If Salman Rushdie was worried if his brand of defiance was passé, the recent upgrading of the bounty on his head (by $500,000) would come as a great relief. And in a subsequent interview, the author reiterated his belief that blasphemy is necessary to promote modern thinking.
Whether he intended it or not, the Booker-winning author has brought into focus one usually-ignored truth — that blasphemy has brought about progress and development as we see it.
The development of science has always been in the blasphemous path and many men who followed reason gave their lives for it. If they hadn’t challenged the faith-driven interpretations of nature, we would have been still with medieval mindsets.
And we would be living on a flat earth and not sailing too far from land for fear of falling off the edge. Not to forget that the universe would be orbiting the Earth.
People with mental illness would be seen as possessed with evil spirits and subjected to brutal treatment (not that this has really changed even now).
It was not long ago when my mother’s colleague died of high blood sugar because his prayer group believed it is against god’s will to take medicine. After prayers failed to keep his soul attached to his body, he left behind an unemployed wife and five little children (yes, the sect also believes that family planning offends god).
If people were to not to allow the ‘mysterious ways’ to decide their behaviour, the world would definitely be a better place. Caste divisions, communal riots, ethnic cleansing, genocides, female genital mutilation and a million other inhuman practices would have no takers.
Think of the absurdness of some random guy in India going around burning government buses in which he travels daily because of some offensive short film made in the United States. How does your thunder and tirade help, buddy?
We wouldn’t have had the misfortune of our greatest contemporary artist, MF Husain, dying in exile if his artistic freedom hadn’t ‘offended religious sensitivities’ and made him a target of legal harassment and vandalism of his works.
Imagine the amount of money you would be saving, or spending on matters of your tastes and choice it wasn’t diverted to people who claim to have a hotline with god or can broker your way to salvation (for a price).
Couples would have been living happily if they weren’t forced apart because a couple planets or stars aren’t favouring their union.
And when you want to do something you can do it at a time of your own choosing and not wait for some board-reader to tell you the ‘auspicious’ time for it.
Colour of the flag or name of the sect doesn’t manner, religious bigots have been there all throughout human history. They thrive on ignorance, blind faith, complacence, nepotism and the desire for status quo by the privileged. The lines are redrawn and rules are bent to suit their material gains and controlling power.
Life is short, let us use our brains (unless already muddled by religions) to be better human beings to our brothers than be dictated by criteria to avoid the purgatory.
The writer works for Postnoon
About the Author (Author Profile)
My interests lie in current affairs, social issues and political analysis. A strong believer of independent thinking and healthy scepticism.