Muslims are under an obligation to honour and protect any house of worship dedicated to God, whether it be a mosque or a church or a synagogue (also mentioned in Qur’an; 22:40); and any attempt to prevent the followers of another faith from worshipping God according to their own lights is condemned by the Qur’an as a sacrilege. Allah says: “Hence, who could be more wicked than those who bar the mention of God’s name from [any of] His houses of worship and strive for their ruin, [although] they have no right to enter them save in fear [of God]? For them, in this world, there is ignominy in store; and for them, in the life to come, awesome suffering.”(Qur’an; 2:114).
The attack on Budhist sites in Ramu, Coxs Bazar may have a wider implication than religious fanaticism. Since the sectarian card was utilized in the conflict a look at the religious position at the outset would be justified.
Protection Non Muslims & Their Places of Worship:
It is one of the fundamental principles of Islam that every religion which has belief in God as its focal point must be accorded full respect; however much one may disagree with its particular tenets writes Muhammad Asad in his commentary, The Message of Qur’an. The Muslims are under an obligation to honour and protect any house of worship dedicated to God, whether it be a mosque or a church or a synagogue (also mentioned at Qur’an; 22:40); and any attempt to prevent the followers of another faith from worshipping God according to their own lights is condemned by the Qur’an as a sacrilege. Allah says: “Hence, who could be more wicked than those who bar the mention of God’s name from [any of] His houses of worship and strive for their ruin, [although] they have no right to enter them save in fear [of God]? For them, in this world, there is ignominy in store; and for them, in the life to come, awesome suffering.”(Qur’an; 2:114).
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was very sensitive to the protection of minorities, as evident from the Hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Amr: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever killed a Mu’ahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of travelling).”(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith: 9.49). Narrated Amr bin Maimun: The second Caliph Omar (after he was stabbed by a man from minority), instructed (his would-be-successor) saying, “I urge him (i.e. the new Caliph) to take care of those non-Muslims who are under the protection of Allah and His Apostle (peace be upon him) in that he should observe the convention agreed upon with them, and fight on their behalf (to secure their safety) and he should not over-tax them beyond their capability.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith: 4.287).
“On the night of November 9, 1938, violence against Jews broke out across the Reich. It appeared to be unplanned, set off by Germans’ anger over the assassination of a German official in Paris at the hands of a Jewish teenager. In fact, German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and other Nazis carefully organized the pogroms. In two days, over 250 synagogues were burned, over 7,000 Jewish businesses were trashed and looted, dozens of Jewish people were killed, and Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, schools, and homes were looted while police and fire brigades stood by. The pogroms became known as Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass,” for the shattered glass from the store windows that littered the streets.” (www.ushmm.org.)
Nazi pogrom culminated into a wider global conflict which eventually left the world with 63 million dead by the end of WWII (http://www.secondworldwarhistory.com/world-war-2-statistics.asp). Religious intolerance was not the cause but a justification for whatever was done to acquire world domination. From the debris of broken windows in Ramu conscience begs to search for this answer, “what is worse, killing or sectarianism?”
The Holy Quran says “….and Fitnah is worse than killing” TMQ 2:191. The word “fitnah” is a combination of many wrongs rolled into a collective design impregnated by evil concepts disrupting the harmony of life and society. Like the Trojan horse symbolically being worse than the actual killings in the battle field. FITNAH in Ramu appropriately defines the evil work of division, disunity, distrust, suspicion and violence using the communal and sectarian cards. Left to linger on this fitnah could someday unleash many more evils striking at the very foundation of social unity and harmony.
Nazi storm troopers grew stronger after the Night of Broken Glasses whereas German self conscience grew weaker every time they gave in, willingly or unwillingly, to accept Nazi pogrom. Ramu’s night is our night of broken glasses unless we do something about it, fast. Before jumping to conclusions, like our beloved politicians, take a birds’ eye view of the situation, keeping regional and international politics in mind.
Ramu’s sad events resemble the ethnic clashes of Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Global media can now show Bengalis as intolerant towards ethnic minorities just the way Burmese were to Rohingyas only few months back. Now that both countries have an issue with ethnic groups in their border areas it would be wise for both parties to exercise caution in both speech and intent against each other. Thus, both countries logically thinking should be in support of non interventionist policy in their domestic affairs. Politics of convenience quickly comes under the microscope of human rights violations since it contains the possibility of turning a blind eye to ugly situations.
It would be a monumental mistake to inject or support any more sectarian splits through traditional blame game culture of local political parties. Ordinary citizens of the state rightfully demand from all the organs of the state a response to Ramu which will not divide the society into communal, sectarian or political camps. Rather people in general seek a pluralistic society based on social justice, equality and religious freedom.
“Oh you who believe, stand up firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even if it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor; for God can best protect both. Do not follow any passion, lest you not be just. And if you distort or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that you do.” (Quran 4:135).