Monday, 1 October 2007

Please Sir! I've left HT!

Although the shayateen are chained up in this blessed month, it appears that the handful of neocon pinup boy "ex-Islamists" are continuing their "Please Sir! I've left HT!" campaign. Am I the only one who is fed up of having these guys rammed down my throat everytime I turn on the news or pick up a paper?

Tonight's Panorama, entitled "How I became a Muslim extremist", promises to be no more enlightening than Ed Husain's The Islamist, Maajid Nawaz's Newsnight performance or Hassan Butt's repentance at the altar of the BBC. Fortunately, most of us will be praying taraweeh when it is on.

According to Panorama, a former member of HT, Shiraz Maher, tells his story exclusively to Panorama. Obviously the good chaps at Panorama are a little quick to claim an "exclusive", given that I have read Maher's account numerous times over the last two years including in the Times and the New Statesman. I have also seen him on several occasions on Channel 4, More 4 and Newsnight. So this is hardly an exclusive!

Maher is obviously seriously unhappy on missing out on all the biryani at family weddings - the Panorama website notes that after joining HT Maher refused "to go to family weddings because the women were not segregated".

Judging from the allegations from Panorama's website and the HT response on the Panorama website, it seems to be the same old stuff that has been going around for at least a decade i.e. HT don't believe in democracy, HT is a 'conveyor belt' to terrorism (although Husain, Maher and Nawaz jumped off at the BBC?), HT want to destroy the state of Israel, HT want Shariah all over the world, Omar Sharif was linked to HT, HT has threatened former members, HT hates Britain, etc, etc.

From the clip on this morning's BBC Breakfast, we will hear from Maher's friend Thom Dyke, who alleges, shock horror, that when Maher became involved with HT he deleted all the phone numbers of girls he knew from his phone - Nawaz made a similar revelation on Newsnight when he said that when he joined HT he had to leave the "girls".

In an earlier thread, I wrote, "We cannot underestimate the actions that the Government are taking with respect to the Muslim community. Is it that surprising that some Muslims will be used to infiltrate Islamic groups, not only to provide intelligence, but to leave at an opportune moment amidst a blaze of publicity? Of course, many Muslims leave one Islamic group or another, but generally they rarely decide to sell their story to the highest bidder or seek to divide the Muslim community. Those who have become disillusioned with the 'Islamic scene' tend to just fade away and those who have genuine disagreements tend to move on to pastures new."

The journalist Radhieka Pandeya has contrasted Maher's old views with his new views. It appears that his change in views brings new meaning to the word U-turn. While Maher now accuses HT of violence, Maher previously wrote that, "The Hizb has never engaged in violence against any regime. Rather our struggle is intellectual and political." He also wrote, "Despite vain attempts to slander the Hizb and associate her name with terrorism the German government much like the Uzbek, Jordanian, Syrian, Egyptian administrations has failed to show demonstrate any such link." About Iraq, Maher previously wrote, "In the month of Ramadhan - the month of victory - May Allah (swt) punish the disbelieving soldiers, May He (swt) make Iraq a graveyard for them and their colonialist plans and may He (swt) punish them by our hands and heal the hearts of the believers."

Others have rightly asked why Maher did not inform the authorities if he had concerns about Bilal Abdullah and Kafeel Ahmed who are alleged to have undertaken a terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport. Given that Maher left HT immediately after 7/7, why is it that he waited two years before stating his concerns?

There are also inconsistencies in Maher's new position. In an article in the Sunday Times, Maher writes that it was when studying for a doctorate in Cambridge that he began to question HT's philosophy. Maher writes of his admiration for Abul Kalam Azad,

"When independence came in 1947, Azad resisted the creation of Pakistan. Forming an exclusionary political identity in this way was against the essence of Islam."
Maher does not mention Azad's well documented views on the institution of the Caliphate and the relationship between religion and politics. Delivering the presidential address at the Calcutta meeting of the Bengal Provincial Khilafat Conference in 1920, Maulana Azad declared that he had no doubt that “without an Imam, their lives were un-Islamic and that they would be damned after death”. Maulana Azad published a book in 1920 called Masla-e-Khilafat (The Issue of the Caliphate), in which he wrote that: “Without the Caliphate the existence of Islam is not possible, the Muslims of India with all their effort and power need to work for this”.

Following an article by Maher in the New Statesman, a previous personal acquaintance of his, Sajid W, felt compelled to address some of Maher's inaccuracies. Sajid writes,

Brother Shiraz why are you dishonest over the one matter you should know best.

I note that in this article you have tried to avoid the lies in your previous accounts of your "recruitment". You have now admitted that when you moved to Leeds you "already knew about Hizb ut-Tahrir".

However that is not what you wrote in the Times Higher Education Supplement [3 February 2006] when you said that you first met HT at Leeds University where you were "recruited".

Did we not attend HT study circles in Birmingham Central Mosque together for several years when you were at Solihull School and I was at King Edward's?

You had first approached members of HT many years previously when you lived with your grandfather in Harborne in 1994. I remember that you asked to join HT at that time, but rather than ‘recruit’ you , HT merely explained its thoughts to you, and did not make any efforts to meet you again.

Many years later you again actively approached members of the party at a mosque in Leeds. In the article last year in THES you alleged that you had been approached at university - I am glad that you have now admitted in this article that your previous account was inaccurate.

With so much dishonesty why should anyone now believe your account?

My sentiments exactly!

Saturday, 29 September 2007

BBC's Newsround "fed youngsters Al-Qaeda propaganda"

The former head of the Government's Joint Intelligence Committee has accused the BBC's childrens programme Newsround of feeding youngsters Al-Qaeda propaganda.

