Tarek Fatah's Chasing a Mirage

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George Victor
Tarek Fatah's Chasing a Mirage

Preface: I am an Indian Born in Pakistan; a Punjabi born in Islam; an immigrant in Canada with a Muslim consciousness, grounded in a Marxist youth. I am one of Salman Rushdie's many Midnight's Children: we were snatched from the cradle of a great civilization and made permanent refugees, sent in search of an oasis that turned out to be a mirage."

George Victor

And then he really surprises (still in the preface) by saying that "Of all the ingredients that make up my complex identiry, being Canadian has had the most profound effect on my thinking. It isCanada that propels me to swim upstream to imitate with humility the giants who have ventured into uncharted waters before me. Men like Louis-Joseph Panineau,Tommy Douglas, Pierre Trudeau, and Norman Bethune; women like Agnes Pacphail, Rosemany Brown and Nellie McClung. For it is only here in Canada that I can speak out against the hijacking of my faith and the encroaching spectre of a new Islamic-fascism."

Who knew?

At least, I didn't know much about the history of Islam, ancient and recent,  which is laid out in this work. Sure hope someone out there with a more complete knowledge has read  Chasing a Mirage and can point to any shortcomings. Right now I'm in his hands.

Ghislaine

Let me know what you think as you progress through this book, as I would like to read it. Fatah's is a very controversial figure for some here on babble, so I would imagine you will getting more comments on his alleged shortcomings soon.

bhagat

Trust me, the slaughter of Tarek Fatah should begin sooner than you expect. Rabble has many Islamists who pose as if they are left-0f-centre and will slam his book without having read it.

As a Sikh, I was profoundly touched by how he chose to end the Preface by quoting from the founder of my faith, Guru Nanak. His chapter on Pakistan is deeply moving as he talks about a Punjab ripped into two by the departing British.

 

Unionist

What about Bengal?

Ghislaine

I am missing the reference in your sarcasm, unionist...care to explain?

Unionist

No sarcasm. The Brits split Bengal on religious lines also, turning East Bengal into East Pakistan (until it became Bangladesh), just as part of Punjab became part of Pakistan. I was just aiming for completeness.

 

remind remind's picture

I assumed he was refering to the historical partition of Bengal into eat and west components, which was an extremely bloody undertaking, along religious lines.

sanizadeh

I have not read the book, but I am not sure if Tarek has the necessary qualification and knowledge to discuss a complex issue such as contemporary Islam. His knowledge of Islamic faith is at best very shallow. I lost all respect for him when he blamed the victim in the case of Muslim woman in Germany who was murdered for her Hijab. Fatah effectively said: don't wear the Hijab so that they don't kill you!!

Unfortunately the muslim leaders in the west are mostly divided in two groups: One group defends almost everything muslims would do and protests anything a westerner would do, and the other group justifies eveything a westerner do and criticizes everything that a muslim does. Elmasri and fatah seem to be the two extreme ends in this example.

George Victor

Fatah says he's written "an appeal to those of my co-religionists who are chasing the mirage of an Islamic State (who he hopes) stand up to the merchants of segregation who have fed us with myths and got us addicted to a forced sense of victimhood. "

We have " all but given up on the future, labelling  modernity itself as the enemy."

he "hope(s) that, after reading this book, the conservative Republicans in the United States and their neo-conservative allies in the West will realize that in the battle of ideas, dropping bombs helps the foe, not the friend."

Fatah goes on in the preface to point to the themes of "poetry, song, and dance (that) are as much a part of our culture as piety, modesty and charity. Challenging authority, even the existence of God himself, has been part of our heritage, and some Muslims have even lived to tell that tale.

"For instance, take these lines from 19th-century India's giant Muslim poet Mirza Ghalib (in today's Islamic world he would be in hiding: 'Of course I know there is no such thing as Paradise, but, To fool oneself, one needs such pleasant thoughts Ghalib'."

He has laid out the book in three parts...the politics behind the Islamic State; "Islamic history from the power struggle that developed immediately after the death of the Prophet,through the four caliphates that followed and defined Islam in medieval times; "contemporary Islamic issues, including hihad, hijab, sharia law, and the agenda of Islamists in the West."

