WHY KID OURSELVES? Harvard is not the ideal center of reason, sensitivity and tolerance that Dean Jewett claims.
Don't worry. This is not another tedious, anti-liberal diatribe from a disgruntled, conservative Crimson writer. It is, rather, a complaint by a practicing Muslim at Harvard--who simply happens to be a dis-gruntled, conservative Crimson writer.
Distaste for free discussion is no longer the sole province of lunatic leftists. It has now permeated every facet of collegiate life, including my last haven at Harvard: the Harvard Islamic Society.
There is an Islamically correct agenda at Harvard. Those who deviate from the agenda are humiliated in front of their Muslim brethern. And worst of all, the primary forum for indoctrination at Harvard is at the holy Friday service.
BEFORE I EXPLAINmy gripes, I should offer a cursory description of Islam for non-experts. Muslims, including myself, unambiguously recognize Muhammad (May peace be upon him) as the final and principal messenger of God. He delivered fundamentally the same message as the prophets Jesus and Abraham before his: the unity of God and the need for Man to bow before his creator as decreed in the Holy Koran. The word "Islam" itself means submission, and Muslims have historically found their strength in this common purpose of sub-servience to God, or Allah.
Islam was always more than just a religion. In the time of the prophet, it heralded a new era of intellectual curiosity, encouraging Muslims to engage in political discourse. Outside of the mosque, Muslims debated issues with ideological fervor.
But when it came to religious matters, Muslims were instructed to put aside their political differences for the sake of Islamic unity. While politics was not a taboo subject for a sermon, it should always be subservient to religion inside the mosque. And any religious factionalization on account of individual political beliefs was condemned in the final sermon of the prophet.
I ATTENDED a Friday service at the Harvard mosque in the basement of Memorial Hall before this semester began. The Khatib, the person giving the sermon, audaciously declared that the current Allied anxiety over Iraq's developing nuclear capabilities is, in actuality, a concern over the Islamic renaissance. The true objective of the Gulf war, he continued, was not the liberation of Kuwait, but a strategic check of increasing Islamic dominance.
Not once did he quote a passage from liberation of kuwait, but a strategic of increasing Islamic dominance the Koran.
The sermon fit in perfectly with the new brand of politically correct Islam, the tenets of which include: 1. Islam is the means to all ends. 2. Anything not Islamic is"Kafir" (infidel) 3. Anyone not Muslim is"Kafir." 4. Americans are especially"Kafir." 5. President Bush is the most"Kafir" of all, an anti-Muslims, Zionist Jew. 6. The sheiks in Gulf nations like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and their followers are "munafiqueen" (hypocritical Muslims, infinitely more detestable than kafirs 7. For the sake of Islam, Iraq needs a nuclear bomb. 8. So does Pakistan. 9. And Yassir Arafat, too.
Not wishing to be subjected to further radical political dogmatisms, and still quite shocked, embarrassed and offended by the khatib's indoctrination sessions, I proceeded silently out of the mosque and trekked my way to Northeastern, University. At Northeastern, I knew, there was a sizeable contingent of Gulf Arabs with whom I could share the solidarity that the Friday service strives to achieve.
"But aren't you trying to stifle free speech, too?" you might ask. In a sense, I am. But only during the Friday service, which has always been a time for unity and fellowship. As the Holy Koran says, "The believers are but a single brotherhood." Today's Middle East situation is too divisive a topic for discussion during services.
If this were a matter of free speech, any Muslim could invoke the right to counter the khatib's declaration. This would hardly serve the causes of unity. In the words of Dean Jewett, this is simply a matter of sensitivity.
So, to air my concerns, I asked to meet with some of my Muslim brothers in the Harvard Islamic Society.
I began the discussion with a speech emphasizing the need for Muslims to be considerate of one another, especially during the sermons. In my opinion, the best course to follow was that of the prophet, who simply read a passage from the Koran and offered an interpretation. Even when speaking of politics, one ought to deliver the sermon tactfully, in such a way as not to alienate of offend anyone.
My Muslim brothers contended that what they were espousing in their sermons was fully within the norms of acceptability, and that they could not comprehend why anyone would take their message as an affront. Did not everyone in our Society agree that the bombing of Iraq was a brutal attack against the Islamic nation? Who possibly could deny that the oil-rich sheikhs of the Gulf and their followers are bastardly hypocrites who pay off their imams? And who could possibly be offended if this "truth" were articulated?
I was, as were my Muslim brothers from Saudi Arabia, and as would be every Muslim from the Gulf by this intolerable and inexcusable trivialization of our religious integrity by a jaded, ignorant pair whose holder-than-thou attitudes are pestiferous to all Muslims.
Taken aback by my deviant stances concerning these issuse which they believed were manifestly inarguable, my Muslim brothers declared that my arguments were invalid, and that my objective in this discussion was to censor the "truth," to revile Islam by dictating what is acceptable--a sin comparable to those of the sheikhs they despise. Then, in front of three fellow Muslims, I was declared a "munafiq," a hypocrite in the faith, perhaps the most vicious insult to a Muslim.
The discussion was over.
AS A MUSLIM, I am compelled to provide my Muslim brothers in the Harvard Islamic Society with a few tips in Islamic etiquette which can be found in A1-Kaysi's book, Morals and Manners in Islam:
1. Disgracing or reviling others' beliefs, directly or indirectly, is forbidden.
2. Character assasination through insinuation, backbiting or undesirable conjecture is prohibited.
3. There is a specific topic related to every occasion. Decorum and appropriateness should exist between the topic being discussed and the occasion.
I should also warn the brothers that the punishment for unjustly declaring a fellow Muslims, a "munafiq" before three or more Muslims, as stipulated by sharia, the Islamic code of law, is death.
I wouldn't want anyone to lose their heads over this.
The story of my run-in with Harvard's newest thought police officers: the Islamic Society.
Bader A. El-Jeaan '95 hasn't attended a Friday service since Orientation Week.