Monday, October 25, 2004

Be Careful Who Praises You

The discerning reader,especially those of us who live in North America, would have noticed a trend in the past few years. The kind of Muslim who is acceptable to the establishment,who is media friendly and more importantly says things that make the general populace happy. The only problem is that these Muslims tend to have little credibility in our community and many of them have an axe to grind.

I do not want to get personal but I would like to discuss two people who have received their fair share of publicity from the Western media and examine who they are and what they espouse to understand why they are being feted in the mainstream press.

The first is a self styled Muslim Refusenik (whatever that means) who openly admits to being a lesbian and who has written a book which has received gushing tributes and accolades from reviewers coast to coast. I make mention of Irshad Manji, who wants to know why Muslims unquestioningly accept every word in the Quran as the Word of God, claims that it is not necessary to face the Qibla, and has the temerity to compare the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to Osama Bin Laden. When questioned on the last point she said that it was never her intention to impugn the Messenger though most Muslims would strongly disagree. These are just a few of the "gems"that one finds in her book. As expected she was able to garner tremendous publicity here in Canada and then south of the border and has been hailed as a visionary,a reformer and representative of the reformist face of Islam. And this from a woman who has given to her book the title The Trouble With Islam.

The second case is more subtle and concerns the efforts of an "activist" in Morgantown, W. Virginia who has been fighting for the rights of women in the masjid. This, on the face of it,is commendable but the issue is more insidious than that. The person in question is Asra Nomani whose chief claim to fame is the book on tantric sex that she authored; she's also a contributor to the pornography laden Sex and the Ummah columns in MWU. It is not surprising that her chief ally in this issue is Mohja Kahf who also contributes, and quite regularly at that, to the same column. Asra has also gone on record as stating that she feels more like a secular Jew. Now the question that arises is what is the locus stand of a person like this who is unrepentant about what she writes about her personal life and who in her own words claims allegiance to a different set of values? Anyone who aspires to a position of leadership is automatically bound by a higher set of values. If our leaders lack moral fibre, the whole community suffers. Needless to say,Asra garnered more than her fair share of publicity from the media.

It is obvious that the traditional Muslim who strictly adheres to the Quran and the Sunnah is of no interest to the establishment. I am convinced that a Muslim either has to be a maverick or a terrorist to gain mention in the media. And the only way to be the target of fulsome praise is to not just question the basic principles of Islam but to preferably bad mouth the vast majority of Muslims. Call them ignorant, backward, wife beaters, and top it off by severely criticising our mullahs. Now what can be better than that? This kind of attitude is bound to get you an opportunity to appear on prime time TV. Insist that the problem is not just with Muslims but with Islam as a whole. Argue that there should be a new and progressive interpretation of Islam, one that calls for the acceptability of that hitherto banned,and you will be called a leader with conviction and courage.

Traditional Muslims look to the Quran, the Sunnah, and the Salaf for inspiration. We are concerned with obtaining the approval of Allah and following the example of the Best of all men (peace and blessings be upon him). We will never sell our souls for a few fleeting moments of fame, insha'Allah. This is what sets apart from those who have pledged their allegiance to a power that is ephemeral.


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