the tools of political control

Xavier (whose bilingual blog I came across via Bill Allison) has found translations of certain sermons by radical Islamics that are - as he puts it - "sludge." I quite agree (and I haven't even bothered to click the link to know I agree with him). I also emphatically second his comment about the difference of hijab between Canada and Saudi - the Canadian freedom to choose hijab is the essence of Islam. I must state that I feel America to be even more superior as an Islamic country, because of the freedom hardwired more directly into the very law of the land. America and Islam are more than merely compatible, they are in fact siblings of ideology.

However, Xavier subsequently writes to wonder if I (or other bloggers writing about Islam) will be able to explain how these sermons fit into Islam. He assumes I will have a "hell of a time explaining the vehemence of those sermons and the vitrolic hatred". As I have written on numerous occassions before, the answer is simple. These sermons have nothing to do with Islam. They are manifestations of a tribal impulse to exert political control over a population.

I refer you to these previous pieces where I explore how Islam is irrrelevant to the abuses of these radical hatemongers.

The politicization of Shari'a
The Burka and the Bikini

Xavier also writes,

Worse from my perspective, is the near silence of Moslems towards those vile sermons. I'm becoming resentful because Canada and the U.S. have been quite exemplary in their treatment towards their Moslem citizens and visitors. I'm implicitly demanding reciprocity: I want my fellow Moselm citizens to set the record straight. Of course Canada isn't perfect or doesn't have its defects but the country is hospitable place for immigrants to live their lives in relative freedom and practice their religions. Which is a far cry with Saudi Arabia and some other Moslem countries.

To which I can only say, that that particular tree has fallen in the forest many times, but were you there to hear it? I am reminded of an essay by Kamila Shamsie in the Guardian (which I have also posted to UNMEDIA list), entitled "My home is not the place you see on TV":

Just as Pakistan looks like an extremist monolith if
you watch news reports in the US, so the US looks like an arrogant nation
baying for blood and willing to bypass due process if you watch news reports
here. The interesting point is this: the same news channels which broadcast
images of Pakistan to the US also broadcast images of the US to Pakistan.
That is, we watch CNN and we think it's showing us a complete picture of

I must ask Xavier, how exactly do you set the record straight? What exactly is "the record" ? Pewrusing Xavier's blog I see other calls upon Muslims (presumably, many read his blog) to express themselves publicly, loudly, often. He points out that Saudi Arabia dominates the popular preconseption of Islam and says it is MY responsibility to combat that well-funded campaign.

Well, I have a blog. But I have a life too. I'm sorry, Xavier. I do what I can but most muslims can do much less. Muslims want to live in peace, pray, work, earn, send kids to college, watch TV, volunteer, raise their children, retire, much teh same as you do. We are not a religion of PR activists. We do not have billions of dollars propping us up as tyrants over our people. And I reject your claim that it falls upon me to redefine the public perception of Islam to YOUR satisfaction.

I respect that Xavier has a bilingual blog. Might I inquire if he reads Persian? or Arabic? Or Urdu? There is an entire universe of political debate occurring outside the relatively new boundaries of the internet, or the transient boundaries of the English language. But as long as the west supports dictators like Musharraf, or Mubarak, or Saddam, then the debate must continue in stilted terms, and the process of political freedom is dragged out. It will take longer, but it will happen. But it must happen on the terms of the people, not the bystanders.

True Islam - even if mis-practiced by a billion Wahabi fanatics, is eternal. It cannot be suppressed. As long as a single Muslim like myself practices it in accordance with the original teachings of the Prophet, it cannot be extinguished from this world. As a Muslim, it's not my place to worry about how Islam is perceived by you. It's to worry about how Islam is practiced by me.

UPDATE: Bill comments, noting that the misuse of ideology to further political control is not limited to Islam. He points out that NAzi Germany and Communist Russia (which had much worse victim bodycounts than radical Islam, I might add) employed similar methods.

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