Response to Dr. Habib Siddiqui's rejoinder
By Mohammad Asghar
I read Dr. Siddiqui's article as published by News From Bangladesh in its issue of September 20, 2003 with great interest. The contents of his rejoinder establish the fact that the learned writer is upset and angry at those whom he called "bigots," "ill-informed," dyslexic," "mentally deranged," "paranoid" and "vindictive" etc. for writing something that concerned the life of Muhammad and the religion he founded some fourteen hundred years ago. I can understand Dr. Siddiqui's outburst, for, the claims made by some modern writers and thinkers have shattered his deeply held beliefs to live with which, he has neither the courage nor the mental aptitude, hence his diatribes against the alleged blasphemers of his faith.
In his rage, Dr. Siddiqui also took the Editorial Board of the News From Bangladesh to task for publishing those articles, which he thinks are offensive to Muslims and their beliefs. In other words, the writer desires that the Website should exercise some sort of censorship in order to prevent certain facts, both solid and circumstantial, from surfacing at a time when the people of the world are trying their best to investigate and rectify the mistakes of their ancestors. This attitude on Dr. Siddiqui's part appeared strange to me, for, he wants to decapitate a source that has been providing great service to a mass of humanity by adopting a liberal policy without which, it could never have satisfied its thirst for knowledge. I highly commend NFB for its bold and objective journalism.
Dr. Siddiqui has claimed in his rejoinder that Muslims are tolerant, hence the bigots' ability to go unscathed even after abusing all the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. I do not condone abuse, and as I have not read the alleged abuses, I do not know how to respond to his above claim, except to point out one probable scenario: Had the Bengali-speaking Hindu from Advani's India unleashed his alleged abuses on the Muslims in person, instead of having them published by NFB, I can assure Dr. Siddiqui that Muslims would have cut him into pieces first and then ask him questions on his alleged behavior. Having said that, I want to give a few examples of Muslim tolerance:
1.A Pakistani Muslim physician tells his students that Muhammad was not a Muslim until he received, at the age of forty, his first so-called "wohi" or revelation from God. To the Muslims, his true statement was blasphemous; so they put him on trial and then condemned him to a life-term imprisonment. This is one example of Muslims' tolerance towards their own Muslim brothers.
2. Muslims in India have the right to call believers to prayers over loudspeakers before dawn by disturbing the ailing non-believers' sleep as well as on four other occasions each day. But Hindus in many parts of Muslim-dominated Bangladesh cannot beat their drums when performing their Puja on the ground that the sound of the drums distracted the Muslims from their prayers. This is the second example of tolerance exhibited by the Muslims towards their Hindu compatriots.
3. Hindus revere cows. Therefore, they neither kill them nor eat their meat. Despite the prohibition followed by the Hindus, Muslims, living in a Hindu-dominated India, regularly slaughter cows and sell beef in many open markets. Can Dr. Siddiqui visualize what would have happened if the Muslims revered the cows and the Hindus slaughtered them for their meat?
4. Muslims invaded India and then became its rulers. When their number swelled, they forced the British to truncate India on the ground that they needed a country of their own where they could practice their Islamic faith without fear of the Hindus. Unsatisfied with the division of India, many Muslims who still live on its soil profess their allegiance to Pakistan and feel proud when Pakistan gains an upper hand over India; the same people felt distressed and mourned when India defeated Pakistan at Cargil. Had the Hindus done the same thing in Pakistan, can Dr. Siddiqui say what would have happened to them in the overwhelmingly Muslim-dominated Pakistan?
5. In the Christian-dominated countries of the world, Christians convert to Islam or to other religions without fear of any retaliation or repression from their relatives or neighbors. For example, we have Cats Steven who converted to Islam a few years ago. He is now known as Yusuf Islam. I have not heard or read a single statement from any Christian who criticized him for abandoning his former religion. Can Dr. Siddiqui certify that Muslims would treat him at par with Cats Steven if he converted to Christianity and attempted to live among his Muslim relatives with the name of, say, John Twinkle?
It is true that 9/11 has offered many people an opportunity to talk about what they felt for a long time about Islam and its so-called celestial doctrines. Had not those nineteen brutal and bestial Muslims killed over three thousand people and destroyed properties worth billions of Dollars on that fateful day, the world would still have believed that the Muslims were a peace-loving people and would have looked the other way if a Muslim Ayatollah had ordered the bigoted Muslims to murder those who spoke up their minds. Following the aftermath of 9/11, the world has changed; the Mullahs and Ayatollahs can no more do what they did to Salman Rushdie many years ago for writing a fictional book, the plot of which he had adopted from the pages of Islamic history. The unveiling of the Muslim face is now acting as a shield for those of us who have the courage to say or write what we believe is true; otherwise, we would have faced certain death in the hands of those who call themselves "the Soldiers of God."
