Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Robert Fisk and Islam

I have been an admirer of The Independent's crack Middle East reporter Robert Fisk for 15 or more years. I have read some of his books; I have read many of his articles. I was surprised, therefore, to read to-day's 'I' (a subset of The Independent) and a comment by Fisk about the singer Cat Stevens (a.k.a. Yusuf Islam).

In the article, Fisk refers to Stevens' conversion to Islam (in the late 1970s) and infers that Stevens "... frittered away more than 20 years of his life ...". Presumably in Stevens' pursuit of knowledge about Islam.

Just how had Stevens "frittered away" his time, I wish to know. Clearly, Stevens was guided by something about Islam that had inspired him, and I happen to know that he became a respected figure at Regent's Park Mosque in north London, where he was frequently to be seen. I believe that Stevens' presence in Islam has been of a constructive nature.

Islamic people were civilised centuries before Medieval Europe decided to look into the Islamic sciences and literature to discover just what Muslims had learnt. In Spain, wonderful architecture and gardens remain as testimony to the culture that Islam brought to that country. The English language contains many Arabic-derived words - algebra and alcohol are but just two.

There are depths in Islam that I would recommend that people should study before they write words stating that to do so is frittering away one's life.

Robert Fisk, I am surprised and disappointed at you. But I wish you peace.

P.S. I see that his version of the article in The Independent contains the precursory words: "this is a Fisk opinion, I fear"