Tavleen Singh speaks with refreshing and unusual honesty in Indian Express:
Often on my travels, these days, I meet Muslims who complain about being misunderstood by the world. Islam is a religion of peace, they say, it can never condone violence and yet on account of a handful of bad people, the world labels all Muslims terrorists. Generally, this leads to someone or other saying that the problem is that the jehadis have distorted the message of the Prophet of Islam and the world chooses to use this as an excuse to hate all Muslims. Why is this happening? Why should Islam be blamed for the activities of a handful of fanatics? Conclusion? It must be because of the “˜evil” propaganda of Jews, Hindus and Christians.
The problem, alas, is more complicated. It is not just suicide bombers and mad mullahs who are giving Islam a bad name, it is the fact that in so many ways the religion seems out of touch with the world as it is today. The most recent example of this disconnect came last week when a court in Saudi Arabia ordered that the eye of an Indian worker, Abdul Lateef Naushad, be gouged out in the interests of justice because in a physical fight with a Saudi he caused him to lose the vision in one of his eyes. This was three years ago and Naushad has been in prison ever since which would be punishment enough (for a fight) in most countries but not in Saudi Arabia which as the crucible of the Islamic faith believes that justice means “˜an eye for an eye” just as it did in the days of the Prophet. Islamic justice also ordains that thieves pay by having their hands chopped off and adulterous couples be stoned to death. These may have been progressive measures 1,400 years ago but in today”s world they are acts of barbarism and this is where the disconnect begins between Islam and the rest of us.
What most of us see as barbaric behaviour Muslims are ordered to accept as justice because that is how it was when the Prophet was still with us. It goes beyond criminal justice to culture, education, social behaviour and the attire of women. The Prophet thought idol worship a bad thing so when Allah’s most devoted warriors took charge of Afghanistan they blew Bamiyan’s magnificent Buddhas to smithereens. The world saw it as an act of unspeakable vandalism but there are Muslims who saw what the Taliban did as God’s work or at least something we should try and understand. A Muslim diplomat I talked to at the time said, “˜”˜You see they were not all bad. They stopped poppy cultivation and drug trafficking to gain the acceptance of the world but when this did not happen they may have resorted to this to draw attention to themselves.– He did not see that in the eyes of non-Muslims their treatment of women alone would have been reason enough for them to be treated as untouchables.
Read it all. Seriously.