By Farooq Sulehria
Fundamentalists in different parts of the world have a kind of
relationship that Khalil Gibran's Father Samaan has got with Satan.
Father Samaan was in constant war with Satan. One evening, he
saw an unclothed dying man. Father Samaan came close to the man
and saw a strange face with contrasting features: intelligence
with slyness, ugliness with beauty, and wickedness with softness.
He withdrew to his feet sharply and exclaimed, "Who are you?"
"I am Satan", comes the reply.
Father screams: "God has shown me your hellish image and
justly caused me to hate you; cursed be you forever more!"
Satan tells Father, "Be not in haste" and explains:"
Do you not realise that you will starve to death if I were to
die? What would you do tomorrow if you allowed me to die today?
What vocation would you pursue if my name disappeared? For decades
you have been roaming these villages and warning the people against
falling into my hands. They have bought your advice with their
poor denars and with the products of their land. What would they
buy from you tomorrow, if they discovered that their wicked enemy
no longer existed?...."
Father Samaan quietly walks to the village with his back bent
under Satan's heavy burden, his lips moving in fervent prayer
for the life of the dying Satan.
The fresh clash of fundamentalisms we are currently witnessing,
this time initiated by Jyllands-Posten, is yet another manifestation
of Father Samaan and Satan episode. Editors at Jyllands-Posten
try to test the tolerance of a religious minority in Denmark.
Their Nigerian counterparts in turn killed members of a religious
minority. An Italian Father Samaan asserts freedom of expression
by wearing a T-shirt and his Libyan counterparts express theirs
by setting an Italian embassy ablaze. Satan (perhaps Father Samaan)
blows up the twin towers and Father Samaan (Satan for others)
destroys Iraq and Afghanistan. Satanic Likud leads to the victory
of Father Hamas. Sangh Parivar wants Akhand Bharat and razed the
historic Babri mosque. The Jamaat-e-Islami reciprocates by vowing
to hoist a green crescent at Delhi's Red Fort and Islamic zealots
raze Lahore's Jain Mandir without bothering to find out it was
not a Hindu temple. By the way, Buddha statues at Bamiyan were
not demolished by anyone according to Iranian film maker Makhmalbaf.
Buddha fell down out of shame, he thinks.
Danish Prime Minister (a Satan you bet it) thinks 'caricatures
now an issue between EU and Muslim world' (The News, Feb 23).
Father Qazi Hussain Ahmad sees the drawings as 'part of clash
of civilisations'. (The News, Feb 22). Is it? If so, how would
Danish Satan and Pakistani Father explain February 14 and 15?
While Copenhagen witnessed the biggest anti-war rally on February
15, Father Qazi did not send any zealots to burn vehicles on The
Since the start of Iraq war, March 20 is marked by mass mobilisations
in Europe while MMA has yet to plan a Million March on Iraq. Clash
of civilisations? Ironically, while the working class in the West
had erupted in protest against the Iraq war, Father Khomeini tactically
cooperated with Big Satan to get rid of little Satan (Sadam Hussain).
Clash of civilisations or connivance of fundamentalisms?
In his widely cited but less read Clash of Civilisations, Samuel
Huntington sees two satanic civilisations clashing with Father
(Western) Civilisation: Chinese (exports) and Muslim (oil) civilisations.
If Arabs sitting over oil reserves were Buddhists, Jyllands-Posten
would have caricatured Mahatma Buddha. So much for the clash of
The clash-of-civilisation nonsense preceded by end-of-history
euphoria indeed was an attempt to justify the super exploitation,
including direct invasions, of the Muslim world in the post-Cold
war period. With the collapse of Stalinism in the former Soviet
world, the sole Empire left at the end of 20th century felt like
imposing its new world order at gun point, if needed, since there
was no challenger left. Meantime, the traditional parties of the
working class (social democrats, communists in Europe and populists
in the third world), notwithstanding the end-of-history euphoria
took a right turn.
It created a political vacuum. A vacuum, in politics, never lasts
long. It was filled by extreme ideas. In Europe, largely far right
(Jorge Haider, Le Pen & Co.) and to some extent far left (French
LCR, Scottish SSP, now the British Respect, Danish Red Green Alliance)
filled the vacuum. India witnessed the rise of the Sangh Parivar.
In the Muslim world, imperialism's estranged child Muslim fundamentalism,
as a far right phenomenon, came forward since it had all the resources
and internationally conducive objective situation.
Latin America is an entirely different story. Interestingly,
today Latin America shows the way. The day the Muslim world gets
its Hugo Chavez or Evo Morales, the clash of civilisation is doomed.
Father Samaan will not be able to save Satan's life by moving
his lips in fervent prayers.