13 november 2004

Naipaul, bijna een kwart eeuw geleden...

The West, or the universal civilisation it leads, is emotionally rejected. It undermines; it threatens. But at the same time it is needed, for its machines, goods, medicines, warplanes, the remittances from the emigrants, the hospitals that might have a cure for calcium deficiency, the universities that will provide master’s degrees in mass media. All the rejection of the West is contained within the assumption that there will always exist out there a living, creative civilisation, oddly neutral, open to all to appeal to. Rejection, therefore, is not absolute rejection. It is also, for the community as a whole, a way of ceasing to strive intellectually. It is to be parasitic; parasitism is one of the unacknowledged fruits of fundamentalism. And the emigrants pour out from the land of the faith: 30,000 Pakistanis shipped by the manpower-export experts to West Berlin alone, to claim the political asylum meant for the people of East Germany.

The patron saint of the Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan was Maulana Maudoodi. He opposed the idea of a separate Indian Muslim state because he felt that the Muslims were not pure enough for such a state. He felt that God should be the law-giver; and, offering ecstasy of this sort rather than a practical programme, he became the focus of millenarian passion. He campaigned for Islamic laws without stating what those laws should be.

He died while I was in Pakistan. But he didn’t die in Pakistan: the news of his death came from Boston. At the end of his long and cantankerous life the Maulana had gone against all his high principles. He had gone to a Boston hospital to look for health; he had at the very end entrusted himself to the skill and science of the civilisation he had tried to shield his followers from. He had sought, as someone said to me (not all Pakistanis are fundamentalists) to reap where he had not wanted his people to sow. Of the Maulana it might be said that he had gone to his well-deserved place in heaven by the way of Boston; and that he went at least part of the way by Boeing.

Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul
Among the Believers
An Islamic Journey

André Deutsch, London 1981, pp.158-9


2 opmerkingen:

Johan De Haes zei

De zieke V.S. Naipaul was mede-organisator en trok zich plots terug. Onder welke druk? En waar blijft het protest van de overige deelnemers? Of heb ik wat gemist?

Marc Vanfraechem zei

Ik heb ook niets vernomen over protesten, en over de hele kwestie trouwens nauwelijks een woord in onze kwaliteitspers.