1. Who is Salman Rushdie? What is the significance of his novel, The Satanic Verses, with respect to Muslims in the U.K?
Salman Rushdie is an Indian-born, British novelist and essayist known for his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses. The novel sparked major controversy with Muslims for various reasons, from using holy names in derogatory roles, making controversial references and more. The novel spurred violent protests, bombings, attempted killings and fatalities. The Satanic Verses was seen as such an outrage to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, that he called for Rushdie and his publishers to be put to death. Because of this, many Muslims in the U.K. held protests which led to the eventual breaking of diplomatic relations between the Iranian and British governments. There was also major violence against bookstores that sold the novel because the book was published in the U.K.
2. What limitations to Muslim assimilation in the U.K. exist? Do all British Muslims want to assimilate?
One of the main limitations to Muslim assimilation in the U.K. is the “clash of values, one which will make it considerably harder to find a path of compromise between Muslims and the rest of Europe.” What the article is referring to is secularism. This idea assumes that religion should be a private part of life, but this clashes with the practice of Islam. At the same time, the U.K. and other European countries want to remain as democratic and non-discriminatory countries. “It is undemocratic and illiberal to ask European Muslims to be as religious as they want at home but to keep their Islam out of public view” the article goes on to say. In my opinion, it’s unfair to say that all British Muslims want to assimilate. The extremist groups and other similar groups still exist within the British Muslim population, and they are continually promoting Islam and it’s older, traditional values.
3. What is the musawah organization about? What does musawah mean? What are some of their key messages? What is your assessment of this association?
Musawah, which means equality in Arabic, is a “global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family. The organization brings together NGOs, activists, scholars, legal practitioners, policy makers and grassroots organizations from around the world in order to achieve their vision of “a world where equality, non-discrimination, justice and dignity are the basis of all human actions.” Musawah has three main messages that they urge governments, leaders, religious institutions and other to uphold. The first is the same message as the group’s vision. The second is “full and equal citizenship for every individual” and the third being “marriage and family relations based on principles of equality and justice.” Musawah puts these into action by trying their best to ensure various practices. For example, they believe that marriage should be a partnership of equals with mutual respect and decision-making between the partners. Another practice they stand behind is “the equal right to choose a spouse or choose not to marry, and to enter into marriage only with free and full consent and the equal right to dissolve the marriage, as well as equal rights upon its dissolution.” The other policies cover equal rights as well. I think this organization is doing good, but it also seems to be pushing Western ideals on the Eastern world. While most of the ideals are good, like equal rights, and should be spread across the globe, I think it’s a fine line to walk between pushing another culture and not. At the same time, the organization is led by Muslim women “who seek to publicly reclaim Islam’s spirit of justice for all,” so the framework is well-suited to make a real difference because people are more willing to listen to those they can identify with, rather than outsiders.