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Sound and Fury -Ruth Nasrullah

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Like many, I was taken aback by the queen of England’s decision to make Salman Rushdie a knight (or, as the official notice states, “The Queen has been graciously pleased, on the occasion of the Celebration of Her Majesty’s Birthday, to signify her intention of conferring the honour of Knighthood upon…”). It was at best a tactless gesture, but certainly not worthy of burning effigies in the streets. When I saw photos of Pakistanis protesting Rushdie’s knighting, it struck me as great irony; of all the evils the Queen’s ancestors visited on the Indian subcontinent, this is among the most minor.

Knighthood means nothing to anyone except title-conscious British, and I would venture to guess that those British aren’t in the majority. I get the offensiveness of conferring a title of honor on someone like Rushdie. But it really only has meaning to those who give it meaning. The queen of England is called “Your Majesty” because she thinks she should be. Her grandchildren don’t care as much about these things, and in fact several of them have foregone the title of prince and princess altogether. Heated battles have been fought by royal divorcees to retain the title “Your Royal Highness.” Princess Diana fought that battle and lost, remaining a mere “Your Highness” after divorcing her husband. When she died suddenly at 36, did it matter?

Conferred nobility is something you have to buy into. To my mind protesting it validates it. Knighthood is a relic of an extinct age and it signifies nothing.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. abu ameerah

    June 28, 2007 at 11:51 PM

    “Conferred nobility is something you have to buy into. To my mind protesting it validates it. Knighthood is a relic of an extinct age and it signifies nothing.”

    Good point! However, I think what Salman Rushdie’s Knighthood symbolizes for many Muslims is the fact that even the most virulent anti-Islamic figures in the West hold a degree of social and political legitimacy, some like Rushdie, are honored by being conferred with Knighthood.

    On the other hand…Elton John was also honored with Knighthood not too long ago…so if flamboyant homosexuals are what the Queen Mum is looking for … then I think Rushdie is in “good” company.

  2. Karima Hamdan

    June 29, 2007 at 2:28 AM

    Assalamualikum
    You have made some excellent points – Allah SWT is the only one who can confer honour to anyone – yes, you are quite right.
    What has annoyed me about the whole Rushdie affair is that it demonstrates how little the British government thinks of Muslims(b’cos it is the government and not the queen who decides who is knighted).
    There are some excellent articles written about this on ummahpulse.co.uk.
    The link is below,-
    http://ummahpulse.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=134&Itemid=37
    http://ummahpulse.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=131&Itemid=37

  3. Amad

    June 29, 2007 at 8:58 AM

    I think we should have official titles of “Shaytanhood”… Salman would have my vote for that one ;)

    Who else?

  4. Mujahideen Ryder

    June 29, 2007 at 10:55 AM

    May Allah guide Salman Rushdie.

  5. Mujahideen Ryder

    June 29, 2007 at 11:00 AM

    Oh yeah, Salman Rushdie is clearly not a Muslim. There are far more worse people then Salman Rushdie. There were many non-Muslim writers and speakers throughout the entire history of Islam who insulted this deen. Rushdie is nothing compared to what was in the past, especially during the time of the Prophet (saas).

    They should be protesting the Muslims who are doing far much worse things then Rushdie or Islamaphobes.

    The Muslims living in Muslim countries like to protest anything against the West, but they never protest against the clubs, alocohol, porno, mad haram movies, wack music, etc. in there own countries.

    Completely random, but check our Pakistani brother out:
    http://www.hahmed.com/blog/2007/06/21/kashif-memon-the-desi-napoleon-dynamite/

  6. Solomon2

    June 29, 2007 at 4:06 PM

    It was at best a tactless gesture

    I don’t know if tact is a factor in making such decisions. It’s more like a statement of principle. Whether good or bad is a matter of opinion.

    What’s most telling to me are two things: (1) The Satanic Verses is so dull I couldn’t bring myself to read more than a few pages of it, and (2) those who are willing to condemn, ostracize, and kill Rushdie almost certainly haven’t read it, either. Why are they willing to denigrate a man for deeds they have no knowledge of?

    Why won’t they discuss the ideas in his books before judging him? Darwin was more of a challenge to Christianity than Rushdie is to Islam, but Darwin lived, without fear, to a ripe old age.

    Rushdie is a hunted man, hunted for nothing more than uttering a blasphemy that sharpened Muslims’ concepts of holiness. What is to be made of the widely supported fatwa against him? If you don’t want your kids to roam the world hunting human meat, is it better not to raise them as Muslims at all?

  7. Kashif

    June 29, 2007 at 4:11 PM

    salaam aleikum,

    what is incredibly ironic is that the conferring of a knighthood on Rushdie followed a week in which Tony Blair, David Cameron, the “Islamic” studies dept. at Cambridge University, and some hand picked puppets/”sheikhs” held a conference about “British Muslim” identity, where the solution sheikh Tony proscribed that the problem was Muslims and “extremist” preachers. These links are somewhat ironic given all of this happened 1 week before the knighthood was publicly conferred:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/6718235.stm

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6723325.stm

  8. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    June 29, 2007 at 6:54 PM

    Good points sister Ruth.

