Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fundamentalists vs Fun-Da-Mental-Lists

For those of you who haven't seen the video causing all the ruckus, here it is in all it's 3-minutes of glory. Who knew that a comedy-skit poking fun at Osama Bin laden would get all these religious zealots and fundamentalists so hot and bothered, they would border on declaring a fatwa against a comedian?

I admire Late Nite News and especially Riaad Moosa for pushing the boundaries on this one.
I had a Twitter debate with the Cape Town branch of one of the groups leading the charge against Riaad Moosa. There were a few issues I took up with them, and I concluded that there seemed to be a greater understanding of the need for open dialogue with the Cape Town branch than there was for the Jozi branch. I found the response's to Riaad's open letter to their accusations loaded with the kind of diatribe reserved for the arrogant and pompous.

Here are a few excerpts of their blog post, to which I have aired my opinion.

Muslimah : So it really does come as a surprise when Muslims are being rather lenient with ‘comedian’ Riaad Moosa whose latest antics have landed him in hot water with the Muslim ‘extremist’ public.Really Muslimah? You're surprised that the rest of the educated Muslim public is not as narrow-minded and obtuse as you are? You seriously cannot grasp why Muslims are being 'lenient' with Riaad Moosa? What would you prefer them do? Join your extremist ranks and declare a fatwa? Is the world as we know it not dangerous enough with fanatics and zealots already?
Muslimah : Secondly, the beard may be seen by many to be a representative quality of Al Qaeda. Whether this is true or not, the beard is a salient feature of Islam. Parodying a person wearing the beard is to parody the Sunnah.I've watched the video numerous times, and at no point did I hear Riaad Moosa mention 'Islam' , 'Sunnah' , or the 'Prophet'. I'm curious to know how you drew this link. Was it a backdoor incitement to rile the Muslim public, since these words justifiably incited anger in Muslims worldwide against the Danish cartoon issue? To draw parallels between the two, as you have done further in your blog, was an error in judgement and a rather dubious if not dangerous claim. The beard is a salient feature of Islam just as it is of Judaism and amongst the Afrikaners. Arabic is the salient language of Middle-Eastern terrorists. Does this mean anyone speaking Arabic is by default a terrorist?

Muslimah :
Making people laugh is your own business and you may do it in whatever way you please except when making them laugh involves even a single aspect related to Islam.So in effect what you are saying is that Islam is a religion void of people with a sense of humour? My question to you then is, when did the Muslim public decree you as the bastion of all that is moral and just in this beautiful religion we call Islam? When was the edict passed that made Muslimah the gatekeepers to Islamic virtue? I don't ever recall having asked your group of extremists to safeguard a religion lived and enjoyed by millions against question and debate? Maybe if you took a long and serious look at your mandate and what it is you hope to achieve by your actions, you will realize that you are a lone force with minimal support fighting an extremist cause with no justification.

Muslimah :
We await your response video with great anticipation. Due to the fact that you have taken it upon yourself to step into the domain of Islamic academic discussion by making a direct reference to the Sunnah and Shar’i principles in what can only be deemed a parody of worthless taste surpassed only by ignorance of the subject matter, we request the following:

1. Valid, authentic, authoritative, academic Shar’i proof that your actions on the Late Night News show are perfectly okay in light of the Shari’ah.

2. Clear, simple academic proof that a parody involving the shaving of the beard carried out by a Muslim is permissible in Islam.

3. Valid, academic proof that mockery of the burka falls within the confines of ‘fun’ in Islam.

A simple response to the above three questions would be highly appreciated. A request to readers: We have very little time for sad and emotional rants, ‘freedom of speech’ issues, ‘light-hearted’ banter and fun, open-minded entertainment etc. If you cannot provide us with valid, academic proof justifying the actions we have mentioned, do not even bother contacting us or commenting.Is it just me or does this response by Muslimah reek of arrogance and pompousness? Before they attacked Riaad Moosa for his video, I don't recall them having contacted Riaad first to discuss the issue. I don't recall them attempting some form of dialogue to fully understand his intentions. I don't recall them portraying the part of 'Bastions of Morals' by showing some humility and understanding in an effort to educate. All I saw and read was a bully towering above a single individual and screaming down at him "We are right, you're wrong, and that's that!" Interesting to note that Muslimah finds issues like 'Freedom of Speech' an emotional rant. I wonder where they were when the struggle heroes of this country were fighting for the very freedoms they now enjoy; freedoms which allow them a platform to hurl insults at an individual who in my opinion, has done more to engage the youth in dialogue to better understand issues which affect them.

I'd like to ask Muslimah how much they have done outside of their small demographic of extremists to promote dialogue and debate on matters of religion, politics and society in general. I'd hazard a guess and say that their response would probably be "Anything outside of religion does not concern us." Really? If the youth and your demographic in particular suddenly finds themselves in a state which does not allow freedom of religion and freedom of speech, would they still maintain that issues outside of religion are of no interest to them?

The same 'freedom of speech' they balk at today is the very 'freedom of speech' they are exercising themselves. Hypocrisy?

I could mention numerous other points which are at best laughable in their article, but I guess it's up to the reader ultimately to decide if the video Riaad Moosa posted was one deserving of such harsh criticism from a religious minority group.

In my opinion, part of the problem regarding religion today is that each religion believes themselves to be absolutely correct and anyone not subscribing to their beliefs is doomed to hell.
Religions all have one common goal: To promote peace, love and understanding amongst it's following. Do good and be good, so that good may come to you. It's when people start twisting and turning the religious code to fit their own agendas that all the good goes out the window.

In conclusion I would like to add that I am no religious scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but what I lack in religious academic study I more than make up for in common sense
... and that's what extremist groups are afraid of, that people will start applying common sense to their beliefs.