There are few NPR programs I listen to intentionally (a few more I’ll tolerate for a while if someone left the radio tuned to station): Car Talk, even though it’s been in repeats for years; The Ted Radio Hour (Ted Talks, edited and organized by theme); and On Being, which…
“opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live? We explore these questions in their richness and complexity in 21st-century lives and endeavors. We pursue wisdom and moral imagination as much as knowledge; we esteem nuance and poetry as much as fact.”
BTL, have you gone soft?
I’ve always been soft. It’s life that’s hard.
Anyway, this week the hostess, Krista Tippett, spoke to Reza Aslan, Muslim apologist, about what the [bleep] is wrong with Islam these days.
Actually, that’s what I thought going in. I was doubtful before the talk, moderately surprised after. Listen if you like—you’ll not find a fairer, more balanced hearing for the state of Islam today. Which is my quarrel.
Aslan is immensely likeable. If all Muslims were like him, there’d be no problem. But of course they’re not, hence the problem. Problems. If there were a radio program on the state of Hinduism today, who would listen? Sorry, Ganesh, but religion news is still news: if it bleeds it leads.
Unlike our moronic president, Aslan does not dismiss the terrorists as not-Islamic. He considers them ignorant and wrong, but he allows that their Allah is his Allah. Aslan says Islam is in the midst of its own Reformation, and has been for decades. It’s a little messy, as there is no Muslim Luther or Muslim pope or Muslim (upper-case) Church. Indeed, there are many Islams, depending on location and tradition—perhaps as many Islams as their are Korans. I’m not clear how that’s a Reformation, and even less clear what they’re reforming from and to. From packing vests with hex nuts to not, or from not blowing up Buddhas to doing so? But I guess the main argument among the many factions is over blowing people to smithereens or not; kidnapping and “marrying” non-Islamic girls or not; sawing off heads on camera or not; calling Jews the descendants of apes and pigs or not. Et cetera. Muslims like Aslan are opposed.
Which is great, but so what? Is he going to use his evident wit and charm to win the argument? Will the Islamic State slap its collective forehead in a “d’oh!” moment? And forget for the briefest instant the encyclopedia of Islamic terror entities around the globe today, (Vol. 1 Abdullah Azzam Brigades – Al-Nusra Front), when has Islam not been about violence, at least in part? Wikipedia lists 100 battles Mohammed led in the last decade of his life alone, conquering lands, destroying “pagan” temples, marrying 13 women. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Having thought it over for 24 hours, I think the Reformation Aslan means is that of Sayyid Qutb, the “intellectual foundation” (hat tip Liz Warren) of the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s decades old (Qutb began carping around 1950), and pretty much sums up the nastiness we see around the world today. He was certainly no fan of America or the West.
The American is primitive in his artistic taste, both in what he enjoys as art and in his own artistic works. “Jazz” music is his music of choice. This is that music that the Negroes invented to satisfy their primitive inclinations, as well as their desire to be noisy on the one hand and to excite bestial tendencies on the other.
The American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity. She knows it lies in the face, and in expressive eyes, and thirsty lips. She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs—and she shows all this and does not hide it.
Well, not if you ogle, you perv. He sounds like the wild and crazy guys played by Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd on SNL years ago. Crossed with Archie Bunker.
Qutb comes across as a latter-day prophet. What was left of the caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, had been parceled off among the victorious allies after WWI. The disciples of Qutb want to get the band back together, the bloodier the better. Indeed, a few square miles of scrub land in Iraq and Syria are now called the caliphate—symbolism more apt than they mean. Aslan and his ilk, more numerous but underarmed, stand opposed.
So, good luck, Muslims. We’re rooting for you. Let us know how it turns out.