Vol. 4 Num 34 Mon. June 30, 2003  
Letters to Editor

"Converting Muslims to Christianity"

I write in response to Angela Robinson's letter of June 27. Your readers may be interested to know that the June 30 US edition of TIME magazine has dedicated eight pages to its cover article titled, "Should Christians Convert Muslims?" Here are some excerpts: one of the featured missionaries describes Islam as a "weapon of mass destruction"; another claims to be praying so the Fajr Azaan would not "affect the souls" of the Muslims but rather help lift them from the "totally oppressive spiritual atmosphere" of Islam; yet a third urges his fellow Christians to "Put on the full armor of God and fight with the spiritual warfare" against Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and ultimately Satan. However, it would be grossly unfair to put all missionaries/preachers into one basket especially when I recall people like Mother Teresa who dedicated their lives to the most needy and helpless or Bishop Tutu who helped eradicate evil like apartheid.

Mrs. Robinson may not have set out to portray Bangladesh as an oppressive society, and I certainly appreciate her subsequent clarification. I concede that I may have misinterpreted her usage of the words "considered deeply dangerous, needing to be carefully watched and under threat of eviction" in the same sentence as Bangladesh as an implicit attack. I am sorry if I caused any offence.

As regards to the debate about muslin weaving, here's what a short Internet search revealed: (a) "till 1813, Dhaka Muslin continued to sell in London with 75% profit and was cheaper than the local British make. Alarmed at this competition, the British imposed 80% duty on the imported product"; (b) "it is said that to protect the interests of the textile mills of Manchester, the Muslin weavers of Dhaka were persecuted and coerced to stop weaving"; and (c) "an unsavoury fact associated with this was that the thumbs and index fingers of many yarn makers were chopped off by the British in order to prevent them from twisting the finer yarns required for the Muslims". While the missionaries may not have carried out these brutalities themselves, by not speaking out were they not a silent partner to it? Interestingly, I don 't see Mrs. Robinson protesting against Tony Blair's lies and fabrications to justify an illegal war.

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This is in reference to the letters "The missing points" by Abu Hashem (June 24) and Mrs. Angela Robinson's "Converting Muslims to Christianity".

I do not think Bangladeshi Muslims spend lots of time "trying to find faults of people from other religions", rather they spend considerable time finding fault of their own religion or other Muslims. But both are meaningless pursuit. Instead they should study the Quran and the Bible along with world history to attain an insight and, to understand whatever is happening around us.

As for propaganda, the Christian missionaries target non-Christians around the world, but the Imam's Khutba is aimed to Muslims only. Certainly prayer is far better than showering missiles and cluster bombs on the people of other religion.

Similarly when Saudi Arabia gives money to build a mosque as pointed out by Rev Robinson (June 20), it is meant to serve the Muslims only. Whereas by adopting Secularity, in other words by separating the Church and the State, the Christian majority in West assaults Muslims on two fronts. From the administrative level they pressure the Muslim Governments to chastise practising Muslims (for example Saudi Arabia suspended 1000 Imams recently, the US now dictates the content of the khutba and the textbooks of Gulf countries), while enthusiastic missionaries are busy converting Muslims around the world to Christianity. Definitely "it is not a level playing-field" as asserted by Rev. Robinson.

Shukla Mirza, Doha, Qatar