Sunday, April 10, 2005

A new dish is made

Smell it! The brew of controversy amongst liberal and conservative muslims has a new ingredient within it- Tahir Aslam Gora is the latest in a series of names that started with Manji, and was soon joined by Asra Nomani and Amina Wudood; all disgruntled with the conservative framework of religion.
Gora has issued a proclamation for modernizing Islam, and a weekly newspaper has given him ample space to bring forth his criticism and the changes he proposes. He is the founder of NewIslam, and was previously the editor of the 'progressive' newspaper Watan. I have read his views and will comment on it in another space. Meanwhile, I hope he updates his website with his manifesto, it was clearly articulated in Urdu in the paper, but the details are sparse on the website.
The post 9/11 world has challenged many (including me) to re-evaluate much of what they took for granted (dismissing the evil as merely the ugly), but the issues are still there. Extremism is desperately being chased, but poverty, literacy disparity and cultural isolation remain. The on-slaught through liberal media, conspiring think tanks and men in uniform continues.
My views on the subject aside, it gives me a certain sense of awe at just watching these new ideas emerge, these debates happen. Newspapers giving space, PEN Canada backing freedom of expression... Spectators are forced to think, to side with one or the other, to make up their god-damned minds about what and who is closer to the reality in their own lives. These are real people who have stepped forward, for peaceful dialogue and analysis of a subject dear to many. And that they are doing so with the power of debate rather than fatwaa is commendable. My only fear is that it will turn into an olympic event, with too many steroid-calls and too many medals to be chased; but we can hope, cant we?