— Salman Rushdie British Indian novelist and essayist 1947
Address at Columbia University (1991), Context: I determined to make my peace with Islam, even at the cost of my pride. Those who were surprised and displeased by what I did perhaps failed to see that … I wanted to make peace between the warring halves of the world, which were also the warring halves of my soul….
The really important conversations I had in this period were with myself.
I said: Salman, you must send a message loud enough to … make ordinary Muslims see that you aren't their enemy, and you must make the West understand a little more of the complexity of Muslim culture …, and start thinking a little less stereotypically…. And I said to myself: Admit it, Salman, the Story of Islam has a deeper meaning for you than any of the other grand narratives. Of course you're no mystic, mister…. No supernaturalism, no literalist orthodoxies … for you. But Islam doesn't have to mean blind faith. It can mean what it always meant in your family, a culture, a civilization, as open-minded as your grandfather was, as delightedly disputatious as your father was. … Don't let the zealots make Muslim a terrifying word, I urged myself; remember when it meant family. …
I reminded myself that I had always argued that it was necessary to develop the nascent concept of the "secular Muslim," who, like the secular Jew, affirmed his membership of the culture while being separate from the theology…. But, Salman, I told myself, you can't argue from outside the debating chamber. You've got to cross the threshold, go inside the room, and then fight for your humanized, historicized, secularized way of being a Muslim.