Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sir Salman - What The Fuss?

Salman Rushdie has received a knighthood. Once again, we see all Muslims being judged and maligned because of the rants of a small minority of Pakistani, Kashmiri, Indian and Iranian Muslims.

Some days back, Mr Murdoch’s only Australian broadsheet published an article by a woman who would like to be Salman Rushdie if only she could write better. Irshad Manji is a Canadian Muslim writer who thrives on controversy and is desperate to get a fatwa to improve her own booksales. Her major claim to fame is that she re-discovered the concept of ijtihad (roughly translated as independent juristic reasoning), a claim she shares with Usama bin Ladin and a host of other Muslim controversialists.

Manji’s article laments the recent response of some Pakistani lawmakers to the recent award to Rushdie of a Knight Bachelor for his services to literature. Why they were so angry beats me? Perhaps they were jealous Rushdie could still be regarded as a bachelor despite being married to a Bollywood actress and lingerie model?

What made Manji particularly upset was that Pakistani MP’s spent so much time worrying about Rushdie and so little time focussing on issues of poverty and women’s rights. Quite wisely, Manji did not blame Islam but rather “hypocrisy under the banner of Islam”. I doubt many Muslims would disagree with her, though that didn’t stop cultural warrior sub-editors at The Australian from giving this article the headline “Islam the problem”.

Now a small group of lawmakers and merchants in Iran, Pakistan and Malaysia are seeking violent revenge for the awarding of a knighthood to British author Salman Rushdie. As always, they are doing so using language and methods alien to their religious heritage.

Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Minister Ejazul Haque claims the knighthood provides justification for suicide terrorist attacks. How could the awarding of a national honour by an overseas country to one of its writers possibly be used to justify homicidal terrorism? Haven’t enough Pakistanis, Turks, Indonesians and Iraqis (not to mention Western civilians) died from such attacks? Haven’t enough Muslim families mourned their loved ones killed in such attacks?

The Minister is apparently visiting Britain next month. It will be interesting to see if he is prepared to repeat his support for suicide terrorism in the presence of the family of Shahara Islam, the young English woman of Bangladeshi heritage and devout Muslim who was killed in the July 7 London bombings.

Even more imbecilic was the statement of a council of Pakistani ulema (or religious scholars) that Usama bin Ladin be awarded a special honour of Saifallah (“Sword of God”). Surely Usama bin Ladin (perhaps more appropriately known as Usama bin Reagan) has already been adequately remunerated by American intelligence agencies for his services in helping defeat Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

I wonder at how low some Muslim nations have stooped that, in retaliation for a foreign government honouring one of its citizens, some Muslim religious scholars are prepared to honour those who kill innocent people in God’s name. And what kind of Muslim incites violence to display their religiosity?

I could write much more, but you can find my views published on the AltMuslim.com website here.

© Irfan Yusuf 2007