Salman Rushdie

So Salman Rushdie was in Leiden today, and he gave a speech at the university (oldest university in Holland).  I wasn’t sure what to expect, since I’ve heard that his books are really bad and that he isn’t a good writer.  I was pleasantly surprised, since not only was he funny but he said some insightful things about Islam today.

A Dutch politician asked him why Islamists hate the West/what they don’t like about the West.  Rushdie first pointed out that it’s an extremely complicated question (PhD dissertation I personally think), and that Islamism is different in every country. In Iran, for example, one mistake the West made (the US in particular) was to get rid of Iran’s elected president and install the Shah. The Shah then cracked down on all freedom and so Iranians turned to the mosque as a means of expressing dissent.

However, one HUGE mistake the West made (again, mainly the US) was to give the al-Saud family power in Arabia.  This allowed them to spread Wahhabism, a very narrow, literalist understanding of Islam, and one Rushdie referred to as “moronic”.  I must say, despite what I think of Rushdie, I do agree that Wahhabism has become one of Islam’s biggest problems, and it has been able to spread so fast because the al-Saud family in Saudi Arabia have so much power.

Rushdie also pointed out that more and more Muslims have become literalists, and I also agree with that.

Has anyone read the Satanic Verses, or one of his other books? What do you think of his comments about Wahhabism?

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10 thoughts on “Salman Rushdie

  1. I read that book many years ago when the late Ayatollah Khomeini made a fatwa against it..i even made notes about it (was a looong time ago). I found the book a rip off from kafka, he tried the same system of metamorphosis, where he went from one area to another. He was very hostile and degrading towards the Prophet, some of the sahaba, the Ahul bayt and so forth.
    His analysis is right but i think the USA cant let the saudis fall..they are the ones undermining islam they are doing the west a hugh benefit.

    The wahabis are a cancer, which has spread in the sunni world because of the decline of political power in the muslim world. In the shia world we havce some people who try to start a mess like those wahabis, but our structure of learned men, make it almost impossible for such groups to take power, like hte wahabis did.
    Imam Ali used to say that the khawarij will be fought, and will re establish themselves again and again..and the wahabis are the children of the khawarji.

    I just wrote about this issue
    http://www.aolnews.com/world/article/saudi-clerics-advocate-adult-breast-feeding/19504280

    This is how retarded the wahabi ideologi is..stupid beduins who think they know anyting about islam. One advantage we shias have that our learned ulamaa reinterpret a lot of the islamic rulings on a daily basis (some men allow women to masturbate, others allow organtransplants and so forth)
    this is due to the fact that ijtihad is a big issue in shiaislam while the window to itjihad was kinda closed 1000 years ago.

    The wahabis infiltrate sunniislam cause they have the money to do so..they just call themselves ahlul sunnah wa al jama3a and less knowledgble people fall for their mischief..

  2. He might be smart, but that doesn’t mean I agree with or appreciate his work. I read the Satanic Verses, and even aside from his manner of writing about the Prophet & co. I found his writing to be pretentious, (even ‘smarmy’ lol) and overhyped.

  3. I’m totally against Wahabis now, yet what I previously understood is that Wahabism was actually a very good movement in the beginning. It started off really well with great principles, such as spreading the true Islam and simply stopping all deviations (moderately, not as harsh as the current state of affairs). And that’s why it became so popular. However, a decade or two later is when the group started becoming “extremists” and took a wrong path.

    Usually most Islamic movements are like that unfortunately. Same with Al-Qaeda, which had the initial agenda of removing unjust presidents and hence gained popularity. However, once movements become more political than Islamic, it’s when they go wrong. Wahabism became so obsessed with remaining powerful that it forgot some of the main principles in Islam in order to fulfill their wishes. And that’s why a negative propaganda of Muslims continues to spread around…

  4. Interesting thoughts! The US is always at fault. Hehehehe. Well, I am reading the quran for the first time (translation I mean since it’s not arabic), and it said that the world’s armies are God’s so if He chose to use the US Armed Forces for creating strife in Muslim lands then I guess it’s just how He wanted it to be. In the Old Testament God used foreign armies to defeat the Israelites when they strayed and disobeyed Him so maybe He is using the infidel armies to do the same for Muslims now. That’s what came to mind as I was reading al-Fath vs. 4 the other day.

    Thanks for sharing about this lecture. I’m glad you went so you could report what he said. 🙂

  5. Haven’t read Satanic Verses so can’t comment. But Midnight’s Children, for which he received a Booker’s Booker prize, is a fabulous, absolutely heartbreaking book. If you like language and written word, you will find yourself engrossed. Shalimar the Clown is also great. Rushdie is a great storyteller and intertwines fantasy with reality with a deft hand.

  6. now that’s another book to read which i should of have long time. i have only read part of it long time ago.
    He seems smart but why do we always blame America or give it so much power. It’s easy to shed off responsibilty by blaming others. And i agree Wahhabism is a big problems since it always goes for the very very strict Islam and shows no mercy. Their representation of Islam shows that it’s a very backward religion and unforgiven too.

  7. I’ve been meaning to read this book…. I have not read any of his books and have only watched him speak many times on Real Time, a political show hosted by Bill Maher. Just from his appearances there, I have to say I have had great respect for his thoughts and ideas… I need to get my hands on his book though, see why he has been hated so.

  8. I have also been meaning to read a few of his books; have also heard that it is Kafka-eque. My mother has actually read several of his works, and I think quite enjoys his writing. Whether I agree with him or not, or even care of him as an individual I do believe that there has to be room for critical thinking and even to a certain extent dissent in Islam. I’m not interested in being a religious robot or a lemming, and the best way to avoid that is to have intelligent discourse and freedom of expression.

    On a side note did you know that he used to be married to Padima Lakshmi? She’s the host of Top Chef and used to be a model. Talk about beauty and the beast.

  9. I stopped reading Satanic Verses because I couldn’t get past the first few pages. I like his writing in general, though. Midnight’s Children is a wonderful novel, and I also enjoyed The Moor’s Last Sigh. I felt mixed about The Ground Beneath Her Feet. I plan to give Satanic Verses another try at some point.

  10. Have you read Wahabi Islam- from revival and reform to global jihad by Natana
    J. Delong-Bas? A friend told me about the book and I found it in my school library. It is a boring read in some parts but surprisingly it argues that Abdual Wahab was a good, sincere and genuine Muslim. It claims that it is the House of Saud that misused Abdul Wahab’s teachings and twisted Islam to the condition it is in today in KSA so that it serves the House of Saud.

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