As one “refines” with time (read: grows older), things that have always been nagging at the back of mind start becoming louder. [That’s not a good thing, since all that noise in the “foreground” of thought is what adds to road accidents and unsuccessful romances.]
Anyhow, I’ve always read biographies of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and wondered… if I was on the “other side” of the writer (for those hooked on hindi movies and need everything painfully spelled out, this means a muslim reading a non-muslim author and vice versa), why would I trust your objectivity? I don’t know if – in a subject of that sort – it is even possible to be objective. And I don’t appreciate the weaving in and out of facts and opinions without making clear which is which. Not in a biography. In “The DaVinci Code” or “Chah-e-Babul“, that’s needed and what keeps me riveted.
I explain (or try to), my question.
Say I am a non-muslim writer, and not writing one of those “all is wrong” kind of books. I clearly don’t believe he was a prophet, but I am writing about a person who claimed to be one. Can I write an objective biography, objectively analyze all sources and not pick and choose, and leave the book without introducing any bias of “disbelief”?
Conversely, writing as a muslim, can I objectively write about his life while entertaining the possibility that he might not be a prophet?
It sounds a bit like not believing in global warming and writing a book about a dedicated environmentalist’s efforts. It can be done, sure. People write (and read) all sorts of stuff (witness this blog, and I rest my case!)
But was it an “objective” account? So far, I haven’t been convinced by either side’s writing. And I’m only objecting to the claim of “impartial” narratives.
If you don’t claim to be something (e.g. an objective narrator), you might get every benefit of doubt. But if you do… remember what happens to people in glass houses. In addition to other people using the walls as target practice for the olympics stone-throwing competition, it gets pretty hot in there.
Remember the global warming that isn’t happening?