Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The 'Immoral' West - 2

While it is true that we who live abroad may at times arrive in Bangladesh with an attitude, turn up our noses at the crowds and dirtiness, and exclaim shock that people are still not *gasp* stopping at red lights, the trend also flows both ways. I have met many Bangladeshis who have quite a condescending attitude towards their cousins from the West, and Canada (or USA/UK) in general.

Continuing this theme, they will come to this country and never stop criticizing it.

"Oh look at these people in July, walking around half-naked." (and then keep looking).

"Oh, these Canadians are so vain. They are buying these expensive cars when people in Asia cannot eat." (over a $3.50 cup of Mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks).

"These Canadians just want us to come and work as labourers and storekeepers. Racists." All this while his 'labourer's salary' is supporting his family here, back home in Bangladesh, and putting his sons through university when after they graduate they will be engineers, doctors, etc.

"Me, this country will lead my children astray. I'm returning to Bangladesh as soon as possible." (On his 10th year).

Now, everyone's situation is different and there is some valid criticism, but on the whole immigrants have it pretty good here. You get a passport after 3 years only which is pretty good compared to others. And this blue Canuck passport gets more respect in Bangladesh than a green Bangladeshi passport does there - trust me, I've been at Dhaka airport and the officials are so courteous to the 'foreigners' and so rude to the locals its unbelievably sick (that's another whole post).

We also practice our religious freedom in many ways. On Good Friday, the day most Canadians believe Christ the God was crucified and killed for their sins, we in our Jummahs on the same day never fail to drive home the point that we believe that's bogus, Christ was a holy messenger of God (in Islam he is called the Word of God) but a man like any other man, and he wasn't crucified at all. True secularism. In Bangladesh the Hindus are not allowed to have loud pujas on Muslim holidays. That's not secularism.

In fact, these western nations are in many ways more Islamic than our so-called Islamic nations. They have minimum wage, which was first implemented by Hazrat Omar (R) but now seems to have disappeared from the muslim world. They have dignity of labour. Here a plumber, labourer, construction worker and street cleaner (called sanitation worker) have equal respect in the eyes of the law and society. Muhammad (peace be upon him) worked as a labourer, shepherd, merchant, farmer and so on. Yet today in Bangladesh we look down on choukidaars (guards), rakhals (shepherds), coolies (porters), rickshaw-wallahs and so on. In Canada we follow the Doctrine of Multiculturalism (sure there's some discrimination but can you argue a black man will not be discriminated against in Bangladesh?) which was practiced in Muslim Spain a long, long, time ago.



AT said...

you might wanna check out canadian writer, irshad manji's book. she talked about exactly the same things as u have said here.

Anonymous said...

It was only after actually going to the States that I realized the fallacy of "West is bad, East is good" theory spouted by many Bangladeshis.

All of the following (completely unislamic) practices are more prevalent in most Muslim countries than in the US or Canada:

* Staring and ogling women (even covered ones)

*Marrying for materialistic reasons (under the guise of arranged marriages)

*Class discrimination

*Intolerance of critisicm

and quite a few others.

AGA said...

I came to your site today and on a previous occasion after reading your comments on Mr. A's site. You object to what you view as Mr. A sometimes bashing or making fun of Islam. I am not Muslim, and I never get a sense that he ridicules Islam, but something else, something that he feels needs to be reformed.

You are able to say to a Christian that you believe that Jesus was not the Son of God, not the Word made flesh, but rather a prophet whose death had nothing to do with sin or redemption. This is perhaps the essence of Christianity which you are disagreeing with, yet you can "on [Christmas] day never fail to drive home the point that we believe that's bogus." I am asking you to ask yourself how can this possibly be? How can a Christian stand for this? If you can answer this question correctly, you will see why I do not view Mr. A as bashing Islam, and you won't view him that way either. The answer is more than simply that we have freedom of religion, it has to do with how we view people and their religions. You could burn a Bible but Mr. A can't even suggest where to put a miniature Koran without debate over what he meant by where the sun don't shine.

mezba said...


I have to disagree here with Irshad Manji. The point I am trying to raise here is that many people in the East have forgotten what once made them great, and instead criticise very hypocritically.


I will never tell a Christian to burn a Bible or put it where the sun don't shine. Similarly with a Geeta, Torah etc. I have always generally prefixed the Bible with the word Holy in my posts. I will never call Christmas a season of madmen, as the other blogger you mentioned has done. I respect all religions.

If you read my statement I said I believe the crucification of Christ is bogus. If you say you believe Islam's claim of Muhammad (S) as God's messenger is bogus, that's your right and you are free to say that. Perhaps instead of bogus I should have used the word false. I was driving the point that we are free to say so as its a secular country.

The trouble starts when people start trashing each other's religions. We can either all have civil debate or no debate at all. Again, whenever I have criticised actions of a religious person (for example the Vatican) I have never trashed or insulted the religion. I have deleted comments on my blog, for example, that made fun of the Christian communion process.

AT said...

what about we forget about religion and accept Quran, Bible, Gita, Torah or whatever as books for all humanity. Let's try to connect to the supreme knowledge through our own ways.

I mean quran itself doesn't propagate a religion named Islam. It is not a propaganda of muslims but rather a book for humanity. It's not a property of the muslims. Therefore, disrespecting it, you are disrespecting a book not Muslims. It's okay, if you don't accept part of a philosophy but at least respect it. I mean you are not gonna go and start burning books containing Bohr's theory just because the Quantum theory explains electron configuration better. Similar things can be said about bible or torah.

No, I am not a Muslim, neither I consider myself a Hindu, I consider myself a follower of the knowledge (you can call it God) and I respect all types of knowledge...be it coming from science or religious philosophies.

