We did it again. How could we not? We need something to keep us going. At a time when a pandemic that is consuming the whole world is in action, we couldn’t keep ourselves aloof from making the virus a communal one. Every time there arises a threat that requires a pan collaboration of all Indians, the underlying danger of communalism gets the better of us.
This has exactly happened again. This time it’s the virus that has received a communal colour. So I ask: Will the virus look at our religion before it kills us? Will the virus ask for the thappa of dharma (remembering the movie PK) before it manoeuvres its way in our bodies? Or will the virus inquire about our privilege? Well, I think after looking at the statistics of the victims of Coronavirus, I’d have to say none of the above.
So why did we communalise a virus? Why did we let people attribute a step taken by certain group of people to tarnish the image of an entire community? Does any action of any individual of any faith put the entire community collectively accountable? The people who answer it in the affirmative are the ones who are responsible for the widespread of Islamophobia. We can gasconade as much as we want about the tenets of the multi-cultural nature of India, but it takes less than a minute to tarnish that image of our country.
My family and I have been receiving calls from our friends and colleagues who have been demanding an answer from us as to why the Tablighi Jamaat acted in the way that they did. They hurl us with questions and accusations. One of them said, “Why is it only that Muslims and Islam are always present when such kind of incidents happen. Why only you guys?” What am I supposed to answer? Am I the right person to even answer this question when my actions do not stand in consonance with that of those people?
Another one asked me, “Do you even condemn this act?” Why was it expected unprecedentedly that I will not be condemning such an act which has created havoc in the entire nation. Has the virus given me a tip that it won’t attack me?
The gruesome attack by media channels incriminating the entire Muslim community for an act by some is utterly horrific. This clearly shows that the mindset prevailing in many. The phase of denial has passed. This incident is not a sole one. It is just not this particular incident that has yet again been immersed in the colour of communalism. But it’s the general mindset now.
So what makes this incident so disturbing for many of us? The very issue that a virus that has the potential of killing anyone irrespective of any difference is being called — virus jihad. The question remains: If this would have happened in any other religion would there have been such degradation and abuse for that community itself? Will the media channels continue with their task of mortification of the other religion? These are questions that we need to answer ourselves.
So my fellow Muslims and I should be prepared for a fortnight of horror. It has started again. We will be at the end of receiving an unaccounted number of flak, calling names, abuses, Islamophobia, the whole religion being called a terrorist one, virus jihad and just like that the virus will attain or I think it already has attained a religion.
It is as if defending oneself from the virus was not enough, now I have to defend the name of my religion from it that many are continuously accusing it of spreading.