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Once upon a time, there was this thing called 'Multiculturalism'. 
I write about those turkeys who've voted for Christmas.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Islamic States

 “No one town or city is more suitable for you than another. The best of places is the one that bears you and provides for you.”

Ali Ibn Abi Talib SA

In his article, itself a response to another by Mehdi Hasan, Dilly Hussain writes that “…it is preposterous to reject an Islamic State as having no ‘theological’, ‘historical’ or ‘empirical’ evidence.” Later, he adds, “…to suggest that the state of Medina under the Prophet Mohammed SA and its political infrastructure cannot be used as an analogy for a modern Islamic State, is as absurd as saying that a horse and carriage cannot be considered a mode of transport since it lacks the modern features of a car.”

It’s a valid and well put point – Islam is not only a personal, or 'private' faith. It covers all aspects of life, from the micro to the macro: from brushing one’s teeth and loving your wife, to the rules of warfare and governance. The idea of an Islamic State, is, unarguably, an eternal hope for a Muslim.

However, that begs the question, how should a Muslim determine the legitimacy of such a state – and, in particular, of the person who drives a stake into the earth, hoists a flag, and declares himself King? Can there be more than one 'King'? Can anyone do it? Is it based on courage, brazenness, might, right, money, something else..? Just how is a Muslim to separate wheat from chaff; a true leader from a clown? And beyond that, whose Muslim state is it anyway? That of the Whirling Dervish, or of mainstream Sunni Muslims, or of ISIS..?

But for all the talk of Islamic States, what of where Muslims live today: in Britain, the United States, Pakistan, Tanzania, China, Russia..? What is a Muslim’s role, his or her responsibility to the country in which one resides? Whilst there is no conflict between aspiring to an Islamic State, and hand-in-hand living as an active, contributing member of a secular state, not every aspirant meets such a benchmark. Indeed, the fault-line betweens Muslims and non-Muslims in the West, centres on this very point - that some represent, overtly, a 'fifth column'. And there is a blatant contradiction in living somewhere, **anywhere**, under the protection of a flag and benefiting from shared resources, whilst being antagonistic. What bitter harvest, in having no care to contribute to a society's betterment, but instead being openly hostile?

"Mingle with people in such a way that as long as you live they are drawn towards you, and when you are no longer amidst them they weep for you." Ali Ibn Abi Talib SA

However one approaches all the above, one thing should be clear – that Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s vision for an Islamic State, needs no academic, intellectual or even theological debate – it offends basic, common sense.

Beheading an Iraqi soldier

For those that disagree, and who view the ISIS brand as the zenith of Islamic expression, well… It is time for them to go and leave the rest of us, non-Muslims and the majority of Muslims alike, in peace.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Do Muslims need to condemn ISIS?

In his article examining the siren-call for ‘Muslims to condemn ISIS’, Sunny Hundal makes some excellent points:

  1. Most of those fighting ISIS, are Muslim.
  2. Most victims of ISIS, are Muslim.
  3. Moreover, the same demand is not made of other minorities: notably, Jews were not – are not - being asked to condemn Israel, over its bombardment of Gaza.

However, some troubling aspects need illuminating:

Most importantly, ISIS claim to be acting in line with the Holy Qur’an and Hadith. This is so crucial a point, it is worth repeating - the 'Muslim violence merely reflects Islam' position, is not one simply being taken by antagonists, but by those calling themselves Muslim. The Islamic State's justification - and inspiration - for taking slaves, expelling Christians, public beheadings etc etc, is their interpretation of the ultimate source for Muslims: God's book, and the example laid down by His Prophet (SA):

Here's a more sober explanation of the same ideology:

Finally, the British historian, Tom Holland, covers similar ground here, but with particular reference to the happy-snaps being posted online by ISIS Jihadis, alongside those they behead:

It is therefore undeniable that, for some Muslims, ISIS represent the purest form of Islam, with all other interpretations being some degree of corruption. 

In this context, Muslim condemnation of ISIS is not enough – the ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ defence, is, surely, dead. Moreover, given the tsunami of Muslim rage over Israel's collective punishment of Gazans, the Ummah's more muted, even ambivalent, response towards the destruction of churches and the expulsion of Iraqi Christians, and the treatment ISIS have meted out to Yazidis and other minorities, has, rightly, attracted attention.

The Ummah's energy is wasted by crying foul over Anglo-American hypocrisy, however true. It needs urgent focus to defeat ISIS **theologically** – not for purposes of PR, but to reclaim the religion for future generations.