Compiled by a former journalist, the book is a collection of essays that embark upon the different tasks of making the Earth, which is full of binaries, a little less chaotic.
Beginning with the tragedy of September 11, 2001, Tabish Khair talks about the ?concrete? sufferings of the families and friends of those who were killed on that fateful day and the ?abstract? sufferings of the many Americans who ?felt powerless in the face of terrorist strikes and that of many Muslims of the Third World who continue to feel powerless in a US-dominated world order.? Here Tabish points out that suffering, though abstract, should not be overlooked for it ?gives birth to the concrete crimes of those, who, like Bin Laden, want to be instruments of the ?scourge of God?.?
He also talks of ?social dislocation?, segregation and prejudice. According to him the events of 9/11 had their root in the vast dislocation of people compounded by the fact that 80 per cent of the wealth of the world is still controlled by the 10 per cent population living in the rich West.
He describes the Americans who said and continue to say, ?They hit us; we have to teach them a lesson? as subscribers of ?medieval belief?pain cures pain? but ?so had Muslims who justified September 11 by referring to the atrocities committed by American-supported forces in other parts of the world.? He regrets that no one understands that ?pain is never a cure for pain.? How right he is when he says, ?Those who recommend pain for others, those who traffic in pain, those who glorify pain and those who justify pain?those are the people to distrust. There is only one human response to pain of any kind?alleviate it.?
Directing his book essentially at the West, Tabish wants the West to realise that Islamic fundamentalism??in very different ways in Afghanistan, Iraq, Denmark and the USA?is providing many people with answers, however flawed and distorted, to questions that we do not even bother to ask at times, especially in the privileged West.?
Tabish concludes by saying, ?Muslims need to ask themselves if that is what they have been doing. And the so-called West needs to put the same question to itself, for there are unanswered questions on all sides.?
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