On the Newsround website it answered the question concerning 9/11, "Why did they do it" by saying: "The way America has got involved in conflicts in regions like the Middle East has made some people very angry, including a group called al Qaeda - who are widely thought to have been behind the attacks."

It seems like some people like to bury their heads in the sand despite all the evidence to the contrary. These are just a few examples of many:

A report in July 2005 by Chatham House, the respected thinktank on foreign affairs, concluded that there was "no doubt" that the invasion of Iraq had "given a boost to the al-Qaida network" in "propaganda, recruitment and fundraising", while providing an ideal targeting and training area for terrorists. "Riding pillion with a powerful ally has proved costly in terms of British and US military lives, Iraqi lives, military expenditure and the damage caused to the counter-terrorism campaign."

On 19 July 2005, the New York Times published extracts from an assessment, drawn up in mid-June 2005, by the UK's Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC). The most striking sentence in these extracts was: "Events in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of terrorist related activity in the UK"

In April 2005, a report drawn up by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) was even more explicit about the motivating effect of the invasion of Iraq . It was entitled International Terrorism: Impact of Iraq. The following extracts from it were published in The Sunday Times on 2 April 2006:

"It [the invasion of Iraq ] has reinforced the determination of terrorists who were already committed to attacking the West and motivated others who were not."

"Iraq is likely to be an important motivating factor for some time to come in the radicalisation of British Muslims and for those extremists who view attacks against the UK as legitimate."

"There is a clear consensus within the UK extremist community that Iraq is a legitimate jihad and should be supported. Iraq has re-energised and refocused a wide range of networks in the UK"

"We judge that the conflict in Iraq has exacerbated the threat from international terrorism and will continue to have an impact in the long term. It has reinforced the determination of terrorists who were already committed to attacking the West and motivated others who were not."

Monday, 24 September 2007

Has Maajid Nawaz been double-faced?

The media, politicians and neoconservative thinktanks have a new darling - Maajid Nawaz - who announced his departure from Hizb ut-Tahrir in an interview with BBC's Newsnight. The interview was publicised in the Observer and the Sunday Telegraph and by Ed Husain on the Guardian CiF website. Readers of this blog will recall that in a previous article I raised the possibility that Nawaz was working with Ed Husain. I actually wrote that "...if Nawaz does come out with his own "kiss and tell" story about his time with Hizb ut-Tahreer, seeks to exacerbate divisions within the Muslim community or if Nawaz is closely associated with Husain, then this would place huge question marks in my mind over Nawaz."

On the eve of Nawaz's "coming out", Ed Husain was keen to give Nawaz publicity (he had previously claimed that Nawaz had left the group under his influence) and flatteringly and somewhat dishonestly described Nawaz as "the highest ranking Hizb ut-Tahrir member to leave the group as a matter of conscience". Nawaz used his interview with Newsnight to make equally sensational claims and the BBC focused on these, even issuing a press release to preview the interview. In the interview Nawaz alleged that Hizb ut-Tahrir advocate the killing of "millions of people" to unite and expand an "Islamic superstate". He said "They are prepared to, once they've established the state, to fight other countries and to kill people in the pursuit of unifying this state into one state...Hizb-ut-Tahrir privately and publicly condemn terrorism but the point I'm making is that's not the danger I'm concerned about...The danger I'm concerned about is creating a mentality, a psyche that can allow a state and it deems it acceptable for a state en masse to kill people in the cause of an ideology."

Nawaz also made rather grandiose claims that the global leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir approached him personally (he was barely 20 at the time) to establish a chapter of the group in Pakistan, which had shortly beforehand acquired nuclear weapons. It was also claimed in the Sunday Telegraph that Nawaz had alleged that Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain had been recruiting British Muslims to go abroad and fight British troops. Interestingly, Nawaz chose not to repeat this allegation on Newsnight.

Nawaz also describes, in almost identical fashion to Husain, the murder of an African student at Newham College in 1994. Nawaz claims, as does Husain, that their activities on the college campus led to the murder. This is not surprising given that the two of them agreed the text of Husain's version of events in The Islamist. However, Maajid Nawaz's brother, the Islam Channel presenter, Kaashif Nawaz, disputes the account,
writing that "The murder at East Ham college was not of a man who was Christian, but of a man who was high on drugs, and carrying 2 knives with intent on attacking one of the students on campus, he was intercepted by a gang of Muslims, who intercepted him - nothing to do with Islamism or HT, but more do with gang wars which Muslims got involved in and HT members tried to resolve." Other primary sources have also cast doubts over Husain's account of events at the college.

Nawaz says that his time spent in an Egyptian prison meant that he started questioning if there was a better way "than just meeting oppression and anger with more anger and more oppression". He says that he developed serious doubts, leading to a decision to leave the organisation.

His close confidante, Husain, also writes that Nawaz developed doubts whilst in prison, "In Sayyid Qutb's prison, Maajid studied with traditional Muslim scholars who had abandoned the jihadist cause. His own intelligence, combined with greater study of Islam, led Maajid to question the intellectual and scriptural premise on which the entire Islamist project is based."

On the DeenPort discussion forum, Husain praises Nawaz, writing, "Maajid Nawaz studied traditional Islam while in prison in Egypt with Azhari mashaikh who were once Islamists and/or Jihadists. Their influences and his independent thinking after returning to Britain in 2005 led Maajid to resign from Hizb ut-Tahrir. Please keep him in your prayers. May Allah strengthen Maajid and preserve this servant of God and lover of al-Habib."