I am quite taken with his style and have needed the history...but I look forward to seeing real discussion on "contemporary Islamic issues."

 

sanizadeh

I am not suggesting that his book is not on the right track; just that there are people with better knowledge and credentials to discuss issues such as the failure of the Islamic state and its impact on modern Islamic thoughts. I would suggest the works of Abdulkarim Soroush in particular. However if you like his style that's all good. Just make sure you double check the accuracy of the statements and facts in his books.

Coyote

bhagat wrote:

 Rabble has many Islamists who pose as if they are left-0f-centre and will slam his book without having read it.

Pure slander. Hopefully you will not be here long enough to repeat it.

Unionist

Aw, Coyote, go easy on bhagat. Don't you know people of religion A who hate people of religion B? It's quite common.

Bhagat, hear me clearly. Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Sikhism are equally childish superstitions, anti-scientific in nature, and which serve to make good people hate, fear, and scorn each other. We can despise religion, but we must respect people no matter what their faith. That's where Tarek Fateh falls down. He has trouble avoiding the Islamophobe meme.

Now, please say something against "fundamentalist" Sikhs so that we know you're not just a garden-variety Islamophobe (I know you're not, but others here may have their doubts). Consider this as a test.

 

Coyote

Don't enlist me in an anti-religious rant, Unionist. I called him on slander. That's it.

I stand pretty comfortably in the religious tradition of the United Church, and of the Social Gospel. Childish though you think me and those like me.

Unionist

I respect persons of faith, but no law of humanity or society requires me to speak politely about the Jesus-Allah-kosher stuff. And I'm not recruiting you into that.

But people of Religion A who are very good at condemning the "excesses" of Religion B are, in my book, the most dangerous of all the "faithful". And we have some of those on this board. Don't you agree that they deserve to be called out and condemned?

Coyote

Goes a little farther afield than I was going, but of course I agree in general. I find nothing wrong, mind you, with differences being made clear: I'll go after those who claims to speak for christianity and attack women or homosexuals under that aegis; they're wrong.

But my point was that this has all the smell of trollery and slander of babblers, and that is something that i think we can unite together to oppose.

Unionist

I agree with that, Coyote, and of course bhagat's comment is gratuitous and offensive - although I think it discloses even more than that, which is why I challenged him to say something nasty about Sikh extremists.

But since you've outed yourself as a UC adherent, could you do me a personal favour? Have a look at [url=this[/url]">http://rabble.ca/comment/1043592/United-Church]this[/... and maybe let Rev. Gregersen know that you know at least one Jew who considers his comments to be uniquely anti-semitic and anti-Palestinian at the same time? I'm sure it will have more impact coming from you than from me.

 

bhagat

Unionist and Coyote,

I have long given up on organized religion, but being a Sikh is not just a religious identity; it is cultural as well as geographical. This is why I have opposed the Sikh crazies who fought and died for a Sikh state of Khalistan.

Fatah's book is the first by a Muslim that shows empathy towards Sikhs, Hindus and Jews. He is a product of the Catholic school system and thanks his school and its 'Fathers' for helping him understand his faith and history.

My concern is with his co-religionists who slam him and his book without reading it. How can Sanizadeh pass judgement on Fatah and comment on his book while confessing she has not read and has no intention of reading it.

The book was shortlisted for the Donner Prize and has been reviewed by dozens of people. The least Sanizadeh should do is borrow it from the local library and pass judgement later instead of suggesting other authors.

 

 

 

Coyote

i have had these disagreements within the church, Unionist, and I agree with you. I am very happy to have had a hand in several strong actions and statements on Israel/Palestine from my congregation(s) over time, and my Presbetry(s). I will certainly write him under my own name; I will let you know when and if I hear anything back.

Cueball Cueball's picture

You don't have to read every single utterance a man says in order to discover they are full of shit, or to critique his ideas. He is thoroughly dishonest intellectually and personaly. Interesting to discover he is a Catholic. I am not suprised. In his early days he claimed to be a Marxist atheist too, now he is "Muslim". In anycase what happened to that issue where he mades unauthorized use of the NDP mailing lists in order to forward his own political agenda?

