Afghanistan has once again been captured by the Taliban, who are known for their complete disregard for human rights and international conventions, sending tremors across the region. The electronic and social media displayed images of Afghan citizens trying to leave the country in fear by hanging on to the planes that took off from the Kabul airport. Who will forget the images of the Afghan women throwing their children over the barbed wires of the airport walls begging American soldiers who were leaving Kabul for good to take them away with them? The situation has become even murkier with many a regional power entering into the embroiled scenario.
Subsequently, prejudices and biases against Islam and Muslims have once again become table-talk across India. People passionately discuss the Taliban brutality and Islamic fundamentalism. It is important to discuss and debate public issues that affect millions of lives in our neighbourhood. However, only informed deliberations will profit us. Discussions driven by bigotry will do no good but remain one-sided and superficial and lead to unfair conclusions. During my conversations with many Christians recently, some portrayed Muslims as ‘communally charged fundamentalists’ who spread fear and unrest among people of other faiths. We do hear many Christians making sweeping statements connecting Indian Muslims and Indian Islam with ‘conspiracies against Christians’. These include members of the clergy and, at times, even members of the hierarchy. This editorial aims at offering in broad strokes some basic understanding of Islam and Muslims that will help us in pastorally engaging with Muslims and dealing with Christian-Muslim controversies.