Comments on Bullets in Bollywood


Why is it that Muslim majority countries have such a hard time accepting democracy, pluraism and secular courts? Even somewhat moderate countries like Malaysia have a two tiered legal system with non-Muslims placed second class (Dhimmis). Saudi Arabia is an extreme example where even owning a non Islamic scripture can get you a very harsh penalty. Most others including Pakistan have versions of Sharia and hudood ordinances to include thought crimes like apostasy, blasphemy etc. all with very harsh punishments. The treatment of minorities by official law is apalling to say the least. Even non mainstream Muslims (Ahmadis) feel the heat. Women have half a vote, worth half a witness etc., all part of the law. Non-Muslims cannot hold any Government job etc. etc. Even in India, clerics managed to get a Muslim personal law. I am sure you remember the Shah Bano case where the secular court ruling for alimony was reversed by Muslim politicians. The loser was a poor Muslim woman. I feel your pain, but as many scholars have written there needs to a fundamental overhaul (reformation) much like every other religious group has done, to generate a massive majority liberal base. Only then will the influence of the Maulanas (clerics) on young minds reduce, and true democracy prosper. And these constant "Fatwas" are irritating......

# 2

Sometimes it seems like the most amazing miracle of all is that there are any people anywhere living in peace. But there are. At any given moment, somewhere someone is serene, healthy, secure, happy. It's hard to believe but it's true.

# 3

Parvez, You are thoughtful and meaningful as always. Not too many people can articulate their feelings and thoughts so honestly. Shukriya.

# 4

As an ex-Christian, ex-Catholic, permit me to observe that the inherent barbarism of many religions has turned many people off. Beyond that, their irrationalism and lack of evidence for all their gods and spiritual assertions makes rational people turn away.

Science produces verifiable knowledge, at best, religion produces unverifiable assertions, at worst, rationales for murder.

You might want to consider separating yourself from al of this nonsense. Personally, I find the picture of the vast and apparently purposeless universe that science produces much more emotionally rewarding than religion.

And it has the virtue of producing measurable, real results and encourages rationality.

# 5
You must be kidding! The worst barbarisms have been committed by Atheists who rationalizations permit them to kill millions of innocent people. God is not responsible for the ignorance of man. You obviously are a scientific illiterate to think science is anything more than convention. Even you must realize that the "apparently purposeless Universe" is your own illusionary construct.

# 6
Heh. I'm in a similar boat as you, in point of fact. I've decided, weighing the evidence for myself, that organized religion serves no purpose, and my personal code that I've cultivated compels me to reject the worship of any god that would create a world such as the one we live in.That said, I think there's a danger of being fundamentalist even as an atheist. There are a lot of atheists who seem intent on evangelizing their view aggressively -- not you though, arvay, just to be clear -- your post demonstrates a reasonable expression of your viewpoint. I've observed a number of avowed atheists who, on closer examination, seem to be disguising prejudice and ignorance in the cloak of their self-declared "supreme rationalism."Me? I'm an atheist because of my personal experiences, but I can't, as a rational man, completely discount the notion that other people may have had genuine religious experiences that I'm not privy to. In short, if I assume that my own perception must be the extent of the defined universe, that would make me as guilty of bigotry as a Christian who despises Muslims or a Muslim who demonizes Jews.That said, while we have our fundamentalist problems (thank you, Christopher Hitchens), atheists on the whole tend to be a reasonable, peaceable lot, I think. :)

# 7
I agree that atheist "fundamentalists" can be as insane as the religious kinds. The USSR actively persecuted religion and probably strengthened it. Altho I've seen programs about formerly Soviet Central Asia that show Muslim men happily sipping vodka :-)Basically, it makes sense for all of us to be tolerant and accepting of each other, even if we don't share the same views. We all inhabit the same planet and need to learn to live together peaceably

Problems created by organized religions...

I think, I must watch Bill Maher's "Religulous."

Don't bother, it's crap. And I'm saying that as an atheist. If you want someone who gives a decent, rational and even-handed case against organized religion, go find something by Richard Dawkins

# 10
Anybody who opts NOT to kill animals has made an advancement.

I met 2 good and decent people involved in the sacrifices today. One had a wounded finger. Although they are friends, part of me felt some revulsion. They may never make the same step you have. It isn't easy to perceive past what we have been taught since childhood.

# 11
Very thought-provoking article, Mr. Sharma. I think what we were all horrified to see in Mumbai was the product of the extreme politicization of religion, fueled in large part by governments in the West, like "with us or against us" Bush, for example. India has long been, with a few tragic exceptions, a place where lots of different kinds of people could coexist, and where it didn't matter so much who/how you worshiped. How will India, with the second largest population of Muslims in the world, fit into this Muslim nation vs. other dilemma?I don't read your piece as pro-vegetarian, but rather as frustration with Islam's glorification of violence and submission.

# 12
I thought "the West" and Bush were probably involved in the Mumbai attacks. Are you sure the vessels the terrorists used weren't supplied by Haliburton

# 13
What I meant by the West's promotion of the politicization of religion was that the vague and ultimately meaningless "War on Terror" has inevitably come to be seen as a War on Islam. I feel like this has seeped into countries with a Muslim population, where us. vs. them battles are being waged where inter-religious relations had previously been tolerable. Of course, throughout history, there have been significant and terribly bloody conflicts in India and all over the world--I'm not naive--due to religion, but this neocon good/evil, red state/blue state dichotomy has a monstrously infantalizing and regressive effect and is doing pluralistic societies no favors

Really, now. What kind of response is that? If you categorize a whole religion as bad or evil, you only create LESS peace. No, you do not triumph in "enlightening" people. When denigrating a religion that is that old, that is so entrenched in one's ancestral "background" , it is not greeted with kindness. Mind you, religion is not always about theology. It is often about geography, history, and one's ethnicity. Of course not always. However, even hundreds of years before us, Sir Francis Bacon found that one's religion is determined in large part to where they were born and to whom they were born. So, please, your statement is not only so flawed, it is MEANT to divide. This is an archaic practice. Do I need to point out the violence in other "acceptable", PC religions? The slaughtering of animals? I'm also a hardcore animal rights advocate, so get ready to go toe-to-toe in backing up your arguments.

