Tag Archives: Segregation

ISLAM IS NOT THE PROBLEM, NEOCONSERVATISM IS

Taken from CoolnessofHind – https://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/islam-is-not-the-problem-neoconservatism-is/

Normative Islam report.png

A report commissioned by 5Pillarsuk.com reveals some interesting insights into the beliefs and views of Muslims in Britain.  One hundred and fifty “influential” Muslim respondents across the Islamic spectrum were queried. The results demonstrate a problematic curve ball for neoconservatives and their endless efforts to target Islam and Muslims.

The questions revolved around normative Islamic beliefs, and across the board a generally high level of agreement with these beliefs was achieved. Participants rebutted dominant propaganda against Islam and Muslims. For instance, 100% agreed or strongly agreed that forced marriages are forbidden, and 100% agreed or strongly agreed that British Muslims are an “integral part of the UK”. It also established a high rate of agreement upon those beliefs and practices which are typically attacked by politicians in concert with the media, analysts and commentators:

  • Segregation of men and women in closed public, or religious settings – over 80% agreed or strongly agreed
  • There is no compulsion in Islam, no one can be forced to become Muslim – over 95% agreed/strongly agreed
  • Hijab is an obligation in Islam – over 95% agreed or strongly agreed
  • Niqab is a legitimate piece of Islamic clothing – over 90% agreed or strongly agreed (chart 16 is somewhat unclear)
  • Islam is a holistic comprehensive way of life – over 97% agreed or strongly agreed
  • Jihad as is mandated in the Qur’an is used to maintain or restore order, peace and security or to remove oppression and injustice – over 95% agreed or strongly agreed.

The above, of course, must be caveated.  Whilst the variance in theological background was broad (46% for instance, belonged to the Hanafi School of jurisprudence), extrapolating the views of one hundred and fifty “influential Muslims” to the general Muslim populace is somewhat problematic.  However, this is not a significant concern from an Islamic perspective. What is a concern is that only 9% of the respondents categorised themselves as “Islamic scholar/teacher”, with most of the respondents being “self-taught”. To be clear, were the results the complete opposite, it would have no bearing whatsoever on what constitutes Islam.  The authority of determining various beliefs and practices undoubtedly lies with those who have dedicated their lives to studying the various branches of Islamic sciences, from both the legalistic to the spiritual, thus imbuing the quality of transcendentalism in obtaining sacred knowledge. They are the Ulama – i.e. jurisconsults, scholars, the relied upon and righteous among this class.

Having said that, it is also positive to view such broad spread agreement amongst the laity on issues which have been the butt of every joke, the fodder for every political deflection and the pretext for draconian policies.

Taking the above methodological caveats into account, and enjoining the purpose of the research which is to “facilitate discussion”, it is worth deliberating upon the number one obsession for neoconservatives and their funded group of brown validators.  The findings present a problem for the “reform” deform project which has been engaged post-War on Terror on the pretext that there is, in the words of Douglas Murray, a “problem with Islam” because a Muslim has behaved in an (ironically, un-Islamic) unsavoury manner.  This is exasperated by the fact that a mere 5.3% disagreed or strongly disagreed that “Islam is in no need of reformation”, 100% agreed or strongly agreed that “Islam is the final, true religion” revealed to mankind, and nearly 100% agreed or strongly agreed that Islam is a “holistic and comprehensive way of life”.

Despite Muslims feeling integral to Britain alongside their normative Islamic beliefs, the call to deform Islam into one which is concomitantly subservient to Western hegemonic interests continues unabated.

The Intellectual Failure of Deconstructing Islam

Neocons and various deformists normally associated with the counter-extremism organisations project a concerted effort to inject uncertainty in Islam through postmodernist deconstructionism, which has given rise to free-for-all hermeneutical gymnastics of Islamic source texts. Thus, established legal doctrines are undermined, creedal discourses are distorted and conflated with legal views, or, taking the Ayaan Hirsi Ali approach, calls are made to drop verses of the Qur’an because some choose to interpret them in their own destructive way (i.e. in precisely the same way deformists encourage).

The dominant Western narrative is that Islam should undergo deformation in order to comply with secular liberalism, modernity and progressivism.

