Friday, September 29, 2006

What does Islam stand for today?

My opinion on Tom Friedman's writing closely mirrors that of mine on Sex and the City: really liked it in the beginning, liked it less but still followed it, liked it more again, grew to despise it. But today, he does ask a pertinent question.

As someone who has lived in the Muslim world, enjoyed the friendship of many Muslims there and seen the compassionate side of Islam in action, I have to admit I am confused as to what Islam stands for today.

Why? On the first day of Ramadan last year a Sunni Muslim suicide bomber blew up a Shiite mosque in Hilla, Iraq, in the middle of a memorial service, killing 25 worshipers. This year on the first day of Ramadan, a Sunni suicide bomber in Baghdad killed 35 people who were lining up in a Shiite neighborhood to buy fuel. The same day, the severed heads of nine murdered Iraqi police officers and soldiers were found north of Baghdad.

I don’t get it. How can Muslims blow up other Muslims on their most holy day of the year — in mosques! — and there is barely a peep of protest in the Muslim world, let alone a million Muslim march? Yet Danish cartoons or a papal speech lead to violent protests. If Muslims butchering Muslims — in Sudan, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan and Jordan — produces little communal reaction, while cartoons and papal remarks produce mass protests, what does Islam stand for today?
By the way, don't bother clicking on the link if you don't have a TimesSelect membership. It costs $45 or something like that, per year, but only $25 for students. I highly recommend it because you get their op-eds, plus some pretty cool multimedia stuff and some interesting blogs/analysis stuff, but who the hell cares what I recommend?

I linked to some stuff earlier in the week which made clear exactly how I feel about the subject. Muslim hypocrisy on issues such as freedom of speech and, more importantly, the killing of innocent Muslims is mind boggling. Anger on the Muslim/Arab street, I feel, is almost as much a psychological issue as it is a politcal/legal one. Think about the anger Israel arouses, with its treatment of Muslims. Now compare that to Saddam Hussein's treatment of Muslims. Or to al-Assad's treatment of Sunnis and the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 80s. Or to the Taliban's treatment of all Muslims, but especially women and the Hazara after their capture of Mazar-i-Sharif, brilliantly captured in The Kite Runner. Why is their such a discrepancy? Why does one lead to protests, explosions, riots, and vandalism and the other to "shit happens"? Can we get Malcolm Gladwell on this, please?

In my mind, there are a lot of parallels to be drawn between the inner-city black community in the U.S. and the Muslim world. Both have been hard done by, and never properly apologized to. But both also have to, at some point, step up and accept responsiblity for some of the shit that goes on in their midst. You can't keep blaming someone else for your problems. Is it an evil Zionist-Crusader conspiracy that the entire Muslim world has something like 500 universities (less than one-tenth of those in the U.S., by the way), and not one of them in the world's top 500? And is it the neo-imperialist's fault that the all of the Arab countries put together have a lower GDP than that of Spain? Spain! They friggin drink wine with their breakfast, take 2 hour naps during their work day, and still have enough time left to out-produce an entire region. What does that say about the region in question?

Anyways, that's my rant for the day. One of our three readers says I need to calm down with my posts. So I'm calming down and stopping here.


Anonymous said...

an idea... maybe it's because Muslims don't identify themselves with people who blow up mosques but they do identify themselves by their religion and its reputation. It's like Christians being expected to protest against the imperial actions of Bush and his government and Blair and his government based on the fact that both presidents identify themselves as Christian... and at least there you can also say they represent the Christian demographic because of democracy and so are somehow answerable. Still, it would be weird to expect Christians to do it based on that fact alone... that other Christians do unconscienable things. I don't understand why there is one rule for Muslims and one for Christians in these matters.

Why are Muslims expected to protest against murders?

Anonymous said...

Also, I think stating that there are "a lot of parallels to be drawn between the inner-city black community in the U.S. and the Muslim world" is faulty and I actually resent it. Sure there are similarities of injustice etc. But, until you are a member of either of those communities (and I'm not talking about an elite western-educated privileged member), you can't tell people to "step up." It's so complicated... I hate it when people make it sound so easy from their arm chairs...: "Forget all those years of indoctrination- the reason why you're living on a dollar a day isn't because of corporations exploiting your labour (because did you know, you're sub-human?) or foreign governments supporting the dictatorship you're living under. Or because well, us rich people want to keep as much money as we can! It's because you mister, are a lazy bum. You're stupid and you need to take a shower...and then get producing, our GDP is pathetic! The rest of the world are laughing at us!"

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, and the title of the post is AWFUL! What a terrible question. It's questions like these that lead to the pitiful discussions and rhetoric that come out of our tvs!

Anonymous said...

Sorry if I sound so mean... I didn't know I was in a bad mood and I just realised it. I still mean what I said though, but let's pretend the i's are dotted with hearts and draw petals around the full-stops. That would be pretty.

Moss J said...

Well look I dont have a problem with this post because I am used to this blog. Anonymous, please take Mr AHSAN with a pinch of salt because he is very politically naieve. A few posts ago he was saying that Vajpayee is the pioneer of hindu-muslim unity.

I find the post of AHSAN an interesting reading experience, all be it with his overly left pro-west agenda.

What i have to admit i hate is how the ations of fundamentalists are taken as a reflection of mUSLIM hypocrisy. Yes there are people who are bombing on ramadan. Yes muslims have tried to show they are peaceful by acts of violence. But these are all a certain kind of muslims.
Are your parents muslim hypocrites AHSAN? You say you are a resident of karachi. Youw rite in good english so i am assumed that you went to a good school. Do your schoolmates want to bomb things?

Please dont quote stats. Just please stop generalizing. Yes there are LOTS of crazy muslims. But to generalize from that and say there is an internal conflict in Islam and a sign of Muslim hypocrisy is stupidness. You are stupid if you think that and I hope you cant.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't call Ahsan a leftist based on this post!

Mossj your website link doesn't work by the way.

Moss J said...

Sorry friend,
Am still trying to figure out what I want my own blog to be about. Once I ahve accomplshed that the link shall work.
Any thoughts on content?

Anonymous said...

Sorry Moss J, your blog you decide. Sometimes these things kind of develop into something after you start them... so perhaps go with your gut? Anyway, good luck!