Peace Initiative For
The Progeny Of Abraham
By Dr Tayyaba Qidwai
26 January, 2007
The Year 2005 and the month of
September of that year, is going to resonate in the corridors of history,
with the shrill cry of something momentous – it was a cry of anguish
of Abrahamic civilization itself, when two of the great cultures of
this century prepared to clash on a fundamental issue. According to
some, it may have been a war cry as well. No guns or swords were drawn;
what was drawn were a series of cartoons, by something mightier –
a Pen! In fact they were pens of 12 innocuous artists.
“ Jyllands-Posten and the other western media organs, which supported
the offending Danish newspaper, missed one great factor. This is for
the first time in human history that the world today is living under
one ethnic civilization of two shades and if this civilization collapses
there is no fresh civilizational idea immediately available to humanity
to re-enact the feat of the seventh century. In the Orient it is the
mature but reflexive Islamic Civilization manifest in many regional
cultures thriving from Senegal to Indonesia, with some significant outposts
in western democracies. In the Occident, it is the accomplished Judeo-Christian
Civilization similarly rooted in history and directing an unprecedented
technological advancement. It has greatly influenced the regions beyond
its home bases.
These were the thoughts, which prompted Tariq Ghazi to write his book.
He captured the kaleidoscopic events preceding and following that lament,
in a fascinating, perceptive commentary called The Cartoons Cry. When
the future generations get to know about the infamous cartoons controversy
started by a little known newspaper in "a quiet place in a calm
Nordic city", the same corridors would reverberate with the names
of such historians, who were perceptive enough to hear that cry and
record it for posterity.
For a layperson, who observes the current world events with interest,
yet confusion, Ghazi's deeply insightful book provides a clear and accessible
study of the mindset of the two major cultures of this era, heading
onto a possible collision course according to some astute observers.
The Cartoons Cry also draws valuable intuitive guidelines on how that
catastrophe can be averted and civilization salvaged.
For readers like me it provided
an invaluable insight into a culture, which I share with the author
and the maturity needed to stimulate us, for charting out a better future
for our grandchildren.
It also provides an unusually perceptive introduction to the West, of
a parallel culture descending from Abraham, the common ancestor.
“… Both Islamic and Western Civilizations are in need of
‘challenges’ to jump-start them. .... The two civilizations
are original in their thought process and innovative in application
of social ideals. The two have freely borrowed from each other, but
accepted only what withstood the test of their critical appreciation.
The two civilizations also have a long history of conflict and compromise,
antipathy and interaction, highlighting a unique relationship that has
no parallel in human history. This disposition puts them shoulder-to-shoulder
on the same high pedestal of originality and creativity, as compared
to other civilizations.”
It would have been a difficult task for the author to tell everything
in an honest, yet non-confrontational way. But, it goes to his credit
that he took this challenge, minutely researched the subject from worldwide
news sources and then penned it, with the confident authority of a veteran
journalist, a perceptive social scientist and political analyst.
It is a deftly woven account of the events which eventually led to the
two cultures standing face to face for confrontation. On one side was
the defense of right of freedom of expression and on the other the fundamental
right of respect for religion. It is perhaps no accident that the author
personifies both sides – as a journalist and as a practicing Muslim.
Like a responsible peace-negotiator, he takes up the task to bring them
both together at the negotiating table and provides them the option
“… the question always confronting the three Sethic-Semitic
religions is which side they stand on – are they with Abel and
Seth or with Cain? Are they with Noah or with his detractors who opted
to be perished by The Flood, with Abraham or with the wicked king of
Babylon who tried to burn the latter alive, with Moses or with the pharaoh,
with David or with Goliath, with Jesus or with Pilate, with Muhammad
or with Abu Jahl?”
The book, at the narrative plain, is a mirror of the historical, social,
political, economic and judicial parameters of the international community
of the current century.
Democracy – with all its fundamental rights of equality and justice,
is also "law is will of the people. The Westerner finds legal ways
to circumvent laws, biblical or temporal, and legalizes their diversion
through democratic process."
The young people in the West – "worship the symbols of total
freedom – free from any form of religious, moral, social or political
restrictions “. But, national leaders and the clergy are definitely
not their role models.
The Muslims, on the other hand, are seen as a people distinguished by
their religious behavior, earning them the sobriquets – from fundamentalists
and practicing to moderates, seculars and liberals.
As immigrants, Ghazi feels, Muslims have had nothing to offer to their
host countries, as a result they are "there to emulate, to copy,
to ape everything their new nation offers, thus encouraging their hosts
to demand more assimilation and acceptance of western values, rather
than showing respect to the uniqueness of the guests."
The relationship between the powerful and the weak in our times: The
powerful and mighty oppressing the weak with sanctions and warring tactics.
The weak trying dialogue, peaceful demonstrations and boycotts initially,
but finally resorting to violent tactics when "nobody listens".
The Cartoons Cry gives very informative historical background into the
origins of such violent tactics as bounty on the head, burning of effigies,
burning of national flags. These are not originally Islamic ways of
protest, but have been taken up by excitable minority on the promptings
of scheming politicians. The author feels that it is the duty of Muslim
social scientists and the media to tell them about the un-Islamic nature
of these practices.
It advises, the resort to legal procedures, which is one of the common
meeting ground for both the cultures. The Islamic ruling for justice
which is based on equal retribution to the original injury and no more,
but may be less or forgiven entirely, is an eye-opener for not only
Western society but Muslims as well.
Above all, it is a labor of love. Ghazi’s love and reverence for
that person shines through, the denigration of whose dignity has probably
motivated him to write the book in the first place. In words of devotion
and respect he affectionately draws out the personality of Muhammad
Rasool-Allah (saw), the Prophet of Islam, and shows how an attack on
such a revered personality is likely to disturb the emotional stability
of about 1.5 billion of his followers, because they love him more than
their own selves. Infact, he shows his love and respect for All the
“Muslims do not understand why common Christians fail to react
to frequent insults to Jesus Christ. On the other hand, Jesus –
as also everyone of the prophets right from Adam to Noah, Abraham, Lot,
Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, Job, Jonah,
Elijah, Elisha – is so loved by the Muslims that they wouldn’t
refer to anyone of them without saluting each of them with the phrase
‘alaih is-salam’, meaning ‘peace be upon him’.
The book demands serious study, particularly by the young generation
of all faith communities, and also needs to be preserved in libraries
for the important historical contribution it is going to make to the
global human community.
The Cartoons Cry is a call for a firm handshake between the children
of Abraham. He hopes the Creative Minority of Muslims who have migrated
to the West, would be the first to extend their hand.
"The Cartoons Cry" (ISBN: 9781425947644), by Muhammad Tariq
Ghazi, can be ordered directly from the publisher at www.AuthorHouse.com
for$11.90 ($3.95 for electronic edition). It can be purchased from Barnes
and Noble, Amazon and other bookstores at $13.49.
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