I wrote this letter to the Editor in response to the opinion piece titled, ‘Seeking Allah in the Midlands’ published on May 24th.
I’m writing this in response to a recent article, written by Hasan Suroor, titled ‘Seeking Allah in the Midlands’ published on May 24th. The article starts out with the author exposing his inherent bias against Islam. While he rightly states that there is a perception problem, he states that it is a fact that ‘ more Islamic a society, the more misogynist the society is’. The author is then surprised that Islam still fascinates women, educated and independents ones no less. For me the tone of the article seemed as if the author was struggling to reconcile fact on the ground with his own preconceived notions that he claims to be are facts.
I say this because he himself goes on to provide evidence for the complete opposite. He cites research by CIS and New Muslim Project, Leicester suggesting women are independently researching and then accepting Islam. Anecdotal evidences from the research suggest that women are leaving behind their liberal tendencies to follow islam as a way of life.He then goes to speak about problems that converts have coping after conversion based on the research.
I would definitely acknowledge as a Muslim that the services offered to converts in terms of physical, mental and spiritual help are not as nearly well developed as one would hope for. People leaving their faiths and coming to new ones are vulnerable to the changes associated with the process and need more support from the existing community. In a Islamophobic atmosphere, the challenges are more acute than for any other religion in general. The west has an added problem because the muslim population is largely made up off immigrants and hence it is very difficult for converts to discern what is Islamic and what is cultural. Yet the fact that more people are coming to Islam are a clarion call to muslims to develop better systems to cope with seekers, in a world where people are looking for solace in any form.
I do not want to reply to inaccuracies in the article (Lauren Booth, cited in the article has already done so on her blog) but would like to point out that such a negative tone in the article doesn’t go well with The Hindu’s high standards of journalism. An opinion piece is after all opinion yet when opinions are propounded as facts without so much as a shred of evidence and then the opposite is highlighted seems to me to be poor standards of journalism. I am a regular reader of The Hindu and would definitely like to see the author provide further evidence to support his statements or reword the article to reflect the same.