In an article with the sensationalist title "Why I joined the British jihad - and why I rejected it" in the Sunday Times, Nawaz again writes that his conversion took place in prison, "It was during this time in prison that I began to utilise my time by studying as much as I could about the ideology that I professed to be working for...As I studied various branches of traditional Islamic sciences, however, I grew more and more surprised. The sheer breadth of scholastic disagreement that I found, on issues I had believed were so definitive in Islam, surprised me. Where we had been willing to challenge, even overthrow, regimes on certain issues, traditional jurists of Islam had treated these as academic disagreements to be debated through books. It slowly dawned on me that what I had been propagating was far from true Islam. I began to realise that what I had subscribed to was actually Islamism sold to me in the name of Islam." In an interview with Jane Perlez of the New York Times, Nawaz again said, that his "doubts about Hizb ut-Tahrir crystallized" during his time in prison.

This is where I have a big problem - while it is now clear from Nawaz himself that he had serious doubts about Hizb ut-Tahrir in prison, he continued and indeed increased the intensity of his political activities on his return to the UK.

Brother Salman, who knows Maajid, writes that, "Since his return from Egypt, he has been an even bigger supporter of the Hizb and the rule of Islam in Muslim countries. It was as if the suffering and torture he endured in Mubarak's torture chambers "recharged his batteries" and made him a better Muslim. At least that was the impression I got when I spoke to him on numerous occasions at SOAS where he was finishing his interrupted degree studies. Also, the TV interviews he participated in since his return from Egypt show no sign of any ideological retreat. He was still calling for the rule of Islam in Muslim countries."

This exact point is also raised by readers of this blog who commented on an earlier thread. Brother Muhammed writes, "Back in january 2007 he was giving speeches outside the usa embassy (see utube) as one of the leaders of the hizb calling for khilafah. when he was released from prison he went on the bbc hard talk programme representing the hizb and on islam channel he regularly gave his opinions on political affairs on behalf of the hizb. he states in his article that whilst in prison he had serious misgivings of the method employed by the hizb for establishing khilafah. hence should one not ask why appear on many different platforms on the media, at demos etc calling for khilafah when he knew he would be jumping ship and go down the dark path of ed hussain et al. maybe he did this to gain respectability and leadership amongst the muslims, only allah knows." Brother Ismaeel-Haneef Hijazi of the Muslim Action Committee, who spoke at the US embassy demonstration with Nawaz, responds by saying, "Thanks Muhammad for reminding me of that demo back in Jan. I spoke at that demo too and briefly met Maajid who seemed at the time to be close with Aki Nawaz who at the time had just started making media appearances defending Muslims politically. Also Maajid left the Hizb only 2 months ago, so the question is very pertinent- if he came to all these conclusions whilst in prison why wait until now to declare them?" As photographs show, Nawaz was clearly at the front of the demonstration (second from the right) to the US embassy despite harbouring severe doubts.

On his return from captivity, Nawaz appeared on BBC's Hardtalk - given what we know now about his serious doubts about 'Islamism' in prison, one would have expected that he mention that his confidence had been shaken and that he was now questioning his conscience. However, on the contrary, in a confident performance, Nawaz assertively claimed that Hizb ut-Tahrir's ideas were peaceful and that they prevented him from becoming violent or aggressive despite the oppression he had faced. In fact he argues that his time in prison has "convinced me even more...that there is a need to establish this Caliphate as soon as possible". In the interview, Nawaz also claims that the regimes in the Muslim world are "propped up" by the West and that he would sue the Egyptian regime for the ordeal he and his compatriots underwent.

In addition, in a press conference upon his return to the UK, there was again no hint whatsoever of the serious doubts going through Nawaz's mind. Amazingly, Nawaz said, "I have become more convinced of the ideas that I went into prison with." Shortly thereafter, Nawaz also appeared with fellow former detainee Reza Pankhurst on the Ummah Talk programme on the Islam Channel where he again mentioned that his stint in prison had motivated him to work harder for the return of caliphate. Further to that, Nawaz made regular appearances on the Islam Channel and at talks across the Muslim community, yet he made no reference to his change of heart.

So how could it be that Nawaz was released in March 2006 with serious doubts about Hizb ut-Tahrir and having realised that what he had been propagating was "far from true Islam", yet he intensified his activities, defended Hizb ut-Tahrir before millions of viewers on Hardtalk, took up a position on Hizb ut-Tahrir's UK Executive Committee, gave talks across the country and spoke at rallies?

The worst scenario here is that Nawaz was being double-faced. This scenario would have it that he had already decided that he was going to jump ship but he decided to increase his profile so that when he finally left the organisation it would garner greater publicity. If this indeed was the case, then he should be reminded of the Hadith of al-Habib (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) who said,
"One of the worst people is a double-faced man, who come to one group with one face and to another group with a totally different face." (Related by Al-Bukhari and Ibn Hibban). A similar Hadith is reported by Ammar ibn Yasir, an early companion of the Prophet, who quotes him as saying: "Whoever is double-faced in this life will have two tongues of fire in the hereafter." A big man then passed by and the Prophet said: "This is one of them." (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Abu Dawood, Al-Darimi and others).

Only Nawaz himself can explain why he chose to intensify his activities despite these doubts. He may argue that he could not leave the organisation immediately, but that is not the issue here. No one was demanding that he should have left the organisation immediately upon his return even if he had serious doubts - rather the one with serious doubts would have discussed these doubts with people of knowledge and his compatriots in the organisation, rather than intensifying one's activities and then announcing one's departure on primetime television.

