brigades will compound her cause - a humainst issue at the end of the day - beyond and above the religious divides.

The reason why I was thinking about her was to do with the poem and article sent me by a blog-friend SA. The poem is not bad at all. It is a little self-conscious and over the top in parts but has a few soulful lines and a striking central concept:

EVE, OH EVE

Why wouldn’t Eve have eaten of the fruit?
Didn’t she have a hand to reach out with,
Fingers with which to make a fist?
Didn’t Eve have a stomach for feeling hunger,
A tongue for feeling thirst,
A heart with which to love?Well, then, why wouldn’t Eve have eaten of the fruit?
Why would she merely have suppressed her wishes,
Regulated her steps,
Subdued her thirst?
Why would she have been so compelled
To keep Adam moving around in the Garden of Eden all their lives?Because Eve did eat of the fruit,
There is sky and earth.
Because she has eaten,There are moon, sun, rivers, seas,
Because she has eaten, trees, plans and vines.

Indeed, my muse has made me even more reflective with these lines when he rather [melo]dramatically stresses how the sky is falling at Nasrin's treatment:

"...the sky is falling because no thinking mind from the Muslim world has come out in support of Nasrin. .. Sky is falling because tradition of thinking has died in Muslim world which produced people like Averroes, Ibne Sina, .. the sky is falling because the books of muslim theology are filled with  great debates between Imams and atheist philosophers. These atheist philosophers of course lived and flourished in Muslim world and were called in courts to debate with muslim Imams....

... in the 9th century Ibn al Rawandi could live in Islamic caliphate ... publish and defend his works and live freely. .., but in 2007 Taslima Nasrin can't do so, not in Bangladesh, not in secular India. This is post philosophy, post enlightenment world...

The sky is falling because the Communist Party of India who call themselves “Marxist”, who owe their name and being to a “infidel” atheist philosopher Karl Marx failed to protect Taslima Nasrin and forced her out of Calcutta , the sky is falling because Biman Bose supported censorship!! The sky is falling that Communist Party bowed to fascists , sky is falling because it showed that Communist Party government is no different that Nirandra Modi’s government."

Quite fortunately, the secular Muslims in India have also condemned the outright idiocy of the Muslim extremists. A thoughtful Indian blogger (who happens to be a dyed in wool secular Muslim) Indscribe writes:

"I don't know how many protestors have read her works. They are not readable anyhow. And even if she has written something that doesn't go well with us, we have the option not to read it or ignore it. With every such protest Taslima's stature as a writer will go up even if she doesn't deserve that.

Violent street protests don't serve anybody. ...As I saw the stone pelting on streets and the iamges of burning car and mob clashing with police, imposition of curfew, I could imagine what must be going through the minds of many non-Muslims, 'These Muslims, the troublemakers...they are at it again'..."

I have been made to think, and, I treasure such rare moments in the eternal rut of mediocrity that life can be most of the times!

Raza Rumi is a Pakistani blogger interested in art, culture and Sufism.
eXTReMe Tracker
Keep reading for comments on this article and add some feedback of your own!

Comments! Feedback! Speak and be heard!

Comment on this article or leave feedback for the author

#1
Pak Tea House
URL
November 27, 2007
07:59 AM

thanks for publishing this article

#2
razorMirage
November 27, 2007
01:38 PM

Why are you worried who is supporting her , which political party is supporting her.
Why do you want to add political dimension to this issue. If some media houses do it let them do.Or some political parties do then let them do it. But you come out with your ideas.

#3
razorMirage
November 27, 2007
01:47 PM

Actually after second thoughts, I suggest you [EDITED] out of this topic as you anyway won't allow her in your country.
The problem with you and your people is not you but the book you follow.It has all odd , barbaric writings which peactically no sane human can follow.
Now one Muslim woman questioned it and you started condemning her.
Is'nt she one of your woman? This is the way Muslims treat their woman. If woman is raped and she appeals she get punishment and not the one who raped her.
This is Islam guys.

#4
temporal
URL
November 27, 2007
06:27 PM

#3:

any final solutions?

