A Muslim Uncle At Speaker’s Corner

I had not been to Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, London for a long time. I went once nearly two decades ago when I first came to the UK but before I moved to London. It was very exciting for me at the time. I had just arrived from Malaysia and the idea of free speech, especially in such a public place was an alien idea to me.

Two decades later, I am so used to the idea of free speech but never revisited Speaker’s Corner since that first time. I had come to join a protest against the sedition charges levelled at the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar. He may get imprisoned for forty-three years. I joined the protest and was ready to leave about two hours later.

On way out, I could not help but notice this Muslim uncle preaching to the public about Islam. He was loud and abrasive but in a nice way. He told the atheists that they were ‘confused.com’ (a price comparison site) and a Christian chap he was ‘lost.com’ (not any kind of site). He took their nastiness in stride though. One racist, upon hearing him say ‘we british’, actually asked him ‘are you really British, you don’t look British!’. The uncle was supercool though.

My beef with him was the material he used. It was just such a closed-minded, parochial view of Islam. For a start, calling athiests and Christians ‘confused and lost’ is simply disingenuous. His dismissal of the atheists’ sense of truth and justice simply because they did not believe in the idea of deity was unfair. One atheist responded with ‘well you were born and raised Muslim, you’ve never known anything else’. Our Muslim uncle simply said ‘yes, everyone was born Muslim. It’s our nature’. Something empirically unprovable like this cannot be used as an argument.

He then went on about the ‘miracles’ of Prophet Muhammad (he uttered the ubiquitous ‘pbuh’, of course), the ‘last and greatest of all the Prophets’. He had so many miracles, the uncle said. Hang on, MIRACLES? What miracles, I asked myself?!

I spoke up just then – Excuse me sir, that contradicts the Quran. He asked me how. I said, please look at Chapter 29 (Al-Ankaboot) Verse 51 which rhetorically ask if it is not enough that the book was sent as a sign (which Traditionalists translate as ‘miracle’). In any case, it is very clear that Muhammad only had the Quran, miracle or not.

The uncle then launched a tirade against me. He claimed I had no right to interpret the Quran, being unqualified so to do. Sadly, he landed himself in it by saying that because the atheist then reminded him that only minutes earlier, he said the Quran is clear as day and that non-Muslims should read it as well to learn ‘all about Islam’. Sadly, that was when the takfeer-ing (hereticizing) began. The uncle claimed I’m not really a Muslim because I doubted Muhammad’s miracles.

I asked him, what sort of a God would send a man to show a miracle to a handful of people and leave the rest of us with just a hadith about it? Would a just God expect faith like this? Furthermore, what does a miracle prove? Magicians perform tricks and fool people. What if ‘moon-splitting’ incident (the example he used) was just the result of some hashish? Do Prophets really need miracles? Nope, the man was on a winner with his ‘kafir, kafir’ rant so I left him to his crowd.

It is such a pity that Muslims typically rely on these pre-planned rhetoric to win more sheep to their flock. Islam is about thinking your way to truth, not this.

About Farouk A. Peru
I am a human being in the world, blogging my existence. My thought systems may be found in my website: www.farouk.name

3 Responses to A Muslim Uncle At Speaker’s Corner

  1. abooali says:

    Well said. It’s a shame some well intentioned people spend so much effort spreading a misguided message.

  2. Daayiee says:

    Farouk, great commentary. So many get their numbers fallacy boats caught up in the intelligence eddies in the wider stream of thought…unable to handle those eddies, they fall off the waterfall of nonsense…the rumbling we hear from below are their curses. Turning page.

  3. iks1647 says:

    You make some really important points, true for all religious traditions. Thankyou. Has there been any critical Quranic studies similar to nineteenth and twentieth century critical Biblical studies?

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