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Published in the 1-15 June 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition


"No Synthesis of faiths but mutual understanding and tolerance"

The Milli Gazette Online

Shahabuddin Saheb in his article "No Synthesis of Faiths but Mutual Understanding and Tolerance" claims that I am some kind of a supporter of religious syncretism and that I have decried attempts at religious puritanism. Nothing can be farther from truth. As a Muslim I would never state my support to tampering with or distorting of the core Islamic beliefs or modes of worship. I have clearly stated in my review of Sacred Spaces that religious syncreticism is not a prerequisite for communal harmony and that Hindus and Muslims can come together on alternative forums like labour and social justice. In the very first paragraph itself I had written that there are two groups of people who are making attempts to end religious syncreticism: 1) the genuine puritans 2) politicians and communalists who are using this to serve their political ends. I support the first and oppose the latter. Syed Shahabuddin Saheb unfortunately and erroneously confuses my presentation of Yoginder Sikand's views as those of my own. He has probably read my review in a jiffy and was not able to make the distinction between the two.

Shahabuddin Saheb's article on my review proves that not only the man on the street but also the Muslim intelligentsia are yet to come to terms with modern frameworks of critique and debate. They often confuse the views being analysed as also being those of the analyst. This leads to a lynch mob mentality, examples of which we continue to see every day. Just about a month ago, the editor of the Hyderabad Urdu Daily Saaz-e-Deccan was attacked for publishing a critique of an article defaming Islam. This despite the fact that the objectionable material was quoted only to rebut it in the same article.

Mohammed Ayub Khan, Toronto

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