Wednesday 18 November 2015

The true face of Islam on 'Eastenders'

Eastenders has received praise from the Independentthe Guardian and people on Twitter for showing "the true face of Islam" on Monday night's episode.

As the Guardian put it:
It’s not often you turn to EastEnders for a little nuance – let alone a crumb of spiritual comfort. But in a particularly bleak week, when the news was filled with terrifying details of the Paris atrocity, the show offered a quiet moment of respite. In a short scene, one character, Tamwar Masood, gently tried to explain his religion to his girlfriend Nancy.
Reciting a passage from the Qur’an, he translated it as: “Do good to relatives, orphans, the needy, the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, to the companion at your side and to the traveller.” Haltingly, he explained: “That, to me, is what Islam is about. Be kind to people, family and strangers alike, and love them.”

A lovely sentiment.

The passage from the Koran in question comes from Surah an-Nisa 36.

Transliterated that comes out as:

As you'll hear though (if you watch the above video), Tamwar stops short straight after saying "waibni alssabeeli" and doesn't add the next phrase, "wama malakat aymanukum". 


Well, "wama malakat aymanukum" translates literally as "what your right hand possesses" and, according to most traditional translations, this means "your slaves". 

Curiouser and curiouser.

So what Tamwar probably ought to have said here - were he not cherry-picking the nicest bits of his sacred book that is! - is therefore:
“Do good to relatives, orphans, the needy, the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, to the companion at your side and to the traveller and to your slaves.”
So why did Tamwar - or, more accurately-speaking, the writers of Eastenders - choose to miss off the next words of that Koranic passage - the bit about doing good to your slaves? 

Answers on a postcard to the Queen Vic, Albert Square, Walford E20 6PQ.


  1. It's a smoking gun of deliberate misrepresentation isn't it?

  2. Dunno, it might be routine not to bother to pray for slaves since there are quite large regions of the world where they don't exist. In the C of E you hardly ever hear the Collect for Good Friday (the one about "Jews, Turks, infidels and heretics") nowadays, and we often gloss over the bit where Jesus said "but those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.". The key question is: does the guy self censor this prayer routinely, or was it an editorial decision by the all-benevolent BBC to spare a few blushes?

  3. The quote is taken completely out of context. It's not advice on how to behave - it's part of a passage about what Israel was supposed to do and failed. The 'inspired author' then criticises Israel for failing to keep the covenant.

  4. the word slave has changed, because of colonial slavery. as a result today that word has a much darker connotation. you have to remember, that for swathes of people it was a way of life in ancient times. it wasn't something that islam invented. slavery if you remember came from egyptians and romans, who treated slaves appallingly. when islam surfaced, it tried to change the idea of slavery. not being able to abolish it, there were terms created that enslavers had to abide by. if they didn't they were punished. even the a "slaves" job roles had changed, they were not allowed to do anything that involved derogatory work, that you would not do your self, e.g. wipe your arse, or carry you on their shoulders, and they had to be properly fed, clothed, as you would your own family and give the slave the same sort of sleeping and living quarters as themselves. basically you had to live like your slave, or your slave had to live like you. and to have a slave in the first place, they had to come to you freely and be your slave, you were not to force slavery, no one was to be kept against there will, and if you gave them freedom, or to put it simply cut them loose, you could only do so, when you gave your slave the capital to live freely. its no use giving a slave freedom, than they had to fend for themselves with nothing and as a result become destitute. you had to give them the capital to live freely, e.g. their own home, and the means to provide for themselves. how is the bbc supposed to get that all in a 2 minute scene? also the first man in islam to make the call to prayer, and given his full rights and freedom was an ex slave. he was given his freedom by the prophet,


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