# 15
"I think what we were all horrified to see in Mumbai was the product of the extreme politicization of religion, fueled in large part by governments in the West."Then why are you contributing to the polarization by pushing this rather tunneled-vision opinion? The West is to blame that Pakistan is trying to detach Kashmir from India? Oh, really. Pakistani people and government have nothing to do with it, of course. Looking for culprits everywhere, but in your own neighborhood, will not advance the cause of reconciliation

"The West is to blame that Pakistan is trying to detach Kashmir from India? Oh, really. Pakistani people and government have nothing to do with it, of course."Note the word "fueled" and phrase "in large part" in his statement. Where is he reassigning blame from Pakistan to the West exclusively or even mostly? "Large part" doesn't seem to mean "ALL" to me

I believe he said "fueled in LARGE PART" by the West. Note the word "fueled". This doesn't completely reassign blame. Relax.

Great article, Parvez. On my Pakistani-muslim side of the family, we are all vegetarian. I'm a vegetarian and I'm disgusted with this archaic practice. Please, those in no need to hunt anymore, people. This should be out of complete necessity only, not ritualised.

# 19

Parvez the great thing about be American is you can be Parvez Sharma, and anything and anybody you want to be, you can invent yourself and just be you...

Isn't that enough..?

Mr. Parvez Sharma, I bow to you for such a clear and honest explanation of your feelings. Indians, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis are of the same history, ethos, and culture, with variations and differences of course, but within the same space of Mother India (Bharat Mata). Music, food, folklore, etc. I believe this feeling you describe is the best way to fix the conflicts facings us with the dangerous divide between Hindu and Muslim. Why India cannot unite? That is the solution, a lose federalism. Bring back the Panchayat. Let everyone's religion worship God as they see fit without interfering with another, that has been the root of Hinduism. But right now India is a giant that cannot walk, as she is missing a part of each leg. India's Dharma is always in peril, as Sri Aurobindo asserted on 15 August 1947, until partition is reversed. This must go. And with India's Dharma in peril, the world's future looks bleak.Yes, vegetarianism is of the essence. Let Sattwic food decrease the animosity and respect for animals - Ahimsa - propel respect for men. Several critical concessions are a must, no religion should believed called to convert the other.

The answer in not in going backwards but integrating the NOW. Change in a constant. What you are proposing is regressing to a past...you can never go home. How do you escape the time warp of your own conditioning, and shape those of others? Sorry, I am only good at posing questions...

"What you are proposing is regressing to a past...you can never go home. "Only difference is, they ARE home. We're not talking about Dorothy or a band of gypsies. There is an artificial border between these countries and that is a VERY LARGE PART OF THE PROBLEM. Hello? Kashmir, anyone? Al Qeada in Kashmir? Yoo-hoo. I cannot understand why someone would so flippantly dismiss the idea of unity, as if it is silly and because it is of the past (something the British enforced), it's no good and anything already done, is no good. Does it just sound too idealistic? Sometimes what seems peaceful can actually be. Sometimes it isn't just pink fluffy clouds and hearts. There is actually reason behind it. We're not speaking about a nomadic tribe that wants to return "home" and reclaim land. It isn't such a far-out-there idea. I fear some are insisting on a system that is obviously not working and has no reason to exist. Why should these countries be seperate? Any reason for that? Please tell me? Just religion, huh?

I was born and raised in Pakistan and I'm one of the (few) Pakistanis who thinks that uniting the South Asian subcontinent is something that will happen, possibly within the next 20 to 30 years. Pakistan is a hollow state that cannot provide peace and prosperity to its own people and can not control the extreme elements within it. Most of the culture, food, music, lifestyle etc of Pakistanis is based on our Indian heritage. We were all Indians not too long ago, and some of us realize that we still are. But due to blind nationalism, extreme defensiveness, and the bloody history between the two nations, Pakistanis have a hard time accepting this simple fact. Extremism on the part of Hindu nationalists doesn't help relations either. But overall, Muslims of Pakistan need to stop acting like victims and start looking at the world differently than they have since 1947. Pakistan is a failed state and it's best for the younger generations there to work towards a more united South Asian region rather than keep fighting over the differences.


Yes, Bharat Mata is an organism, a whole that can only be partitioned by violence. Because of missing integral parts, it cannot function properly or fulfill her destiny (Dharma).One of the greatest Indians, Sri Aurobindo (his birthday was on August 15, coincidence?) wrote on August 15, 1947 India Independence from British Raj: "India is free, but she has not achieved unity, only a fissured and broken freedom...The whole communal division into Hindu and Muslim seems to have hardened into the figure of a permanent political division of the country. It is to be hoped that the Congress and the Nation will not accept the settled fact as for ever settled, or as anything more than a temporary expedient. For if it lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled; civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. The partition of the country must go...For without it the destiny of India might be seriously impaired and frustrated. That must not be." Finally, Union is the only real solution.

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