In this article, I did not set out to address Nawaz's documented reasons for his departure, and I am sure others more qualified than me will do so if necessary. Rather, I have sought to examine the inconsistencies in Nawaz's account of his conversion to Ed Husain's depoliticised version of Islam and all that brings with it.

As a final point, although Nawaz has warned that his narrative should not be "exploited to support the call for proscribing Hizb ut-Tahrir", this seems a little naive to say the least. The language he is using to describe his former compatriots is music to the ears of the powers that be. It is no surprise that Nawaz is now flavour of the month for Douglas Murray's band of neocons at the Centre for Social Cohesion and the likes of the right wing Zionist commentator Melanie Phillips. Nawaz will get lots of publicity and exposure via the right wing blogs and media, since it reassures them that nothing is wrong with their behaviour and helps deflect attention back to those "dirty terrorists" who "hate us for our way of life".

Brothers and Sisters!

Beware of those Muslims who wish to sell their Deen for a small price and remember that Al-Habib Rasoolallah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said, "Indeed a servant speaks a word (which is pleasing to Allah) to which he pays no attention and for which Allah elevates him many grades. And indeed the servant speaks a word (which is displeasing to Allah) to which he pays no attention and for which he shall fall in Jahannam." (Bukhari)

"Among the words people received from early prophets are: if you feel no shame, then do as you wish."
(Related by Al-Bukhari, Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, Ahmad and others).


Sunday, 16 September 2007

The Month of Ramadhan

A month of forgiveness and safety from the fire; a month in which there is a special dua that He accepts every day at the time of breaking our fast; a month in which we remember our poor and our brothers languishing in the depths of the prisons away from their families; where the wretched devils are chained; and the beautiful angels descend; where evil is destroyed and goodness prevails; a month of great victory for the Ummah at the battle of Badr, the conquest of Makkah, the tremendous victory of the valiant Tariq bin Ziyad over the lands of Andalusia, the victory of brave Salahuddeen over the Crusaders, the victory of the gallant Salahudden Qutz and his Muslims knights in the plains of Ain Jalut in that epic battle over the Mongols – all of this in the month of divine help and glory: Ramadan; a month of devotion to Allah and prayers upon His noble Prophet; a month of friendship and love with our beloved Ummah; a month of charity and Zakat and cleansing; a month of the Quran and wondering in its wisdoms; a month of journey every night into the gardens of prayer to a Lord that is delighted to see His slaves begging and asking for His bounty; a month with days of seclusion with Allah in the corners of His mosques to remember and remind us of the imminent seclusion in the belly of the grave; a month of the most powerful night of all when the angels descend with mighty Jibraeel alaihis salam to spread peace and tranquillity until the morn. Truly, it is just as the pious predecessors used to say: The people of worship in their worship are more joyous than the people of frivolities in their playfulness.

I would like to take this opportunity to greet you, to congratulate you on the advent of Ramadhan, to make my sincere dua for you, to express my deepest friendship and love for you and my sincere care and support for you and your families with the sincere hope that Allah makes this month a means to ease your worries, to replace it with goodness and transform your world into a Jannah in this life. May Allah give you what your heart desires and amaze you with His bounty and grace.


Thursday, 6 September 2007

Do British libraries encourage Islamic extremism?

Many of you will have of course seen last night's Newsnight that featured a report by the Centre for Social Cohesion that argues that British libraries are hotbeds of Islamic radicalisation.

Douglas Murray, the director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, told the BBC that the Tower Hamlet's books collection "is a collection that is warped towards one particular extreme interpretation of Islam."

What the BBC did not say is that Murray is an unashamed neocon who, while condemning libraries that stock books by authors who have been convicted of incitement to murder, had no problem supporting the illegal war on Iraq which has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. By the same argument, Murray's books should not be stocked by libraries and he should not be given air time on the BBC - after all, although he has not been convicted by a court, he continues to defend the murder of innocents in Iraq.

The BBC also omitted to mention Murray's less than warm views towards the Muslim community - in his book about neoconservatism, Murray writes about Muslim schools, "The attitude towards Muslim schools should be exceptional....if any Muslim academies are allowed to exist, they should be funded entirely privately, with no taxpayer assistance and should be subject to uniquely strict regulation and inspection. If such conditions are considered unbearable, then Muslims will have to try their luck in other countries".

In a lecture to commemorate the death of Pim Fortuyn, Murray said, "All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop...Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board: Europe must look like a less attractive proposition. We in Europe owe—after all—no special dues to Islam. We owe them no religious holidays, special rights or privileges. From long before we were first attacked it should have been made plain that people who come into Europe are here under our rules and not theirs. There is not an inch of ground to give on this one. Where a mosque has become a centre of hate it should be closed and pulled down. If that means that some Muslims don't have a mosque to go to, then they'll just have to realise that they aren't owed one."

It was no surprise to me that Newsnight once again dragged out the ex-Jamaat Islamist, ex-HT, ex-ISB, Ed Husain to comment on the story - he made some silly point about Muslim extremists not listening to music and not allowing mixing between men and women.

Of course, I have little doubt that Husain hopes that libraries across the country will be pulling this 'extremist' literature from the shelves and placing large orders with Penguin Books for the much discredited "The Islamist". Incidentally, Murray is happy to promote Husain's book on the frontpage of the Centre for Social Cohesion website.

It was also little surprise to see Haras Rafiq of the widely discredited (even amongst traditional Sufis) Sufi Muslim Council. For those of you who are interested, the Centre for Social Cohesion has an interesting article about the Sufi Muslim Council and its links to neoconservatism.