In addition to the abject failure to convince Muslims of such a need, there are a series of fatal flaws with the deform notion, some of which have already been addressed on this blog. The first is that this requires twisting and distorting Islamic texts (as highlighted above) which no credible jurist will permit.  Secondly, the demand of Islam to contort or “convert” to the “universality” of human rights – being rooted in Western, Christian, Eurocentric and liberal conception of “human rights” – is hollow. As I have aptly demonstrated, such a demand is fraught with problems of a non-universal, ambivalent nature.

It would suffice here to quote political scientist Professor Joseph Massad’s pertinent comment:

“The liberal project is in effect a missionary project to convert Islam to the “highest stage” of Christianity reigning in the West [i.e. secularism rooted from Protestant Christianity], even if this is carried out under the banner of a “reformed” Islam.”[1]

“Progressive” Islam

Thirdly, uncertainty is also born from the associated “progressivism” as espoused by the likes of Nawaz (see recently here in his attacks on the Left) and the born-again neoconservative “Muslim Reform Movement”. Constitutive of modernity and Enlightenment rationalism is the doctrine of progressivism, i.e. a movement towards “civilisation”. In its blind desire to run from history – its own history of problems which did not afflict the Islamic world – it posits science and reason as the modes by which to attain and designate the “truth” of the present. Yet this truth of the present is to be superseded by a further set of truths establishing perpetuity of ever repealing truths, never fully justifying whether the forgoing truths were superior or inferior from a moral perspective. In other words, “progress” is ultimately self-referencing – its own god – which is uncertain, fluid and ultimately docile and vulnerable to the intellectual repression of the pre-reform Church variety as demonstrated by neoconservative/Quilliam attitude towards mainstream Muslims vis-à-vis the intolerant “muscular liberalism” policy, and the imposed extreme secular liberalism of the equally dogmatic counter-extremism strategy. It is, in the words of the German philosopher Max Scheler, “the Western thought-structure of domination”.[2]  Such dogmatism (contrary to Nawaz’s claim of “non-dogmatism”) intrinsically enables supremacy, thus arriving at the precipice of an undeniable reality: that the intellectual justification for imperial colonialism, which destroyed the Islamic paradigmatic structures of society unsettling the unprecedented stability in the lands it governed, are resurgent once more. The doctrine continues to destroy the natural order, from nations through past and present day imperial colonialism and the “arms race” which has brought forth devastating technology to kill, to the deregulation and unfettered growth of corporations at the expense of society, environment and wildlife. Islam was never a barrier to the pursuit of worldly, scientific knowledge, but, in stark contrast with progressivism, its moral grounding in divine scriptures ensured boundaries were maintained.

Conforming to what Neocons Reject

Perhaps the greatest of ironies in the deform project is that it is driven primarily by neoconservatives who categorically reject liberalism, modernity and progressivism. It is a spectacular display of deception and hypocrisy.

Leo Strauss, the intellectual figurehead of neocons, laments John Locke’s conception of rights as rooted in the “individual”.[3]  Following Strauss, the “godfather of neoconservatism”, Irving Kristol categorically stated,

“…liberals were wrong, liberals are wrong, because they are liberals. What is wrong with liberalism is liberalism…”[4]

The following provides for an elucidative comment:

“Secular rationalism has been unable to produce a compelling, self-justifying moral code… and with this failure, the whole enterprise of secular humanism – the idea that man can define his humanity and shape the human future by reason and will alone – begins to lose its legitimacy.”[5]

His son, William Kristol has also stated that neoconservatism’s “more fundamental mandate is to take on the sacred cow of liberalism – choice”.  Following Strauss and Kristol senior, Douglas Murray calls equality – including racial equality – a “piece of false or bad logic”.[6]

As for the doctrine of progress, neoconservatives advocate a return to a closed society based upon fascist, imperial principles, governed by pre-modern ideas. Kristol argued that America was required to start the “long trek back” explicitly towards “pre-modern political philosophy”.[7] And by “pre-modern political philosophy” he meant the Straussian-Platonic conception of the ideal state as encapsulated in the oligarchic society marked by immanent inequality as alluded to in the allegory of the cave.