Coyote

bhagat, are you willing to withdraw your slander from your first post against Rabble and babblers?

Unionist

Coyote wrote:

i have had these disagreements within the church, Unionist, and I agree with you. I am very happy to have had a hand in several strong actions and statements on Israel/Palestine from my congregation(s) over time, and my Presbetry(s). I will certainly write him under my own name; I will let you know when and if I hear anything back.

Thank you.

And bhagat, I join Coyote in asking you to withdraw your slanderous comment. If sanizadeh is your example of an "Islamist", then it will take more than a dictionary to set you right. Sanizadeh is one of our most serious, respected, and careful posters. If he calls Tarek Fatah less-than-the-most-qualified to critique Islam, I would pay attention.

 

George Victor

 

He is Muslim, not a Catholic. Could be catholic-schooled, but would you flesh out your objections to his work and morals, Cue? Based on your reading of his work, of course. Nothing second hand, as it were.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Tarek has been a lot of things. Flavour of the month. Cashing in on being a Muslim dissident is his latest trick.

Unionist

George Victor wrote:

 

He is Muslim, not a Catholic. Could be catholic-schooled, but would you flesh out your objections to his work and morals, Cue? Based on your reading of his work, of course. Nothing second hand, as it were.

George, Fatah is not some "scholar" or academic whose "work" one must "read". He's a politician, in public view. First he was a noisy propagandist for the Muslim Canadian Congress (whose public statements were way too close to Islamophobic and pro-imperialist for my personal taste). He was also an NDP militant. He publicly quit both at different times, and joined the Liberals (if memory serves). You don't need to read the written ravings of Stephen Harper to condemn that sordid excuse for a human being, I trust you'll agree. Likewise, whatever one thinks of Fatah, one can reach that conclusion without going to the library.

 

George Victor

 

He spells out his latest trick in several hundred pages of very lucid argument and history based on what looks to me like fact.

Could you give me in return just a few for a clue, Cue?

remind remind's picture

Just read him in the National Post.

Barbra Kay waxed eloquently about him today as a matter of fact.

George Victor

 

Where would you go to evaluate what he has written, not what he has done, u?

Hell, man, I'd just like to know if his "history" is revisionist. And if he is being unfair to the folk who interpret Islam in a way that allows them to practise some rather nasty things on other folks in the name of Allah (long may he ... whatever).

Of course he's not a scholar. Scholars would never cover so much cultural ground so quickly. It's a work for popular consumption. But let's not suggest a symbolic book burning.

Do you seriously expect me to condemn everything in this book because he's a political dilettante?

Unionist

George, I never suggested a book burning. I never even said a word against his book. But knowing he's no scholar, and knowing his asinine political opinions, why would I waste my time reading it when I could pick up a decent novel instead?

George Victor

 

I'd have to read the National Post to read him, remind? Not a good sign.

But does he actually get published, there? Reviwed favourably by the Right?

George Victor

 

If your decent novel was a historical fiction about the early days of the religiion I suppose that might make sense for someone who wants to know about the religion. And if someone scholarly condemns his work as revisionist and slanted, there too, your course of action might make sense.

But at the moment, it doesn't...not for someone who is in need to read something positive about the future of Islam and the possibilities of an end to conflict.  As you have seen, the man condemns bombing.  Wondeerful start.

And this posting is by a fellow who understands th destructive power of religion. Don't need a lecture there, mate.

remind remind's picture

Yes George he publishes all the time in the NP, and yes he does, just read Barbara Kay's article on his Saturday's article, today.

Unionist

George, go read his book and post your opinions of it here. Just don't try to get me to say, "Why George, what a wonderful idea to go read his book because he condemns suicide bombs! What a rare and noble Muslim he must be!" And don't tell me you "don't need a lecture" about religion when I haven't given you one, have I?

Thanks.