;)


#5
Farhan
November 27, 2007
06:30 PM

Hello RazorMirage, and what about you guys treating your women,II mean the producer of movie water, she questioned how you treat and treated your widows and oops she was thrown out, This is Hinduism guys were there is an option for widows to be burned oops .....cruel no? or second option live an obscure life with a white saree and shaved head. Sanctioned by Smirtis guys!!!!!, supportive of Devadasis(prostitution in Sanctum Sanctum of Temple) , thanks that Hindus follow Indian Penal code, and not Manusmriti. Maximum number of female fetus abortion? guess ...its India, dowry burning deaths....Hinduism, Thanks you do not follow your books instead a Secular Penal code..... Life is not so miserable for you now.
So Razormirage check your closet first there are far more skeletons than you expected, buddy but we know how many.
And Tasleema episode ???the protest is supported by your communist Hindu comrades.
And you objecting to Pakis commenting on this Topic? Who gave you authority??? this is DESICRITICS not just INDIANCRITICS... right?

#6
Farhan
November 27, 2007
06:40 PM

Thanks Raza a good thought provoking article, now did you read Modi is ready to give support to Taslima, A ultimate degree of Hypocrisy, "Hitler supporting Chomsky" .... Lets see what Taslima says , If she accepts it is like fighting a crusades against the Fundamentalists with the help of a greater Evil, the Fascists.

#7
kerty
November 27, 2007
09:40 PM

Farhan.

Communists have proven track record around the world to be fascists and much worse. That is why it is dying around the world while few pockets in India are trying to hang on to it as if it will do miracle for them. Communism can not save anybody.

Taslima should get support from all parties in India. If she does not get it, it will be failure of their secular credentials. It will expose that they are more interested in minoritism rather than positive secularism that can transcend majority-minority divide. It will be one more nail in their coffin that they are only interested in appeasement of fundamentalist moslems rather than moderate moslems. If no other political party is coming forward to help moderate moslems, BJP will gladly step in and claim that only BJP can protect Hindus and moslems from fundamentalist moslems. As it is, large number of moderate moslems have already found home in BJP(it has robust minority cell), because they are orphans in politics and no other party wants them. In previous local elections in Gujarat, more moslems voted for Modi than congress, and many moslems openly campaigned for Modi. Even for current election, lots of campaign material for Modi is produced by moslems. Moslems in Modi's Gujarat are lot better off than moslems in all other states. Modi has protected Moslems and given them riot-free state for last 5 years in spite of so many provocations that would have otherwise trigger riots - and in the history of riot-prone Gujarat, that is a rarity and big accomplishment. Only Modi can control both Hindus and Moslems and channel them in positive direction. I see no other leader or party who can do that. If Taslima lands in Modi's turf, that would mean nobody else in India could protect her. Having abandoned her to fundamentalists on one side and Modi on the other side, they would try to wash their hands off declaring her communal and Sanghi and rob her moderate and secular credentials. I can see that coming.

#8
Free_Kafir
November 27, 2007
11:20 PM

Farhan,
ha..ha..I am laughing all the way...how many times did you see Water.
:)

#9
Mayank Austen Soofi
November 28, 2007
01:14 AM

Ms. Nasreen is a bad writer but novelits should be judged for other reasons too. Her novel "Lajja" remains a powerful voice against the opression of weak. The Bangladeshi Hindus of that novel are also the Gujarati Muslims of Mr. Narendra Modi. It would be unfortunate if this bad writer falls into the trap of this ugly politician.

#10
Farhan
November 28, 2007
01:46 AM

Hello Free_Kafir, water, I see it daily, in fact I believe always.
cheers

#11
Farhan
November 28, 2007
01:57 AM

Hello Free_Kafir, water, I see it daily, in fact I believe always.
cheers

#12
Raza Rumi
URL
November 28, 2007
03:50 AM

Kerty: thanks for your insightful comment..
Mayank: that was good - the bad writer and the ugly politician - ha ha

Razormirage: I respect your right to hold your views; however, you may wish to note that the term [EDITED] is a racist slur. Hope that you would target your invective against "Pakistanis" rather than a racist construct..

Further, I wish you had read the article carefully -

Farhan: your comments are insightful but I think two wrongs don't make a right -
having said that thanks for reminding that this is desicritics - ostensibly a South Asian/desi forum

#13
razorMirage
November 28, 2007
04:30 PM

Farhan...
you said .."what about you guys treating your women...".
Good ploy to come out offensive. If you educated people only think like this then god knows what a comman Muslim thinks.
You want to address my comment but NO ONE, NO ONE ever tried to look what Taslima really faced. Did anyone tried to see how oppressed she is and how much agony she faced. Instead, people even forgot that she is woman an started attacking her.
I love to see a Muslim start a discussion on "Problems on Muslim Woman" or "What Taslima is faced".
But no, every one come out on street and condemning her outright.

