On the Nature of Criticism

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to the development of an unhealthy state of things. If it is heeded in time, danger may be averted; if it is suppressed, a fatal distemper may develop.“ — Winston Churchill, [New Statesman interview, 7 January 1939]

Welcome, dear readers, to our “Critical Minds, Faithful Hearts” series. Over the course of the next few weeks the TMV will highlight and explore a number of issues that we find within the Muslim community. We’ll be looking at the quiet racism within our mosques and our gatherings, the creation of taboo culture especially around the topic of sex and sexuality, and the need for literature addressing the western Muslim experience.

If it seems like a lot to take in, that’s because it is. We hope to address the subjects that are often too uncomfortable to have in person. We want to know why things are the way they are, what they mean and how we can change it.

It is important to keep in mind two things: the importance of criticism and the role it plays in a society.

The purpose of constructive criticism is to point out what works and what doesn’t, all in the hopes of bettering the subject’s outcome. It works to objectively highlight the areas most in need of improvement and initiate a process of change. Within a sociological framework, the critiquing of religious, familial and other groups is the only way to forcibly remove people from their emotional ties to their communities and encourage them to look -and I mean really look- at what they have. We at the TMV really love the Muslim community. We belong to mosques, take part in our MSA’s, we’re an involved bunch. It’s a really comfortable kind of involvement, with people who share your values and your lifestyle. It’s such a comfortable relationship that, for the most part, we have grown complacent.

Complacency is a dangerous attitude. While there are numerous coffeehouses, poetry slams and round table discussions on the issues within our community, there is little practical work done to rid us of them. For instance, it is a relatively simple task to attend a lecture on the dangers of racism. You sit, you listen, you frown deeply and you go home, mildly charged and ready to debate anyone on the topic. A few days later and that passion has fizzled away but the problem of racism remains. You may listen to a few more lectures on the topic, but for the most part, it’s a passive experience and passivity is the very thing we hope to change.

Join us on this journey as we explore the many ways we can make our community a better place. Every post will end with a series of solutions to help us all figure out some ways to create real change in our surroundings and ourselves. We hope you find the upcoming posts interesting and informative.

Best Wishes,

Amina Mohamed

TMV Editor-in-Chief 2014–2015

Originally published at tmvmagazine.tumblr.com.