While browsing videos on a Facebook page, I chanced upon a graphic video of a woman burning to death. The caption read “The Azab (punishment) of Allah on the woman who put the burqa (full veil) on fire in a protest against the wearing of burqa in India.”
At first I thought it was just a video with a sensationalised caption, but when I watched it I felt chilled all over. I had never seen anyone being burnt alive in my life before and the impact it had on me was immense. My instant thought was ‘So this is what it would be like, this is what I will go through for rejecting the signs of my Rabb and sinning against my own self?’ Needless to say, I never will be able to remove the image from my memory.
When I felt a bit more normal I marveled, ’How strange that the one who had uploaded the video felt smug enough to caption it thus’. ‘The Azab of Allah’, a phrase so casually thrown around by Muslims nowadays who, despite indulging in every sin named in the book, feel they will only be welcomed with garlands of fragrant flowers at the doors of Jannah. But what was more shocking was the plethora of comments on the video that reeked of the same self righteousness. Ranging from ‘“Subhan Allah” to “Allah o Akbars” to open condemnations of “This is what you get for rejecting the signs of Allah,” the comments were disgusting in their complacency for accepting the fate of the woman as well-deserved and in fact called-for.
But we will come to the comments later. The next day when I felt somewhat normal again, something did not sit right with me about the video. If this protest did in fact take place how come I never heard of it in the news? A hate mongering protest like that, followed by such a fearsome death would have made the headlines all over for sure. So I checked the video on Youtube and after a little browsing amazingly it turned out that the protest had nothing to do with abaya even remotely. It was a protest carried out by a fraternity of teachers against the state of Punjab in India in 2010, which turned bad after some teachers tried to demonstrate their anger at the government for not meeting their demands by putting a dupatta (long scarf worn by women in sub-continent) of one of the protesting women on fire.
Can you imagine? I marvel at the cunning of the one who conveniently omitted the opening few seconds of the original video where one of the protesting women took off her own scarf from around her neck and put it on the railing to burn it. Since the scarf was black it could be easily mistaken for an abaya.
Delighting in the conspiracy theories as we all do, we would like to believe it was not a Muslim who uploaded this falsely captioned video; that it was in fact a Muslim hater who wanted to malign the religion of Islam who was behind it. But what a shame it is on the intellect of the Muslims who accepted the caption to be true without questioning the authenticity of the video and proceeded to share it with derogatory captions and comments. If I, with my average level of intelligence, could figure out that something smelled fishy in the story then we would have to grade our common Muslim masses way below average. It is an irony that it simply never crosses our minds to investigate on a sensationalised and sometimes even downright fantastic bit of news items posted on the social media, and we are the people who have been warned against spreading falsehood, spying, over assuming, slandering and backbiting in our religion.
We see this trend being followed all over the internet. Youtube is full of knavishly photo-shopped fake natural miracle videos trying to prove the divinity of Islam and they are widely shared by thousands of Muslims on social media, and commented upon by more without any sense or reason. Not too long ago the fiasco regarding the claims that a female Nasa astronaut converted to Islam after hearing the sounds of adhan in space really put our intelligence to shame as a people. We are so eager to clutch onto some manifested miracle in nature proving the divinity of our religion, yet we fail to appreciate its true miracle, the Qur’an, which we have shoved behind our backs. Qur’an was the miracle of our Prophet (SAW) and if we really want to impress upon this world the truth of Islam, it is only through this book that we can achieve that feat.
Although seemingly innocent, this trend of fake miracle videos among our ummah makes us sound ignorant and at times even pompous and needless to say leaves a very bad impression of us as a nation on the onlooker. But when it comes to the wrongly captioned video of a woman meeting a sad end in an unfortunate accident, this tendency to seem high and mighty ceases to be innocent. It is downright deceitful, prejudiced and a hate mongering act, and it has brought much harm and resentment against us in the hearts of those who know little about our religion. With all the media propaganda against Islam today, this ignorant trend just helps seal the negative image of Muslims in the eyes of those who already see us as enemies.
What disturbed me profusely, besides the fake video itself and its caption, is the self-righteousness, conceit and arrogance of the posters and viewers, the downright inhumanity and hate behind the comments, and this from the followers of a prophet who was Rahmatullil Alameen (mercy to the mankind); who spent every ounce of energy in his body to bring people away from the brim of fire. To whom Allah I in His book said “Then perhaps you would kill yourself through grief over them, [O Muhammad], if they do not believe in this message, [and] out of sorrow” (Al-Kahf:6).
He, who could not even imagine without anguish the fate of the ones who rejected his message, let alone watch them burn in person and smugly say “Serves you right”. He, who was given the glad tidings of Jannah yet cried out of fear of Allah (SWT), and so did his companions who bared the torch of his message with ultimate fidelity. Yet these loved ones of Allah (SWT) were fearful for themselves and cried for their own souls, while we smugly watch such videos and congratulate ourselves for having a Muslim name on our passport which we feel is our pass to Jannah as well.
O ummah of Muhammad (SAW), what have you come to? If anything this video should have made you resolve to reach out to each and every brother in humanity and bring them away from the flames of hellfire by showing them the light of this true deen. If in fact you were so sure of your own salvation, your heart should have bled for those who stand in danger of falling into the fire.
Today I am reminded of a Qur’anic dua where we beseech Allah (SWT) to not make us a fitnah (test) for the disbelievers, that through our conduct they are driven away from this beautiful deen. After all aren’t we supposed to be the people of this verse?
“You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah….” (Al-Imran:110)
A freelance writer, a stay home mum, a student of knowledge in Islam, Deputy Editor at Muslimaat Magazine (http://www.muslimaat.net), Rahma is a Masters Degree holder in International Relation, has worked as a journalist and now takes great pleasure in teaching Quran Tajweed to children.