, a travel sequel to Among the Believers
Naipaul reminisces about his excursions among the converted peoples
and the real life stories collected in four Islamic countries:
Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran and Malaysia.
a major theme: Political philosophy cannot and should not be combined with the
religious faith. The confluence of Islamic faith that Mr. Naipaul observes has
done little to alter the living standards of people. In Iran, for instance, a
country dominated by mountain ranges, deserts and the ideas of extremist fundamentalism
and faith, the revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini in the name of religion not
only failed to uplift the country but shelled the young and innocent Iranians
to death. They became forced-martyrs.
The peoples of the Islamic countries,
according to Mr. Naipaul, were poor, fragmented, backward, dispirited and confused.
Neither the advocates of the religion nor the rulers of the state could bring
them a positive difference. Even the benefits of science could not protrude the
dark spots of these countries.
is a compilation
of interviews, interspersed by the authors remarks and judgments. The book
is not entirely unbiased. One could almost listen to anti-Islamic thoughts of
the author, not in whispers, not hidden but in shouts, revealed.
The book can mislead the wider
non-Islamic readership into the belief that Islam is a backward religion, that
Islam advocates terrorism and religious fanaticism, that Islamic peoples are
averse to progress and lead miserable lives, that they have no forethought, that
they are incapable of competing with the rest of the world. The book fans the
already dominant opinion of many that behind every turbaned Muslim, there lives
a potential suspect, a terrorist.
Mr. Naipauls narration
is at times pretentious, especially in the concluding paragraphs about the landscapes
of Iran. Why should Mr. Naipaul use the standards of the West as a comparative
scale when there is little in common between the two?
Mr. Naipauls deductions
are the result of mere observation and self-taught theories which turn out to
be incorrect. What we expect from Mr. Naipaul, a powerful representative voice
of the Third World, is a deeper enquiry, a search below the surface and into
It is possible, going by the
ethics of Beyond Belief
to visit a country, select men and women at random,
interview them and gather enough material to create a book that supports your
pre-formed hypothesis. Though Mr. Naipaul cautions his readers not to arrive
at any conclusions based on his work,—how is that possible?—it is
easier to jump than to think.
It is illogical to resort to
random sampling as a method to categorize people. Peoples cannot be categorized;
their behavior cannot be predicted.
History has taught us that hatred
towards a particular community is a dangerous feeling capable of eliciting horrifying
consequences. We have terrible accounts of brutality, genocides, and annihilations,
resulting out of the feeling of hatred. It is better to be uneducated than to
To discover the reality of the
Islamic societies hidden behind the giant purdah,
vulnerable to be perfectly
misunderstood, we need to be willing to travel beyond our accumulated beliefs.
We may, then, witness dejected and innocent peoples, struggling to tear from
their past, yearning sincerely to embrace an unrealized dream—peace.