Book Review by Ayub Khan – Chasing A Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of An Islamic State, By Tarek Fatah
It is a tragedy of the post-911 world that the field of Islamic concepts and terminologies have also fallen a victim to misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and plain hysteria. Fuelling these fears among the masses are not only rabid Islamophobes but also those who claim to be nothing of that sort but whose actions speak otherwise. Canadian TV host and commentator Tarek Fatah belongs to the latter category. He has a history of mindless criticism of things as mundane as the aversion to music to more significant ones as the introduction of Sharia-based laws in Ontario. In Chasing a Mirage: the Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State he tries to show that the idea of an Islamic state is not only futile and untenable but outright dangerous.
Reviewed by Ayub Khan
Chasing A Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of An Islamic State
By Tarek Fatah
Fatah lays his claims on a rather simplistic analysis of the concept of Islamic state by saying that, “Islamists argue that the period following the passing away of Muhammad was Islam’s golden era and that we Muslims need to re-create that caliphate to emulate that political system in today’s world.” For the casual observer it might appear that the “Islamists” want to create an exact replica of the age of the righteous caliphs. But this isn’t the case as an analysis of the writings of those advocating an Islamic state reveals. For most Muslims an Islamic state can adopt many forms of modern polity and administration without comprising the Islamic ideals. Even Dr.Israr Ahmed of Pakistan’s Tanzeem-e-Islami, for instance, is open to the concept of a parliamentary caliphate. Benazir Bhutto, for whom Fatah is of fulsome praise, was better informed than Fatah on this front as her last book reveals. She quotes the Pakistani Jamaat-e-Islami ideologue Khurshid Ahmed who says: “God has revealed only broad principles and has endowed man with the freedom to apply them in every age in the way suited to the spirit and conditions of that age. It is through the ijtihad that people of every age try to implement divine guidance to the problems of the time.”
Fatah fails to realize that most Muslims who consider the golden age of the righteous caliphs as an ideal do not want to re-create the historical epoch but rather the values which were prevalent at that time. But for him that age had nothing to offer as “when Muslims buried the Prophet, they also buried with him many of the universal values of Islam that he had preached.” In his attempt to prove this he cites in detail the disputes that arose after the passing away of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) among his companions. There is nothing new in his research. These topics have been of much debate and discussion in the Muslim literature. What the author fails to understand is that these incidents, if indeed they were true, are of secondary importance to modern day Muslims. What is of importance is the emulation of sacrifice, sincerity, dedication, justice, and the brotherhood of the early Muslims. In his overzealousness to prove his pre-conceived notions Fatah marshals up a number of historical references of disputed events of history without any care for their authenticity. An indication of this un-scholarly attitude can be seen for example when he cites Maulana Maududi when convenient while at other times lashes out against him.
Tags: Tarek Fatah
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