Salman Rushdie Speaks at John Hopkins

by Adil Khan 

I ask one question to the Johns Hopkins University, my alma mater. What does it mean when it says that its mission is to “To educate its students and cultivate their capacity for lifelong learning, to foster independent and original research, and to bring the benefits of discovery to the world.” In essence you are telling us that you want to educate students for the benefit of mankind. Do you then believe that dividing humanity is the way to confer benefits to it? If the answer is no, what are you doing by embracing a man who has deeply grieved the sensibilities of 1.8 billion people across the globe? If you think that we should just do away with the sentiments and feelings of a quarter of humanity then it is up to you. For these people the weight of an insult against their mothers as opposed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is like that of a feather opposed to an avalanche. It must then be asked however, is this how you benefit mankind? It is a strange way to benefit humanity.

Why do you not see what is right in front of your noses? I mean why don’t you pull out your smartphones, tablets, or laptops and see the state of affairs that the world is in today? It does not take an expert of any kind to see that the world is facing the precipice of destruction from all sides. If you cannot see this—and your invitation for Mr. Rushdie at your President’s Reading Series indicates this—then how can we say that you are in a different category of people than our current president with his childish insults of “Rocket Man” towards Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea (an antagonistic nuclear power). However, you, unfortunately, are definitely proving yourself to be in a different category of people than our president. You have done so by inviting someone to speak whose words have been a historical source of deep anguish and suffering for 1.8 Muslims across the globe. Before protesting the importance of the sentiments of groups of Daesh (ISIS), please remember that Daesh’s membership of so-called “Muslims” is approximately 30,000. That’s .00001666 percent of Muslims worldwide.

Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie

People should realize that the world that we are living in is not a bubble. Rather it is indeed a world. As citizens of the world we should all realize that we need one another. The founder of my community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad the Promised Messiah and Mahdi of all faiths said in his book, A message of Peace that “[if] one is beset with a calamity, the other will inescapably share it. If either one intends to humiliate the other, out of egoistic pride or vanity, then it will not escape the consequent disgrace itself. And if anyone among them falls short of showing concern for his neighbor, then he too will suffer the ill effect of his callousness. Anyone who contemplates annihilation of the other is like one who saws off the branch on which he is sitting.” For the sake of peace, the Promised Messiah who lived in India said that Muslims would stop eating the meat of the cow if it meant that individuals of the Hindu faith would refrain from insulting their beloved master, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They were willing to do this in spite of the fact that eating beef is completely permissible and allowable. The point is that it is not necessary to always do everything that is permissible. Following an attitude to the contrary can and does often in fact create an atmosphere of hostility. Again, going back to the mission of the Johns Hopkins University, how does this rule of ‘always following what is permissible’? Can it really be said that Johns Hopkins values its mission of benefiting humanity when it is adding more fuel to the fire of nation vs nation and civilization vs civilization which is ubiquitous 24/7 on every television screen? Will people still be shouting “Free Speech” when their nation is in ruins because they had been flaming peoples’ sentiments needlessly?

In contrast I challenge Rushdie, those like him, and those who support his views to see if the teachings of True Islam (, that is Islam at its sources (the Holy Qur’an, the actions, and the written sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)) is more supportive of the Hopkins Mission of benefiting mankind than his or their beliefs? The Holy Qur’an tells Muslims to refrain from even insulting idols, lest idol-worshipers insult Allah, God Almighty. This is coming from the religion which had come to (peacefully) abolish idol worship from the world. The Holy Qur’an, when speaking of a diverse society in which Muslims are to live, tells them not to needlessly find differences among themselves and other people, but to instead find common ground, and focus on what brings all people together (3:65). And before Mr. Rushdie or anyone else claims that Islam is antithetical to freedom of speech, please reference the Qur’an 22:41 which tells Muslims that it is their duty to protect freedom of conscience for all. Nor does the Qur’an nor did the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ever advocate “death” for blasphemy or indeed any worldly punishment ( Are these the words inspired by Satan or by God Almighty who taught Love for All, Hatred for None?

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