Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mohamet and the Saracens - facing up to an ancient prejudice

If you recall, while I was in Singapore I purchased Karen Armstrong's book entitled 'Muhammad - A Biography of the Prophet'. The book was originally written by her as a personal quest to challenge the general Western mass media sentiment vilifying Islam because of the Ayatollah's 1990 'fatwa' calling for the death of Salman Rushdie. The sudden clarion call to defend Western civilization, liberty and freedom became an overwhelming denunciation of almost all things Islam, reigniting ancient European prejudices against those savage Saracens and their false prophet Mohamet, but now dressed less as a Christian response but more as a secular post-Age of Enlightenment indignation.

Within a month after the controversial fatwa, the Islamic Congress of 45 Islamic states voted and resolved by a majority of 44-1 that the fatwa was unIslamic, the one single state alienated being the origin of the ruling itself, Iran. But Armstrong noted that nobody(and I mean nobody) in European politics or media was willing to entertain and air this important decision adopted by the vast majority of Muslim countries. Because, as we shall find in the course of time, the general attitude of the mainstream media is to blame terror and extremism of Muslims as being caused by their religion, and praise Muslim's moderation and tolerance as arising in spite of their religion - fuel for the fire that has been burning in the breast of the West for more than 1,000 years since the founding of Islam.

I am up to page 39 of the first chapter entitled 'Muhammad the Enemy' as Armstrong seeks to put the reaction of the West towards the Ayatollah's fatwa and the more recent 9/11 horror within the context of an ancient and almost tribal vendetta against Islam and its Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). I do not know about anyone else, but I was profoundly disturbed as she reeled out examples after examples of European church, Kings and intellectual denunciations and insults being rained on the 'Arabians', 'Saracens', savages of the desert and the heretical teachings of the imposter, the Antichrist Mohamet. And alas, such perception arose from misinformation and a skewered worldview that firstly, sees the Western civilization as the highest pinnacle of human endeavour and secondly, that nothing of worth can ever come out of the savages and primitive cultures that lie outside the boundaries of Europe. Again, it is the hubris and the racial-driven convenience to divide the world between the 'us' and 'them'.

The old world view is coming back with a vengeance.

It is neither anger nor indignation that wells up in my heart reading Armstrong's exposition of this Mohamet as an enemy. It is a profound sense of sadness and realization that there is a great wall of hate and hubris that stands between nations and religions. How internalized prejudices and bigotry can misguide the most rationale or the most religious of peoples.

I know that some of my readers are non-Muslims. If you sympathise with my writing, I thank you. Thank you for not believing the hate-filled news reports and comments in the mainstream AND in the alternative mass and social medias. Thank you for giving me a little corner of your conscience and allowing me a little time to share with you stories and prose about Islam and the Prophet(pbuh). In whatever creed you may be dressed in, surely God is looking and smiling at the empathy and tolerance that you are showing us. Bless you, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq.

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

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