Letter: Intellectual basis of modern Islam

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The Independent Online
Sir: Salman Rushdie's response (Letters, 6 July) to Yasmin Alibhai- Brown's feature is from the 'progressive' side of the fence. I hope you will allow me a brief rejoinder from those Rushdie regards as 'frozen in time'.

Let me acknowledge at once that there now exists a state of war between the 'progressives', whose representation of 'European values' Rushdie finds 'attractive', and those 'in revolt against history'. The latter Rushdie rightly and accurately names as 'Siddiquis and Hizbollahs and blind sheikhs and ayatollahs'.

However, the mistake Rushdie and others of his ilk make is to regard us as 'frozen in time'. The fact is that the modern global Islamic movement is based on at least 200 years of intense intellectual activity which started with Shah Waliullah of Delhi in the 18th century. Others in the long chain of intellectual giants who have contributed to this tradition include, to name but a few, Jamalludin Afghani, Muhammad Abduh, Muhammad Iqbal, Abul ala Maududi, Hasan al-Banna, Syed Qutb and Imam Khomeini.

Here in London, the 'fatuous Dr Siddiqui' established the Muslim Institute in 1972 to consolidate the work of these thinkers and further extend the frontiers of Muslim political thought. The global Islamic movement that has already captured Iran, expelled Israel from Lebanon, defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and is about to make more spectacular gains in Algeria, Egypt, Turkey and elsewhere is neither frozen nor blind. Its intellectual foundations include the reinterpretation of Islamic history, political method, philosophy and a true and more profound understanding of Western civilisation.

If Rushdie would be more precise with the location of his bunker in 'London, SW10', we would deliver him a set of enlightening books to read.

Yours faithfully,

KALIM SIDDIQUI

The Muslim Institute

London, WC1

7 July

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