In Defence Of Shehla Rashid: ‘Bol Ke Lab Azaad Hain Tere’

Posted by Zia Nomani in Campus Watch, Politics
February 18, 2017

Karl Marx once said, “religion is the opium of masses.” It proved to be true in Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). Former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) vice-president Shehla Rashid was first invited to speak, and later, slapped with a police complaint by the Aligarh Muslim University Students’ Union (AMUSU). She allegedly wrote ‘insulting‘ things about the Prophet in a Facebook post.

A ‘students’ leader meet’ was scheduled for February 18. Shehla Rashid Shora was invited along with other youth leaders including Kanhaiya Kumar (ex-JNUSU President), Mohit Pandey (JNUSU President), Umar Khalid (JNU student leader) and others to speak on the ‘Role of Student Leaders In Building Contemporary Society’. The event was organised by the AMU Students’ Union and invites were sent on their behalf. Posters were put across Aligarh, announcing the great meet in the legendary hall. Yet, how could the AMU listen to communists and leftists? That too a bunch of them? The politically ‘tight’ boys of the university played their little game; mixed religion, politics and topped it up with blasphemy to stall the meet.

Shehla questioned whether historical and religious figures should be subjected to scrutiny and debates. In the post, she had used several logical examples and quoted people who ridiculed Hindu and Islamic religious figures to make her point. Logic too is leftist you see! The post quoted some controversial phrases like ‘Ram was an asshole’ and ‘Muhammad was a paedophile’ to distinguish between hate speech and ‘hateful’ speech. It’s a paradox that the ex-JNUSU vice-president Shehla was accused of hate speech in her Facebook post, which was meant to condemn it in the first place.

Many bombarded social media with anti-Shehla posts, claiming ‘Gustaakh-e-Rasool nahin sahenge!’ Ironically, the very AMUSU that invited Shehla, slapped her with a police complaint on grounds of religious blasphemy. Shame!

AMU Students’ Front declaring Shehla as Gustaakh-e-Rasool.

In my limited opinion, Shehla did not insult the Prophet. She just quoted few insane communal voices.Let’s just assume that she did insult the Prophet. So what? How does it matter? Will it kill the Prophet’s ideologies? Will it diminish his contribution towards the poor, women and humanity in general? No. Such allegations will lead to debates. These debates can then be constructively used to spread the Prophet’s message and ideology instead of abusing people for their views and stripping them off their freedom of expression.

Copy of police complaint lodged against Shehla.

A university is a place for discussions, debates and development of ideas. How can you stop a voice, no matter how contrary it is to your views? How can you declare yourself the protector of Prophet’s ideology when you don’t follow it yourself? I have read in ‘The Sealed Nectar’, a biography of the Prophet, that the Prophet was abused heavily and spit on in public by his haters.  Stones were pelted towards him as he walked. When his companions got angry and wanted to retaliate, he stopped them. There are numerous such instances described in the biography. Also, the last ayah of Surah Al- Kafiroon says,”To you be your religion, and to me my religion.” What blasphemy are they talking about then? Have they forgotten the lessons of Sir Syed? His principles of freedom and debate. AMUSU needs to introspect.

Image source: Samim Asgor Ali/ Facebook