 

George Victor

 

Seems like my  reading the book will give me a one-sided take on "the faith". AT least, I will move forward from near total ignorance, and will try to keep these warnings in mind. And perhaps some other poster will offer up critical articles to further my knowledge of his critics' take on faith and politics.

I sure as shucks would not expect that kind of book promotion from you, u.  And of course have not invited you to do so. Have no idea what would prompt my to come to you for that kind of instruction or encouragement on that subject. Goes against your grain, so to speak.  You appeared, unannounced and uninvited. Now back to that novel. 

 

George Victor

Thanks remind.

Just read Barbar Kay's article, gagging. It of course uses Fatah's Saturday piece (which I haven't read) to do a number on "liberals."

Where she quoted him  was to confirm that the murder of the four women would have been done in compliance with "man-made sharia law, which has been falsely imputed divine status."

She labels him "anti-islamist"  for such views, but I believe he would take exception to that. At least, from what I've seen so far. I'll have to fast-forward to his last section to see.

 

George Victor

 

Thank you for suggesting Soroush, Sanizadeh. Google has directed me to look for Abdolkarim Soroush, an "Iranian religious reformer."

Not sure if the library (system) will be up to providing his work, but I'll give it a try.

And bhagat, I hope that I will be able to read works that you recommend.  Like you, I was taken with Fatah's professed interest in an ecumenical understanding among the faiths. Perhaps we can find pursue that line of thinking.

I need to find out these things, and try to understand what sort of world is developing for my grandaughter.

Fatah says that the late Polish-born Muhammad Asad (birth name Leopold Weiss) "remains one of the Muslim world's most respected scholars, with works that include commentaries on the Quran and the notion of the Islamic State. When Pakistan was created in 1947, it was this grandson of a Jewish rabbi who was invited to assist in the writing of Pakistan's constitution. The fact that his efforts failed suggest that while the theories and romantic notions about the Islamic State make for interesting academic discourse, in practice they fall short."

Really like to know  if this is why Asad's efforts failed, etc. etc.

We'll really have to watch the syntax, but then, interpreting the Quran (or any other work based on faith) seems to demand that. Heck, posting here demands  concern for nuances of meaning, eh?Wink

 

Michelle

bhagat wrote:

Trust me, the slaughter of Tarek Fatah should begin sooner than you expect. Rabble has many Islamists who pose as if they are left-0f-centre and will slam his book without having read it.

Smearing the community like this is completely inappropriate.  Knock it off, or leave if you don't like it.

Stargazer

I get this clown's e-mails everyday practically. Here is his lateste headline:

Muslim Silence over the Ugly Face of Jihad

Unless Muslim leaders and Islamic organizations distance themselves from the doctrine of jihad as pronounced by the Muslim Brotherhood, their position that "jihad means peace" will be seen as propaganda.

Muslim Canadians must lead the attack on jihadi Islamists. They need to stop vying for a gold medal in the Olympics of victimhood. They should say clearly in their mosques that the days of jihad are over. In the world of nation states, the UN, multilateral pacts and international law, there is no room for the doctrine of armed jihad.

Otherwise, the day is not far when jihadis will strike inside Canada.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Funny how no other group is told to "stand up" for the ills committed by a few. Can you imagine headlines like this:

Christian Silence over Pedophile Priests, or Jews Silent over Israel's Actions.

Yeah not going tp happen. Funny how this man seems to have no problem with US Imperialism, but comdemns Mulsilms with every post. Class act that guy.

 

 

 

 

contrarianna

 

Justin Podur has a thoughtful mixed review of Fatah's book praising some elements and information-- while at the same time gobstruck by Fatah's oftimes ignorance and convenient tunnel vision.

