Death of a Hero, Tashbih Sayyed
By: Dr. Richard Benkin
A great hero in the struggle against Muslim extremism passed away last week. Tashbih Sayyed—journalist, author, scholar, freedom fighter, hero, and my friend—was 67. I last saw Tashbih Sayyed in February when we both spoke at The Intelligent Summit in St. Petersburg, Florida. As always, he was passionate, and as always, he was constant in his message. A
man who could hold his own in a discussion of the Quran with any Imam,
he warned us yet again that we face an existential threat in radical Islam and terrible danger from those who would ignore its threat or explain away its actions. And as always, one of the first things he did after we embraced was to ask after our brother, Weekly Blitz editor, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.
2004, when it was a struggle just to interest people in the fate of one
Bangladeshi journalist, imprisoned and tortured for his anti-jihadist
views, Tashbih Sayyed stood with us. When almost no media would publish material about what was happening to Shoaib—many citing the lack of interest by Bangladesh’s press—Tashbih Sayyed’s Muslim World Today did. And
when the forces of moderate Islam triumphed against extremism and
Shoaib was released from his nightmare, Tashbih Sayyed celebrated with
Tashbih was born in India in 1941 to a Shiite Muslim family. Like many Muslims, his family fled to Pakistan after the 1948 partition. After
earning a master’s degree, Tashbih Sayyed worked at Pakistan Television
from 1967 to 1980 as a writer, editor, director, producer, controller,
and eventually General Manager. After airing an innovative current affairs program, he ran afoul of the Zia al-Haq dictatorship and immigrated to the United States in 1981.
He worked hard in his new country finally earning respect as a writer and publisher. Well before the events of September 11, 2001, Tashbih began warning Americans and others about the danger of radical Islam. It was a consistent and courageous position that he never abandoned even up until his death. One
summer evening at his beautifyl southern California home in 2006,
Tashbih Sayyed said to me, “The reason why [Islamists] hate me so
much—fear me—is because I know the Quran better than they do. I know what they are doing and can show people how what they are doing is false.” And they did hate him. But despite frequent threats, he never wavered. He was also a constant friend to Israel and to the Jewish people when we seemed to have few of them in the Muslim world. While
many people world wide say they still are searching for true Muslim
friends, I have many; two of the best are Tashbih Sayyed and Salah
Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.
Tashbih Sayyed was a highly regarded speaker and columnist for newspapers in the US, Pakistan, Germany and India. He founded, Pakistan Today in 1991 and later, Muslim World Today. He authored eight books, including: History of the World; Left Of The Center; Pakistan - An Unfinished Agenda; Mohammad – A Secularist's View; Foreign Policy of Pakistan; and Shadow Warriors - Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taliban. He appeared in the documentary “Relentless: The Struggle for Peace in Israel”
(2003) and in “Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West” (2005).
He was the President and founder of The Council for Democracy and
Tolerance, an adjunct fellow of the Hudson Institute, a highly
esteemed speaker for StandWithUs and a frequent guest on cable
television and radio.
Tashbih Sayyed was a hero, absolutely, and he was also a wonderful human being. He had a terrific sense of humor and a very contagious smile to go along with it. Though passionate in the fight, he was a warm and gentle individual; a passionate man who felt keenly the pain of others. He was lucky to have an equally strong and courageous wife by his side; Kiran Sayyed shared her husband’s vision and sacrifices. The
world is that much poorer without Tashbih Sayyed; those of us who knew
him, loved him, and shared his vision will miss him and continue to
work to keep his legacy alive.
With Tashbih Sayyed’s death, the world has lost a champion. Israel and the Jewish people have lost a great friend. America has lost a great friend. And though too few Muslims know it, they too have lost a great, great friend. Shoaib and I are proud to have called him brother.