#14
razorMirage
November 28, 2007
04:40 PM

Raza Rumi,
It is strange that my Comment #2 is ignored.
I was just asking Pakisthanis not involving in Indian Internal politics. And not in this site.
Also, see the irony. People thought I am pushing you out. But Farhan tried to push me out of talking this topic on Muslims altogether.

I am sorry if I offended (unknowingly) Pakistan or Pakistanis. How can I dream of offending them. Pakistan is the place where hinduism, "Sapta Sindu" originated and you are the decendent of them. The fact that some religion came and taken over from past 8 centuries does not tarnish the 5000 year history we got from there.

#15
Sam
URL
November 28, 2007
04:46 PM

I think it is very interesting that a country like Bangladesh, has women writers who are willing to challenge the patriachial systems that have been in place for so long. Even the Prophet, who fought against female infanticide and accorded women the right to choice in marriage, the right to work, vote and own property 1400 years ago, would salute Taslima as following ijtehad or critical appraisal of society and religion.

Not surprising at all, considering that it is in places like Bangladesh and Pakistan, so called backward countries, where women are elected by popular vote to the highest post in the country, a feat yet to be managed by big democracies that claim to accord equality to women.

What we need in South Asia, is not pointing fingers, but grasping commonalities, the rich tradition of argumentation, dialogue and interfaith tolerance that has survived everything so far. Surely, it is not western secularism that will destroy us?

There have been Muslims in India since the lifetime of the Prophet. The second oldest mosque in the world (after Mecca) is in India. We've lived together for 1400 years, maintaining our distinctness and assimilated without fear or hatred. Lets not allow the divide and rule policies of colonialism to poison our well.

We have a lot more to offer the world as a united culture, rich in diversity and tolerance.

Lets embrace the Taslimas, the MF Husseins, all iconoclasts who question the well tread paths.

#16
kerty
November 28, 2007
07:36 PM

Sam..

Will you be willing to embrace those who question Taslimas, MF Husseins and all other iconoclasts? Would you be willing to treat those who do not embrace Taslimas as Iconoclasts too and embrace them with equal warmth? Why not?

#17
Sam
URL
November 28, 2007
08:26 PM

I have friends who come from all spectrums: atheists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Personally it makes for lively discussions and mutual respect for other peoples beliefs.

I am even friendly with a devout CCR and a Saudi muttawa. I like to lead by example and it is my experience that most people are willing to meet you halfway.

This does not happen by pretending that you are the only one who knows it all and everyone else is a moron who should know better. We have a wonderfully diverse world, why try to fill it with clones? I enjoy Christmas as much as Id as much as Diwali. I attend housewarming parties and sing bhajans, I attend mass and sing carols, I like to expose people to my religion (Islam) without evangelising or preaching.

Its a beautiful world and life is too short to waste it on hating people and creating conflict.

#18
Farhan
November 29, 2007
12:16 AM

Pranab Mukherjee is right when he said that Taslima is free to live anywhere provided she respects the sentiments of their hosts.
I agree India is a great country which gave asylum since time, in the same sense Taslima is also welcome, hope she understands and respect the land. I read the book Lajja partly(in English) and I did not see anything blasphemous, she took the plight of Hindus in B'desh, we Muslims particularly shohld support this book, because we also face the Fascists gangs of Tagodias, Singhals, Modis and so on.
And razormirage she did not speak about plight of Muslim women, friend looks like you are also as ignored as Muslim fundamentalists who took to streets, or Hindu Fascists who took to mass killing without knowing who committed Godhara. (well now investigation reveal that Godhara fire was an accident or even bad Sabotage (krystalnacht) by fellows)

#19
kerty
November 29, 2007
12:43 AM

Since when respecting the sentiment of other people became a pre-condition to be able to live freely in India? Isn't Pranab Mukharjee trying to gag Taslima not to offend Islamic fundamentalists? Will he issue similar fatwa to respect the sentiments of Hindu fundamentalists to be able to live freely in India?

#20
Farhan
November 29, 2007
04:34 AM

Hello kerty you want the same benefit from Pranab, then ask for him, why do you just sit on blog and cry like a child "Mom you gave him why not to me"?

#21
kerty
November 29, 2007
12:55 PM

Farhan..

