Opine away not

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?

4 responses to “Opine away not

  1. People love to talk, and write stuff that makes them popular or gets them some money, ideally both though.

    People express all sorts of “opinions” as if they were facts and then they expect those who know the fact to buy their opinions.

    weird circle this world is in.

    I agree with your view though. Consider the media in Pakistan for example. they just cant take off their “we hate mush/pakistan is destroyed” lens from their itsy bitsy button eyes and look clearly. They love seeing things from the eyes of those who dont see in the first place.

  2. interesting expression X – “seeing things from the eyes of those who dont see in the first place” 🙂 thx for sharing!

  3. You don’t have to agree with some one but you can definitely show some sympathy towards one. It is very hard to over come those prejudices which were taught to one on the dinner table in one’s child hood. But I guess one can try to be objective. May be the other side will not agree with you but some people from your own side may get awareness about the other side. Karen Armstrong is a prime example of that.

    Some where I read “Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof” and I could not agree more with that.

  4. Good points!

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