An Islam that doesn’t cause headlines

Imran Ahmad, author of Unimagined: A Muslim Boy Meets the West, has an Indonesian version of the book that will be launched during his appearance at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival this week. I hope to meet him here in Indonesia.

The Jakarta Globe has published a piece by Ahmad that articlates his position on Islam, the West and the corporate media:

I get angry when some people in the West make hurtful and unfair comments about “all Muslims.” But we Muslims should refrain from doing the same about America and the West. There is no more one West (or even one America) than there is one Islam in the whole world. We Muslims fight each other just as much as we fight non-Muslims.

When people chant “Death to America,” which America do they mean? The America that intervened to save the Bosnian Muslims from total genocide? Why did America even bother? To my knowledge, there’s no oil or strategic value in Bosnia. Could it have been because it was the morally correct thing to do (without consideration of race or religion)?

The America that tries to prevent massacres in Africa, and gets attacked and abused and sees its own fallen soldiers’ bodies being mutilated for having the courage to do the right thing?

The America that is the first to arrive with emergency assistance (followed immediately by the Israelis, if they get permission), whenever and wherever there’s a catastrophic earthquake, anywhere in the world?

The America that yearns to stop the genocide, rape and murder in Darfur but can no longer bear the consequence of so-called Muslim countries accusing it of waging a Western imperialist war on Islam? The America that put men on the moon, and was gracious enough to say that it was on behalf of “all mankind”?

I knew that I could write a book that re-humanized both Muslims and the West to each other, detailing the complexity of both “sides.” So I wrote “Unimagined: A Muslim Boy Meets the West,” describing my experience of growing up in two worlds, and the hypocrisy and humanity I witnessed everywhere.

All the major British publishers rejected the book because I did not become a terrorist or even an Islamist, and so who would be interested in my story? This is the appalling attitude of the Western media. “Islam versus the West” is a profitable line of business, and if you contradict that with something about the sheer ordinariness and humanity of being a Muslim, you can’t get any attention.

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