Friday, 31 August 2007

Offender of the Faiths

There is an interesting article in Saturday's Australian Age that profiles the well known British philosopher A C Grayling.

Grayling argues that the press should have published the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. He argues that the criticism of religious belief is "the rent that has to be paid in a free society. This is a lesson Muslims have got to learn." The lesson, he says, is that mocking a belief is quite different from mocking an individual. "Many Muslims take it personally. But it's not about them personally."

He also argues that, "our effort to accommodate Muslim sensitivities has to be met by an equal effort (from Muslims) to accommodate ours. A lot of westerners are deeply offended by the sight of a woman in a burqa".

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Denis MacShane's piece on 'Islamism'

In a rambling piece in today's Telegraph, the Labour MP Denis MacShane argues that "the Labour Government, Whitehall and the entire political-media class in Britain have been slow to wake up to the need for an intellectual-ideological confrontation with Islamism." The main point of the piece seems to be to advertise Ed Husain's The Islamist and offer support to the thesis of Melanie Phillips, Michael Gove, Ed Husain, Daniel Pipes that Islamism is a threat to Western civilisation.

The article bears a remarkable resemblance to MacShane's article in the Daily Telegraph in October 2006 following Jack Straw's comments on the veil.

MacShane is of course notorious amongst Muslims for his 2003 speech in which he said: "It is time for the elected and community leaders of the British Muslims to make a choice – the British way, based on political dialogue and non-violent protests, or the way of the terrorists, against which the whole democratic world is uniting." It was rather ironic that at the time he made those remarks he was a minister in the Foreign Office, which of course has never in the past caused carnage around the world. In response to those comments, Labour party activists in his own constituency accused him of "inciting racial and religious hatred, by publicly implying in the press that the Muslim community elected members and leaders are in favour of terrorism and being anti-British." MacShane later apologised for the remarks.

I think that the current 'Islam vs. Islamism' debate has to date been too superficial. Undoubtedly, those in Downing Street are keen to argue that it is 'Islamism' and not foreign policy that is the main driving force behind terrorism, despite the wealth of evidence to the contrary.

The 2005 report by the International Crisis Group entitled Understanding Islamism provides a more measured and in depth approach to the issue of 'Islamism'.

In my view, these are some of the key points the report makes:
"Western observers and policymakers have tended to lump all forms of Islamism together, brand them as radical and treat them as hostile.That approach is fundamentally misconceived. Islamism - or Islamic activism (we treat these terms as synonymous) -- has a number of very different streams, only a few of them violent and only a small minority justifying a confrontational response."
"The most extreme instance of the tendency to lump all forms of Islamic activism together is the "clash of civilisations" thesis, which views the entire Muslim world, qua civilisation ("Islam"), as a single whole, as one problem and, by implication, target. But the same tendency is apparent in other, notionally less simplistic, theses regularly articulated by leading Western voices."
"The concept of "political Islam" and its definition as a problem only occurred when Islamic politics began to articulate anti-Western or, more specifically, anti- American attitudes. There has, therefore, been confusion between the implied notion that "political Islam" represents a deviation from an apolitical norm (a notion which is historically inaccurate) and the tacitly understood (but concealed) notion that it is a deviation from a pro-Western political norm. In effect, "Islam" was only seen to be political when it was seen to be a threat."

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Chaos in Afghanistan

Not a day goes by now without further civilian casualties and bloodshed in Afghanistan. Even the usually compliant Hamid Karzai has been forced to condemn foreign forces for the careless use of "extreme force" and for viewing Afghan lives as "cheap". I don't for one moment believe that this is a huge concern of his given his silence for several years, while thousands of his countrymen have died. However, he is obviously facing internal pressures that have forced even him to speak out.

It appears that over 80 civilians were killed in Afghanistan on Friday following US air strikes. On the eve of the Rome conference, the UK MoD has announced the death of yet another British soldier in Afghanistan.

The latest death brings the number of British military fatalities in Afghanistan to 63, since operations began in 2001.

Just as in Iraq, the lack of security has prevented any reconstruction or economic improvement. European and American NGOs live in protected and isolated enclaves indulging in conspicuous western lifestyles while the average Afghan is unable to feed himself or his family. The writ of Karzai's government barely extends beyond his palace and corrupt government officials forcibly expropriate the property of the powerless common people.

Unfortunately it appears that occupation, inhumane treatment of prisoners, chronic insecurity, minimal reconstruction and a huge growth in the opium trade are the main features of modern day Afghanistan.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Taking Liberties

The film Taking Liberties has opened on limited release. It’s a must see film for its subject matter but it also needs more media coverage to keep the issue of civil liberties alive.

The film is part of an overall campaign against authoritarianism. Taking Liberties takes viewers on a journey from the initial euphoria of New Labour’s victory over the Tories to the New Labour of today with its bloodied hands and soiled reputation. Dealing with the spectres of torture, detention without trial, rendition and the gradual erosion of our democratic rights, Taking Liberties examines Blair’s legacy through the magnifying glass of particular events including September 11th and the more every day, but no less pervasive, ASBO.

Give us a Mufti...

In an article in today's Sunday Times, we are told that most British Muslims think that we should have a Mufti. The full findings of the poll can be seen here.

When I looked at the poll, it appears that the sample size is very small and the statistical analysis is somewhat questionable. There were a lot of respondents who gave "don't know" answers and in some of the analysis they have been excluded. 42 % of Sunni Muslims in the poll said that Muslims in Britain should have an official Mufti - hardly a majority.

