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Re: Understanding Islam
by Patrick Eytchison
20 March 2002 17:37 UTC
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Where can I find an inexpensive video presenting contemporary Islamic political thought? Our Green Local has a monthly video showing project called Voices of the Voiceless through which we try to give information on life in the so-called developing world (the exploited territories and cultures of Latin America, Africa, Asia, etc.) We are always hoping to find videos made by the people concerned rather than Western journalist productions but usually we have to settle for the later. What would you suggest?
----- Original Message -----
From: Louis Proyect
Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2002 9:36 AM
To: marxism@lists.panix.com; wsn@csf.colorado.edu
Subject: Understanding Islam
Frontline, Volume 18 - Issue 24, Nov. 24 - Dec. 07, 2001


The West and Islam


Muhammad in Europe: A Thousand Years of Western Myth-Making by Minou
Reeves; New York University Press; pages 307; $34.50.

URDU poetry is replete with reproaches at, and complaints to, the Almighty.
Iqbal revelled in both. Faiz was not inhibited, either. But none would take
liberties with the name and memory of Prophet Muhammad. Hence, the Persian
couple: Ba khuda deewana basho, Ba Muhammad hoshyar (Play madly with God if
you wish, but be careful with Muhammad). Unfortunately, few non-Muslims
have understood his station in the Muslim psyche and in Muslim lives. The
German scholar, Annemarie Schimmel is among the rare ones who do. Her work
And Muhammad is His Messenger (The University of North Carolina Press;
1985) is not a biography but a deep study of "the veneration of the Prophet
in Islamic Piety".

The frontispiece has a moving Urdu quatrain by Sir Kishan Prasad, the
poet-Prime Minister of the erstwhile State of Hyderabad who bore the
pen-name Shaad: Kafir hunke Momin hun, khuda jaane main kya hun / Mai banda
hun unka jo hain Sultan-e-Madina. (Be I infidel or true believer - God
alone knows, what I am. But I know I am the servant of the Prophet who is
the ruler of Medina).

Minou Reeves was, until 1979, an Iranian career diplomat. At the time of
the Islamic Revolution, she was Queen Farah's international secretary. She
won note for her books Behind the Peacock Throne and Female Warriors of
Allah: Women and the Islamic Revolution and is now a Fellow of the
Institute of Linguists, London. She has not a trace of the rancour which
members of the former ancien regime have for the new order; only
understanding and empathy.

This scholarly work renders high service in promoting understanding not
only internationally but in plural societies which have a Muslim presence.
There is, for instance, a Sangh Parivar outfit which churns out hate
literature singling out the Prophet for attack. Minou Reeves surveys over a
millennium's record of European denigration of Muhammad and explains why he
was vilified.

While early medieval polemicists felt a threat to the Christian faith,
European rulers felt threatened by the spread of Muslim rule. The Church
and the state cooperated in the campaign. An ideology of hate was evolved
and its traces linger still, as recent incidents reveal. "Over the course
of no less than thirteen centuries a stubbornly biased and consistently
negative outlook had persisted, permeating deep levels of European
consciousness. In the works of an overwhelming majority of European
writers, Muhammad was portrayed as a man of deep moral faults. Churchmen,
historians, orientalists, biographers, philosophers, dramatists, poets and
politicians alike had sought to attribute to Islam, and especially to
Muhammad, fanatical and disreputable, even demonic characteristics."

Affinities between Christianity and Islam created problems for European
polemicists. "They chose not to attack Islamic theology, which was too
seductive in its simplicity and clarity, and which raised too many awkward
questions about Christian dogma. Nor could they cast doubt on the pious
practice of ordinary Muslims. Instead, anticipating the worst excesses of
tabloid journalism, they personalised the issue and attacked the Prophet of
Islam, dispensing with all but the barest knowledge of any facts and
inventing falsehoods. Muslims could not reply in kind, since they are told
by the Qur'an to revere Jesus as a holy prophet."

Time did nothing to extinguish the hatred. It exacerbated it in the
original site, gave it new forms and spread it among some of the historic

Full: http://www.flonnet.com/fl1824/18240760.htm

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org

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