I came across mountainoflight.co.uk while browsing YouTube. I'll embed the video I found at the end of this post. Mountainoflight is obviously linked with Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens. I have a prejudice against Cat, but not because he's a Muslim. I have another prejudice about that.
The first prejudice comes from my childhood. I'm somewhat antipodean, and a New Zealand relative stayed with my family when I was young. He loved Cat Stevens and would play his tapes, loudly and constantly. I preferred the Rolling Stones, and after he left I never wanted to hear another Cat song as long as I lived. I've outlived that particular wish.
The Muslim prejudice boils down to his attitude to Salman Rushdie. I call it a prejudice because I acknowledge I have an immediate negative reaction to him based on this affair, although he said he had been misinterpreted, that he did not endorse the fatwa against Rushdie but rather stated what the Islamic sentence against apostates is. I'm not sure that explanation helps, I'm afraid.
In fairness, Yusuf Islam has been very generous, charitably, including towards the victims of the 9/11 attacks which he condemned absolutely and immediately.
But I still have this prejudice. Why? Well, here's an example from mountainoflight:
If everybody believed and followed one way, there would be no wars and peace would fill the earth.This is just John Lennon crossed with Sayyid Qutb: peace, man, when everyone is a Muslim. It's fascism dressed in a peacenik's old T shirt and jeans.
And there are some very stupid and ugly things about the song on this video. It's a lament about the death toll of Muslims, in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya. Nowhere does it mention the non-Muslim help that came for the Bosnian Muslims. Nowhere does it mention Sudan. Nowhere does it mention the deaths caused by other Muslims. So why am I posting it?
Well, it's Muslims making music, and the thought that this would give bin Laden bowel disorders is justification enough for that. It's also extremely well done. It's also worth listening to as a piece of music. But most of all, it is a perspective we need to understand, even if we disagree with it, because it is moderation, in Islamic terms. It's a form of moderation. These are people we can live with, which is lucky because that's what we have to do.
And compromise is a two-way street. If we ask Muslims to adjust - and that's exactly what we should ask - then we need to be willing to do the same ourselves, and at the minimum to listen to what they have to say. To listen to things like this: