Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Interview with Sharon Chadha - Part 2


Here's the second installment of my 10-part interview with Bangladeshi rocker, poet, and pundit, Maqsoodul Haque, lead singer of the band Maqsood O'dHAKA. (Part 1 is here.)

So why the interest in global jihad, Mac?
Although I grew up to become an agnostic by choice, my childhood and teen years were thoroughly inculcated with Islamic culture. My mother was a pious believer and insisted I study the Koran – which a cleric would come to teach me.Since we didn’t understand a word in Arabic, our knowledge of the Sura (or Koranic verses) was all via word of mouth. The way my mother explained what the Koran said, however, pointedly differed from what the cleric was teaching us. And because we went to a Christian missionary school, the cleric would criticize us for using English to communicate among ourselves and admonish us for having Hindu friends. ‘Mingling with infidels!’ he would say. I remember one day mother had a serious disagreement with the cleric over this issue and very soon, to our delight, a younger and more educated one replaced him.
On the Muslim Sabbath (Fridays), I was dragged to the nearby mosque by father to hear the mullahs instill the fear of aLLAH in my little heart (as they still do today in many mosques). Compassion and mercy were rarely the subject of the sermons. The mullahs would instead exhort at length about history, the great Jihads, and that the Prophets of Islam had fought to ‘slaughter the Infidels.’ All of this had the effect of activating the deeper introspection cells within my brain.
Father was a liberal and would painstakingly address all my innocent curiosity about Jihad. The first lesson I learned from him was that the greatest Jihad is against the self, the battle to suppress greed, hatred, anger, mischief, or waywardness - and the struggle to be caring and humble.
He also explained the spirit of Ijtihad and how the world had changed since the earliest days of Islam. He told me that Islam had assimilated many cultures, including our own, and its spread to almost all corners of the globe would not have been possible had it not had a peaceful or humane mandate.
I was imparted with this one solid lesson which has remained with me all of my adult life: that Jihad of weapons is the lowest form of Jihad, and one that aLLAH dislikes the most.
Tomorrow we'll hear about Mac's ringside side on the jihads that began in 1979 with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan...So stay tuned.But meanwhile, check out another one of his band's video recordings here via YouTube.

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