Saturday, October 19, 2013

After the Pakistanis, now it is the turn of the Turks

Mustafa Akyol
Five days after the Court of Appeal ruled on the 'Allah' issue the controversial decision is still drawing ridicule from some Muslims worldwide as, among others, "bizarre" and "grossly wrong".

"Now, as a fellow Muslim, I will be honest to the Malaysians who have given this verdict or those who support it: This is one of the most illogical, insensible and childish decisions I have heard in my life. It is sheer nonsense," wrote a columnist for Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News today.

Mustafa Akyol, who appears to write for several Turkish and international publications, called the verdict that The Herald cannot use the word 'Allah' as it leads to confusion amongst Muslims and brings the threat of propagation "grossly wrong", "un-Islamic" and "irrational".

"Why? Well, first of all, the word 'Allah' simply means 'the God' in Arabic, and it certainly is not exclusive to Islam," he wrote, mirroring the much repeated explanation that seems to fall on deaf ears amongst the local Muslims in authority.

He added in his commentary that Islam itself in fact encourages others of the Abrahamic religions to embrace the term.

"...If Malaysian Muslims should have done anything about the word 'Allah', it should have been to call on Christians to use the term freely," he argued quoting from Quranic verses.

Commenting on Muslim "confusion" over the Christians' use of 'Allah, Akyol said, "Well, nobody’s 'confusion', or lack of comprehension, can justify the destruction of other people’s freedom.

"Otherwise, should Christian countries ban the usage of terms such as 'Jesus' or 'Mary', which are prominent in the Quran, by their Muslim minorities?"

The columnist did not mince his words that those who advance such ideas of a "Muslim copyright for 'Allah'" does nothing but "reveal the burning lack of intellectual self-confidence among Muslims".

"Why, otherwise, does the slightest chance of 'the propagation of other religions' provoke so much fear - and so much compulsion?" he concluded.

Akyol writes regular columns for two Turkish dailies, Star and Hürriyet Daily News. He has criticized both Islamic extremism and Turkish secularism, which he likens to Jacobinism and fundamentalism. His articles are often friendly to the incumbent Justice and Development Party.

Over the years, he has given seminars in several universities or think-tanks in the U.S. and the U.K. on issues of Islam, politics, and Turkish affairs. He also spoke at TED, giving a lecture on Faith versus Tradition in Islam.

Mustafa Akyol's articles on Islamic issues, in which he mostly argues against Islamic extremism and terrorism from a Muslim point of view and defends the Islamic faith, have appeared in publications like Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Forward, First Things, Huffington Post, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Times, The American Enterprise, National Review, FrontPage Magazine,[8] Newsweek[9] and Islam Online.

Akyol is also author of the English-language book Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case For Liberty (W.W. Norton). This, according to the publisher, is "a desperately needed intellectual basis for the reconcilability of Islam and religious, political, economic, and social freedoms."

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