I actually missed an editorial last week in the Times which was probably the precursor to this poll. The editorial noted that the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shaykh Ali Gomaa, made it clear that "extremists declaiming in mosques and via the internet that the only legitimate Islamic form of government is a restored “Caliphate”, such as that which stretched from Fez to Samarkand 500 years ago, are simply wrong." The editorial concludes that, "There is a strong case for British Muslims to appoint their own mufti to embody the “authentic, contemporary, tolerant Islam” that he and they hold dear."

Beware of those who sell their Deen for a small price

"As for those who sell for a small price the covenant and faith they owe to Allah and their own plighted word for a small price, they shall have no portion in the Hereafter. Nor will Allah speak to them or look at them on the Day of Judgment, nor will He cleanse them: They shall have a grievous torment, a painful doom." [3:77]

The huge coverage given to the book by the former Islamic activist Ed Husain has got me thinking. After reading the book it was clear to me that he was a troubled soul – on a journey through the radicalism of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizb ut-Tahreer he ends up doubting his own faith and even contemplates leaving Islam for Buddhism or Christianity. Still confused, he starts teaching English at the British Council and rediscovers what he describes as "traditional Islam". He later returns to the UK and decides to write a book cataloguing his experiences and urges the Government to move strongly against Islamists'. The 'Islamists', according to him, are the greatest threat facing all Muslims and non-Muslims in the UK he argues.

Muslim writers and bloggers including Andrew Booso, Yahya Birt, Faisal Haque, Yusuf Smith, Ziauddin Sardar and Inayat Bunglawala have concisely articulated the deficiencies of Husain's rather simplistic analysis. Earlier this week, Husain made a brief appearance to defend himself against the criticisms levelled against him on DeenPort, however he soon departs, with dozens of questions left unanswered. Husain argues that the people who have asked him questions have no adab and anyone who disagrees with him is accused of harbouring some hidden 'Islamist' affiliations. This was no surprise as Husain had earlier suggested suspending registrations on the discussion forum in order to "facilitate discussion"! One Muslim on DeenPort correctly observes that "either you're with him or you're an extremist". It is not surprising then that even Ziauddin Sardar accuses Husain of being a neocon who wants "everyone locked up".

Interestingly, Ziauddin Sardar writes that Husain's book, "seems to have been drafted by a Whitehall mandarin as a PR job for the Blair government." He is the first writer to openly articulate this possibility. While some readers on the Muslim blogs have labelled Husain a traitor, Sardar is the first to suggest that the book may have actually come out of Whitehall and in effect been 'ghost written' for Husain. However, other writers have noted that the book perfectly fits Blair's narrative of 'ordinary decent peace loving Muslims' vs. a tiny minority of 'Islamists' who desire Shariah, the destruction of Israel, etc, etc.

In the light of these comments I want to raise the following points:

(1) We cannot underestimate the actions that the Government are taking with respect to the Muslim community. Is it that surprising that some Muslims will be used to infiltrate Islamic groups, not only to provide intelligence, but to leave at an opportune moment amidst a blaze of publicity? Of course, many Muslims leave one Islamic group or another, but generally they rarely decide to sell their story to the highest bidder or seek to divide the Muslim community. Those who have become disillusioned with the 'Islamic scene' tend to just fade away and those who have genuine disagreements tend to move on to pastures new.

(2) The suggestion that Husain may have had some association with Government is not without foundation. Aside from him joining the Labour Party and supporting the Iraq war, in his recent interview with the New York Times, Husain explains that he has been approached by British government officials to join their "anti-extremist efforts". In an interview with Sky's Adam Boulton, Husain does not deny Boulton's suggestion that he has been called in by "Gordon Brown or government". Given his previous association with Islamist groups and his work for the British Council, he would have been ideal material for recruitment.

(3) The other aspect which tends to lend weight to the suggestion that Husain may be close to the Government and security service is not only his insistence on banning Islamist groups such as Hizb ut-Tahreer, but his stated aim at dividing Islamist groups into moderates and extremists and his attack on other leading Muslims and organisations. In November 2006, on the DeenPort forum, Husain writes, "Even within HT in Britain today, there is a huge division between modernisers and more radical elements. The secret services are hopeful that the modernisers can tame the radicals. And hence the suspension of any ban. I foresee another split. And God knows best. Ya Rabb! I have said more than I should on this subject! Henceforth, my lips are sealed!" So he alleges that there is a "huge division" between modernisers and more radical elements and suggests that the security services are working for a split in the organisation. In a more recent thread, Husain writes of Hizb ut-Tahrir, "Allah is opening a window of opportunity for their hidayah. There is a major development within Hizb ut-Tahrir that will lead many of the more thoughtful activists to reconsider their worldview and relationship with mainstream Islam and Muslims. Once news breaks within party ranks of what is happening within their leadership, some of the Hizb people will be receptive toward traditional Islam and may well leave their brand of radical Islamism." Then on the same thread on 2nd May 2007, Husain writes, "Maajid Nawaz has left Hizb ut-Tahrir. And there are several others inside waiting to escape, but waiting for the right moment and reason. Don't ask me how I know. Until last weekend, Majid was a member of the Hizb's National Executive Committee in Britain. Some of you may remember him from the media coverage of his imprisonment and release from his four-year prison sentence in Egypt. Huge reverberations within the Hizb as to why and who is else is next etc. Ideal moment to engage with HT people, particularly those on the Jalaludding Patel wing of the group."

