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An Interview with Tarek Fatah on God, Universals, Conversations, Rahaf, Rights, and Ethics (Part Two)

June 15, 2019

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 20.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Sixteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: June 15, 2019

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,189

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Tarek Fatah is a Columnist for the Toronto Sun and the Founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress. He discusses: singular secular public school system; a God who needs help; universalization of particulars; Rahaf al-Qunun; rights; men and ideoogies; and final feelings and thoughts.

Keywords: Canada, ethics, God, Islam, Karachi, Pakistan, Rahaf, religion, rights, Tarek Fatah, universals.

An Interview with Tarek Fatah on God, Universals, Conversations, Rahaf, Rights, and Ethics: Columnist, Toronto Sun & Founder, Muslim Canadian Congress (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas ​Jacobsen: What does this mean for the larger conversation around a single secular public-school system?

Tarek Fatah:​ It must be. When you started with the Catholic school system, it began some of the vote banks. Then the Indians and the others started their own.

We learned that there was a subject about character building. We learned how a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew lived together. They are no longer in Pakistan. We learned what was geography, history, mathematics, geometry, trigonometry, and, also, we had character building, where ethics and morals were taught to us.

We were supposed to write about the character. We had a thing about doing one good deed a day. It did not matter what. My patrol leader was Catholic. The real victims were the Muslims who were willing to become American aid and tanks, and money, to become the foot soldiers of the United States.

Because the Serbs did not want to fight the Soviets after Vietnam. With Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan have been ruined now, Iran with Khomeini, The Americans got in there. It is not as if Khomeini was with the USSR.

The Americans overthrew the elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. He was a socialist. It was people sitting in the House of Representatives [Laughing]. If we do not wake up, we might survive – secular democracy and liberalism, and ethics in government by humanity rather than ordered by the divine.

We can get religion as a moral compass. We can get our guidance. I am not going to get guidance necessarily. I am not a copy. I do not think God wanted me to tell people what to do in their backyard, “No pig rolls there!”

2. ​Jacobsen: Some people have an idea of an omniscient and omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and so on, being with property aseity who also needs help. Right? Who can do everything, knows everything, and needs help, as you know, the need for someone to be the police officer for him, in other words?

Fatah:​ There are enough hells on Earth, brother. If you go to the Congo, it is hell. Could it be worse than 30 million people died, and nobody noticed? Imagine a genocide as in Darfur. We had a genocide of Arabs killing African Muslims in 2005, half of a million in one year.

They wanted independence. They are eating each other up as to who is a better Christian over there. For the Christians, it means the more Western, who wears the more Western hat. I do not know about sub-Saharan Africans named Mr. Goodfellow.

Then the Sudanese wearing these hats, hunting somewhere [Laughing], as if in Northern England. It is silly. How many people have died in South Sudan due to tribalism, religion? Look at Rwanda, it was Christian versus Christian, right?

It was a genocide when Christians slaughtered Christians. Look at Bangladesh in 1991, nobody even knows now. George Harrison kept singing about Bangladesh. Ted Kennedy went there. We forget everything.

Nobody would remember the New York Madison Square, where they had the great George Harrison singing about Bangladesh. They raise millions for the children and the orphans who had been slaughtered by the Pakistanis.

A Muslim army killed 3 million Muslims [Laughing]. George Harrison sang. I do not know anyone who else did it in the Islamic world. All of them were supporting Pakistanis. So, religion’s role outside of being a moral compass makes you irrational.

There is always something about the hair and the head as very primitive. That is where the head shines. You put the cloth over the head to absorb it or show it. It is across many religions. But it is symbols of pre-science, “I can’t think. I have a headache. What if I put a piece of cloth over it? If I work in the fields of India or Punjab…”

You would cover the nose if on a camel in the desert. Why cover the nose if in Switzerland?

​Jacobsen: These become signifiers of culture and identity. 

Fatah:​ Yes, you start believing this as God’s deal. What Surah of God talks about this covering hair or nose? Imagine God like this, a God is checking, “Nuh-uh, your eyes. You squinted too hard. I am going to get you.” What about 11-year-old girls are being told that you need to cover yourself at school and the rest of the girls are sluts?

That is said to a lot of girls. “The rest of the Canadian girls are sluts.”

3. Jacobsen: Sorry to interrupt, how do we shift this conversation from where, typically, someone’s own religion is seen as universal into a situation in which humanity is seen as the universal and religion is seen as a flavour – so to speak – or the particulars of that universal?

Fatah:​ You cannot change this overnight. Muslims will be 2 billion soon. Most Muslim imams think that the more Muslims there are the better. 1 billion was not enough. So, they want 2 billion [Laughing]. The only way to do this is to separate religion and state public policy and public life.

