"If any religion had the chance of ruling over England, nay Europe within the next hundred years, it could be Islam."
"I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age.
I have studied him - the wonderful man and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Savior of Humanity."
"I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness:
I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today."
Sir George Bernard Shaw in 'The Genuine Islam,' Vol. 1, No. 8, 1936
[Thanks to Taj Hashmi for bringing it to my notice]
Did Sir George possess a crystal ball? Of course the growth Islam in Europe is happening more because of migration than conversion. But why is that so? Is it that Islam does not have the appeal? Is it that it does not sit in harmony with “western” attitudes? Well from the little that I know [& I must confess I do know little!] Islam provides quite a balanced approach to life. It has much to offer any person and if nothing else, some reasons to appreciate its basic tenants.
I see the actual reason for conversion failing, from the point of view of my advertising shoes. We have not created enough positive brand awareness and experience. Some radical elements in the religion have hijacked our identity and we, the liberal Muslims, have sat back and allowed it. Because we hide behind the pretext that religion is beyond debate, we have ourselves started believing Islam is irrelevant in today’s context. Without conversations, without discussion, without dissent, without critique how do we better understand such a metaphysical concept like religion? Our religion will not crumble because someone has questioned why or has drawn some pictures! It will only grow stronger because we will be able to understand and explain rationally the wealth that the Quran has in its pages.
Talking of cartoons: to follow up on what I had written [see Freedom To... below. I came across a wonderful piece in the February 5th’s edition of the New Age titled Does the right of freedom of speech justify printing the Danish cartoons? [originally published in the The Guardian – click on the this post’s headline to take you to the piece]
Both authors basically agree that the cartoons are in bad taste and are provocative. While I tend to agree with Philip Hensher’s “Yes” argument I thought the points (and specific examples) put forward by Gary Younge were thought provoking. He sums up his argument with a gem of a quote from Steve Biko, ”Not only are whites kicking us; they are telling us how to react to being kicked.”
While burning opponents buildings [let alone those under diplomatic sanctuary] sacrilege and should not be condoned; I am sure such a feeling went through the minds of many Muslims across the globe.
Before I go a small request. Let us be more tolerant of dissent, for from it we can only learn and be stronger.