Every seasoned debater knows well that no matter how credible he may be with all the supporting facts and figures he has shared it is often difficult to change the mind of a die-hard, close-minded opponent who does not care about truth, facts and figures. The latter's poisoned mind is already made up, and he thinks that what he stands on is the right thing. It is a delusional and obsessed, paranoid mind – the kind of things we have seen with fascists and brain-washed zombies.
I try to avoid getting into debate with such arrogant persons, many of whom are closet or overt fascists. My sad experience with Mukto-mona fanatics, hiding as secular fundamentalists, or more appropriately as fascists, have taught me the lesson quite well. The site is managed by a Bangladeshi Hindu – Avijit Roy, son of Ajoy Roy. I am told that Avijit, an engineer, eventually managed to earn his doctoral degree; academically, he was not that bright and could not find any prestigious western university to offer him admission and assistantship; so he ended up going to and earning his graduate degree in an Asian university. Ajoy Roy was a faculty at Dhaka university. In my conversation with departmental students, I learned that Ajoy Roy was very delinquent – he hardly taught anything to his students and would rather spend all his time campaigning for Hindu communal causes. It won't be an exaggeration to say that no Muslim student learned anything from his class teachings; inexcusably, he hardly came to the class room for teacing, but would make a habit of missing his classes under some pretext, holier causes that he had to pay attention to instead of the class for which he was paid salary. He was known more for such political activism than, sadly, his contribution in teaching and research, which was nil. Zero. He remains to this day a die-hard communalist and an anti-Muslim activist.
So, like father like son, Avijit has been a die-hard anti-Muslim fanatic. He, as a moderator of the Mukto-mona (literally meaning open minded) discussion group, would routinely stop posting of responses from Muslims on a plethora of subjects that his site was posting to demean billions of Muslims and the Islamic faith. He was just opposite of being mukto-mona, a closet fascist, close-minded anti-Muslim bigot. I did not know of the hateful group's existence until someone – now a deceased senior friend of mine – Mustafa Kamal bhai of Philadelphia – brought to my notice an article by a guy who used a pen name – Abul Kasem. It was at least a decade ago.
Abul Kasem has made a mastery of the pick and choose game, what I call "cherry picking" with scriptures and hadith manuals, to fulfil his devious agenda to malign everything Islamic and Muslim. In the aftermath of 9/11 when anti-Muslim sentiment ran high many guys like him – with monumental shortcomings and failures in their personal and public life – saw an easy way out to make some money and/or gain overnight notoriety through their newly discovered 'gems' that were hidden, or so they say, unknown for centuries. They became the 'experts' defining Islam and Muslims. There was a mushrooming of internet sites dedicated to demeaning Islam and Muslims. Many were hosted and financed by people with clear anti-Muslim agenda to whom money was not an issue to float a hateful website.
The hard-core and die-hard Zionists, Buddhist fascists, Hindutvadis and Christian-Zionists – all those with old grudges and monumental hatred of Islam and/or Muslims – collaborated with these so-called former Muslims to flood the Internet – the anti-Muslim websites, some even claiming to be discussion groups – to mock Islam and demean its noble characters. Neither was the zeal lacking in terms of creating such so-called hate discussion groups. The motive was very clear from day one – selling bigotry and intolerance against Muslims and Islam, creating a kind of hatred and xenophobia. Muktomona was one such group that epitomized hatred, intolerance, and bigotry against the Islamic faith and Muslims, in general. It was like a hate-pornographic site, to say the least.
Abul Kasem became a new pundit in this anti-Muslim and -Islamic, crusading site. In his one of the early articles, he had written an article theorizing that poets and poetry had no place in Islam. After reading the article, I quickly wrote a response which showed that he was absolutely wrong for the Prophet (S) of Islam himself listened to poetry and many of his own companions were well known poets; the prophet's cousin – Ibn Abbas (R) wrote the much read tafsir in a poetic style; many of the latter generation Muslims including some famous mufassirs of the Qur'an (let alone Mowlana Rumi) wrote much poetry. If those early generation Muslims did not know Islam, whom are we kidding?
However, Mukto-mona, which was dedicated to mocking Islam, won't post my article unless I join the group. So, I had to join this hateful group and endured their filth which was lobbed every day multiple times – hoping that they would be open minded – i.e., mukto-mona – to post my responses to correct their monumental ignorance and reduce their hatred. But what I found out was that Avijit won't post most of my articles, and even the ones that would get posted would take days and weeks before getting posted, after several reminders to him. To paraphrase his reason, he one time told me, "Dr. Siddiqui, as an editor/moderator I have the right to disallow publication of your articles just as your article can get rejected by the New York Times". He had a valid point: not all my articles get posted in newspapers. I have been writing on a plethora of issues, mostly on human rights, since 1980, and while at least a thousand of my articles have seen the air, quite a few have remained unpublished by some of the newspapers where I had sent those.
But the problem with Mukto-mona was: it allowed posting of everything filthy against Islam and Muslims promptly, but put a selective litmus test (at the will of its Hindu moderator) for my articles, which were aimed at making a more inclusive world to defeat intolerance and bigotry. In all these 34 years of writing since 1980 (when my first article appeared in an international journal, pub. from the USA), no one has ever complained about the quality of my writing. I have written 13 books. Some of my articles are taught in schools, some have been part of encyclopedia, and some part of reference books, and some are treasured by many.
Avijit's motive was insincere and devious. He can't hide that ugliness. What is also interesting, in my years with Mukto-mona, I never gave up writing and responding to what I considered wrong. In spite of Mukto-mona's fascist policy, I had some luck (not too many though) getting a few of my articles posted there. But today, if one were to search for my articles there, hardly anything would show up; even the links are deliberately distorted or taken out. [Just try out searching that article about status of poets and poetry in Islam; it will take you nowhere to find my piece.] So, the plan of Mukto-mona has been quite clear: it simply does not want refutation of its filthy discoveries about Islam and Muslims.
After some years (not days or months), when I had enough of the filthy, stinking Mukta-mona garbage and Avijit's deliberate attempt to not let my responses or articles appear, I discontinued participating in any debate there. What's the point when your sincere attempts to fight bigotry are simply put under the rug by promoters of hatred, while their intent is the spread and merchandising of hatred and bigotry in our world?
The pujaris of the mukto-mona site were just the opposite of being open minded; they were closed-minded fanatics, if not fascists!