You cannot respect someone for being stupid. He has a right. She has a right to be an idiot. You are not asking anyone to take away that right. But to fund it?! You give tax breaks to someone who is cursing Jews. Do you see this?

Can you imagine someone having a memorial for Hitler? India has memorials for Muslim invaders that destroyed their cities! I am visiting India very soon. The holiest place in India is the confluence of three rivers.

Every 12 years when Jupiter and Earth are in line; there is a festival. I have calculated that this could be my last time to visit it, as I am 70. I will 82 next time. I better visit this place now. The holiest place in Hinduism. Guess its name?

Allahabad [Laughing], they put “Allah” right in the name.

​Jacobsen: It is like Lynchburg, Virginia. To have the title “lynch” in the United States, it is dramatic.

Fatah:​  Over here, the invaders came here, took over the holiest city, named it after their God, and then said, “Anyone who changes it is against India.” Give me another example of it. So, it only stems when people either lose self-respect, which I think many Canadians are losing.

They are losing self-respect. They are embarrassed. They do not know what their parents left for them. They did not get it by working hard. Your parents’ generation is responsible for the Charter or the UN Declaration and the concept of individual liberty and the concept of the man and the woman, the respect for the child, the court system that says that you are innocent until proven guilty.

These are new things. It used to be that you are guilty until you are proven innocent. We, as a civilization, turned this around. We are tolerating a king that killed Turkey. We are calling him a reformer. A murder takes place in a sovereign country.

As soon as Trump got in, he is only a one-term president. What is going to do? It is for businesses. This is the level at which we have sunk here. Kudos to our prime minister, I am not much of a liker of the Liberals. But Trudeau gave a kick and stood up; it hurt the Saudis. I salute him for it.

There is one woman. Chrystia Freeland said, “I am getting this girl, giving her citizenship, and making sure that she has full protection. This is Canada.”

4. ​Jacobsen: How is Rahaf doing?

Fatah:​ [Laughing] She is under different imprisonment now. She is under the NGOs.

​Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Fatah:​ They do not want to say she was in trouble to denying Islam. It is punishable by death. The Canadian media said its own lies. I said, “Oh, she is against…” Because that was what they were supposed to accurately report on.

She is not coming from a battered home. They sent her to an Italian neighbourhood. On the record, I was told that she was told not to contact “bad Muslims.” Bad Muslims are Muslims like me. So, she went around. Whoever she has met has been approved by [did not get it], this is how stupid we have become.

That an Italian settlement agency is taking care of a Saudi woman who says, “There is no God. There is no Allah. I reject it.” Don’t you think it would be better if she was with some secular and liberal Muslims who understand her language, joked with her, made her comfortable?

“No, we will send her to an Italian group. This way, one or another organization will get money, social workers will get money.” I would not be surprised if Punjabi workers said, “Come here, it will make you look good.”

I told her, “Good luck, anytime you need help. We will be here. Otherwise, goodbye.” Yasmine Mohammed who is in Victoria. She and I raised $11,000 in 10 hours for Rahaf. I do not want to say some things on the record [Laughing].

She turned it down because there was no acknowledgement from anyone. We could have raised $100,000 for her. It could have gotten her through education, paid for the rental. People from Canada across the spectrum came to help her, sea to sea. They donated money to this case.

5. Jacobsen: I like hearing those type of stories across the board helps. It is showing that notion or, maybe, that value set talked about before, of religion as a particular and human needs and wants and concerns – as exemplified in December 10, 1948, Universal Declaration of Human Rights – becoming more universal, where some religious values are emergent within it.

Fatah:​ Absolutely, I think religion has a significant role to play in the individual’s life as a moral compass. It is not a license to dictate to the village.

​Jacobsen: We get these great traditions. You get the Christian tradition. You see the Song of Songs. You see the Parable of the Hypocrite. You see the Sermon on the Mount. You get the Golden Rule. You get these great guides. But we also get myths as guides.

As Margaret Atwood notes, we eventually all become stories. Our narratives are extraordinarily important to us, especially to the young.

Fatah:​ It is true. Our nursery rhymes, you should look at how Hindus, young kids. There is so much magic in their mythology. 5 or 6 years old, there are so many stories. They are wrapped in the faith without hostility to anyone. The great Buddhist Brahman clashes of the 5th century.

Now, they mesh into one syrup. Even into Islam, it is very different. We have the Hindus praying and others over there. [Laughing] It is wonderful. I am not very religious. I remember going to Delhi and seeing these guys sitting there.

There was one guy from Bangladesh who danced all day. I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “What am I doing?” He was in a trance. He did not think he was dancing. I remember one man with bells between his fingers. He was dancing.

I thought, “This is wonderful. I like this religion. This is my type of Muslim. He is not lecturing everyone.” Like, “Your knees are showing!” I think it is an answer. You can see the Catholics. In Canada, they discovered Christmas when the Europeans came. They were Christian but did not know Christmas.

