Dr Wasim Ahmad
Department Head of Islamic Studies
Preston University Ajman

If there is one thing for which we, the Muslims, could instantly be awarded with a Nobel it is in the art of manufacturing excuses. I don’t think we have any competitors in this extremely creative field. The excuses bring the analysis to an abrupt conclusion without concluding. We don’t need to discuss that particular topic any further. Why should we? Because there is an excuse. There is a valid reason to leave it half-way.

The existing governments are a big excuse. We exhaust all the adjectives in describing them. When we are confronted with “What next?” we are not comfortable. “What next?” is the worst unexpected situation that we ever face. There is the silence of a graveyard on some of the Networks – after repeatedly asking this question. If the Governments were favourable we would have been in a very bad shape. As then we would have been obliged to perform.

We love the RSS and the BJP and should be thankful to their founders. Our periodicals would have hardly any job otherwise. The number of conventions would have been reduced substantially. We wouldn’t have discovered the purpose of our existence. The RSS and the BJP have given a lot of reasons for us not to focus on the core issues. We analyze them more than we analyze ourselves. We are more concerned about the performance of the BJP in elections than our obligations in life.

A significant part of the value of our seminars and symposiums would have gone missing if there was no real or perceived discrimination against Muslims in India? Thanks to discrimination, our students don’t have to really work hard because the elder generations have done a very good job of educating them about the discrimination. Why should they foolishly work hard when it is known that they will be discriminated against? We want the laws of nature to unnaturally discriminate against all others. And quite unnaturally favour us. We cannot recede either. Because we are not allowed to.

“We don’t have a leader” is a golden excuse. We delegate a lot of important tasks to that poor unknown leader. We have already overburdened that elusive creature. We want him to carry out all those things which we could, should and must have carried out – with a bit more thinking. When someone asks us what specifically we want from that leader and which questions will he answer then again we face a silence. Knowing it very well that we are merely passing the buck. If we are able to figure out what that leader will do and which questions will he answer then we will also figure out that we could do all of the above. I, however, always wonder why we aspire for one more leader while we already have plenty of them.

Destiny is an excuse. Thanks to Muhammad Iqbal, it is not being used much. When, however, I hear that someone wants to change his taqdeer (destiny) I wonder how he wants to change something which he doesn’t know. How could I change or exchange a watch I haven’t bought in the first place? Maybe we already ‘know’ that it is bad and that’s why we want to change it. If we know that it is bad then it will certainly be bad.

There is a very strong excuse for the ‘traditionally’ educated for not knowing enough English and the ‘modern’ educated have even a much stronger reason for not learning Arabic. It is almost axiomatic (badeehi) – barring exceptions which further strengthen the rule. It reminds me of a line in one of Mushtaq Ahmad Yusufi’s books: “Reyaazi na jaan’nay ko mei(n) bahot dinou(n) tak apnay Musalmaan honay ki ‘elaamat samajhtaa tha”.

When we come up with numberless excuses then it appears as if we want to say, “We could have brought the sky on this earth and would have made the earth star-studded. The only glitch is this excuse.” Our excuses are understatements (kasar bayaani). I am most surprised when I hear excuses from teachers. I am equally surprised when I hear excuses from all those who have a head on their shoulders. I am most surprised to hear excuses from all those who have the ability to offer excuses. I am not sure how many excuses did the Benefactor of Humanity (pbuh) offer.

The industry of manufacturing excuses and selling them works overtime. The outlets are equally efficient. This is the only industry that is cosy and so industrious – both at the same time. Outwardly we give an impression that we are not happy with the excuses. But in reality we are extremely delighted. Because the excuses save us from the toughest job on earth: THINKING. We learn and teach this art – generations after generations. Excellence and perfection is not a day’s work. Obviously.

What to do in this situation? Not much. Let us just be alert in our conversations and writings about the excuses. When the excuses have been offered let us unmistakably ask “What next?” Let us not forget this question in any situation. This is the only way to put an end to this creative art and industry. This is the only way to change the discourse and move one step ahead – as a people.