If you have been reading this blog for a while you know that I support the expansion of the Islamic Center in my town of Murfreesboro, TN. You also know that I think much of the paranoia around Islam and Muslims is just that: paranoia. But just because your paranoid doesn’t mean you aren’t being followed.
Case in point: The Times of India reported on Monday, July 5, 2010, that Professor T. J. Joseph a lecturer at Newman College in Thodupuzha in Idukki district was dragged from his car and had his right hand chopped off by Muslim fanatics. His crime? He allegedly wrote a question on an exam that was considered by some to be derogatory of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Now I teach Islam at MTSU. And while I try to be respectful off all the religions we cover, the fact is I have a wicked sense of humor, and often point out the more absurd facets of religion and invite comment by my students. I am also an academic and assume that the Qur’an (along with all other holy books) is the product of human beings not gods. I do not single out any one religion for ridicule, and certainly feel no antipathy toward Islam or the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). But blasphemy is in the mind of the beholder, and there is no reason to doubt that if I lived in (or could find on a map) Thodupuzha in Idukki district my right hand too would be lopped off by some Muslim maniac.
This incident leads me to two conclusions. First, if ever invited to teach Islam at Newman College in Thodupuzha in Indian’s Idukki district, I should immediately and emphatically decline. Second, given my nature and teaching style, I should work hard at being more ambidextrous.