Thursday, 5 December 2019

Ignorance Galore!

Updated: April 6, 2013 1:57 pm

India that is bharat

The trouble with the dons of the dictionaries is that they are dunces. In the considered opinion of this word-smith, they may know what a word means, but they do not know what a word should mean. Take Jihad. The Oxford Dictionary says Jihad means “a holy war undertaken by Muslims against unbelievers”. Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary, now a century old, does not even know the word. It doesn’t have it. On the other hand, the World Book Dictionary of Chicago displays its triple ignorance by giving as many as three meanings. Firstly, giving the literal (that is Arabic) meaning it says Jihad means “a religious war by Muslims against unbelievers”. Then it gives a figurative meaning, which is “any war against some belief or principle”. And as if this is not enough ignorance, it adds a third meaning and says a ‘Jihad’ is a ‘Crusade’.

Now, being a secularist (and an Indian-Islamic secularist to boot) Satiricus of course knew this must be all wrong, but being an illiterate journalist he did not know what. Fortunately, now he does, thanks to American advertisers. For news comes that they are helping a Muslim group in Chicago to carry on an ad campaign in which they are displaying advertisements on the sides of buses “promoting,” as a report says, “a non-violent meaning of the word, “struggle”, that applies to everyday life. The advertisers assure all and sundry including Satiricus that, adds the report, “Jihad is a spiritual concept that has been misused by extremists and inaccurately linked to terrorism, and they are determined to reclaim that definition with the ad campaign called My Jihad.”

This is tremendous news for timid secularists like Satiricus. For now he knows that despite being born a Hindu by unfortunate accident of birth (a la Nehru) he does not have to fear a ‘struggling’ Jihadist, only an accomplished terrorist. For the advertisement shows a woman wearing a head scarf lifting weights and saying, “My Jihad is to stay fit despite my busy schedule, what’s yours?”

Well, well, well ! What is Satiricus’s Jihad? What is his ‘struggle’? Why, his Jihad is to keep killing his readers nonviolently by boring them to death with this column, and his ‘struggle’ is to find out words to write it without knowing their meaning. That will keep him safe, for if he does not know what he writes, nor will his readers know, and then they will appreciate him as an illustrious, albeit illiterate, man of letters. But for that to happily happen, he must discard dangerous dictionaries. Look at the confusion they cause in what passes for his brain. Although it is well known that England and America are divided by the same language, both the English and American dictionaries Satiricus looked up agree in their ignorance that Jihad is a “holy”/“religious” war by Muslims. But the little logic Satiricus learnt in college says a war waged by Muslims can only be against non-Muslims. Then does that mean Jihad as a “spiritual struggle’ is waged by a Muslim against a nefarious non-Muslim within him or her? To make matters more meaningless for muddle-headed Satiricus, both dictionaries say Jihad is a war on unbelievers. And who are they? Both the dictionaries say they are the “infidel”. By way of additional info the American dictionary says during the Crusades the Muslims called the Christians ‘infidels’. In a final, unkindest cut it says ‘Jihad’ and ‘Crusade’ mean the same. What does that mean, if it means anything at all? It means the Crusade the Christians waged against the Muslims for two hundred years was also a Jihad waged by Muslims against the Christians. All this convinces Satiricus that if he wants to know what he means by what he writes, he should stop looking into a dictionary, he should look into a book on that word.

Such a book is Islam and Terrorism by Anwar Shaikh. Unfortunately, this ex-Pakistani seems to disagree with Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, who just the other day publicly assured Indians that “Pakistan is not a Jihadi State”. For in the very preface of the book Shaikh seems to have surrendered in his “spiritual struggle” with the stunning statement that “Jehad means killing or getting killed. And God makes a binding promise of paradise to those who kill infidels or get killed by them. In fact, Jehad is a sacred name for terror.” To emphasise his ignoble ignorance he repeats in the book’s opening pages: “Jehad, which requires maiming, mutilating and murdering non-Muslims, constitutes the way that leads straight into paradise.” Is this not outrageous enough for the American advertisers? Apparently not. For Shaikh goes on cussedly quoting “Quranic evidence” in section after section, such as Repentance, The Cow, The House of Imran, Muhammed, The Spoils, Victory and what have you. Secular Satiricus is stunned. It is time he went back to his Jehad his ‘struggle’ to complete this column.

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