(4) Continuing with the theme of trying to foment divisions within Hizb ut-Tahreer, with respect to Majid Nawaz, a former member of Hizb ut-Tahreer, Husain has claimed that Nawaz is linked to him and that Husain influenced Nawaz's decision to leave Hizb ut-Tahreer. In an interview with, Husain says, "In this, I'm backed by Majid Nawaz who, alhamdulillah, recently left Hizb-ut-Tahrir partly as a result of conversations we had about these issues, and more importantly, his exposure to traditional Islam in all its diversity. Soon, Majid will speak publicly and I ask Hizb members and others to listen and learn from Majid's wisdom, knowledge, and experience. Now the good news is that Hizb-ut-Tahrir has proven in Britain that it can change and when pressure is applied it has changed. And I'm hopeful that this pressure that's on them now - exposing those core fascist values - that exposure will cause them to change those ideas and come on board the mainstream Muslim caravan." In an interview with Husain by the New York Times, Husain said that Nawaz would soon go "public with the reasons for his departure, and explanation he hopes that will cause a stir like his own." It is hard to tell whether Husain is being entirely truthful about the reasons for Nawaz's departure from Hizb ut-Tahreer – however if Nawaz does come out with his own "kiss and tell" story about his time with Hizb ut-Tahreer, seeks to exacerbate divisions within the Muslim community or if Nawaz is closely associated with Husain, then this would place huge question marks in my mind over Nawaz. A poster on has suggested that he saw Husain and Nawaz at last week's Hamza Yusuf event in London. He also alleges that Husain and Nawaz have been arguing that the scholars differ over the Islamic prohibition of homosexuality. In any case, I am sure that Husain will not be the last person to write his 'Islamist' memoirs.

(5) Andrew Booso has rightly argued that the divine obligation of the Caliphate is a "standard, orthodox belief expounded and endorsed by the jurists throughout time." Husain has said that he does not accept the concept of the Caliphate or an Islamic State. He misrepresented Shaykh Hamza Yusuf by alleging that he said that there was "no such thing as an Islamic state". When questioned on DeenPort as to whether the Caliphate was fard kifayah, as discussed by the classical scholars, Husain says that he does not discuss in terms of fard ain or fard kifayah. Husain writes that the Islamic state "is not a rukn of the deen and without it the deen is not lost. An individual can remain a firm believer, a mutadayyin, without the imam and the jama'ah." However, the classical scholar, Sa'd al-Din Mas'ud bin Umar al-Taftazani, wrote, "There is consensus that appointing a Caliph is obligatory. The difference of opinion is on whether the appointment must be by Allah or by his servants, and whether the basis (for appointment) is textual evidence or rational proof. The adoption is that it is obligatory upon the servants by textual evidence because of the saying of the Messenger, "Whoever dies not having known the Imam of his time, dies the death of the days of ignorance." Also, the Ummah agreed that this was the most important duty following the death of the Messenger, so important in fact that they considered it more important than the matter of his burial, and so also has it been after the death of each Imam."

(6) Although Husain has focused a lot of his attack on Hizb ut-Tahreer he has also attacked other Muslim groups including the Muslim Council of Britain, the Young Muslims Organisation, the Muslim Association of Britain and the Islamic Society of Britain. He also attacks the Salafi movement and the Ahl-e-Hadith. He criticises the Islamic Foundation, Regent's Park Mosque in London and the East London Mosque. In fact, in an article in the Observer he alleges that worshippers at East London Mosque have threatened to kill him. Not content with attacking these organisations he has insulted the ulema and the mashaikh by twisting their opinions and misrepresenting them. So he said that Sheikh Hamza Yusuf (may Allah protect him) legitimises the marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men and he wrote that the other mashaikh denied the idea of the Khilaafah in Islam. He has also attacked the journalist Yvonne Ridley. In his writings on DeenPort he questions whether she is really a Muslim, asserting that she "converted to Islamism and not Islam". He goes on to write, "Ridley is an extremist, a cheer-leader for terrorists…Shun Islamism, accept Islam." Is Husain not aware of the Hadith of al-Habib (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), “If a man calls his Muslim brother kafir, it applies to one of the two.” (Bukhari)

Brothers and Sisters!

Those who sell their Deen for a small price, tarnished traditional orthodox Islam the day they decided to become popular amongst those who enjoy the humiliation of the followers of Al-Habib. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf was correct when he said that the fastest way to get a book published was to attack Islam and the Muslims. There can be little doubt that Shaytan runs from the word of truth. We must ask why it is that Shaytan and his followers amongst the men and the jinn are running in support of those Muslims who have chosen to become popular? In the name of addressing 'Islamism', the haraam has been made halaal and there is no sense of outrage at eating the flesh of one's own brothers.

It is time for you to wake up to this web of propaganda, lies and deceit which is targeting our entire community. Don't you remember those in days gone by who sold their Deen for a small price? Do you not see the efforts to tarnish Islam from within? Do you not see the efforts to divide the Muslims amongst themselves so that their ranks remain disunited?

Is it not the case that the propaganda of Husain and those who follow him is being used to attack Muslims, not Ikhwan or Tahreer or Tabligh or Young Muslims, but Muslims? It is the people of La ilaha illallah who are now on the receiving end of the attack from right-wing Zionists and the neo-Nazis of the BNP who are using these misguided Muslims as a platform to attack Muslims. From our recent history in Bosnia and Gujarat, it is never long before words are easily translated into aggression.

Our community needs to stand united against this propaganda – irrespective of being Sufi or Salafi, Ikhwaani or Tahreeri, Tableeghi or Barelwi, we must realise that first and foremost we are Muslims. Was it not the case that Ibn Hajar al Asqalani, a Sufi and an Ashari criticised Ibn Taymiyyah but said that Ibn Taymiyyah had a right to the opinions he arrived at because of his level of knowledge?