So, it is breathtaking. People are Jewish. They are also in the South. It is the only place on Earth where the Jews have not been slaughtered. It is amazing. If not slaughtered, those who have been mocked with derision.

​Jacobsen: It is the similar sentiment many women went through for generations prior. It was the sort of jocular contempt [Laughing].

Fatah:​ [Laughing] I know.

6. ​Jacobsen: When we look at the literalists in every tradition or the fundamentalists in the secular and in the ideologies, most of the violent offenders, of those literalist fundamentalist interpreters of a faith, which is not necessarily an interpretation, are men.

Why are men more often attracted to these kinds of interpretations – so to speak – or these ideologies?

Fatah:​ Men and women are very different, constructed in very different ways. I just bought a book on it. The thought processes are different. The entire biologies are different. Women create people. We create a mess. They are supposed to clean it up.

Therefore, you do not have as many female warriors. They are in the business of nurturing. I am strictly speaking of biology and the neuroscience. They are wired differently; the female brain is different. You also must understand that the mobility issues for women were being locked up.

A woman could not go about a month’s travel without a problem. On a horse, probably, she had to sit cross-legged. A major development in women’s independence was the pill; I think it was the pad. I think the mobility was it. The lessened restrictedness at that time and now. Where do you go now?

There was nothing to do. This was in the 20th century. They could not do anything. Women were dependent on men. So, men have dominated and exploited and made sure that the woman does not come up. Therefore, you have polygamy, but you do not have polygyny to the same extent.

There are some places. This needs to be studied more. I am not an expert. But the main impediment in Muslim development has been, even in the Christians in this sense, polygamy, multiple wives and this means multiple heirs to the throne and multiple wars over it.

Europe, you must understand; one wife, one prince, two brothers or three brothers maximum, right? In the European empires, there were the issues of 200 princes fighting it out. I am giving you context at that level. Women, how are they subjugated? It is primarily for this reason. It will take a few hundred years for things to change.

Because this is how a gene pool happened and changed, and how certain traits were passed onto men, how we think of our sons, how we think of our daughters, and so on. Why do men go into bodybuilding? The odd woman will go to work in wrestling.

The most educated and enlightened woman still wear heels. [Laughing] Women, we saw what happened at 9/11. There were hundreds of thousands of heels left over there. The men ran and then women had to throw their stilettoes and others down, so they ran barefoot. They were impeded in running and escaping.

It is a story ongoing of dependency. It will, it will, come to a balance. In many ways, religion, the moment it goes into being a moral compass, will allow women to be free. Imagine Indian women who love to wear black shrouds voluntarily, all their lives; all their lives. That is a great challenge.

If the world cannot stand up and ban the burqa, then they are cowards.

7. Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?

Fatah:​​ I am hoping someone will listen. As a Muslim, I am Muslim. I am terrified that future generations of Muslims will not be able to fly planes. I have been in a hospital as a patient, where another patient wanted to know if the guy giving him anesthesia was a Muslim or not.

People are scared sometimes. If it comes to that, it is worrying all of us. What sort of society we have created, where there is fear on our streets, every time a woman in a hijab or a burqa is beaten up; it is a victory for the jihadis. They love it.

Because then, they can say, “You see. I told you. The white man is evil. I am hoping Canada can export its values. I look forward to both Canada, India, in some ways showing a light to the rest of the world.

8. Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Tarek.

Fatah: Thank you! Take care.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Columnist, Toronto Sun; Founder, Muslim Canadian Congress.

[2] Individual Publication Date: June 15, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/fatah-two; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Tarek Fatah on God, Universals, Conversations, Rahaf, Rights, and Ethics (Part Two) [Online].June 2019; 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/fatah-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, June 15). An Interview with Tarek Fatah on God, Universals, Conversations, Rahaf, Rights, and Ethics (Part Two). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/fatah-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Tarek Fatah on God, Universals, Conversations, Rahaf, Rights, and Ethics (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A, June. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/fatah-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Tarek Fatah on God, Universals, Conversations, Rahaf, Rights, and Ethics (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/fatah-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Tarek Fatah on God, Universals, Conversations, Rahaf, Rights, and Ethics (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A (June 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/fatah-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Tarek Fatah on God, Universals, Conversations, Rahaf, Rights, and Ethics (Part Two)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/fatah-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Tarek Fatah on God, Universals, Conversations, Rahaf, Rights, and Ethics (Part Two)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/fatah-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Tarek Fatah on God, Universals, Conversations, Rahaf, Rights, and Ethics (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 20.A (2019):June. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/fatah-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Tarek Fatah on God, Universals, Conversations, Rahaf, Rights, and Ethics (Part Two) [Internet]. (2019, June 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/fatah-two.

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