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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fighting jihadists with inkjet printers - Irfan Yusuf

Exposing wackos

I’m always most grateful to anyone who exposes the nastiness of Muslim wackos (or indeed of wackos of any persuasion). But I’m not grateful to those who associate me with those same wackos. I might be somewhat conservative, but I’m no cultural jihadist. I might be Muslim, but I’m not about to wear a suicide vest. Further, nothing is to be gained by pretending a real threat doesn’t exist. At the same time, there is no virtue in overstating a threat. Let’s call a spade a spade, not a (non-Sudanese) teddy bear or a hijacked airliner.

Some of the allegedly dangerous books exposed in the PE’s most recent study are hardly a problem. For instance, the study refers to Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi’s Behishti Zewar, a classic book containing a mix of Hanafi fiqh (sacred jurisprudence) and nasihat (advice) written especially for women. My mother had an old copy of this book in her library. Like many South Asian Muslim women, she probably received it from relatives on her wedding day as part of her dowry. She takes it off her shelf to read maybe once a year.

I know the book contains crazy misogynist, sexist, anti-British material. There’s plenty in the book to laugh at. Just as there are plenty of other cheaply-printed books published (or pirated) in India and Pakistan filled with spelling errors, bad grammar and weird conspiracy theories. But to describe Behishti Zewar as a hate-filled jihadi tract of salafist extremism is really over-the-top.

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