This quote summerizes some of the sentiment on Babble:

Quote:
Leftists I've spoken to were dismissive.  They disliked Tarek's frequent and sweeping attacks on what he calls "the left" (I prefer to use the term "leftists," since "the left" does not really exist in any organized form in North America in any case).  Another anti-Muslim book, they guessed, part of a cottage industry designed to demonize the selected victims of Western foreign policy.  Iraq is occupied, a million people killed.  Palestine is occupied, starved, choked to death.  Afghanistan is occupied.  Iran is threatened.  Deportations of Muslims are rampant in Western countries.  Secret trials are occurring.  The Egyptian regime receives billions in weaponry and subsidies in exchange for support of Israel's occupation of Palestine and suppression of the population.  Other dictatorships in Muslim countries receive similar largesse.  Of course, to do all this to a group of people requires an industry to produce convenient stories about them.  Anyone who can produce such stories will be rewarded handsomely, with sympathetic reviews, prominent placement in bookstores, and high sales for telling convenient things to people about what they are doing.

http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/podur210608.html

 

George Victor

 

At first blush, a balanced review.

I had hoped it was possible.

Thank you, contrarians.  Looking forward to reading the book and the review in detail.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Does a balanced view require that one also say nice things about a person? Ok, I believe that Fatah is pretty smart, something very useful for a opportunist snake oil salesman and poseur. I suspect he also loves his children. There: Balance.

George Victor

There's apparently "good" and "bad" to be found in it.  Sorta human.

Another bad day for you, Cue?

 

Stargazer

I remember e-mailing him, and asking him a question regarding the treatment of Muslims since 9/11. He said "did I honestly think the US was would do this?" as if that was way out of line.

I am dead serious. Tarek is like the writers they have for the Sun - a black man against blacks, a woman writer against women...they want to have token people to play and jump at their command. Sad part is, guys like Tarek do.

Stockholm

Stargazer wrote:

I get this clown's e-mails everyday practically. Here is his lateste headline:

Muslim Silence over the Ugly Face of Jihad

Unless Muslim leaders and Islamic organizations distance themselves from the doctrine of jihad as pronounced by the Muslim Brotherhood, their position that "jihad means peace" will be seen as propaganda.

Muslim Canadians must lead the attack on jihadi Islamists. They need to stop vying for a gold medal in the Olympics of victimhood. They should say clearly in their mosques that the days of jihad are over. In the world of nation states, the UN, multilateral pacts and international law, there is no room for the doctrine of armed jihad.

Otherwise, the day is not far when jihadis will strike inside Canada.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Funny how no other group is told to "stand up" for the ills committed by a few. Can you imagine headlines like this:

Christian Silence over Pedophile Priests, or Jews Silent over Israel's Actions.

Yeah not going tp happen. Funny how this man seems to have no problem with US Imperialism, but comdemns Mulsilms with every post. Class act that guy.

 

Actually, I'm constantly seeing people in babble implying that Jews have some responsibility to denounce Israel at every turn. The Vatican and the Catholic heirarchy is constantly being raked over the coals for not doing enough to condemn pedophilia among priests etc...

I agree with much of what Tarek Fatah says - too bad that the guys is such a complete lunatic on a personal level - it detracts from his valid points.

Cueball Cueball's picture

George Victor wrote:

There's apparently "good" and "bad" to be found in it.  Sorta human.

Another bad day for you, Cue?

How do you determine an opinion is balanced? What makes it so. Hey, I used to like Tarek. He was a good aquaintance of mine. Everything I say is based on personal experience. He is a grandstanding media hound, who will say whatever is needed to get him published. He loves being the native informant, denouncing everything from within. He says he is on the "left" and denounces leftist routinely, he says he is a Muslim, and does nothing but denounce Islam.

His entire history is of one of personal and political betrayal. I know this. I have seen it in action. He used to work with the NDP, and you will not find a single person who will speak well of him. Likewise, all the credible people who formed the MCC with him have little or nothing to do with him, except the hand chosen few who stuck around after the organization was gutted by Tarek outlandish antics and divisive tactics.

He resigned, saying he wanted to get out of the media spotlight because his views and activities with the MCC were progating death threats against him, and his family. A lie. Obviously because the next thing he did was quit the NDP and dramatically joined Bob Rae's Liberal leadership drive and even founded yet another "progresive" Muslim lobby group, writing profusely for various Canadian rags, and otherwise drawing attention to himself.

