That his funeral came on Memorial Day of this year was sad, yet appropriate, because of his deep love for America, his adopted country, and its values and ideals.
I am in mourning for the loss of Tashbih. With his passing I have lost a close personal friend. Tashbih was a distinguished journalist, scholar, and soldier for freedom. He was the editor-in-chief of two newspapers, Pakistan Today and Muslim World Today, and the author of six books. Yet he was a humble and gentle man. I am grateful and honored to have known this special man in my lifetime.
Most, including me, were not aware that Tashbih was seriously ill. Yet, he continued to write and publish his passionate discourse of freedom and peace right up until the day he died. His last journalistic work actually appeared in print on May 23, 2007, the very day he passed away. Even as we mourn him, we should take to our hearts Tashbih's last warnings and admonitions to us, together with the perceptions and insightful commentary in his final published articles. Among these are the following major points:
2. It is an historical fact that fighting an internal enemy is much more difficult than defending against an external threat. Israel and the US both have fought off external enemies with success but now both are facing an enemy that has entrenched itself deep within their democracies. This onslaught on our freedoms from within has to be dealt with forthwith before it gets out of hand.
3. The world will also have to see if the Saudi efforts are genuinely aimed at establishing peace in the region, or if they are just another attempt to perpetuate the Wahabbist ideology of jihad by claiming to be working for peace
4. The definition of American faith makes it very simple as to who can hate us and why they want to hurt us. Everyone who is against the establishment of the "Will of God" would make it his or her duty to destroy the American faith. Otherwise, they know that the American faith will eliminate everything that stands in the way of human beings in their quest to achieve what is best in them.
Muslims, Christians and Jews were all present at the graveside memorial service. Some rabbis delivered eulogies. Tashbih always brought people of all colors and traditions together. Here at his graveside Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists and people of all faiths and belief systems were there to say their last good bye to Dr. Sayyed. He deeply touched them all by his visions, philosophy and insights concerning ways to better this world, and to defend America and its values.
Tashbih chose to be buried at Harbor Lawn, where people of all three faiths lie together in their final rest, rather than in an exclusively Muslim cemetery as is more customary. This choice embodied and symbolized Tashbih's openness and warm feelings of human brotherhood for people of all faiths, and even of no religion at all, which was the hallmark of his life and work. He was a humanistic, universalist vision of Islam that stood in marked contrast to the sad intolerance and warlike attitudes, the clinging to the inequalities and injustices of a medieval past, that regrettably has come to characterize all too much of contemporary Muslim thinking.
His daughter and daughter-in-law sprinkled deep crimson rose petals on his grave and our eyes streamed with tears while we stared at the fresh grave with disbelief. His lovely wife, Kiran, who always stood by him, could not stop weeping. I am heartbroken with the family at these difficult times. Tears, hugs, and words spoken in eulogy for him that pierced through our hearts, reminded us how much we will miss Tashbih. He, forever, will remain in my heart and mind. I will miss his smiles; I will miss the spark coming out of his eyes and the light of his mind. He embraced us all.
The free world lost an invaluable friend and a great warrior for true peace. Tashbih was a comrade who fought for the free world with tenacity. He was a courageous man, one of a kind. And kindness, tolerance, democracy and freedom to all were his utmost conviction. He decisively and clearly discerned between evil and good and between truth and lies. He cared not what one chose as one's place of worship or religion but he expected and respected dignity for all. He accepted each human being as a world by itself and with its faults, but expected no violence. In fact, when one looked at face, it reflected serenity at any juncture. He was gracious in his manners. He looked upon the world through the prism of democracy and its value. He gave us hope that the spirit of goodness and humanity will prevail in the end. His was a voice of reason.
Tashbih was a great friend of the Jewish people and Israel as well. At a time when hatred for Israel, Judaism and the Jewish people are constantly flowing like a swollen, polluted river out of the printing presses and broadcasting stations of the Arab and other Muslim countries, he never failed to remind his readers of the common spiritual inheritance that should bring the two faiths of Islam and Judaism together, of the common heritage of reverence for law and human rights that we have both inherited from our common father Abraham. He never hesitated to speak out for a normalization of relationships between the Muslim nations and Israel, on the basis of mutual respect and friendship. He never ceased to point out the irrationality and pointlessness of the grudge that so many in the Muslim world bear Israel, and the tragic loss of life and waste of precious human and other resources that it has caused. And he unfailingly called attention to the great fruitfulness and benefits to the Muslim world that would flow from peaceful cooperation with, and friendship for, Israel.
Tashbih constantly called for reform and empowering the moderate, alternative voices in the Arab/Muslim world. Yet he placed responsibility for empowering these voices on the Free World. He knew that while these voices may be few and weak today, with the support of the Free World they could become strong and numerous tomorrow. He called for the unity of the Free World, particularly when facing evil, tyranny, dictatorship, or backwardness.
Tashbih pointed out that the genuine moderates in the Muslim world have even more to fear from reactionary, aggressive Islamism than we do in the West. They need the support of the Free World to prevail over the warlike "militants" in their midst. Yet Tashbih was concerned that the West did not fully realize the danger posed not only to itself but to the overwhelming majority of the Muslim peoples themselves by aggressive Islamism. With regard to the terrible threat posed by the jihadists and the West's relatively weak and indifferent response to it, Tashbih wrote, "I am scared, I am scared."
I am scared too, Tashbih, that the Western world is too complacent, and practice "hear and see no evil'. I hope that we will hear Tashbih's voice about the Islamist/Saudi Arabian fronts within our own society, such as CAIR and MPAC, which weasel their way in America to propound their brand of radical Islam. They take advantage of the American constitution and civil liberties to Islamize America, said Tashbih.
Tashbih fearlessly stood up to fundamentalist Islamism and amply wrote about its menace to us all. The reactionary, imperialist, death-worshipping torrent of political Islamism was a force that Tashbih, in his peaceful and gentle, yet courageous way, fought throughout his career as a journalist and educator. Tashbih was unafraid to swim against this powerful but poisonous current in the Muslim world he cherished, knowing that it would dash the Muslim peoples against the terrible rocks of war, hatred and backwardness. He always held up his vision of an Islam of universal love and human brotherhood as a life-affirming alternative. In order to save the people he loved from the fanatical propagandists intent on seducing them to their hateful version of Islam, he did not hesitate to speak out boldly and clearly, even at some risk to his life at the hands of the fanatics, who never hesitate to resort to intimidation and terror against their fellow Muslims as a means of getting their way. In standing up for the three pillars on which this world rest truth, justice and peace, Tashbih was absolutely dauntless.
Tashbih stood tall and determined by his conviction. Indeed Dr. Tashbih Sayyed was a courageous man who risked his life for the defense of freedom. He feared no one but the Heavens above. He left behind rich resources for eternal learning for American posterity. Tashbih spoke the truth, and relentlessly pursued it. The West was blessed to know him.
We are greatly going to miss him. May his memory be Eternal. Amen.
* Stop Ahamdinejad Before It's Too Late, by Tashbih Sayyed: http://globalpolitician.com/articledes.asp?ID=2781&cid=2&sid=4
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