Saturday, August 20, 2022

Murderous Attack on Salman Rushdie: Why are Muslims Not Condemning It?

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam 20 August 2022 Unreformed Islamic Theology Lies At The Root Of The Problem Main Points: 1. Salman Rushdie was brutally stabbed 33 years after the infamous Iranian fatwa. 2. The attack is not just on Rushdie; anyone having a different understanding of Islamic history has to deal with similar fears. 3. It is appalling but true that large numbers of Muslims support this attack. 4. The problem lies in unreformed Islamic theology which sanctions such violence. ----- Author Salman Rushdie/Photo: The Economic Times ---- The Iranian American 24-year-old Hadi Matar was not even born when the Grand Ayatollah Khomeini wrote a death note for Salman Rushdie. The murder weapon was a piece of paper popularly known as the fatwa which made the novelist a blasphemer and hence, according to Islamic law, liable to be killed. In an instant, Khomeini had empowered any Muslim in the world to commit murder in the name of saving the honour of Islam. Over the years, the Iranian regime watered down the provisions of that infamous fatwa and Sir Salman started to appear in public, giving lectures and signing books. Little did he know that he would be stabbed 15 times for a book that he had published nearly 33 years ago. Little did the world know that the post Khomeini Iranian regime never really withdrew the fatwa and that Rushdie was always in danger of being attacked or executed. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Salman Rushdie's Indian Mullah Critics, Listen To the Message of Satanic Verses ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Some have argued that the attack can be linked with Iranian regime’s new found expansion and confidence in Iraq and Syria but it really seems far-fetched. Although it is too early to say but it is not in the best interest of Iran to become confrontational with the United States, given its distressing economic situation. Thus, the attack appears to be the handiwork of a lone individual who might have got radicalized online. It is also possible that the said individual, Hadi Matar, would be in contact with some terrorist organization which is interested in such high-profile targets. One can only wish that Rushdie is soon back to what he does best: reading and writing and regaling audiences with his wit, humour and deep knowledge of Islamic world. The Satanic Verses is ultimately a novel about loss and love in a situation of migrant selfhoods. Muslims in that part of the world can easily relate to some of the characters in the novel as they also have had similar trajectories of settling down in a foreign land. And yet, ironically enough, it were Muslims who became violent when the book was published, not willing to see the empathetic pathos which flowed from the pen of Rushdie. Most Muslims never even read the book that they were burning. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: The Attack on Salman Rushdie Is Symptomatic Of the Malady of Intolerance Islam Suffers From -------------------------------------------------------------------- Salman Rushdie ---- This attack is not just about Rushdie. It must be seen as part of the larger assault on anyone who is even remotely critical of Islam or even has an understanding which is different from the mainstream. Muslim intellectuals have been the worst sufferers of this censorship that the community has imposed upon itself, erroneously thinking that doing so is the command of God. It belies common sense how a God, who Muslims call as benevolent and forgiving, can call for the execution of his own intellectuals. But such has been the hypocrisy of the Muslims that they have gone ahead killing poets and writers with impunity while chanting daily about the oft forgiving nature of their God. This silencing of critics of Islam has been happening since the birth of Islam. Anyone who disagreed with the prophet and his Islamic teachings were otherised; in many instances exiled or killed. The Islamic empire, following the precedent set by pious Muslims, would mercilessly dismember al Hallaj simply for saying that all human beings had divine essences. Abul Ala al Maari, the 10th century Syrian philosopher considered all religious as the ‘fables of the ancients’. He argued that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who have brains but no religion and those who do not have brains but have religion. When ISIS rolled into Syria, one of its first acts was to behead his statue, one thousand years after the poet philosopher was born. In this span of one thousand years, Muslims have contributed immensely to the knowledge systems of the world, yet there is very little that has changed in terms of its core theology. The Quran expressly derides anyone who does not accept its message. It wishes to break the hands of Abu Lahab, simply because he did not accept Islam. For no fault of hers, Abu Lahab’s wife becomes one of the dwellers of hell, a burning rope tied to her neck. Although the Quran does not ask to kill the blasphemer, it definitely condemns the person. The work of God is done by Muslims as they have been asked to do in various narrations of Hadith. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Revisiting Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses -------------------------------------------------------------------- Fear is one of the important ways in which regimes control the thoughts and actions of people. But Islam goes a step beyond that. It does this not only for Muslims but for those who do not follow the Islamic tradition. Killing someone who says anything ‘offensive’ about the Prophet or Islam sends a chilling message not just to Muslims but also to non-Muslims. The latter might be critical of many facets of Islam but would learn not speak too openly about them. It is this fear that Islamic extremists exploit. An open society is marked by fearlessness; the ability to have free discussion about everything under the sun. It appears that Islam has no conception of creating a civil society, which is only possible through rationality and non-violence. It is a no brainer to see how this incident will affect the image of Muslims in America. With candidate Trump looking for another chance, the image of Muslim attempting to murder a writer will be played on loop, trying to influence the minds of Americans. But whose fault is this in the first place? Also, why this stoic silence on the part of the Muslim community to condemn this murderous assault? No Islamic organization has come out to unequivocally say that what has happened is absolutely unacceptable. They cry Islamophobia at the drop of a hat but perhaps it is time for these Muslim organizations to see how they have enabled it slowly but surely. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Afterthoughts On Salman Rushdie Episode -------------------------------------------------------------------- Salman Rushdie will not be the last to undergo this brutality. There will be others after him. For the simple reason that Islam does not have the answers that some seek from it. Neither is there any movement in the religion to come to grips with some questions that modernity poses. In the absence of any intellectual interrogation, violence and silencing remain the only options for Muslims. And it will continue like this, till the time Islamic theology sheds its disdain of free intellectual inquiry. --- A regular contributor to, Arshad Alam is a writer and researcher on Islam and Muslims in South Asia. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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