Odd behaviour for one who is heading in the Rushdiesque seculsion for his personal safety? What is the real story. The real story was that Tarek knew that he had nothing to fear from rampaging "Islamists" and was really just using the death threat story to get anothe by line in the Toronto Star, and enhance is reputation as a Muslim "dissident".

He is full of shit.

George Victor

 

Thanks for expanding on your standard epithet of "bullshit", Cue. Your critique is now understandable. His is not a "balanced" position.

I did wonder at the catalogue of Canadian "progressives" that he listed as inspiring in the preface. I don't doubt he is capable of some gratuitous excesses beyond that. But I knew non of this because my newspapers, the Globe and the Record, are not given to printing his stuff.

My chief concern at this point is to discover whether the development of extremist positions within the Muslim religion in any way depends on the ideological figures that he presents to us - as well, of course, as the assault, physical and cultural, on the attempts by middle eastern Arab progressives to construct the societies that could grow the responsible, democratic structures that have been systematically destroyed since Mohammad Mossadegh's time (when the opening strokes of the Cold War set back all...) The two go hand in hand, the destruction of nascent democratic forces  leaving a people open to believe any spiritual offering.

If Fatah lopsidedly ignores the impact of our own oil-driven (SUV-lovin') obsession with "the good life" and our impact on some of the most vulnerable people one can imagine, that wiill be noted. As long as my fellow babblers are willing to allow one to come to an understanding through the rational process of comparing views - I am not in danger of being taken in by propaganda from any quarter (Mossadegh's destruction was roundly condemned at my family's dinner table discussions more than a half century back I can recall it) - all should be well in this temple of learning.Undecided

Matter of fact, I am going to look for ANY reference to the CIA-driven plot against Mossadegh to see if there is ANY recognition of that historical event, which has always been, for me, the reference point for my  understanding the monster that  we, as a greedy, materialist culture, have managed to create. This will not be the position of some, whose ideas of "Imperialism" are all about a topdown rule by the forces of capitalism and militarism (my take on our failure is a bottom-up process from ignorance of the - wait for it - Great Unread). But I hope this explanation of my abiding political interest is at least reassuring to some, hereabouts.

George Victor

Stock:

I agree with much of what Tarek Fatah says - too bad that the guys is such a complete lunatic on a personal level - it detracts from his valid points.

 

 

He could be a nasty piece of work doing a necessary thing, Stock. But obviously, there is going to have to be a little more mia culpa everywhere in trying to get this right.

bhagat

George,

I suggest you jump to the chapter on Iran and it will show you that the attacks on fatah are totally unwarranted and come from people who have a personal beef with him because he spares nothing to expose the Islamist agenda in Canada. He even defines the difference between "Islamism" and "Islam" as well as the difference between "Muslim" and "Islamist."

Justin Podur's review is just one and he too reveals that it was Fatah who asked him to critique his work. From the Daily Times in Pakistan to the Huffington Post and Ha'aretz, the book was won rave reviews.

The fact that some rightwing nuts have found his opposition to Iran and Saudi Arabia worthy of praise, but that should not be held against Fatah. After all, is it not odd that Hugo Chavez finds himself in the same league as Ayatullah Khamenie?

 

 

Cueball Cueball's picture

The difference is that the term "Islamist" is a term used almost exclusively by non-Muslims to identify any faithful Muslim who also has a political agenda, Islam is a term universally used to idenify a religion. The mirage that Tarek is chasing is the idea that their is an ideology called "Islamism".

It is a term originally invented by a small group of extremely anti-Muslim western scholars, whose primary thesis was the there was something essentially and definitevly different about Islam that made it more violent and repressive in comparison to the other religions in Judeao-Christian tradition, which were "compatible" with secular humanist tollerance, while Islam was not.

Stockholm

Do you have a better term to use when we want to talk about "faithful Muslims who also have a political agenda" - particularly when that includes opposition to any separation between church and state and wanting to establish theocratic states where everyone has to live according to Sharia law etc...? If we aren't allowed to call such people "Islamists" then what would be a more "politically correct" term to use?

Unionist

Zionists.

 

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