THURSDAY, 09 OCTOBER 2003 04:08 HABEEB HITS: 1141
Recent media reports and even letters to the editor reveal a pathetic misunderstanding of Islam and the usefulness of a Masjid. Muslims have been in the forefront of National development and so if they are facilitated a place of worship that shouldn’t raise an ire. Even places in Heathrow and JFK now recognise this- all in the name of multiculturalism.
Islam stands for peace and isn’t as some people are made to believe – the religion of “bombs”. Apart from 15% Guyanese, there are 30 million Muslims living in the West, of them over 15,000 are Muslim physicians. Lots of usage for that “room”, isn’t it? Prince Charles, for instance, made a pertinent point in a speech to the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies when he remarked that the West must learn from Islam how to integrate science and religion, an area at which the Muslims have historically proved adept. Arnold Toynbee mentions in a prescient and compelling essay written in the 1940’s the extraordinary success Islam had in remedying the race problem and declared that the West had a great deal to learn from Islam. All three major races share Islam as a daily religion in Guyana- a recipe to end local holocaust. So the indebtedness to Islam cannot be repaid with only a Prayer Room- we should have a complete Masjid accessible to all in the Airport grounds- as was the original request. But we are thankful as Muslims pray wherever they are once the time is up. “A generous soul is bought when it receives, a vile one returns good done with disease.'”
Muslims are here to contribute as much as their ancestors did-Cuffy and Rohoman. But the continuous projection of Muslims as stereotype Arabs-vile and wicked as been too much of a hate-diet in all this wave of “racial and religious tolerance”. For more than 50 years, we have been taught to hate through Hollywood, television, the radio, and print media. Throughout these years, more than 800 movies have depicted Arabs and Muslims unfavorably, with no positive attributes. Many television programs, such as Law and Order and The West Wing, also present negative portrayals of Arabs and Muslims.
To quote Prof Edward Said- Palestinian, American, Arab and Intellectual, who rightly coined our proverbial partisanship when it came to Arabs: Americans are sufficiently blind that when a Middle Eastern leader emerges whom our leaders like — the Shah of Iran or Anwar Sadat — it is assumed that he is a visionary who does things our way not because he understands the game of imperial power (which is to survive by humoring the regnant authority) but because he is moved by principles that we share!
However the constant of West attacking the Muslim World out of expansionism and the retaliation of Muslims against Israel and its allies needs an equalizer effect. The meridien that I seek is neither learning or adoption but “respect”. Even educated people have been convicted for war crimes, notwithstanding religious ones who have been guilty of public sins. Rather the Quranic principle is “there is no compulsion of religion”, fully negating the idea to convert “them” or Islam seeks world domination. In contrast, the Muslim world is already at the doorsteps of Western and Secular Universities but too many of Muslim’s lifestyles are inconsistent with the images of the Afgani, Badshaw Khan, the Muslim Ghandi who opposed poverty, illiteracy, superstitions, injustices and the gamut of woes that the West seek to sincerely correct by “grassroots” work.
Respect is the root to curbing terrorism otherwise according to the Prophet: He isn’t a Muslim when others aren’t safe from his tongue and hands! In so doing we will forgive the past and work for the future. “He that would live in peace and at ease, must not speak all he knows nor judge all he sees.”
Let’s get Dr Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa and read page 55 to see what our Moorish ancestors contributed to the world; not only Guyana or some favourite organ.
Hoping for more respect as we “big up each other for righteousness sake”!