Naipaul's Nobel prize has hit the anti-Naipaul lobby where it hurts most

Stabroek News
December 29, 2001

Dear Editor,

As a practising Muslim, I cannot let Mr Abu Bakr's misrepresentation of Islam stand without correction. (SN, 21.12.01) [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] Mr Bakr says that as a Muslim, "I am sworn to reject all distinctions based on race, caste and class." Islam asks no one to swear to any such rejection; it teaches that all peoples respect each other whatever their distinctions of race, caste, class, religion, etc.

In Chapter 2, Verse 213, the Holy Quran states: "Mankind is a single nation. So Allah raised prophets as bearers of good news and as warners, and He revealed with them the Book with truth, that it might judge between people concerning that in which they differed." This sets out clearly the principle of the oneness of humanity and the conclusion that prophets were raised among all the nations of that single humanity.

In Chapter 5, Verse 48, the Holy Quran states further: "For every one of you we appointed a law and a way. And if Allah had pleased He would have made you a single people, but that he may try you in what He gave you. So vie one with another in virtuous deeds."

Here it is clearly stated that people follow different paths because Allah has granted us discretionary powers to choose and that had it not been for these powers, He might have made us a single people. No Muslim can choose to reject the fact that Allah has created in His wisdom distinct and separate nations of people.

Mr Bakr further seeks to discredit Hindus and Hinduism for not rejecting these distinctions as he does. By not seeking to make converts, Hinduism has an in built tolerance and respect for all peoples and all belief systems, and it stands with Islam and Christianity as one of the great religions of the world. These religions all teach us that the unity and equality of mankind are based on understanding, tolerance and respect between peoples, whatever their race and beliefs.

Mr Bakr writes in a flamboyant style and it is possible that he may have meant to say that as a Muslim he is sworn to reject all forms of discrimination and prejudice based on the distinctions of race, caste, etc. That would be correct and would make sense. However, those who use contrived language are often careful, being proud of that language and I will have to take Mr Bakr at his word that as a professed Muslim, he rejects the distinctions of race even as these distinctions were created by Allah.

One could ask what all this has to do with Naipaul and it is a good question. The label of 'racism' follows him around, the rage and hysteria that the word produces creating its own momentum.

It is understandable that Mr Bakr, having rejected the distinctions of race, would find Naipaul's writings deeply offensive. Racism is one of the subjects Naipaul writes about. He recognizes that the peoples of the world are distinguished by race, nationality and ethnicity. As such, Naipaul places before Mr Bakr a world view that he simply does not wish to acknowledge as even existing. Hence his outrage at the writer.

The critics also seem to attach the label to those of a particular race who like Naipaul's work.

According to their logic if you are Indian and you like Naipaul's work, you are racist!

Naipaul's Nobel Prize has hit the anti Naipaul lobby where it hurts most. I understand that they have been trying to convince the Nobel Committee that Naipaul is racist for years. The committee has chosen to dismiss the lobbyists' charges and honour him with the much deserved prize, reducing the anti Naipaul fuss to a storm over nothing.

Yours faithfully,

A Abdul Islam