Disturbed in heart and mind
By Marina Mahathir
The Shah Rukh Khan hit movie ‘My Name is Khan’ holds a pertinent message for us: there are only good and bad people in this world; there are no other differences.
IT’S very strange, but as we enter our 54th year of independence, what I least feel is independent. It so happened that I had to travel far recently, to a land where the air was a lot cleaner.
I felt that I breathed a lot easier but I don’t think it was just the air. Once you get away, the air just feels so much less toxic.
Indeed, in the month of Ramadan – the month of reflection and restraint – we find instead more toxicity than ever.
From school principals who spout racist nastiness to politicians and media who insist on poisoning what is already a poisoned well.
Instead of the serenity one hopes to feel at this time, in order to feel closer to God, all I can feel is the disturbance in the heart and mind that comes from living in an environment of hate.
It’s not that I’m lacking in loving friends, family or neighbours.
I live in a lovely street where we know one another and help each other out.
My friends are the kindest in the world. I feel blessed to know all of them.
But I open the newspaper or switch on the TV and there is nothing but anger and sadness.
How can we call ourselves independent when we are so caught up by hate, none of which seems to have any real foundation at all?
A few thousand kilometres away, the rhetoric of hate has become mainstream.
No American politician worth his salt, especially if he’s standing for election this November, will avoid talking about religion, affirming his own and besmirching others.
A rally by the most rabid right-wingers to supposedly “reclaim honour” drew 87,000 people.
The direct result of all this hate-mongering was the stabbing of a
When we look in horror at these events on the other side of the world and feel indignant and self-righteous about them, do we think how we might ourselves contribute to the same treatment to others?
We see how badly minorities are treated in those countries and see no irony in treating our minorities the same way.
Is our empathy only meant for those of the same faith as us?
In Surah 21, verse 92 of the Quran, God speaks: “Verily, [O you who believe in Me,] this community of yours is one single community, since I am the Sustainer of you all: worship, then, Me [alone]!”
And again in Surah 33, verse 35: “Verily, for all men and women who have surrendered themselves unto God, and all believing men and believing women, and all truly devout men and truly devout women, and all men and women who are true to their word, and all men and women who are patient in adversity, and all men and women who humble themselves [before God], and all men and women who give in charity, and all self-denying men and self-denying women, and all men and women who are mindful of their chastity, and all men and women who remember God unceasingly: for [all of] them has God readied forgiveness of sins and a mighty reward.”
In both these verses, and in fact in the entire Quran, God does not speak of particular races but simply to all humankind. We are all equal before God.
How is it that we missed this simple message?
If we knew it, would we be spreading toxins instead of love and respect for one another?
Do we have the independence of mind to believe, rather than to follow those who claim to know what’s good for us but in fact are poisoning us bit by bit?
I just watched the Shah Rukh Khan hit movie My Name is Khan for the second time.
Everyone, regardless of race or religion, has a chance to be good and bad in the movie.
Censoring it, in fact, was a great disservice to Muslims and missed its central message.
When the Shah Rukh Khan character was a child, his mother told him a truth that he held onto all his life: there are only good and bad people in this world.
There are no other differences between human beings.
Perhaps we should make all our politicians watch it.
They might learn something not very new. They might learn that most of us can tell who’s good and who’s bad.