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« on: Oct 17, 2008 11:29 AM »

Shah Rukh Khan Says My Work Is My Religion 
- Planet Bollywood Special Correspondant 

Here are the views of King Khan on terrorism, religion and a wide gamut of subject, as published in a leading weekly.
Evil is a religion of its own. There's no such thing as a professional Muslim terrorist. There's just a professional terrorist. Evil has become a discipline, a faith of its own. It does take, after all, a lot of planning to make explosives, do a recce of where to plant them, and then plan a way to escape.

My children are growing up at a time when a new religion has come up, which is morally, ethically and humanely against the tenets of any faith. Fundamentalism itself has become the new religion. And I fear it will take elements from every religion and create a new force if we don't educate our children appropriately.

Every time I read of a bomb blast or watch such an incident on TV, two things strike me. One is good. That those directly affected by the attack never actually blame any particular community. But what disturbs me is this-and it really goes against my most basic belief-that education is the solution to all our problems.

Whenever I read that an educated person is behind a bomb attack, it saddens me. It could be that the degree is only a piece of paper for the person or that education really had no impact on him. It did not shape his intelligence or his mind in the way it should have.

As an Indian Muslim, how do I feel about all this? Well, for one, I would like to believe that my work has become my religion, my defining identity. Yes, when I go to a Muslim area, I am referred to as bhai. But I think even when I visit a Muslim nation, the fact that I have mostly played characters called Rahul or Raj in Hindi films is never an issue.

I have played a major Muslim character onscreen just once in my life, that of Kabir Khan in Chak De! India. I gave him a little beard, made him speak a little more Urdu, and even had a namaz scene in the film that was edited finally for its length. But I don't recall anyone even noticing that.

Just yesterday, I was launching a business venture in Dubai and my hosts were religious Muslims. They wanted to take my entire family on Haj, even my in-laws. Having said that, I do feel belittled or shall I say irritated now that I am frisked a lot more when I travel to America.

Surprisingly though, I feel, as a nation, we have become a lot more tolerant. I remember, when Gauri and I got married almost two decades ago, our religion was an issue for both Hindus and Muslims. Both of us had to give false addresses when we registered our marriage.

And now when I was travelling recently, an air hostess was telling me how she is a Hindu, married to a Muslim in Dubai. I asked her, is that such a big deal? And she said, no, it was just something she wanted to share with me.

Everyone knows I celebrate both Id and Diwali. Yet my wife has never celebrated either in a different or less way. The children do both Id namaz and Diwali puja and mix-and-match all the time with ease.

My only prayer to everyone is that if a nun is raped in Orissa, please don't make it a Christian versus Hindu issue, or if a blast takes place, don't say it is a Muslim versus Hindu matter.

These are killers. Plain and simple. They have no religion. And if they do have an agenda, I would like to say to them, go get another one. Go green, be good to poor people, educate a girl child, or even be kind to animals.

I firmly believe that the country was heading towards a state of equality for all religions till a few people decided they didn't want it to happen. Yes, Hindus and Muslims have had historical problems since the Partition, so have Christians and Muslims since the Dark Ages.

But history is quickly forgotten. I believe modern young Indians need to feel that their work should be their religion and should define them. It will be a more neutral identity, have an international acceptance and will be based on their talent, their mind, and their heart.

The Almighty Allah says,

"When a servant thinks of Me, I am near.
When he invokes Me, I am with him.
If he reflects on Me in secret, I reply in secret,
And if he acknowledges Me in an assembly,
I acknowledge him in a far superior assembly."

- Prophet Muhammad (SAW), as reptd by Abu Huraira
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