Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Shariah TV in Britain

Ahmad, an Iraqi Expat in living Britain, writes about "Shariah TV." We were prepared for the worst, but Ahmad believes it's a good thing. The show is directed at Muslims, and the format is a 3-person panel discussion of questions:
"The reaction and answers from the panel was rather amusing. Imam R was rather radical in his answer, whereas Imam M was moderate and Dr Siddiqui was rational. What happens is that the moderate Imam M would side more with Dr Siddiqui than with Imam R, which was very interesting, you see him changes his moderate answer to be even more logical after Dr Siddiqui gives her view. So, the inquirer often accepts the moderate and logical answer.

One of the questions was, should believing Muslims (non-Muslim can do what they like here) question, criticize and or critique Islam or the Prophet. Imam R said that you shouldn’t, as a Muslim and a believer you should accept it without questions, i.e. blindly and without using your brains. Whereas, Dr Siddiqui made a distinction between criticize and critique; as a Muslim you can critique Islam to get a better understanding and explanations. Another example, a journalist asked if he can work on a programme that deals with pornography or alcohol. As you would expect, Imam R said, NO; Muslims should never work with such programmes because they are Haram; whereas Imam M would answer him by saying that if this is to expose problems in the society, then of course we need that work done and you should do it, but not if you are producing a porno film; which is fair I think.

Another interesting point made was about Salman Rushdie the author of The Satanic Verses (anti-Islam, anti-Prophet novel). The point was, why none of the Mullahs cared to answer Rushdie, yet they didn’t hesitate to issue fatwas decreeing his death. This goes back to the 'criticize and critique' issue; the Mullahs should have responded not by a fatwa, but by a logical answer to show a different explanation. I think they got used to people (Muslims) following them blindly so much, that they expect others to do the same.

What is interesting is that having such a programme would force radicals to become less radical and more rational because in a programme like that they lose the debate and people will follow the logical answer not the close your eyes and follow me answer. This is the kind of programmes that we need in the Middle East, to make people think before accepting what the Imam says, and at the same time it make the Imam think before saying things. These people were caring believing Muslims, yet they did not accept what Imam R told them.

I believe we need programmes like these in the Middle East, where Imams like Imam M and intellects like Dr Siddiqui would interact with an intellectual audience to reach a logical conclusion that enlighten people and reform Islam. Instead what we have in the Middle East is Al Jazeera with either a male presenter or a female presenter with Hijab (even if she doesn’t normally wear one) making a programme where Al Qaradawi gives his views unchallenged, as if he is the law! Why not make it intellectual and bring also people like Dr Siddiqui for example to give a different view, to give rational answers, and an audience to ask questions. We need such programmes to tackle Muslims daily issues in the Middle East in an intellectual approach, not the follow me blindly approach."
Of course, we didn't see the show, but Ahmad raises some good points. It is hard for the radical view of "follow me without question" to stand up to logic and rationality. So putting them in that kind of situation is A Good Thing.

There is more to this post and lots more interesting stuff on Iraqi Expat.

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