If what Pranab said is an official central government's position on Taslima, than it needed to be exposed for its obvious flaws and contradictions and its attempts to gag critics selectively and lay down pre-conditions for enjoying freedoms. Official policy of silencing the critics of Islamic fundamentalism will set dangerous precedent and will prove short-sighted for moslems themselves. Some of you will start running around blogs crying like babies when Hindus take similar positions and Hindu fanatics start laying down similar pre-conditions to the critics in order for such critics to be able to live freely and enjoy freedom of expression in India. Until now, such acts of Hindu fanatics could be condemned by people and media, but this precedent will come back to haunt them too when next time they need to condemn actions of Hindu fanatics. Government's stupidity will empower only fanatics on both sides while moderate voices will lose out, and so will people of India. If you are not crying now, you will later.

#22
Sam
URL
November 29, 2007
02:09 PM

"Government's stupidity will empower only fanatics on both sides while moderate voices will lose out, and so will people of India. If you are not crying now, you will later."

This reminds me of a poem I saw in the Holocaust Museum in Wshington.

First they came for the Communists,
- but I was not a communist so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists,
- but I was neither, so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Jews,
- but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out.
And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.

#23
Farhan
November 30, 2007
03:04 AM

#21 Kerty
I appreciate your answer, you talked positively this time, but I replied to your comment were you were complaining that the Government is not equal towards Hindu vs Muslim Fundamentalists.
Is it clear?

#24
Man Singh
URL
December 18, 2007
02:28 PM

Will anybody throw the light what wrong Taslima nasrin did to Muslims or rest of humanity?

Yes she expressed herself when Muslim mobs were brutally murdering innocent Hindus of Bangla Desh?

Is it a crime to call a crime of crime even if done our own fellow belivers?

#25
Vij
December 18, 2007
02:57 PM

Calling spade a spade is crime in islam. There are many critics of religion in christianity, hinduism etc. But very few rare brave souls in islam....courageous and heroic persons like Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen have to protect themselves from fundamentalists and islamic fascists.

#26
Man Singh
URL
December 20, 2007
06:49 PM

I am wondering where are supporters of free speech now.

I saw this site was flooded with articles when Hussein's paintings were attacked due to its contents of naked mother.

I am sure Tasleema never did any thing worst then Huseein.

Aditi Nadkarni, Sujai and many more have almost disappeared now.

All those muslim contributers in this web are keeping mum as if the freedom of speech is limited to Hindu baitors only ie gangs of Mao marx macauley and Mohammed and rest of humanity following their native cultures deserve no rights at all.

#27
Man Singh
URL
December 21, 2007
11:29 AM

I am wondering where are supporters of free speech now.

I saw this site was flooded with articles when Hussein's paintings were attacked due to its contents of naked mother.

I am sure Tasleema never did any thing worst then Huseein.

Aditi Nadkarni, Sujai and many more have almost disappeared now.

All those muslim contributers in this web are keeping mum as if the freedom of speech is limited to Hindu baitors only ie gangs of Mao marx macauley and Mohammed and rest of humanity following their native cultures deserve no rights at all.

#28
Aaman
URL
December 21, 2007
11:37 AM

Man Singh, have you seen the front page recently? BTW, authors/commenters choose whatever they want to write about, they don't have to write about every teen pregnancy, or every contortion in Ms. Nasrin's life.

#29
Aaman
URL
December 21, 2007
11:37 AM

Man Singh, have you seen the front page recently? BTW, authors/commenters choose whatever they want to write about, they don't have to write about every teen pregnancy, or every contortion in Ms. Nasrin's life.

#30
Man Singh
URL
December 21, 2007
01:48 PM

yea I have seen the front page and is nhardly 1% of what so called writers wrote about Painter Hussein when his nude paintings were oppopsed by some sensitive Indians.

Maoists marxists , secularists and Mullaists were beating their breast 100 time more in that case and today the same fellows are sermonising Nasreen to be disciplined and write sensibly. None did same to Hussein.

Such gross biased mentality among so called writers creates the breeeding ground of fanaticism among majority community in India.
Aman please do not dilute the garvity of such fundamental issues of `equality to all' by saying what you have said in u response.
Then we shout at spoiled milk.

#31
Aaman
URL
December 21, 2007
02:04 PM

all religions are fanatical, all followers of religion are fools, psychologically weak, and worse, people who get offended by paintings, books, et al are no different from terror-seeking mullahs in caves.

#32
Man Singh
URL
December 21, 2007
06:11 PM

exception are those investigate God in scinetific way and produce a cross verifiable observations.

In India at least we can claim some spritual Newtons.

Add your comment

(Or ping: http://desicritics.org/tb/6824)

Personal attacks are not allowed. Please read our comment policy.






Remember Name/URL?

Please preview your comment!