Thus, Islam and Muslims put bread on the table for many people. And maybe they also provide the liquor many may need to guzzle to dull their prickly conscience, if they have one, at the lies they pushed during their bouts of sobriety earlier.
Kullan numiddu, haa-oolaa-ii wa haa-oolaa-ii, as God Almighty puts it in the Qur’an, meaning (my paraphrase): We help them all, these folks as well as the other folks.
Water, Water Everywhere, Not a Drop to Drink
In Islam, expertise is a function of several things. Among them is the usual quantum of information acquired through reading, experience, reflection and constant interaction with experts. But among them also is unassailable personal and professional integrity and freedom from a generalized life of drunkenness, debauchery and avarice; a life given to falsehood, deceit and dissembling; and a life rooted in blind partisanship on the one hand and ruthless exploitation and oppression of the weak and the unwary on the other hand.
So, in Islam, expertise is inextricably intertwined with something called character, at the root of which lies the simple notion of integrity and trust — both personal as well as professional.
That is why in Islam true expertise is a blessing from God Almighty. And it is light — Noor — a divine effulgence and most brilliant radiance that God sends down in this world to dispel darkness and improve the human condition.
Expertise in Islam is not rote amassing of information on topics of choice. It is not glib ventilation or mercenary merchandising of that information in the market, but a serious internalization of the underlying truth without regard to its origin or consequence.
Validity — internal as well as external validity, true validity that is — thus lies at the heart of the expertise issue in that amazing schema of thought and action that God Almighty calls Islam and that he sent down in this world to help us human beings to find our way through the labyrinths of life.
That is why, while comments from Drive-by Experts fill the airwaves and newspaper pages, very little real light escapes from them to a generally deprived, misinformed and yet mostly naïve, gullible and trusting public — chief among them the American People.
And that is why, also, in the midst of all the make-believe flood of sights and sounds that is unleashed on a parched world by the mercenary, profit-hungry or agenda-driven media with the aid of their Drive-by Experts, there are so few drops of real knowledge and illumination on topics and issues that are most vital to the well-being of people and the world in which they live.
This denial — willful or inadvertent — of truth to the people of the world, including the poor, misguided American People, is part of the Devil’s design to make Adam’s progeny lose out in both worlds: this world as well as the next world. For, God is truth and those who abhor truth, are the minions of the Devil and enemies of God and his people in this world — that means human beings, all human beings, regardless of race, religion or gender.
For, it is clear as daylight that those who love God will also love truth and those who hate and fear truth cannot deign to love or know God. For, truth is humanity’s Golden Bridge to God, and to success in this world as well as in the next world.
Precisely as Jesus, may Allah bless him, told us to seek and pursue truth: For, truth shall set us free! It is our right-royal passport to salvation here and in the hereafter.
And lies and deception are cheap tricks manufactured and marketed by the Devil. And they are key concomitants, antecedents and consequents of bondage and tyranny, mayhem and massacre — a tyranny that begins with the mind and then goes on to envelop the body and the spirit.
Lies and deception are the stuff of which propaganda is made. And propaganda is what spawns, spearheads, rationalizes and covers up genocide.
How Do You Like Your Islam Done?
That is why among these Drive-by Experts, there are those who like their Islam done a certain way. Some like their Islam moderate. Others prefer an Islam that is civilized. Yet some others like an Islam that respects women. It is Islam a la carte all the way — with flavors to please any palate and portions to match any appetite.
Unstated in all these vaunted preferences is the implication that Islam comes in different forms, shapes and sizes and people are free to order the kind of Islam that titillates their taste buds.
This, however, is not the case.
Another and a more insidious assumption is that one Islam is civilized and the other is not; one Islam is moderate and the other one is not; and one Islam honors women while the other treats them with disrespect.
There is also a third point which would almost pass for cute if it were not so blatantly offensive and so rabidly racist: the Islam most Muslims know and have practiced for hundreds of years is the wrong Islam and the Islam recently discovered by Drive-by Experts on the fly to make a buck or push a partisan agenda is the right Islam.
Bring It On: Let Us “Reform” Islam!
And then, of course, there are those among these experts who would like to go beyond simple analysis and argument and would actually like to get into the domain of policy, application and implementation. Let us reform Islam, they would say, and make it a bit more civilized, a bit more modern and contemporary as it were. Let us make it a bit more user-friendly for this world as a whole, they would argue.
To them I say: Bring It On! It is a quote, a nice one I thought, I borrowed from someone else.