Why should Islam then be forced by neoconservatives to undergo a deformation in line with those ideologies which neocons themselves regard as obsolete? If neoconservatives see modern ideologies as producing a society which they believe is philosophically bankrupt, then by implication the call to deform Islam concordant to modernity, liberalism and progressivism, is a deliberate call to trigger failure in the faith.

Deform and Fostering Hatred of Islam

If the deform project is a failure amongst mainstream Muslims, who then is the aim of the rhetoric of the likes of Nawaz, Hasan et al? Indeed, what purpose does this deform project serve?

A brief look down the social media timelines of the deformists show that their supporters include those who hate Islam such as the far-right and hawkish pseudo-secular liberals who require affirmation of their own insecurity, superiority trips and prejudices.  In short, deformists seem to be fulfilling a very neoconservative objective as we shall now see.

Put simply, in order to manufacture the Machiavellian enemy of the West, neocons have for years attempted to create hatred of Islam. Deform efforts reinforce the suggestion that there is a problem with Islam itself.

Of pertinence is the fact that Quilliam was founded under the “advisory” of Michael Gove, who sees normative Islam as “Islamism”, and therefore an enemy open to securitisation and discrimination. Githens-Mazer and Lambert explaining the function of organisations like Quilliam state that according to Charles Moore and Dean Godson of Policy Exchange, such organisations are a “re-make of a 1980s Thatcherite counter-subversion strategy in which [Quilliam’s Ed] Husain is cast in the role of Frank Chapple the “moderate” trade union leader who was, they suggest, used to discredit and undermine the “extremist” miner’s trade union leader Arthur Scargill.”

The general themes found in the rhetoric of Quilliam and neoconservative assumptions in books like Celsius 7/7 are shared with US neoconservatives like Daniel Pipes. Githens-Mazer and Lambert noting that the focus on ideology has “no credible evidence”, state,

“…it is one that Husain shares with influential thinktanks including [Gove’s] Policy Exchange and [Douglas Murray’s] Centre for Social Cohesion in the UK and Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum in the US.”

In a revealing passage from a 2005 interview with Pipes, the aim is made clear:

“According to Daniel Pipes, it is now important to find alternative leaders and ideas that can take up the fight against militant Islam. “In the confrontations with fascism and communism, we were victorious because we managed to marginalize the enemy’s ideology, making it look repulsive in the eyes of the majority.””

This is the neoconservative objective.  To make Islam look repulsive in society. The façade of Quilliam and various other deformists as representatives of the “alternative leaders and ideas” which Pipes speaks of, are the tools to achieve this purpose.

Disconcertingly, neocons have achieved the aim of creating a “repulsion” of Islam. In the 5Pillars report, the statement “Islam teaches love for human beings what we love for ourselves” produced no disagreement at all. Yet, according to a Yougov poll last year, 56% of Britons regarded Islam as a “major” or “some” threat to Western liberal democracy – a ten percent increase from the figure taken soon after the 7/7 bombings.  Now is a climate of anti-Muslim animus, where the press and politicians can freely associate crime with Islam in a manner echoing Nazi propaganda about Jews. The manifestation of this hatred of Islam and association of criminality now sees women in Hijabs brutally attacked, and a defenceless pensioner on his way to the mosque killed by a white man as he citesstereotypes which have been endorsed at the highest level of government.  In short, neoconservatives and pro-Israel activists have successfully conditioned xenophobia, anti-Muslim hate and discrimination of the Muslim minority at the policy level, which has, to a large extent, permeated society.

Concluding Remarks

Questions must be asked.

Is argumentum ad metum as a tool of persuasion advocated by neocons, which results in fostering prejudices against a minority that result in violence against the vulnerable, a benefit or threat to social cohesion?

Indeed, are those who advocate totalitarian, closed-society policies, are subverting democracy and are actively promoting a clash of civilisations from the pulpits in Parliament a threat to Britain, or Muslims who believe themselves to be an integral part of Britain despite experiencing cold-war era subversion strategies of repression?

The report on normative Islam is a small indication to the resilience of the Muslim minority. Despite the attempts to dissect the hearts of Muslims, Islam will survive these culturalist attacks to the dislike of neocons. Introducing uncertainty into any system, be it one grounded in physics or the metaphysics of modern law would undoubtedly lead to anarchy and ultimately destruction. How then can Muslims accept such uncertainty in their faith?

