Monday, April 12, 2004

Hoodbhoy, Sir Syed and Us

In reply to a person disagreeing with me on a mailing list, I had reason to write:

Hoodbhoy, Sir Syed and Us

A couple of points with respect to religion as a political and social motivator and the relationship of that discussion to pure "secularists" like Pervez Hoodbhoy:

Firstly, I am, myself, an engineer by training, but I very strongly disagree that the perspective of someone whose mind is trained as a scientist or engineer—especially in our current set-up—has a good chance of creating or critiquing solutions that would be truly humanist. Rationalist philosophies, in their own inflexible extremes, have given us situations that were just as inhumane as anything inflexible extreme religious forces have done. I invite you to listen to

"NPR : Commentary: The Power of Faith and Religion" <>

Secondly, I respect Dr Hoodbhoy as one of the most cogent and coherent voices coming out of, and most well-meaning and effective activists we have in, Pakistan today. And I think that my previous point does not apply to him as much as it does to most people, frankly, in Silicon Valley that think they know what ails our community. And I have met Dr Hoodbhoy and found nothing to change that opinion. But his take on Sir Syed is not the same as what has been posted here recently and repeatedly. Dr Hoodbhoy's opinion is that "the Sir Syed line" [his words] is not what we need to follow. He is a pure secularist, an agnostic if you will. And please, again, I have the utmost respect for Dr Hoodbhoy as one of the very few Pakistanis that *has* a real grasp on social issues and something real to say on what we should be doing--and the guts to follow up; come hell, high water or death threats.