Muslamic Reagans: Why the Boom in Bangladesh is About Money Not Bombs

(This article  was originally published in Huffington Post)

The gunmetal silver Lotus Roadster thunders into the car park of the 12th largest shopping centre in the world, the Bashundhara City Mall. The boys and girls smoking and flirting in the more commonplace GT-Rs and Toyotas nod in respect, in time to the new Prodigy album that comes screeching in its wake. It’s just the kind of thing to get everyone in the mood for Mad Max: Fury Roadshowing upstairs at the giant StarCineplex.

The young girl behind the wheel raises her Maui Jim shades and tuts impatiently. He’s not here. The boy with the Jonny Bravo Redux haircut beside her swipes his Droid Razr and is in the process of leaving a curt message when a longhaired biker rocks up next to them, flashing them his 24-carat gold studded smile.

The yaba he has for them is fresh from Myanmar, even if the scent of chicken bhuna in the tiffin box they’re concealed in makes the girl scrunch up her nose. The wild-eyed dealer and the beautiful young things in the Lotus may come from wholly different backgrounds, but they agree on a few fundamental issues. Money is good, the way Crystal Meth is portrayed in Breaking Bad isn’t quite like how they experience it, and that the long bearded man in the Islamic galabiyya dress in the corner creeps the hell out of them.  Continue reading “Muslamic Reagans: Why the Boom in Bangladesh is About Money Not Bombs”

Passing the Al-Shabaab Test Brings Me No Peace

(This post was originally published in the Huffington Post)

‘La Ilaha IllAllah Muhammadur Rasulullah.’

These words form the basis of Islam, and any Muslim, good or bad, will treat it with the utmost of respect (even if the bad ones might fail to give you the exact literal translation): There is absolutely no deity worthy of worship other than Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

I’m not here to argue the validity of this statement. Maybe it’s because I was raised and indoctrinated in Bangladesh, a Muslim country that’s pretty tame on the fundamentalist scale but still devout all over, that I give this kalimat its devotional dues. Or it could be that the time I’ve spent behind the peace pipe has left me thinking anyone can believe whatever the hell they want, as long as they don’t hurt me or bore me. Hell, maybe I’m just shit-scared some dickhead might take offence and put a fatwa on me. Whatever my motivation, these words are sacred to me. So much so, in fact, I pray these will be the last words I breathe in this life.

As recent events show, you don’t have to be a bit of an idiot child to completely misunderstand the Qur’an. Like millions of other Muslim children for whom Arabic isn’t their mother tongue, I learned to read and recite the Qur’an in Arabic. Translations are something you read when you’re older, if you want to, that is (and we wonder why there are so many cretins out there laying down lives in the name of a book they don’t have a clue about). Continue reading “Passing the Al-Shabaab Test Brings Me No Peace”