Mehdi Hasan, who writes for the left-wing New Statesman in London, is something of a paradox. It’s also a bit of a paradox that he writes for this publication at all, considering its traditions and political roots. The thing is Hasan is an orthodox Muslim. I’m not a Muslim, you see; I’m a kaffar, an atheist and a disbeliever, a person of no-intelligence; I am cattle. Let me be completely fair, least I be accused of taking his words ‘out of context’. This is the context;
The kaffar, the disbelievers, the atheists who remain deaf and stubborn to the teachings of Islam, the rational message of the Quran; they are described in the Quran as, quote, “a people of no intelligence”, Allah describes them as; not of no morality, not as people of no belief – people of “no intelligence” – because they’re incapable of the intellectual effort it requires to shake off those blind prejudices, to shake off those easy assumptions about this world, about the existence of God. In this respect, the Quran describes the atheists as “cattle”, as cattle of those who grow the crops and do not stop and wonder about this world.
Actually, he’s wrong. Speaking for myself, I do stop and wonder about this world. I stop and wonder particularly about the New Statesman; I wonder what its Fabian founders would have made of this view; I wonder what George Bernard Shaw would have made of it, given that he frequently attacked religion. No matter; Mehdi has spoken. I am cattle; I live my life like an animal.
He was speaking again recently, specifically about the proposed citizenship tests that the British government will require all new migrants to this country to take, which he finds ‘deeply disturbing’.
In writing his piece Mighty Mehdi decided to take the existing online practice test paper, helpfully supplied by the British Government (www.ukcitizenshiptest.co.uk). Go ahead; be a devil! (Non-Brits have a get out of jail free card.) I was a devil, I am a devil. I decided to follow in his path and every other member of the New Statesman editorial team. How could I not, after being told that they all failed, including the Mighty One!
There are twenty-four questions in all, with a pass set at eighteen correct, that’s a 75% hurdle. People are given lots of time to ponder their answers, the whole thing timed at forty-five minutes.
Now, you’re really anxious to know how I got on, are you not? I won’t keep you in suspense. I got twenty-two out of the twenty-four right, a pass mark of 92%, and it took me all of two minutes and eighteen seconds! I failed on two – the number of teenagers in the UK and the percentage of people who define themselves as Muslim, pure guesses in both cases. OK, OK, I’m mooing loudly, an egotistical pleasure that, on this occasion, I simply cannot resist.
So, I’m safe. Mehdi and the New Statesman crew will have to surrender their passports and pay a $80.00 fee to be allowed to take the test again. I would not allow them that loophole. Send the whole pack to pastures new, anywhere off my meadows! I, in the meantime, will ruminate in contentment, unreflective cow that I am