Tarek Fatah was a Pakistani-Canadian journalist and author who identified as a secular Muslim and distinguished himself with his acidic opinions on Islam and contempt for religious extremists and Pakistan nationalists. He believed in the separation of mosque and state, was a vocal critic of radicalism and fundamentalism within Islam, and emerged as a bold voice, condemning historical wrongs and standing up against the mistreatment of Hindus, challenging stereotypes and promoting justice across religious lines.
It’s important to note that Fatah was not against Islam. Born in Karachi, Pakistan, on November 20, 1949, he grew up in a family where his father, though a devout Muslim, was open to modern ideas. They often talked about politics and culture, creating a home filled with laughter. Fatah used to go to the mosque every Friday, finding it enjoyable. However, as he grew older, a stricter form of Islam emerged, with serious clerics replacing the previous joyous atmosphere.
Tarek Fatah studied biochemistry but later switched to journalism. At the age of 21, he began as a reporter for the Karachi Sun. He quickly moved up to become an investigative journalist for PTV, showing his dedication to uncovering and sharing the truth through responsible journalism.
During the challenging times of the 1960s and 1970s, Fatah became a leader in the student movement as a leftist student leader. In these troubled times, he found love and married Nargis Tapal in August 1974. His strong commitment to the cause led to his arrest twice. He considered prison his real university, meeting people who had been there so long they hadn’t ever heard a radio. When the political situation changed under Zia-ul-Haq’s regime in 1977, serious charges of sedition forced Fatah to escape to Saudi Arabia in 1978.
In 1987, Fatah moved to Toronto, Canada, where he rebuilt his career as a journalist. Despite the challenges he encountered in his homeland, Tarek remained proud of his Indian origins. Describing himself as an “Indian born in Pakistan, a Punjabi born in Islam,” he reflected on his identity as a permanent refugee, torn from the cradle of a great civilization and sent in search of an elusive oasis. This self-awareness shaped his worldview and fueled his critique of religious and political establishments.
Tarek Fatah’s staunch criticism of Islamic fanaticism and his fearless expression of views made him a contentious figure for radical Islamists globally. Undaunted, Tarek continued to articulate his views without fear, becoming a prominent voice against extremism and an advocate for harmony and understanding between different communities.
In the late 1990s, Tarek Fatah significantly evolved in his perspectives, becoming increasingly critical of Islamic fundamentalism and its ramifications on Muslim communities globally. He channeled his concerns into his writings, authoring several books that delved into the complex issues surrounding Islamic ideology.
Among his notable publications are “Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State” and “The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism,” where he scrutinized the notion of an Islamic state and its practical implications. During his book promotion tours, Fatah emphasized an important point from his book, “Chasing a Mirage:” Muslims need to know their history. He contends that orthodox gatekeepers have kept them in the dark despite Muslim history being as diverse and tumultuous as any other – marked by both intellectual achievements and violent conflicts. Fatah highlighted the lack of education on internal struggles beyond the Sunni/Shia divide, including battles among rulers and widespread oppression. He pointed out how enslaved Black Muslims once rebelled against Arab Muslim oppressors, arguing that without this knowledge, fellow Muslims cannot grasp issues like racism and genocide in Darfur. In “The Jew is Not My Enemy,” Fatah explored the complex and sensitive issue of Muslim anti-Semitism, seeking to debunk prevailing myths and foster a deeper understanding.
Through these thought-provoking writings, Tarek Fatah continued to be an intellectual force, challenging established narratives and encouraging critical dialogue on the multifaceted aspects of Islamic fundamentalism and its impact on Muslim communities worldwide.
Fatah regarded the historical presence of the Babri structure as an atrocity imposed upon the Hindu community by Mughal tyrants.
Tarek Fatah’s pro-India and pro-Hindu perspectives elevated him to a prominent position in Indian society. His fearless articulation of views made him a sought-after figure in television programs and debates, where he delved into topics ranging from the Ram Mandir issue to Khalistan, from Triple talaq to terrorism, and from Indian and Pakistani politics to geopolitics.
On the contentious Ram Mandir issue, Fatah regarded the historical presence of the Babri structure as an atrocity imposed upon the Hindu community by Mughal tyrants. He believed the responsibility for rectifying this historical injustice rested with the Muslim community. He advocated that Muslims should have taken the initiative to dismantle the Babri structure and rebuild the Ram Mandir, asserting the Hindu right to reclaim a sacred space that held immense cultural and historical significance for them.
Tarek Fatah consistently stood as a staunch opponent of inhumane, exploitative medieval Islamic social practices, notably triple talaq and Halala. His unwavering advocacy against these practices was well-known, reflecting his commitment to championing women’s rights and equality. In August 2017, when the Supreme Court of India delivered a historic verdict in favor of abolishing triple talaq, Fatah expressed overwhelming joy. He openly shared that the news brought him immense happiness, highlighting it as a victory for Indian women against Islamist mullahs, an acknowledgment of the triumph over outdated social practices.
Tarek Fatah passionately advocated for a modern and progressive Islam, emphasizing equality between men and women, supporting gay rights, and opposing the imposition of Sharia law in Canada. He believed in the crucial separation of mosque and state, an Enlightenment principle he urged Muslims to embrace. Fatah cautioned against the dangers of Islamism, a political ideology restricting freedoms under divine pretext. He argued that the guilt-ridden mainstream Western world, particularly on the left, hesitated to criticize Islamists due to historical colonial misdeeds.
Another facet of Fatah’s views that garnered attention and stirred controversy was his outspoken praise for Israel and the West, juxtaposed with his critique of Islamists, whom he accused of contributing little to nothing productive in global society. This unapologetically direct stance made him a target for radical elements. Fatah faced physical attacks on multiple occasions, including an incident at the Urdu fest in Delhi and another at a Sindhi Baloch event in New York. These attacks underscored the intensity of the reactions to his views, showcasing the challenges faced by those who dare to confront prevailing narratives within their communities.
His blunt and truthful views got him respect and praise not only from a large section of Indian society but also from the Rashtriya SwayamSevak Sangh, where he was remembered for his contribution to Indian society. For his unique contribution to the Indian national discourse, Tarek was posthumously awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Padma Shri.
Tarek Fatah’s bold views are reflected in his social media handles on X.com. After his death in 2023, his daughter Natasha Fatah carried his legacy forward and continued to share his ideological views through his handle.
 Fatah says he couldn’t sleep due to happiness over triple talaq abolition by SC. https://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/sleepless-tarek-fatah-takes-to-twitter-over-historic-triple-talaq-verdict-here-is-what-the-canadian-writer-said/819288/