Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hand to God

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.


Phil said...

Me too, Rami. Better keep our hands in our pockets.

Loved your pieces last week on Hawking and Coyne, btw. Fortunately their partisan devotees are more likely to come at you with verbal scimitars, which are best disarmed with wicked humor and sarcasm. You're safe.

Mano said...

Gentle humour is well and good but there is something intractable and unyielding about the horrific and seemingly arbitrary violence engendered by the mind set (and could any mind be more set) of Islamic supremacism and Islamic supremacists (not that the US hasn't left an equally large swathe of destruction in its imperialist adventures of the last 50 years - nalpalm and agent orange and DDT and cruise missiles have no intrinsic moral superiority to suicide bombers from Gaza who detonate explosives packed with nuts and bolts to mutilate Israeli teenagers at a disco or shopping mall) but in the end perhaps the phenomenon has to be faced? Its like the debate betwen Bber and Ghandi about the correct response to Nazi Europe. Hashkem lehorgacha, who rises early to kill you - kill him, to paraphrase the Talmud.

Truly a rain of terror has been established, where writers and painters and cartoonists look anxiously over their shoulders when questioning Moslem ways and mores, for fear of the death threats and fatwas that inevitably follow

By the way, in mano's collection of extremely thin books: "The self deprecating hunmour of Islamic Supremacists"