I’ve noticed a trend in more Sufi-oriented social media towards religious condemnation of the ummah’s reaction to the YouTube short, “Innocence of the Muslims”. Specifically, I’ve seen a rise in the application of the term hypocrite/munafiq to those who burn (literally and figuratively) with rage at the blasphemy. Usually it’s Western converts throwing the ummatic towel in – often followed by a more embodied/native born Muslim shrugging off the actions (as frustration due to colonial injustice etc). The convert’s exasperation is palpable, more so than ever.
The religious aspect of this exasperation is interesting: bringing the Islamic term munafiq into the game, throwing it back against a percentage of the ummah. To use the term in this context is always to adopt a prophetic mantle, of the stranger versus the tradition. I’ve even seen several converts recently come clean, that they consider themselves to be the new “guides” for the ummah, kindly offering their leadership up to the blind masses (presumably with a recipe for ridding them of these unruly hypocrites).
It’s a difficult position for the convert – I’ve been there myself – you read the Quran with your fresh Kantian eye and are astounded the rest don’t do the same. How can the ulama not get what I am getting from this book? I see love and light – they see rules and war. I see metaphor, they see the literal. Well then, I must be chosen, it is I who must educate.
Here, the hypocrites are those who have hidden the core truth from the ummah – and hypocrisy is defeate by education, by guidance.
That’s the (prophetic) convert’s fantasy.
But who are the hypocrites? There were no doubt back stabbers in Muhammed’s time – historical records attest to that. The ones in it for the money and power – and would eventually kill Muhammed’s family to get more of it. The Prophet sensed them, and their presence is felt throughout the book.
But who are they today? They are ghosts, memories – what gives them form? They are an echo of that historical group, and that echo is universalised only as a form of paranoia. And paranoia is a ghost given form, an echo crystallised, only out of an individual’s repressed, Real anxiety. Paranoia is a totem that universalizes the individual’s anxiety, projects it on to an external actor’s mask.
In my case, my anxiety was of Kali’s destruction – the mother-void coming to destroy my faith – the beat of her drum, drawing nearer, her guillotine on the horizon. As a convert, I knew my position was tenuous: one crack of Kali’s whip and all my hard earned imaan would be cast into the wind.
And that tenuous position, that anxiety, I repressed – in order to give life to that imaan. This repression meant I could live an outwardly religious life and possess a religious ego. But repression leads to all kinds of unconscious processes – with paranoia emerging as a symptom of that.
And the paranoia must have a face, a totem to latch onto. Aligned within the orb of Priesthood/culture, I adopted the mask of the hypocrite as a crystallization of my own fear.
In this way, I could condemn hypocrisy – ostensibly decrying the nonsense some Muslims get up to (and they sure do get up to some real bullshit nonsense).
But the hypocrite didn’t exist for me as a person: it was a symptom of my own repressed anxiety, a repression necessary for imaan to exist, a repression of the convert’s anxiety, Kali’s imminent arrival.