The protest against the Shah Rukh Khan movie My name is Khan has baffled P Ramakrishnan, who points out that the film has been screened without much problem in many countries with a sizeable Muslim population. So just who are the people “confused”?
It is difficult to understand the so-called Muslim elites who constantly and consistently convey the erroneous message that Islam is under threat and that the Muslims will be easily misled.
They always seem to suggest that Muslims must be sheltered and protected otherwise they can go astray and embarrass their religion.
The latest episode involves the screening of the movie My name is Khan by TV3 on the second day of Hari Raya Aidil Adha.
The Muslim youth movement, Abim, has strongly protested against this film, claiming that Shah Rukh Khan’s film My name is Khan “confuses Muslims as it promotes liberal Islam and religious pluralism, and warned Malaysian broadcasters not to air the hit film”.
Abim vice-president Ahmad Saparudin Yusuf “gave examples of scenes in the film such as the Muslim hero marrying a Hindu heroine, saying that it is ‘clearly against Islam’s teachings’”. He also pointed out “that the depiction in the film of acceptance and mixing of other religions’ worship methods with Islam’s, as well as giving zakat or alms to non-Muslims were ‘confusing’”.
This film has been available in Malaysia since March 2010. It has been screened in cinemas and the film’s CD has been widely sold. In the two and half years that it was around, thousands upon thousands of Muslims and other Malaysians have seen and enjoyed the film.
Is there any evidence that the average, ordinary Muslims in Malaysia have become confused about Islam because of the film? Has their faith in Islam been eroded as a result of seeing this film?
My Name is Khan has been shown in many Muslim countries where the film is very popular. It has become the highest Bollywood earner in the Middle East. It has been screened in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria in March 2010 when the film was released. In Indonesia, the country with the biggest Muslim community, the film was so popular when it was first released that it grew from six to 14 screens. In all these countries there was no protest against or any negative reaction to what was depicted in the movie. No one took offence to the film.
In India, the country with the biggest Muslim population outside Indonesia, there was no problem whatsoever. Besides Islam, many other religions and various forms of worship exist on a daily basis in that country. People are tolerant and accept the fact that others have a right to their religion. As a matter of fact, religions co-exist in India.
In real life, Shah Rukh Khan – a Muslim – is married to a Hindu woman. This has not upset the Muslims in India or anywhere else. Knowing this fact has not prevented the Malacca state government from conferring on him a datukship. Even Tun Dr Mahathir on his visit to India made it a point to meet up with him.
So who are the people who are confused?
The average, ordinary Muslims are of stronger faith and they are not easily confused!
P Ramakrishnan is the immediate past president of Aliran