In my reckoning, the massage parlors and whorehouses of Bangkok are better places for women than what God has ordained for the hapless Muslim women. In Bangkok, one enjoys sex with the Thai prostitutes against payment and in a humanly manner; in the Muslim harems, Muslim men can have sex with their women in any manner and in any position they liked. God permitted Muslim men not only to rape their women; they also have the right to sodomize them (Quran; 2:222 & 223), if that is what it takes to satisfy their sexual appetite.
The position that Islam accords to slave-girls is worse than the whores of Bangkok. Without marrying them or without having to pay them any compensation, God allowed Muslim men to have sex with them whenever and however they liked it. The sexual pleasures that Muslim men are permitted to derive from the slave-girls did not leave God unaffected; he unashamedly reserved for himself a share of the human booty (Quran; 8:41), which he himself promised to bestow upon his soldiers should they succeed in taking over the ownership of young girls and women after killing, in his holy name, their infidel fathers, brothers and husbands.
Dr. Siddiqui inferred that I am a spineless and gutless person and as such, I write under the fictitious name of Mohammad Asghar. Presuming that Dr. Siddiqui is a Bangladeshi, I urge him to verify my identity through a simple effort: Contact any person who is involved with shipping business in Bangladesh and find out from him if a person by the name of Mohammad Asghar had existed just a few years ago in their midst or not. After saying that for myself, I ask Dr. Siddiqui to prove his own identity; give me a referral that would certify that Dr. Siddiqui is not a fictitious name or a pseudonym and that he has not been fooling the readers with the addition of the word "Dr." before his name.
Dr. Siddiqui is furious over what I wrote in my article, "Muhammad and Islam-Stories not told before" regarding Amina's conception and the birth of the Prophet of Islam. His position is that that since no biographer of the Prophet had ever hinted at what I wrote in my "untold story," he is unwilling to accept my claim without seeing its source. Before stating my argument for his consideration, I would like him to answer two simple questions: What source will he be depending on to prove that Muhammad had visited Jerusalem and from there, he ascended to the seventh heaven to meet God? Was Jerusalem supposed to have a "mosque" at the time Muhammad is believed to have said his prayer in it, before undertaking his night journey to the Throne of God?
Now, coming back to the contentious issue that relates to Amina's conception and the birth of Muhammad, let us consider the factors that must have caused the child's transfer to Haleema's custody.
According to Dr. Siddiqui, Amina was conscious of a light that illumined her womb during her pregnancy; that she was the bearer of the lord of Arabia and also that her womb told her to name the baby Muhammad upon his birth. Then one day, she delivered her baby.
Casting aside the significance of the light she had within her womb and forgetting the yet-to-be proven miraculous qualities of her newborn baby, she refrains from suckling him. When she realizes that the baby is extremely hungry and would die if is not fed immediately, she gives him to Thuwaibah, a servant of his uncle Abu Lahab, to breastfeed him for a few days until a long-term arrangement could be made for his nursing (Adil Salahi, Muhammad: Man and Prophet, p. 23).
A few days later, a Bedouin woman, by the name of Haleema, shows up at Amina's door. She has no address; no guarantor to certify her trustworthiness and reliability; no relative of her lived in Mecca through whom she could be reached for reclaiming the baby. Having no consideration at all for the return of her blessed son, Amina hands him over to Haleema to be nursed and groomed by her without any compensation.
In the backdrop of the above well-established facts, I ask the learned Dr. Siddiqui to answer the following questions:
1.Why Amina did not suckle her "beloved" baby upon his birth?
2.Would any woman hand over her newborn baby to a stranger even in the United States of America where tracing people is not as impossible as it was in the vast desert of the medieval Arabian Peninsula?
Anticipating what Dr. Siddiqui's response to the above question is going to be, I have a follow-up question for him to answer: (a). What were the names of those foster mothers who had suckled and nursed Abu Talib, Abdul Mutallib and Abdullah, the latter being the father of the Prophet of Islam?
3. Why did a poor Bedouin woman accept the burden of rearing up a baby without compensation?
4. What Amina would have done, if Haleema had never showed up in Mecca with the child?
5. What must have motivated Haleema to accept the responsibility of a newborn baby boy when she had one of her own?
I have an example, which will illustrate my hypothesis further.
Dr. Siddiqui lives in the United States. So he must have read in the newspapers or heard from the television broadcasts that a young mother had recently tried to get rid of her newborn baby boy by dumping him in a dumpster. Does Dr. Siddiqui know why the woman had acted in such a cruel fashion in a country where illegitimacy of a child does not bother anyone and where millions of couples, with or without children, are looking for opportunities to adopt children from as distant a land as is China?
