Salman Rushdie is a British novelist known for his controversial, fictional stories. He was born in Bombay, India to a family of Muslim descent. He briefly worked as a copywriter before launching his career as an author with his first novel, Grimus. He sets most of his stories in India and focuses on the connections between the Western and Eastern civilization.
Debatably, his most controversial novel is The Satanic Verses. This novel uses magical realism to discuss the “satanic verses” in the Qur’an which allows prayers to be made to Pagan Meccan goddesses. Part of the story follows the Islamic prophet Muhammad, who initially favors polytheism, but later denotes this as a error because of persuasion by the Devil. Unfortunately, many Muslims felt this section of the story was blasphemous and attacked their faith. Many believe the novel supports Western freedoms and the right to insult Muslims and their beliefs. They also believe it aided in driving a wedge between the Western and Eastern civilizations. It caused an uproar in many Islamic communities across the globe. Some countries refused to import the book, while others simply burned the book at demonstrations. Rushdie’s literary work resulted in endless death threats and a fatwa (legal opinion by a qualified persons pertaining to Islamic law) calling for his assassination by the supreme leader of Iran. One attack resulted in the death of his Japanese translator, while other attacks wounded some of Rushdie’s staff.
This story caused one of the biggest backlashes of all time, pertaining to literature. The backlash also provided a platform for Muslims across the globe to come together under one uniting factor: their hatred for Salman Rushdie.
Muslims do multiple assimilation limitations in the U.K., which include social, cultural, and religious limitations. Shireen Hunter addresses these issues in her novel Islam, Europe’s Second Religion, and acknowledges that these issues are similar for all of Europe, not just the U.K. One limitation is the inability of Muslims to adopt and understand all cultures, their aspects, and their beliefs. The U.K. is a melting pot of culture, making it difficult to categorize Muslims as one general character. Muslims find it difficult to unite with their vast communities, even their personal Islamic communities. Another broad limitation is the potential lack of desire to assimilate. Islam can be viewed on a spectrum, with some liberals and some extreme conservatives. According to chapter three, some of the opposing groups include traditional versus militant or activist Islam and traditionalist versus modernist. This spectrum leaves a gap in the beliefs and values of every Muslim in Europe. Muslims immigrate from all over the globe and are not only defined by their religion, but also by the societies that shaped them. When they immigrate to another place, such as the U.K., they cannot be expected to have the same views on assimilation as all other Muslims. For example, perhaps liberal Muslims are much more open assimilation, while extremist groups such as Al-Muhajirun are strongly against assimilation.
Musawah, which means equality in Arabic, is an global movement dedicated to equality in Muslim families. This movement was launched after a large meeting of over 250 Muslims in 2009 and is led by Muslim women. Musawah has many specific goals, all of which center around the rebirth of equality in Islam, especially in Islamic families. Some of their key messages include keeping the family as a peaceful place which fosters growth for all of its members, marriage as a “partnership of equals,” the right to choose whether you want a spouse or who your spouse will be, and generic equal rights for all genders.
Our Vision: A world where equality, non-discrimination, justice, and dignity are the basis of all human relations.
As a woman, I fully support this movement. When I read their vision statement, I was immediately struck with the realization that many women, especially Muslim women, are treated as absolute inferiors on a daily basis. While I could argue that women in America are still oppressed in certain ways, our oppression could never compare to the inflicted oppression in other societies. I sincerely appreciate these women for providing Muslim women with a resource for demanding equality. I wish this movement was more well-known. I could criticize the lack of successful strides made by this movement, but the movement is still very young and statistical successes would be very hard to measure. Progress is always slow, but any small victory is still a victory.