AT said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AT said...

Besides, I find religious laws are for the people, who are a way too caught up with the mundane activities. If u r truly seeking knowledge, you would never even give a damn about mundane laws. Your ultimate goal would be to find the knowledge into everything. Understand about mysticism, look for hidden meaning and art in this universe.

Remember, there is only one supreme truth and it doesn't have any religion.

Aisha said...

"this country will lead my children astray. I'm returning to Bangladesh as soon as possible." (On his 10th year).

I like the above because I've heard it my whole life from the aunties and uncles in my childhood...... as they lived in homes they could never imagine in Pakistan and gave their children opportunities barred there as well. It's just a thing to say I guess.

AGA said...

I am sorry, but apparently I am having difficulty clearly stating the point that I am trying to make. I am trying, because you are obviously intelligent and well intended.

Originally, you wrote:

"On Good Friday, the day most Canadians believe Christ the God was crucified and killed for their sins, we in our Jummahs on the same day never fail to drive home the point that we believe that's bogus, Christ was a holy messenger of God (in Islam he is called the Word of God) but a man like any other man, and he wasn't crucified at all.

You now write: "If you read my statement I said I believe the crucification of Christ is bogus." This is a distinction without a difference. As I said to you, the essence of Christianity (at least for the vast majority) is that Christ, the Word became flesh, was sacrificed on the cross, and redeemed mankind from sin. Whether you deny the crucifiction, the deity of Christ, etc, you are "driving home the point that its bogus." The Christian religion is bogus, and you make your point of the very day when he "allegedly" was crucified.

My purpose in pointing this out to you is not to have you feel bad, or to allege that you are a bad, insensitive person. You clearly are neither of these things. My purpose is soley to ask you to ask yourself the following question: How can a God fearing, believing Christian, allow me to drive home the point that Christianity, the crucifiction, redemption, the deity of Christ is bogus, false, whatever on one of their Holy days?

If you can answer that question, then you will see why I do not feel that Mr. A is ridiculing Islam. I cannot answer the question for you, you have to choose to open your mind, ask and answer the question yourself. Isn't the essence of the faith more precious than the holy scripture. When you trample the essence of the religion, do you really think that you are not trampling the Holy text? As I said, I am not offended in the least, nor do I feel compelled to correct you regarding your misunderstanding of "Christ the God." Rather, I feel compelled to correct you on your misperception of Mr A, but it is really up to you to gain that understanding.

Anonymous said...

"In Bangladesh the Hindus are not allowed to have loud pujas on Muslim holidays." - I wonder where you got this information from. Make sure you put reference(s) when you write something. Trying to prove a 'fact' without a reference is not very scientific , is it ? or is it all part of your great western "bullshit" methodology ?

I have been living in UK for 7 years and we are not aloud to have Azaan here ( call for prayer). Very secular indeed ! Not a single word has been 'wasted' in media(Radio,TV and Internet) about our Eid on Eid day. That is pathetic. I wonder whenther you are allowed to have Azaan in Canada. Do they give you national holiday on Eid day like Bangladesh do on ALL the major religious occassions ? If the answer is no,I wonder why not. If countries like Bangladesh, India or Pakistan can have holidays on Eid, Puja, Christmas and Buddha Purnima then how on earth the west still haven't learnt to respect other religions. when you are claiming yourself as multi-cultural, it looks rather odd then if you only observe only one religious festival on national level.

People usually migrate from Bangladesh for financial solvency and not for the love of western culture. If someone like you do love the culture there's nothing with that. But the point is majority of Bangladeshis do stay in foreign countries simply for the sake of money and NOTHING ELSE. so they tend to long for the culture they have left behind and wish to go back pretty often. That is natural and understandable specially for the first generation Bangladeshis abroad. Learn to read the minds of people ! Respect is the key word here.

Learn to respect everyone. Don't propogate false informations about Bangladesh. I hope the Imams teach you these things in great Canada. The Imams in Bangladesh have tought us to respect everyone and be truthful.

Salam to all the 'secular Imams' of western countries !


mezba said...

Dear Anon,

The Durga Puja this year was at the same time as Ramadan. The Hindus traditionally celebrate Durga Puja with loud displays, parades and drum marches - I know as I was there! This time the police departments of various cities asked them to keep it quiet and lowkey (source the Daily Star, also google it).

In Canada, and most western countries, Good Friday and Christmas is the ONLY government holidays with religious leanings. Even on Easter Monday we don't get a holiday. And Easter Friday is tied in with Bank Holiday as well. As far as Christmas goes, Orthodox Christians (and there's a lot of them) don't get a holiday on Jan 7. They need to take a day off, just like everyone else.

Bangladesh, Pakistan and India do not have Christmas holidays. It's New Years holidays.

It's not true that many people migrate just for money. Many people I know, and myself included, if I go right now to Bangladesh I can live like a lord with 4-5 servants. You will see many doctors, engineers, programmers coming to the west, knowing they have to work odd jobs (as cooks, cashiers, cleaners) because they perceive a lack of security (crime, law and order, hartal at will) in Bangladesh.

This is not a criticism of Bangladesh. This post is a criticism of the criticism that people place on the west, many unfairly. We pretend there are no problems in Bangladesh and it's the west that is evil. This is false. We have a lot to learn from the west, starting with this fact.

As for your Imams teaching you to respect everyone, that's not what it says on Baitul Mukarram, Dhaka, where women are not allowed to enter the mosque (this is so against Islamic teachings I don't even need to go there). When my uncle was professor of a famous university in Bangladesh, he organized a dance program about culture of Bangladesh. Some imams sent him a death threat for spoiling the moral standards of the country.