The answer to my above question lies in a simple fact: It was hatred and repulsiveness created by the child in his mother's mind that had forced her to dispose him of in a most inhuman manner. Muhammad would most probably have faced the fate of the American baby had not Haleema shown up at the right time and rescued him from the wrath of his mother.
Dr. Siddiqui rejected my hypothesis just because, as he believes, I have failed to spell the name of Muhammad's first wife, Khudeija, properly. In this context, I want the learned doctor to know that if an unintentional and insignificant misspelling of a proper name is an infraction, then a Muslim scholar of Saudi Arabian origin must also be charged with the same crime that Dr. Siddiqui thinks I have committed by misspelling the name "Khadijah."
Adil Salahi is a British journalist of Arabic origin. After working for the BBC Arabic service as a translator and producer, he wrote for the Arabic daily newspaper Asharq Alawsat. He continues to publish a column, 'Islam in Perspective,' in its English sister publication, Arab News. He is the co-translator of In the Shade of the Quran by Sayyid Qutub.
Adil also has written a voluminous biography of Muhammad. It is titled, Muhammad: Man and Prophet. He wrote Muhammad's first wife's name by putting in two ees between the alphabets D and J (Khadeejah, p. 41), instead of the alphabet I (eye) that Dr. Siddiqui has used in order to come up with the correct spelling of her name.
Now my questions to Dr. Siddiqui are: Are you going to reject the scholarly works of Adil Salahi for the simple reason that he has written the name Khadijah or Khudeija with a different spelling? Are you also going to trash the world-acclaimed treatise of Washington Irving, who says that Muhammad's first wife's name was Cadijah (Mahomet And His Associates, p. 36)?
While still dealing with the issue of wrong spelling, I wish to draw Dr. Siddiqui's attention to a current and relevant issue. From his criticism of my thesis, it is evident that he has read it with due care and attention. It is my assumption that he must also have paid due attention to the spelling of my name.
But the learned Dr. Siddiqui has greatly disappointed me by grossly distorting the spelling and, thereby, the meaning of my family name. He called me "ASHGOR," instead of ASGHAR.
Would Dr. Siddiqui kindly explain why he turned my last name into ASHGOR without having any regard for the literal meaning of my family name? Did he commit this mistake due to his learning disability or is it the result of his blindness?
Dr. Siddiqui has asked me as to why my parents had named me Mohammad and also why I have not changed it as yet. The answer to the first part of his question lies in the title of my article; it being that nobody had ever told my parents that Muhammad was a jinxed baby. Had they known this fact at the time I took birth, I am sure they would never have named me after a person who was not only jinxed, but also a fearsome person whose mere presence among his opponents struck them with utmost terror (Quran; 9:56 & 57).
The answer to the second part of Dr. Siddiqui's question is this: By the time I was able to grasp the facts that had surrounded Muhammad's birth and his upbringing under Haleema's care, I had already moved to the United States. When I was being interviewed for my American citizenship in the year 2000, I had the opportunity to change my name, but I did not do it, believing that a drastic change in my name would wipe out my entire credit history. I confess I made a blunder then, as a result of which, I am still living with a name, the utterance of which makes many people think twice these days about me and my true intentions.
At the end of his rejoinder, Dr. Siddiqui has recommended readers to read books written by Dr. Martin Lings, Javeed Akhter, Karen Armstrong and Prof. R. K. Rao.
I have not read the works of Javeed Akhter and Prof. R. K. Rao but I am familiar with some of the scholarly writings of Dr. Martin Lings and Karen Armstrong. No doubt, they have written true things about Muhammad and Islam.
In his book, Muhammad, Dr. Martin Lings opined that Muhammad had the virility of twenty men (p.271); therefore, it was impossible for a single woman to satisfy his sexual needs. Can Dr. Siddiqui tell me on which "Peeping Tom" has Dr. Martin relied for the stated information he says are true and reliable?
Karen Armstrong, a rabbinical scholar, wrote: It is not surprising that Muhammad found the revelations such an immense strain: not only was he working through to an entirely new political solution for his people, but HE WAS COMPOSING one of the great spiritual and literary classics of all time. (A History of God, p. 140). She also claims "Muhammad made his converts bow down in ritual prayer (salat) twice a day (p.142).
I agree with Karen Armstrong's above observations. Is Dr. Siddiqui willing to accept what Karen has mentioned about the origin of the Quran and the daily two Muslim prayers?
September 21, 2003
Mohammad Asghar writes from USA.
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