Ziauddin Sardar: “Much of What We Believe in is Manufactured Dogma”

[ 0 ] March 12, 2015

Ziauddin Sardar discussing some key issues facing Muslim societies and how must they be addressed.


Ziauddin Sardar is a firm believer in engaging with Muslims and interpreting the Sharia according to the needs of contemporary times. That obviously is not the dominant thought in the current times where Islam is seen as a signifier of violence and when, in his own words, “one particular interpretation of Islam, which unfortunately is the most backward, narrow-minded and obscurantist, is threatening to become the dominant interpretation”.

Whoever decided to put both Sardar and Pervez Hoodbhoy in one panel at the recently held Lahore Literary Festival was trying to be mischievous because the two have a not too pleasant history that goes back decades. The audience of the session thoroughly enjoyed their witty exchanges though, which were more a reflection of two diametrically-opposed schools of thought. One celebrated Cordoba as an example of history of tolerance while the other suggested no modern state could or should ever function like Cordoba; one argued in favour of ‘Islamic’ science while the other was all praise for ‘Western’ science.

Interestingly, both left too much in the listeners’ minds to think about.

Sardar was supposed to talk about his insightful new book Mecca: the Sacred City in his second session. The fidgety scholar was heard with rapt attention in a hall that was packed to capacity. Clearly, the city of Sardar’s childhood dreams resonates with most Muslims everywhere. His tone, however, remained irreverent evoking more laughter than a sacred subject would warrant.

That is how Lahore welcomed a son who left this country in 1960 for Britain, aged nine, and rose to become a writer of no less than fifty books and is now known as a public intellectual specialising in Muslim thought. In an interview with The News on Sunday, he discusses some of the key issues facing Muslim societies and how must they be addressed.



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