Thank God it’s Friday!
After a gruelling work week, five days of tensions, challenges and deadlines, on the eve of the well-earned weekend, it is time to head out and find that quiet, peaceful spot where one can focus, mingle with one’s tribe, find inner peace and reconnect with the Almighty; the best way being to block roads and seize public spaces.
If you notice any dissonance in the logic, read on. If not, you’re complicit, probably an active participant too. You are likely to be supporting the land grabbing Namazis of Gurugram, too. You can stop reading here.
The Chinese are reputed to have perfected the art of salami-slicing tactics. As Nobel Prize-winner Thomas C. Schelling wrote in his 1966 book ‘Arms and Influence‘ and I paraphrase:
“Salami-slicing tactics, we can be sure, were invented by a child. Tell a child not to go in the water, and he’ll sit on the bank and submerge his bare feet; he is not yet ‘in’ the water. Acquiesce, and he’ll stand up; no more of him is in the water than before. Think it over, and he’ll start wading, not going any deeper; take a moment to decide whether this is different, and he’ll go a little deeper, arguing that since he goes back and forth, it all averages out. Pretty soon, we tell him to remain in sight while swimming, wondering whatever happened to all our discipline.”
The salami-slicing tactic has been adapted with great finesse, in their debt negotiations, military adventurism in the South China Sea and along the Indian border and by their “wolf-warrior diplomats“. Their underlying philosophy is “I have what I have; let’s talk about what you have.’
There is a copious body of knowledge on this and a plethora of metaphors to describe the phenomena that, though being similar, are slightly varied in their details, origins or context, such as:
Defeat in detail
“First they came …”
Moving the goalposts
Normalisation of deviance
Tyranny of small decisions
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Technological change as a social process
The world has recognised the Chinese for their shenanigans and cottoned on to financial scamsters and cute little children who use this technique. Yet, our society fails to see those who have truly perfected the tactic to an imperceptible science, implementing it in multiple dimensions and across geographies, without it ever being called out; creeping Islamisation.
Those who dare to call it out are instantly labelled as Islamophobes, racists, intolerant or bloody Sanghi bigots, thereby alleviating the need to dispassionately assess if they were right or not. Thereby allowing the process to continue unhindered by any analysis.
As the risk of being labelled and dismissed outright, let me point out that creeping Islamisation has nothing to do with people becoming more pious or religious and everything to do with Islam permeating into institutions and spaces that used to be secular with no religious significance. It is about the capture of territory and assertion of dominance.
It can only be recognised if seen dispassionately in the context of the textbook definition of salami-slicing tactics, which an aggressor can influence and eventually dominate a landscape, piece by piece. In this fashion, the opposition is eliminated “slice by slice” until it realises, usually too late, that it is virtually gone in its entirety. In some cases, it includes creating several factions within the opposing political party and then dismantling that party from the inside without causing the “sliced” sides to protest. Salami tactics are most likely to succeed when the perpetrators keep their true long-term motives hidden and maintain a posture of cooperativeness and helpfulness while engaged in the intended gradual subversion.
If this sounds paranoid, please visit Kuala Lampur’s iconic Dataran Merdeka or Merdeka Square on New Year’s Eve. A public ground in the heart of the city, it was one of the venues for public festivities to countdown and ring in the New Year until 2012. Then in 2013, backed by the authorities, an Islamic educational organisation conducted a Malam Cinta Rasul, or Love the Prophet Night, with the chanting of holy verses in Arabic by the Malay-speaking Muslim men of Malaysia. As every passing year passed, it became an assertion of their Islamic identity over the Malay and domination over the non-Muslim and non-Malay Muslims. Only an Islamophobe, a racist, an intolerant person or a bloody Sanghi bigot would criticise an event where devout Muslims peacefully gathered for prayer in a Sharia-compliant manner.
If you see it, read on. If you still don’t see it, you are complicit, a perpetrator or the frog in the boiling frog analogy. You can stop reading or thinking here.
Some innocent souls may counter with a “How is public space sought by Namazis different from a Ganesh or a Durga pandal that blocks roads and footpaths too?”
Well, none of these is a concerted effort to move the practice of Sanatana Dharma forward. They do not discriminate against devotees visiting the pandals based on religion, caste or gender. No one gets beheaded, the punishment for not bowing to Maa Durga isn’t stoning to death, and I can go on. If you are drawn to these deities, feel free to participate. If not, feel free to move on. The pandals are celebrations with no implicit threat of violence.
