Thursday, 24 May 2012

Critically Just

The banning of books (or any other form of art & literature) is a very spontaneous kind of thing in this country with the latest being the book "Allah Liberty & Love -Courage To Reconcile Faith & Freedom" by Irshad Manji.

I would assume that the banning of the Canadian-Ugandan-born author’s book was done after much deliberation and a full review of the book’s content.

According to the Sun, but for some last minute cancellations, Ms Manji wassupposed to hold talks at two universities and a bookstore in Kuala Lumpur so she went ahead to meet a small group of people at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.

How small? God knows.

Could her book (translated into a Bahasa Malaysia version by ZI Publication entitle “Allah, Kebebasan Dan Cinta") have slipped under the radar had she not been a professed LGBT proponent?

This, we’ll never know.

(BTW, ZI Publication is also the publisher for Reza Aslan’s Tiada Tuhan Melainkan Allah which provided with a pretty good read albeit only the first half of the book.

Being an Iranian, albeit one residing in the US, Aslan wrote the book with a very pro-syiah outlook, but oklah: it does open up your mind a little on how the West looked at Islam in general.

What hooked me to actually read Tiada Tuhan Melainkan Allah was the brilliant first chapter. Whoever did the translation job did a great job in roping you into jumping into what is an extremely studious, researched based academic work on Islam.

Tiada Tuhan Melainkan Allah was not an easy book to digest and it took me long nights to finally get through all the pages.)

Anyway, back to the banning of Ms Manji’s book.

It does seem that the SOP for such a banning to take place is if there is a complaint, or a raising of concerns, preferably from something with clouts to make things move.

That would explain why some others equally deem-able of offensive book / literature can make it quietly into the bookstore and on to the readers without much fanfare.

Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s noir-ish 100 Bullets, for example. Very mature audience targeted.

Or Osamu Tezuka’s MW, which feature a serial killer, a priest and a conspiracy.

My question is this: what is the defining line that gets a book, a literature the ban?

Very likely, it is theological misfeasance where Islam is concerned.

However you won’t know of this until you actually read the book. Was it read in its entirety? Who read it? Was he / she swayed from the right path after reading the book? Did the translated work follow the original to the point? Where were the offending bits? How were they offensive? Why was it translated in the first place? Why was the author cleared for so-called initial engagements?

Was it, in fact, even a good read in the first place?

The Home Ministry has came out with the reasons for banning the book. Kudos to them for the explanation which answers some questions the reading public might have in the mind following the action by the religious authorities.

No comments: