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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Majid Nawaz's Misjudgment

Why should we not take offence of someone mocking the person you hold most dear to your heart? I have discussed the matter of cartoons in a previous post here.

 Majid Nawaz, the founding member of Quilliam, a think-tank of sorts, found himself is a muddle after posting a cartoon from an atheist website depicting Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). His intentions were innocent enough, but sadly, Mr. Nawaz has learnt that the reform he has been striving for did not bear fruit.

Making friends with Tony Robinson and then hoping to enter Parliament would have been a great success for Quilliam, but they forgot to notice the general cynicism about Robinson's damascene conversion to tolerance and reason. Also, they are seen as a tool for the establishment to 'reform' and educate the Muslim population of Great Britain.

While I support anyone who speaks against violence and intolerance, Quilliam foundation have been very unclear on their religious ideology. As an organization which claims to have the ultimate answer to religious extremism among Muslims, they have little to show about it in their publications. There are booklets available challenging the notions of violent Jihad and issues of blasphemy and apostasy, but there has to be a deeper, much needed debate to be had about the role of the clergy in the modern Islamic world. Quilliam has to challenge the Mullah, the source of all that is wrong with the 'Ummah'. 

But before they can do that, they have to come clean themselves. Do they feel that Quran has to be revised because just like Bible it has commandments no longer applicable? Also, they seem to be very dubious about Hadith literature and want to interpret Islamic values and practices based on how the western minds would want them. Yes, they will cite 'scholars' from Islamic history to support one idea or another, but when it comes to defending the validity of early Islamic history, they beat a hasty retreat.

Why would any Muslim want them on their side?

I know Majid did not mean to offend his fellow Muslims by sharing the cartoon. He wanted to make a point that these cartoons do not threaten his faith.

He wanted everyone to know that he is not offended by a cartoon which was created solely to offend. At one level, I do understand Mr. Nawaz's predicament. Why should we Muslims waste our time getting offended by a bunch of small-minded atheist bigots who have nothing better to do?

Indifference is the best response. Just as the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) advised his companions to leave such gatherings where his opponents abused or ridiculed him. But at the same time, he also advised his companions to deliver the message of Islam by taking every opportunity to engage with such people.

But by sharing the cartoon, Mr. Nawaz not only engaged with the offenders on their own terms, he also alienated many Muslims who for the right or wrong reasons took offence yet again.

If Quilliam foundation had any sense of duty towards Islam, they will correct their error and avoid taking part in the atheist mockery of all faiths.

We should only engage with them when they are serious about talking, not playing street jesters to please themselves.

And also, Quilliam foundation is not a grass-roots movement. It is a working party to find a solution for the government.

Sadly, it is destined to fail because it is trying to find political solutions to a spiritual problem.


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