Ayaz Amir on Bin Ladenism

Here are excerpts I like from Ayaz Amir’s op-ed in Dawn, the largest English language Pakistani newspaper:

We like to think – or rather we comfort ourselves with the thought – that the West, especially the United States, is caught in a frenzy of Muslim-bashing. We try not to realize that our own condition, a mixture of ineptitude and backwardness, is an invitation to bashing. We are not the victims of a cosmic conspiracy. We are responsible for our backwardness ourselves.

We have not managed our affairs well. This is true of almost all the countries that call themselves Islamic. Even when the end of colonialism came, the world of Islam continued to be exploited – again not because of any malevolent conspiracy but because the bankruptcy of ideas that lay at its heart invited exploitation.

[…]If our elites have failed their respective people, if we have been left behind in the race of knowledge and ideas, our excuse is not that we have been poor learners or that we have a long way to go before we catch up with the West. We like to say that we have been bad Muslims and have not kept faith with the true tenets of Islam.

So towards a self-defined purity of Islam many of us have tried to return in the conviction that this journey back in time holds the key to all our problems.

This journey into the past took no cruder form than the emergence of the Taliban. It has taken no cruder form than the ideas firing the zeal of Osama bin Laden and his followers. The West feels threatened by Al Qaeda terrorism. But perhaps we may consider that Bin Ladenism is a greater threat to the world of Islam than it is to the West.

For the West it is but a physical threat in the form of terrorism. For the world of Islam it is a threat more grave and sinister for it to be trapped in Bin Ladenism is to travel back in time to the dark ages of Muslim obscurantism. It means to be stuck in the mire which has held the Islamic world back.

[…]The threat to the Muslim world comes from other things. From authoritarianism, from the fact that apart from the half-exceptions (please note, half-exceptions) of Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan, the concept of democracy is alien to the Muslim world. The threat to it comes from intolerance and the lack of knowledge.

Bin Ladenism is the purest distillation of these problems. We shouldn’t require Washington to tell us that it is in our interests to exorcise this evil. We should have the sense to realize this on our own.

It’s not a great article, as Ayaz Amir flirts with anti-American and anti-western ideas as well. I have mainly excerpted parts that I like. This might be as good a time as any to say that when I link to something, it does not mean I approve of the whole thing; I might agree with parts and disagree with other stuff. Or I might just find it interesting, though disagreeing with my opinion. I will usually try to make it clear which broad category a link falls into.

Author: Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer

6 thoughts on “Ayaz Amir on Bin Ladenism”

  1. It’s interesting that so many countries where English is not the first language have English newspapers – Dawn, the Jerusalem Post, the Jordan Times, the Lebanon Daily Star, probably a number of others. It’s really becoming an international language.

  2. What’s Lebanon’s excuse, though? Maybe the expatriate community – I believe there are more than a million Lebanese living abroad, and many of them are in English-speaking countries. The growth of English media in Rwanda has a similar origin – the Tutsi refugees of 1959 and 1963 learned English during 30 years in Uganda and Tanzania, and have continued to use it after regaining power in 1994.

  3. Jonathan: Though the Lebanese I have met know English well (after all I met them in the US), they speak goof French also. Does that mean that most Lebanese are trilingual?

  4. Ikram: Ayaz Amir alludes to anti-western feelings a little in the article and implies that the ruling class have neen toadies of the West. That is not on my list of major problems with the rulers (past & present) in Pakistan.

    Though he is a very good columnist writing against the military, the religious parties, etc., he does sometimes go overboard with criticism of the “imperialist” tendencies of the west and about the topic of Pakistani cooperation with the US in the war on terror.

    I am probably reading more into his article since I read him regularly.

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