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A 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 to choose.

“… 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 Prophets .

“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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