Islam Is a T-Rex
Munawar Annees, formerly editor of Periodica Islamica, now heads a
Templeton Funds project on science in the Islamic world.
Rabat, Morocco - It is time for alienated Muslim
intellectuals to tear the Orientalist veil that obscures the face of Islam,
re-enter the historical currents they have abandoned, create a deeper
understanding of the dynamics of derailed Islamic societies, and lead
them into an Islamic vision of a world where all communities participate
in a race to create works of excellence. The West too must give up its
false notions of Islam as the irreconcilable "Other," that must
forever be battled and besieged. If Islam is a greater threat to the West
than India or China, that is because our actions-in large part-have succeeded
in preventing it from reconstituting its center, its wholeness and history.
More than a fifth of the world's population seek their place in the world
within a stream of history that flows from the Koran. They want to live
by ethical ideals that in the past have produced nobility, magnanimity,
sobriety, tolerance, science, mathematics, philosophy, architecture and
poetry. Islam may do so again if only we lift the siege-and allow the
light, freshness and sweetness at its core to find expression again in
a contest of creative minds and soulful hearts, intertwined with reason
and mercy. (Alam)
Let us face it. All is not well with the Muslim world. The West must not
be blamed for all the ills that plague the Muslim world. There is much
in the body of oppression, corruption, gender discrimination, poverty,
illiteracy and lack of civil liberty for which the Muslim world has neither
shown the courage to accept the blame nor the will to fight against these
enemies. While we talk of image manufacturing in the West in relation
to Islam, what is the nature of image within Islam?
The nature of image within Islam is synonymous with the image of a T-Rex.
T-Rex, as we know, was a dinosaur. We are told it grew to enormous proportions.
Today, it lies scattered in stony fossils decorating museums or giving
Mr. Spielberg a chance to make money. It failed in the face of change
and evolution. And it became extinct. The Muslim ummah of today is no
different from T-Rex. At one time it too grew as the biggest empire in
the world, larger than the Roman Empire. Today, just like T-Rex, the most
precious relics of its cultural heritage lie in the Western libraries
and museums. And little wonder that Hollywood spins out flick after flick,
just like T-Rex, demonizing Islam, Muslims and Arabs. True to the T-Rex
syndrome, the mind of the Muslim world is frozen into the nostalgia of
the bygone glory. Thought is sterile. The Muslim world is insular to the
rapid changes taking place around the world. It has grown immune to change.
It has forgotten the very dictates of its own faith that God does not
change the affairs of a people unless they change themselves.
If the West, in its profitable trilogy of images, portrays Islam and Muslims
as an iconized evil, it is the Muslim world itself that provides the script
for that trilogy. It is upon its fossilized intellect that the edifice
of Hollywood and the media is built. Mindless uttering on Islam, as a
religion of peace and mercy, does no good if these words are not matched
by deeds. The Koran speaks of the advent of the Prophet as a mercy to
the entire universe. But look at the Muslim world where one Muslim is
not immune from the atrocities of another-all ceaselessly committed in
the name of either a king, a dictator or an autocrat disguising himself
as a democratic ruler-Mahathir of Malaysia being the latest incarnation.
On that count, the media are patently wrong.
The Muslim world is not at war with the West. It is at war with its own.
It is engaged in an orgy of self-annihilation. In violation of the Divine
decree, its organic existence can only be redeemed through exacting justice.
Instead of shouting hollow slogans in frenzied voices, the stagnation,
the fossilization and the creeping decay must be brought to an end if
the Muslim world is ever to face the challenge of the 21st century and
beyond. The reanimation of the glorious past in the post-textual age needs
neither an apology for Islam nor an ill-conceived jihad. Let freedom and
justice ring across the Muslim lands as the harbingers of partnership
in a new world born in the mercy and compassion of Allah.