|Engage the Islamic Street|
|By Tanvir Hussain|
|Wednesday, 06 June 2007|
I recently read with great interest the article by Sajid Huq, Story of a Fall, published May 20, 2007.
I am neither a historian, political scientist, nor a journalist, but I would like to add further comments to the author's observations.
Mr. Huq is correct to suggest that much of the current discord within the South Asian Muslim community likely had its origins in colonial rule. We have seen this elsewhere, where social, political, and mechanical infrastructure has been destroyed by a ruling power. Where "battling corruption, dictatorships, poverty, nepotistic politics, or chauvinistic majoritarianism" is concerned, we can look to groups as discordant as the Native Americans, Latin Americans, Eastern Europeans, Palestinians, or any African to relate their experiences. The world will watch this first-hand in Iraq in the decades to come.
But, we must not forget to appropriately highlight the role that we, as South Asian Muslims, have taken on in this process. We can be victims for only so long, and eventually must come to terms that there is no one else to help us out of the mess. Conservatism and intolerant thinking is rampant, dare I say, integral in the psyche of the Islamic street today. Rigid believers tend to be rigid heads of household, rigid politicians, and rigid heads of state. So when we hear Western political and religious conservatives themselves describe Muslims as angry, narrow-minded, hot-headed, and hating everyone else but Muslims, we only have ourselves to blame.
This is changing, but progressives (like the readers of this magazine) have a duty to speak loudly, intelligently, and without offending or burning bridges, each of which we have done poorly thus far. Narrow-mindedness will fail our home societies in the long-term, and history has shown that the only successful societies are liberal and pluralistic (at least socially, if not politically as well). Christianity has successfully weathered its own Dark Ages and Enlightenment, and following a similar timeline, our time for internal struggle has come, and it is happening right in front of our eyes. As progressive South Asians, Bangladeshis, and Muslims, we must stubbornly continue the conversation, but without failing to keep our real audience engaged, else we continue loudly preaching to each other during after-dinner tea at one another's homes.
I applaud this publication for doing its part and wish it continued success.
Tanvir Hussain, MD