Mr. Lampoon's email to Irshad Manji*
05 December 2005This is the email that I wrote to Irshad Manji. She put an edited version of it on her site
I'm posting this letter because:
1. I'm vain and want you guys to know that Irshad posted this letter on her site
2. This letter really explains why I feel about extremism in Islam so strongly.
I've followed your writings intermittently for the last few years now. Great work. I am a Muslim and my ancestors were converts to Islam from Hinduism. I credit my faith for having given my ancestors the courage and self-belief to leave a life of social and economic marginalism in rural India in the 19th century and providing the impetus to educate themselves, to advance themselves economically and socially. My sister and I are urbane, articulate, successful professionals. I am writing you an email in English. And for this, I thank my ancestors for choosing the faith they did a century and half ago.
I was in the US doing my Masters when the WTC and Pentagon bombings took place. I cannot tell you how sick I felt. I was taking a class at that time with a Jewish professor from New York. He was and still is one of the best teachers I've encountered so far. Although classes were suspended on that day following the bombings, word had still not reached us. I had no idea how to face him. A Muslim, determined to eradicate his race, had destroyed an iconic monument in his city. And he used my faith to justify it. When Bombay was bombed in 1991 by a Muslim terrorist, I considered that an attack on me. His motivation was not my motivation. I stood squarely with other Bombayites as the wronged victim. But in 2001, I did not have the consolation of being a victim. I could not not go to his class. Islam frowns upon cowards. And although I could not tell him anything then or later on this topic, his attitude towards me never changed.
In the months following that attack, Muslims moaned how they were discriminated against (and they were. I was lynched on our college campus), I could not but be ashamed at their attitude. What Muslims underwent was nothing compared to what the terrorists were doing to their adopted countries. They were traitors. Even ordinary non-violent Muslims wanted the material comfort of the west but could not be bothered to accept the values that enabled the West to acquire those comforts. Sexism, gender inequality, xenophobia, anti-semitism were and are still rampant.
I am back in India, but the attitude of Muslims does not cease to shock me. An educated, intelligent woman pursuing her graduate studies contends that the events on 9/11 have not been conclusively proven to be caused by the 19 hijackers from Al-Qaida. A Jewish conspiracy cannot be ruled out, she says. A Muslim Brown University graduate I met here is obliquely, but unmistakenly, anti-Semitic.
I've had it with these people who malign the faith that has help my family and me to get where we are today. Like you I've started writing and, where possible, speaking out against it. With this I shamelessly pitch my blog: http://ilampoon.blogspot.com/
Do visit it and leave a comment. I will love it if you do. You are my inspiration.
And carry on the good work.
*Post deliberately backdated.