for all this talk of islamic radicalism and fanaticism causing global terrorism, what often gets left behind is the fact that, as long as poverty and illiteracy exists in the so-called third world, shit like this will continue to happen:

Police and local people said Amena, wife of expatriate Shyam Miah, slaughtered her two-year-old son Mamun in compliance with an edict she got from her Pir in dream on Friday night.

Amena, said to be a disciple of Kala Shaheed Pir of Akhaura in Brahmanbaria district, went to her sister-in-law’s house at Nagarpar from Kulubari on Friday along with her son Mamun.

On that night, she dreamt of her religious guru telling her to sacrifice one of her children for leading a ‘peaceful and happy life’.

“Amena slit the throat of her son at about 8:00am and sat in front of the body-unmoved by the harrowing scene,” says a firsthand account of the tragedy.

“She didn’t seem insane,” police said, when contacted.

and why, precisely, would she seem insane? after all, what does she know about ethics or any other fancy term that you and i can use to justify why we don’t sacrifice our children? she’s probably uneducated, or received primary education, and through its course, nobody probably told her explicitly that it was wrong to kill her children. rather, perhaps the closest exemplar she ever had was the religious story of abraham and how he tried to sacrifice his son.

please note, i’m not in favour of killing children. the reason i highlight this story out of all the crap in the paper this morning, is that the reason islam is suddenly witnessing an upsurge in bangladesh is not because of an increase in fanatical leaders or even deteriorating moral standards. rather, the increase is due fully because the poor are left with nowhere else to turn, except to islam as a way to solve their problems. this article highlights the phenomenon quite well:

Thousand of erosion victims of Shaghata upazila gatherted on the bank of Jamuna and joined a prayer seeking mercy from the almighty to same them from further erosion as government remained inactive to control it.

with this continuing failure of the government to provide basic services like water and electricity, or their failing efforts to stop the price of essential goods from spiralling, people are more susceptible to the teachings of imams who say that prayer can solve their problems.

i’m not certain where i’m going with this train of thought. however, i just want to point out that, in the absence of any intervention, whether from the government, ngos, donors or civil society, to improve basic knowledge or education levels, such fanatical behavior is to be expected.

for more evidence of the islamic upsurge in bangladesh, watch any random half hour of programming of the state-run bangladesh television network.

1 Comment

  1. omg i was in shagatha studying erosion a few months back.

    just wanted to say that self confessed cibhil society is fake.

    in these areas, in the rural places, we are bset of assisting the social institutions that are already there. the communities resetablish them again and again ater erosion.

    and we sit on the effing web and talk crap about a few weird tales we hear about ignorance dressed up as religion and what not.

    People dont turn to islam because its the only option. to suggest that is just soooo patronising, perhaps you didnt mean it.

    The people of bangladesh come from a much deeper islamic culture than the newly empowered city lot, the triangle of triksiness: gulshan, banani and baridhara. The solidarity and spiritual strength forged to withstand life ehen land is contiually remobhed from the system. There is nothing you can compare that to.

    and of course people pray in times of greater calamity, its not fatalism , its recognition of who is in control. not the water board (its not bogra you see).

    I challenge you to translate and render onto you blog any jummah khutbah and manajat and find complex hydrological data and national water masterplans.

    a strong jamaat helps the community, a fluid culture of gibhing to local social institutions helps too.

    Who is sushil samaj? the daily star’s mates or the local cinstitutional committees and nobility?

    What form of philantrhopy can we call our own, the Waqfs or the NGOs?

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