Confessions of a Secular Fundamentalist

Continuing today’s theme (started by Robin Varghese) of examining religion/secularism, here is Saeed Naqvi’s review of Confessions of a Secular Fundamentalist by Mani Shankar Aiyar:

Mani_shankar_aiyar_20041220 In the 1950s, Lucknow was swarming with nondescript Urdu poets eager to publish their verse. One such, Chamman Mian, resorted to an ingenious trick to elevate himself from street poet to the more rarefied literary circles of the Lucknow Coffee House. He invented a conversation with the brilliant poet, Majaz, three days after the latter’s dramatic death outside a country liquor shop.

Mani Shankar Aiyar also uses a conversation as the prologue to his book. But unlike Chamman Mian’s, this is not an imaginary conversation. He reproduces it from a 1995 issue of the now-defunct Sunday magazine. The conversation is with Arun Shourie, on Islam. It highlights how Islam is understood and misunderstood in Indian public discourse, sympathetically regarded and wilfully distorted, sometimes over the heads of decent Muslims, and couched in arcane theology.

More here in Outlook India.