Why is it that Shaykh Hamza is willing to share platforms with well known Salafis such as Dr Usama Hasan and Shaykh Abu Muntasir, while it is clear they do not believe it is fard to follow a madhab and ascribe to Ashari/Maturidi theology'? Is it because these differences can swiftly be put aside at a time when Islam is under siege?

As for those Muslims who wish to sell their Deen for a small price, remember that Al-Habib Rasoolallah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said, "Indeed a servant speaks a word (which is pleasing to Allah) to which he pays no attention and for which Allah elevates him many grades. And indeed the servant speaks a word (which is displeasing to Allah) to which he pays no attention and for which he shall fall in Jahannam." (Bukhari)

In conclusion, I am reminded of the saying of the famous Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, the author of Risale-e-Nur who wrote, "To forget and abandon internal enmities when foreign enemies appear and attack is a demand of social welfare recognized and enacted even by the most primitive peoples. What then ails those who claim to be serving the Islamic community that at a time when numberless enemies are taking up positions to attack, one after the other, they fail to forget their petty enmities, and instead prepare the ground for the enemies' attacks? It is disgraceful savagery, and treason committed against the social life of Islam." (The Letters, 318)


Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Quarter of Muslims believe 7/7 was staged

On the day the Prime Minister said that the “overwhelming” majority of UK Muslims wanted to be loyal citizens, a poll commissioned by Channel 4 found that nearly a quarter of British Muslims believe the 7/7 bombers were not responsible for the attacks and that more than two-thirds (68 per cent) think the Muslim community has no responsibility for the emergence of extremists wanting to target Britain.

Fifty-seven per cent were not confident they would be treated fairly if arrested in Britain and 46 per cent felt police tactics after the arrest of a Muslim terror suspect were racist.

Personally, I am very sceptical about how much such polls actually tell us. In my experience, the wording of the questions is very important. For example, a poll done a year or so ago for Channel 4 suggested that a large number of Britain's Muslims wanted Shariah law - however the question did not ask whether they meant they wanted it in the UK or in Muslim countries - the results were of course spun by the right wing tabloids to suggest that Muslims were a fifth column looking to impose Shariah on Britain.

However, the survey does show how much ground the government needs to make up to win the trust of British Muslims, who have been strongly critical of British foreign policy.

I wonder whether we will see more similar polls and statistics in the run up to the second anniversary of 7/7. Given that the Government is publishing a consultation paper on new anti-terrorism measures later this week, I am sure that there will be a desire to ratchet up the fear amongst the general population of the "Muslim threat".

I also wonder why the pollsters don't survey non-Muslims and ask them how much they trust the authorities and government - they might be surprised by the results.


Is Imran Ahmad an "Uncle Tom"?

In this article at Pickled Politics, Imran Ahmad, from British Muslims for Secular Democracy (that well known organisation!!) defends himself against accusations of being an "Uncle Tom". The accusations came following his participation in this recent debate in Parliament organised by members of the Euston Manifesto:

You can watch the whole debate here and make up your own mind.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Is the teaching of Islam out-dated?

A government commisioned report has concluded that the teaching of Islam in English universities is based on "out-of-date and irrelevant issues".

The report, Islam at Universities in England, written by government advisor Ataullah Siddiqui, calls on universities to focus on the "underlying unity and evident diversity" of Islamic culture and civilisation in England and other parts of Europe as a growing number of Muslims live out their faith "against the backdrop of Judaeo-Christian tradition and under the shadow of modern secular culture".

In a press release the DFES say,
Dr Siddiqui’s review as well as other reports and conferences on Islam in higher education have told us that Islamic studies departments are concentrating too much on a Middle Eastern focus and ignoring the realities of Islam in modern multi-cultural Britain. This risks focussing on “out of date and irrelevant issues".
The Siddiqui review was commissioned by the government, following talks with students and academics who raised concerns that Islamic studies courses were too theologically narrow.

Controversy over Cambridge University Islam conference

There has been a lot of media coverage today of the conference being held in London. In his speech to the conference Prime Minister Tony Blair praised Muslims in the UK saying,
We have successful Muslims in all areas of our national life - business, sport, media, culture, the professions. We have our first Muslim MPs, first Muslim Members of the House of Lords; hopefully the next election will bring more and hopefully also the first women Muslim MPs.
However the conference has drawn criticism from some Muslims. Lord Ahmed, Britain's first Muslim peer, described it as being part of the "colonial-style policy of divide-and-rule". The radical Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir are equally dismissive, arguing that the conference is "not a real dialogue". In an article in the Guardian, the respected Muslim thinker and scholar, Tariq Ramadan, writes,
Tony Blair will make his last gesture toward the Muslims of Britain today at an international conference on Islam and Muslims in the World. The spirit of the initiative seems at first glance praiseworthy but, on closer inspection, it stands revealed as little more than an exercise in fence mending or public relations. While I have been invited to participate in the conference, not a single representative of the leading British Muslim associations has been invited to speak, not a single sensitive subject has been touched upon. It is as though these associations and their leaders were part of the problem, and could not become an active part of the solution. It is as though we could hope to solve deep-seated problems by refusing to see them for what they are. So many fine intentions and words about openness, while the facts speak instead of petty politics.


Assalamu Alaikum and welcome to my new blog.

I am a British Muslim and will be writing about many of the current issues facing the Muslim community in the UK. I have not written my own blog before but have been moved to do so by the multitude of issues facing the Muslim community in the UK.

"All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them." [Galileo]