Yesterday here on the blog I wrote about the appalling ignorance Americans showed in a recent survey about the Holocaust.
It's a new book called Great Muslims of the West: Makers of Western Islam, by Muhammad Mojlum Khan, a native of Bangladesh who now is a British writer, literary critic and research scholar. He's the director of the Bengal Muslim Research Institute in the United Kingdom.
It offers relatively brief biographies of 50 important Muslims, the earliest born in the year 729 and the latest born in 1942 (the boxer Muhammad Ali). Then it offers shorter bios of another 25 "honorable mentions."
But in this age of visual arts, I'm sorry to say that there's not a single drawing or photo of any of these people in the 500-plus pages.
It's also true that only seven of the people written about here are women. The author discusses that choice this way: "I agree that Muslim women have played a proactive and pivotal role in the development and progress of Islamic thought, culture and civilization, although it is equally true that they more often than not preferred to make their contributions from behind the scenes. Due to their humility and humbleness (Tammeus note: What's the difference between those two words?), they often avoided the limelight and, for that reason, their contribution and achievements were not always recorded or acknowledged."
Maybe, but I wonder if a female author would have written that or at least written it that way.
At any rate, the great usefulness of this book is that it provides non-Muslims and Muslims alike with a much broader and more nuanced picture of Muslim thinkers and leaders who have had an influence on what the religion looks like in the West than is generally available.
I confess, for instance, never to have heard of a British Muslim named Lady Evelyn Cobbold (born Evelyn Murray to a wealthy Scottish family in 1867). She's a fascinating character who traveled the world and eventually embraced Islam. Khan describes her as "an intelligent, outward-looking and fiercely independent-minded woman," who, among other achievements, wrote a book called Pilgrimage to Mecca, which even today you can find for sale on Amazon.com.
Khan's goal in this reference book, he writes, has been to highlight "the pivotal role played by Western Muslims in the development of Western civilization."
And with one biographical portrait after another, he's done just that.
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AND NOT LORD KRISHNA EITHER
Egypt's grand mufti has issued a fatwa saying it's against the rules of Islam to buy any "like" on Facebook. And I'm sure he's right. After all, we know for sure that the Prophet Muhammad, not to mention Jesus, Moses and Buddha, never did it.