What do you think of when you see the above image? Let me tell you..
You see a man who is religious, lives by his beliefs, a man who you would probably call a religious zealot and (if you are a non practicing Muslim from the Indian sub-continent or a second generation British Pakistani/Indian), you would probably say the man in the image is a “molvi”. An extremely derogatory term used by non practising indo-pak muslim community to describe anyone who is religious as “a nutjob, unemployed, uneducated, religious fanatic, a backward man, someone who is sponging off the generosity of society, living on benefits or hand outs..
(if you’re not that spiteful of the religious types), you would think he is a simple man barely scrapping a living off taxi driving, a bag carrier for the rich, a shoeshiner, – (although there is nothing wrong with the above jobs) a simpleton, or someone living in an alternate parallel archaic world compared to that of the modern, advanced and “superior” society of the west.
The above process of thinking is not an alien idea I have cooked up, nor is it a stereotypical idea of how a non practising muslim often thinks. This is from experience in talking and through social interactions with the “businessmen” and community leaders of the community, – people who are usually seen in society to be “intellectuals”, clever and sophisticated. Society has conditioned people into thinking and believing in certain ways, the image of success and failure has also been defined and as a consequence anyone who does not fit the mental image of a “modern” man is often thought of as being stupid, retarded or a finger-pointing, screaming religious fundamentalist extremist typically found condemning everyone to hell from the pulpit. An image not that different from the countless “religious extremist” images you see on TV, newspapers, social media or the internet.
In indian-subcontinent communities generations of families grow up thinking and believing to be advanced, well-respected, a modern up-to-date man, forwarding thinking, rich, intellectual, clever, sophisticated, respected, admired, scientific, a cooperate executive, (and most importantly accepted into the echelons of elite circles), a person must “look”, live and behave a certain way. The following image is the idea of being successful in the mind of a conditioned person:
So much so, in the indo-pak communities here in the UK and the elsewhere, anyone who may dress in traditional garb; wishes to grow a beard, chooses to wear loose clothes like a thowb for example, is automatically seen as a clueless, ancient and out dated man who has no idea how to live in the modern world, be sophisticated, or engage with the greater non muslim communities. Community leaders often dress and carry themselves in the image of the mental colonial masters they aspire to look like in hope that one day they too will be seen as the counter parts to them, equals in the rat race of name and fame. The colonial rule of India, and almost two-thirds of the world may have ended, but the mental chains of colonial rule, the image of success and what modernism is, still exists today and is growing even among the 3 and 4th generation of British Indian/Pakistani/Bengali communities.
This is why the first image of the man eating on the floor is profound.
The above individual is one of the world’s leading pathologist.
Dr Husain Sattar, MD, is a surgical pathologist with particular skill and experience in breast and gynecologic pathology. Also an active educator and lecturer, Dr. Sattar is the associate director of the clinical pathophysiology and therapeutics course at the Pritzker School of Medicine in the University of Chicago Medical Center. In this role, he serves as a dedicated instructor, advisor and mentor to second-year medical students, in addition to teaching a pathology review course that he developed. He has also authored several published research articles and abstracts in peer-reviewed medical journals.
Dr. Sattar is recognized by students and peers for his excellence as an educator at the Pritzker School of Medicine. He is a regular recipient of teaching awards, including the Outstanding Basic Science Teaching Award, pre-clinical teaching awards, and the Favorite Faculty Award. Dr. Sattar is the author of ‘The fundamentals of Pathology’. A book which has made a tremendous impact in the scientific study of Pathology that students from all over the world come to learn from Dr. Sattar.
The piece on the university of Chicago Medicine website about Dr Husain Sattar is a heart warming, a feel good factor article which highlights how Dr Sattar became the man he is, thanks to the efforts of his teacher, as he fondly recalls in the article. When Husain Sattar, MD, took a leave of absence from medical school to study Arabic and Islamic spirituality in Islamabad, Pakistan, he spent his days in a classroom that had walls made of clay and would heat up to 120 degrees in the summer. In the winter, the unheated classrooms were freezing — Islamabad sits at the foothills of the Himalayas — and Sattar, who was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, sat on the floor with the other students shivering and dreaming of summer.
It was a far cry from the University of Chicago, where he earned his undergraduate and medical degrees and later did his internship, residency and fellowship. Besides the lack of creature comforts, his instructors did not have fancy diplomas from prestigious universities. But there was a Pakistani teacher who made an impression on Sattar — one that planted the seed for Sattar’s wildly successful textbook and video series on pathology known as Pathoma.“This teacher always came to class without notes,” Sattar said, recalling the instructor with the gray beard who smiled often..
Read the complete article here:
The image of Dr Sattar shatters the generational mental stigma that many non practicing Muslim/non muslim has of a practising muslim; someone who is as useful to society as a bucket full of holes! Or, the image that of a man or woman who is at the bottom of the social ladder.
Secondly, Dr Sattar’s ability to balance his secular and religious life being one of the world’s leading pathologist should make everyone understand that a practising muslim does not mean he or she must forsake the world and go and live in the jungle, in a mosque or hut to practise his religion whilst sacrificing whatever profession he must have had. It is pleasing to see how (inadvertently) Dr Sattar has revived the image of muslim intellectuals from the golden era of Islamic scientific advancement when people from around the world would go and sit at the circles of traditional scholars to learn, even about worldly sciences.
Lastly, the life of Dr Sattar proudly showcases how a person does not need to feel shy of who he is to advance in scientific knowledge and practise. One of the major drawbacks of modern day muslim public figures is the clear desperate attempt they are making to fit into the western image of success using cultural appropriation at every opportunity simply to be accepted on the table of modernity and acceptance. If anything, be proud of who you are and your traditional values.