Tuesday, July 16, 2002

quoted by John Derbyshire

John Derbyshire has quoted an email of mine in the Corner on NRO! I'm truly honored.

The full text of the email I sent him is reproduced here for posterity:

From: "Aziz H. Poonawalla"

To: "John Derbyshire"

Subject: Re: your article on Islam

Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2002 13:31:56 -0500

I live in Houston and am a practicing Shi'a muslim myself. I have been

raised in my community's tradition of being loyal and law-abiding to the

country where you reside, and have always been grateful that it was my

fortune to have been born here in America. I have traveled to Britain,

India, and Pakistan extensively and I am aware that my freedom to practice

my faith is orders of magnitudes more free in America than anywhere else in

this world.

Prior to 9-11, I had often attracted attention here in Texas for my beard

and my intention of praying in public if I happen to be out during a

prescribed prayer time. But after the attack, my perception of others'

attentions changed. I am more hesitant in public to "flaunt" my being Muslim

(though with a full beard, it's pretty obvious). But after a few tense

paranoid months I realised that people were supportive, kind, and


Not to say I haven't encountered bigotry. I have been spit upon, called

names, and even mooned :) But I haven't experienced a single incident of

prejudice since 9-11 (though, others in my community have been subjected to

abuse, especially in Dallas).

But my main observation is that Americans (myself included!) are for the

most part more tolerant and educated than people give them credit for. I

realize that there is a rabid fringe, but I have great optimism in the

nature of humankind, a principle I derive from my faith. I am sure that for

every accusatory email you receive, there are ten Americans out there who

are thoughtful. I hear invective against my faith evey day on talk radio

here in Houston but I have experienced the opposite in my dealings on a

personal level.

Until the threat recedes, there will be a source for anger. And the angry

are often the most vocal!


Aziz Poonawalla

PS. I know you are a scholar and so I think this might interest you. I

heartily recommend the text, "Peak of Eloquence" by written by Ali ibn

Talib, who was the chosen successor of the Prophet Muhamad. Its a much more

accurate look at what Islam's moral code and structure is, undistorted by

the Wahabis and the Qutbis and the attached cruft of their self-serving

hadith and fundamentalist interpretations. Shi'a revere Ali as the only

person of the Prophet's SAW companions who had the permission and authority

to interpret the Qur'an. Muhammad SAW himself said that "I am the city of

Knowledge, and Ali is the Gate.

Amazon link (non-affiliate): http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0940368420/qid=1026129803/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/103-4216917-3204626

online freetext: http://www.al-islam.org/nahj/

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