20 May 2012
Congratulations, M/s Ghulam Faruki, Anis Faruki, Sam Kadri and other friends who have infused a new life in TAHZEEB. Let's take this on to debating serious issues even as we inform, entertain and humour ourselves.
A thought that often disturbs me is the distinction between Islam and the Arab culture. A history of the Arabs and of their culture, predating Islam, presents stark resemblance to many teachings of Islam. Clearly Islam has been deeply influenced by the Arab culture.
Now, this culture ought not to be always and necessarily sacrosanct for Muslims. Sadly, we confuse this culture for Islam. Muslims should be free to flout Arab cultural norms, dictats and practices, if that militates against their local needs and norms, without a sense of guilt.
Does this matter? It does. A lot, actually. For instance, a Hyderabadi Muslim readily identifies with a Lebanese or Egyptian Christian - thanks to their Kifaya [headgear] or Arabic - but not with a practicing Tamilian lungi-clad Muslim.
The offshoots of this mentality are myriad and cause mayhem. A Gujarati Imam frowns upon someone speaking English inside the mosque, but not upon Urdu speakers. [The poor fellow thinks the prophet spoke Urdu!]. Someone said, this trait reflects particularly in the area of hygiene and sanitation.
It would be illuminating if someone shed light on those aspects of Islam that do not strictly constitute the core of shariah but form normal Arab practices