    Also good points MR — there are so many people worse than Salman Rushdie and hardly any of us (myself included) really understand why exactly we are supposed to be mad at him (not that we shouldn’t be).

    The reason he in particular has gotten so much attention has to do with something Khomeini chose to do for internal Iranian political reasons more than two decades ago.

    We as Muslims have better things to do than to keep it going as a major issue at this point in time…and to be honest most of us are not keeping it as an issue.

    By the way, I don’t know much about fiction in general, and haven’t read anything by Salman Rushdie, but according to Reza Aslan Rushdie is a “fabulous writer” and Satanic Verses is “a wonderful book, probably my favorite of his” so take that for whatever it means.

  9. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    June 29, 2007 at 7:52 PM

    Sorry, my post should have read that the fatwa was “almost” two decades ago not “more than” — it was in 1988.

  10. abu ameerah

    June 29, 2007 at 9:16 PM

    “The Muslims living in Muslim countries like to protest anything against the West…”

    –You been to Muslim countries lately Akh ???
    –Allah (awj) knows best but they’re not protesting against Dairy Queen or KFC … Calvin Klein … or Nike, from my vantage point.
    –As far as “porno” goes…it is a multi-billion dollar industry in West…not in Muslim countries, alhamdulillah.

    –With regard to protests. It is true that Islam is not a religion of slogans and boycotts and rebellion. However, I think there needs to be some kind of intellectual response to the Rushdie Knighthood. Yes…it is not a major issue impacting Muslims. Yet, Muslims (at least) need to understand the full context in which an enemy of Islam (now made an international symbol by the miscalculations of the kaffir Khomeini) can so openly be defended and honored by a government that claims it is otherwise not at war with Islam.

  11. sincethestorm

    June 29, 2007 at 9:35 PM

    By protesting against it, we acknowledge that ‘knighting’ Rashdie was a big deal. The Pakistani parliment passed a bil. or amendment about this. It was a waste of their time. If knighthood is not something significant in our mind then who cares if England decides to honor a person. Its another way to create hoopla and another way to push the ‘on’ button of some Muslims. Muslims should be more pre-occuipied with other important matters.

  12. inexplicabletimelessness

    June 29, 2007 at 11:44 PM

    As Salaamu alaikum wa RahmatAllah

    Regarding Salman Rushdie, actually in our AP English Language and Composition AP Exam this year, we had to analyze of Rushdie’s essays and analyze his rhetorical style and language usage. I was a bit surprised that the CollegeBoard chose something from him, taken he is a controversial figure, but his essay had more to do with nationalism, culture and heritage. I suppose a lot of his writings have to do with the fact that he was an immigrant in Britain, if I am not mistaken.

    Anyway, for the most part, I agree with sister Ruth that knighthood is just a title given by the British monarchy–a title doesn’t really signify anything.

    On the other hand, I have little respect for those who, just because they were raised as Muslims, think they are authorities on Islam and thus, feel they can bash the teachings of Islam, like Rushdie did.

    But I think lately the ‘tactic’ of the Muslim world has been greatly defensive and not offensive. Whenever there is something to incite anger in the Muslim world, Muslims get angry. When the Danish cartoons were published and popularized, Muslims resorted to violently expressing their viewpoints. Now that Rushdie is given knighthood, Muslims are again, reacting violently.

    I am not going to blame the Muslim world for feeling angry; as Muslims we should all stand up for the Haqq (Truth) and the commands of Allah.

    BUT I think if Muslims were offensive and not just defensive, response and reactionary in their methods, minor events such as these would not prevent the Muslim Ummah from progressing.

    How do we then become “offensive”? Any ideas?

  13. Sister

    July 1, 2007 at 2:55 AM

    When I saw the article in the news, I was taken aback a bit. But then I shrugged it off.

    sincethestorm: Pakistan probably felt more than just annoyed because they have close ties to Britain because of their past and also because alot of their inner workings are modeled after the British. It was kind of a backstabbing move on their part. I believe that the action the Pakistani gov. took was more symbolic than substantial.

    Rushdi’s book was a reactionary book and he got exactly the polarizing response he was hoping for (and probably more). The whole world gives him more credit than he deserves because of it.

    Wa Allahu ta’ala Alam

  14. Mian

    January 7, 2015 at 4:13 PM

    Ignorance of someone else’s words is unacceptable when you condemn them. If you haven’t heard — or in this case read, the words of the man, hold your tongue!

    That a few people (Imams included), read only scattered fragments of a huge book, and then proceeded to think they knew what the work purported to say… It is a shame and a disgrace.

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