Do not judge me on 15 seconds – Salman Ahmad (Junoon)

This is a guest blog by #Salman-Ahmad of #Junoon

The writer is author of Rock & Roll Jihad: A Muslim Rock Star’s Revolution and is a member of the band Junoon
The writer is author of Rock & Roll Jihad: A Muslim Rock Star’s Revolution and is a member of the band Junoon

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I wonder why the same self-professed devout people who are offended by me do not react as zealously when it comes to saving Pakistan from the terrorists who are chopping off heads, whipping girls and destroying schools and our culture. The Taliban and al Qaeda are doing far more damage to Islam and Pakistan than a 15-second clip on It’s my country too on YouTube.

Allama Iqbal spoke profoundly when he said: “Khirad ko ghulami sey azad kar, Jawanon ko peeron ka ustad kar.” (Free the mind from slavery, Make the youth the teachers of the old.)

The “controversial” sequence was taken out of context for the film It’s my country too. The family discussion at my aunt’s house in Colorado over dinner was part of a larger view on the Quran’s candid view on natural, physical relations between a husband and wife. “Only good men for good women” (Surah Noor) and “man and woman are a garment for each other” (Surah Baqarah). The Quran is equally clear and forthright on the issue of adultery and fornication in Surah Noor but discusses everything in an open and candid manner, unlike the teachings of certain self-appointed “scholars” who think that sexual intercourse in itself is evil and satanic. I realise that in certain circles talk of sex is a huge taboo but that is not so in our family of doctors and physicians. My work for the UNAIDS entails talking about the dangers of unsafe sex and the causes of HIV and Aids.

My comment about “Islam being sexy” is using a western metaphor like “sexy” to mean good, awesome and great. The film was made for a western audience and was trying to draw attention to something that’s enlightening and full of beauty and truth. Westerners talks about “Africa being sexy” to dispel the commonly held notion and image of a region and a people who are mired in pandemic diseases like HIV and Aids, extreme poverty, despair and violence. It’s a way of showing the other side of Africa just as I’m trying to show another side of Islam which is tolerant, thought-provoking and modern.

This film has been telecast many times around the world and it has been applauded by both Muslim and western audiences. So why the controversy now?

As anyone who knows me will vouch, that my life’s work and mission has been to defend Islam and Muslims, not ridicule them. Some people are obviously trying to smear my name, but my actions and work speak for me far stronger than a short clip from a documentary. Those who are criticising me now need to watch the whole film and then come to a conclusion about me.

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