Dr. Pasha on Islam,
Muslims and the World
(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time)
A Christian Story with a Moral for Muslims – and Others
I once heard a Christian religious leader tell this story and it stayed fresh in my mind. Here is how the story goes:
A very pious man once drowned in a flood. As the man got trapped in the rising waters of the flood, a boat came to him and a man in the boat said: “Hurry, get in the boat.” The man turned down the offer of help and said: “God will save me!”
The boat went away, the man stayed and the water kept rising.
After a while the same boat showed up again and the same conversation took place. The boat went away a second time, and the man stayed in water, and the water rose further, this time reaching the man’s chin.
The boat returned a third time, offering to rescue him. The man said “God will save me!” and sent the boat away this time also. The man drowned and, then, upon resurrection, he asked God: “Lord, why did you not save me?” God said: Three times I sent a boat to rescue you and every time you turned down my offer of help.
This is a story told by a Christian Priest. But it seems to me there is a moral in it for Muslims as well – and for everyone else. Will someone please tell the Muslims this story?
When Will Muslims Re-Learn Their Forgotten Lesson of Truth Telling?
Sometimes, for some Muslims, 2 plus 2 doesn’t quite make 4. Their answer: Don’t worry, it will come out right in the next world. Whereas in Islam 2 plus 2 always makes 4 – whether it is your apples you are counting or your enemy’s.
And there were those among Muslims who were never afraid to tell the truth, even when the truth worked against them.
Those were the times when Muslims were known as the People of Truth.
And it was this lesson – the lesson to speak the truth – that Sir Muhammad Iqbal, the great Poet of Islam, in Urdu and Persian languages, urged Muslims to Re-Learn.
“Re-Learn the Lesson of Truth Telling,” said Iqbal.
“For, you are about to be called to the Leadership of the World.”
Anyone with any ability to read the events that rock the world today can see that Iqbal was right and that that time is upon us.
And that Muslims are being called upon to come forward to shoulder the burdens of leadership in the world.
But to merit that noble mantle, and to hasten that day, Muslims must first Re-Learn the Lesson of Truth Telling.
Nothing else will work.
And not just the Muslims but the entire world will be the loser if Muslims fail to Re-Learn their forgotten Lesson of Truth Telling.
Before Islam, Freedom of Expression Was Never a Basic Human Right
Before Islam, there was no such thing as the right to Freedom of Expression in the world. Islam gave people – all people – the right to free speech.
How I wish Muslims had known this fact.
And how I wish the world would know this fact even now.
Figuring Out the Good Guy-Bad Guy Equation
I have often thought about how some of us think: “Truth is what we say.” And “We” are the Good Guys. Propaganda, on the other hand, is what those Other Guys say. And “They” are the Bad Guys.
And I tell myself: Wow, what a perfect recipe we have invented to delude ourselves about what really goes on in the world? And what a great guarantee it is for us to preserve and maintain all kinds of Status Quo that is favourable to us but that is essentially unfair and unjust to others – a Status Quo that some might call Evil.
The major problem I see with this formulation, however, is this: We know, and we insist, that “We” are the Good Guys. But if you went and asked the Other Guys, they are also likely to say the exact same thing. They would most probably say that “They” are the Good Guys and “We” are the Bad Guys.
That means there are actually two Bad-Guys and two Good-Guys in this world: one from “Our” vantage point and the other from “Their” point of view, which means “They” are Bad Guys to Us and “We” are Bad Guys to Them.
If more people understood this simple truth – this reciprocal equation of Good Guys and Bad Guys – about our world, perhaps there will be less violence, hate, prejudice and war in this world.
Demonization of Islam and Muslims – Then and Now
As a child as I studied the vilification and demonization of Islam and Muslims through history, one thing clearly stood out in my mind: There was near-consensus among the critics that there was nothing good that could be said about Islam or Muslims. The chorus that came from every side seemed to say: “Muslims are bad and Islam is no good.”
All I had to do to put this anti-Islam chorus to some kind of a Truth-Test was to look at my own father, and my mother, and my relatives, and all the other wonderful Muslims around me. And it became plain as daylight that those who demonized Muslims and Islam were idiots and ignoramuses or they were outright crooks and liars.
That means they were genuinely confused and misinformed or they were knowingly and deliberately lying through their teeth as the saying goes.
Later on, as I grew up, I was to learn that idiots and ignoramuses most of them were not. And having the kind of often very high educational qualifications and background many of them seemed to have, they had no excuse for being ignorant or misinformed.
I then began to realize how thorough, how extensive and how systematic the propaganda against Islam and Muslims was. And how multifaceted, aggressive, pervasive and powerful it was. And how there was not a lie or distortion the anti-Islam propagandists would not use to give Islam and Muslims a bad name.
And I also began to see how ignorant and unaware of any of this the Muslims were. History offers no parallel to such an unequal matchup of forces – to such an un-level playing field as you might call it.
And, perhaps, nothing speaks to the truth of Islam more loudly or clearly than how Islam survives, even thrives, against such seemingly impossible odds.