A few devious ones may try to misguide innocent souls by saying Islamic countries like the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia do not permit such land-grabbing of public spaces or encroachment of roads. This is simply not true. The character and identity of Muslim-majority nations are overwhelmingly Islamic. It dominates all facets of life, culture, banking and jurisprudence. The fact that Muslims are superior to non-Muslims and enjoy greater rights is codified into law and accepted by the international community. It would be creepy if the Mullahs felt the need for creeping Islamisation in the face of a blatant, dominant, unapologetic Islamic identity. Those who have lived, worked or visited the Gulf countries may have noticed this overarching identity. If you haven’t, let it pass.
India does not have an Islamic identity, as yet. We profess secular values. Our Constitution claims all citizens are equal, thereby putting the belief that Muslims are superior to non-Muslims in grave danger. Once a society is Islamic, the influence of Islam can straddle and permeate all aspects of the community, and it doesn’t need to creep anymore.
Other innocent souls may say that congregational prayers in Islam bring with them very specific benefits. They are correct, and for the information of those unaware of these benefits, here are five clear benefits of doing congregational prayers in Islam:
1)Praying as a group brings 27 times more rewards than performing individual prayer. Please don’t ask me why it is 27 times and not 26 or 28 or how was it measured. This is as per some Islamic theologians. Others say 25 times. If your doubt is perceived as an insult to the glory of Islam, the punishment is death. So, please accept it at face value or inform your next of kin.
2)Gain Allah’s pleasure as HE is more pleased with more than one person praying. Again, don’t you dare ask me for details. That is just the way HE likes it.
3)Protection from the Syaitan (Devil) as “the wolf eats up a solitary sheep that stays far from the flock”. Devout Muslims acknowledge that they are safer if, like good sheep, they stay within the flock.
It fosters kinship and matrimonial relationships. Accept it. No further questions, please.
4)Gain reward throughout the prayers of those in congregational prayers. Of course, every devout Muslim knows that when you pray alone, the rewards of prayer will only be given for the parts of prayers that one maintains his or her presence and focus in prayer. But, in congregational prayers, full rewards are given, irrespective of one’s attention span, whatever those rewards are. And, mercifully, no further questions will be entertained.
These points were collated by the wise, and for those interested in reading further, please visit https://muslim.sg/articles/5-benefits-of-congregational-prayers-in-islam. In the absence of any questions or doubts, these benefits have been established as absolute truths; so, let us proceed.
Incidentally, yesterday, I skipped my Surya Namaskar (or salutation of the Sun for those unlettered in Sanatana Dharma), and I watched with horror as the Sun rose as if nothing catastrophic had happened. I didn’t get condemned to the eternal fires of hell; no one got beheaded while the Sun went about the day irrespective. That was my moment of epiphany. So, maybe, religion is a benign, harmless spiritual pursuit that nourishes the soul alone with no territorial ambitions, I foolishly thought.
To test this hypothesis, I invite my Muslim brothers to experiment with NFH or Namaz From Home. But, for those instantly outraged, please don’t. We have that angle covered. A secular journalist from Gurugram, Mr Rahul Dev, available at the Twitter handle @Rahuldev2 , has graciously offered his residence for Namazis. That is low-hanging fruit for territorial expansion and is readily available for capture this Friday. Oops, I mean, it is readily available for Namaz this Friday.
For those progressive Muslims willing to proceed with this audacious experiment, don’t worry about losing out on the benefits of congregational prayers. Instead, there are three simple guidelines to be followed:
1)Declare who’s the Imam and who’s the follower.
2)Make sure the women are right at the back.
3)Reciting the surah Al-Fatihah is recommended but not mandatory.
Again, not my words, but from https://muslim.sg/articles/how-to-pray-in-congregation-at-home with helpful illustrations on how to keep your mother, sister, wife, daughter or the other, otherwise uncontrollable, womenfolk right at the back.
For two years, the world experimented and innovated with Work From Home; the earth kept spinning around the Sun, and the economy remained afloat. The time is ripe for an experiment with Namaz From Home; obviously, your home, not mine.
Suppose devout Muslims can successfully experiment for a few weeks and the earth is still spinning around the Sun? In that case, Islam could undoubtedly do with a #NotInMyName campaign for all those blocking roads, railway lines and public spaces for the ostensible reason of congregational prayers.
If, however, after the first week, the universe disintegrates, our world comes to an end, all of us are consigned to hell without any virgins, then, for the subsequent Friday, please head out to Rahul Dev’s welcoming residence and feel free to block the streets. After all, you have the responsibility to save us and the world as we know it.