The message is clear: Islam is not up for negotiation.

“[This is] the revelation of the Book about which there is no doubt from the Lord of the worlds.” (Qur’an, 32:2)

“This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.” (Qur’an, 5:3).

And We sent you (O Muhammad) not but as a Mercy for all creation (Qur’an, 21:108).

“The best of people are those who bring the most benefit to the rest of mankind.” (Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, Daraqutni)

References:


 

[1] Massad, J.A, Islam in Liberalism, The University of Chicago Press: London, 2015, p.106

[2] As quoted by Hallaq, W.B., The Impossible State, New York: Columbia University Press, 2013, p.17

[3] Strauss L., Natural Right and History, London: The University of Chicago Press, 1965, p.248

[4] Kristol I., Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, New York: Free Press, 1996, p.486

[5] Ibid., p.132-133

[6] Murray D., Neoconservatism: Why We Need It, Encounter Books: New York, 2006, p.37

[7] Kristol I., Reflections of Neoconservative, p.76, as referenced in Thompson/Yaron, Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea, Boulder: Paradigm, 2010, p.87

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Playing the sectarian card: Britain’s Ministry of Justice is unfairly targeting Muslim prison chaplains

Following story taken from CoolnessofHind which has to be one of favourite blogs out there right now dealing with the PREVENT / anti-Islam agenda facing the Muslims of the UK.

One of the more bizarre aspects of all this to come from the report is that the prison Imams, mostly coming from a Deobandi background preach the virtues of social segregation between genders as is the Orthodox Islamic position but that this is some sort of new evil and one of the most dastardly crimes against the creed of secular-liberalism that is out there.

But where are these prison Imams preaching? Prisons… and prisons are segregated along gender lines for very good reasons.

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Source: Playing the sectarian card: Britain’s Ministry of Justice is unfairly targeting Muslim prison chaplains

Yesterday, news came of a soon-to-be-released Ministry of Justice (MOJ) report, which will argue that Muslim chaplains are part of the problem of radicalisation in UK prisons. Given that the government has trailed the report in the Sunday Times (“Most jail imams teach anti-western values”, 07/02/2016, p.7) and the Mail on Sunday (“Majority of prison imams are ‘teaching anti-western’ values that promote gender segregation, study claims”, 07/02/2016) and played the sectarian card, it is a highly premeditated political intervention. Pointing fingers at chaplains of the Deobandi Sunni persuasion, who are said to make up 140 of 200 Muslim prison chaplains, a senior Whitehall official is quoted as saying that, “It is of great concern that the majority of Muslim chaplains in prisons propagate a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic scripture which is contrary to British values and human rights. Such imams are unlikely to aid the deradicalisation of Islamists in prisons and could potentially even make them more firm in their beliefs.” And in his major speech on prison reform today, the Prime Minister promised that he was prepared to make major changes if necessary on the basis of the recommendations of the MOJ report. The appointment of Peter Clarke as HM Chief Inspector of Prisons this month, Scotland Yard’s former head of counter-terrorism whom the government has previously deployed as a counter-extremism troubleshooter in the education and the charity sectors, signals the MOJ’s intent to construe prisons in the same light: as a hotbed of “extremist entryism”, with the potential to look at Muslim inmates without terrorism offences and Muslim chaplains in the same light as convicted terrorist offenders.

The Quilliam Foundation has stepped in to support the MOJ in identifying Deobandi prison chaplains as a particular problem. Usama Hasan, a senior researcher there, is reported by the Sunday Times as saying that “[t]he Deobandi movement is generally anti-western and anti-integration in its spirit … Imams in the prison system have to be more progressive and open-minded in terms of being supportive of modern, multicultural and cosmopolitan Britain.” The Foundation has prior form in this regard: its 2009 report on prisons, Unlocking Al-Qaeda, made essentially the same claims about Deobandi prison chaplains (pp. 33, 42, 101) and recommended a reduction in their numbers (p.108).

Reading between the lines, it seems as if Ahtesham Ali, the current Muslim Advisor to the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), is being set up as the fall guy for appointing many of these Deobandi chaplains. A damage limitation exercise on behalf of Ali is already under way to argue that he is neither an extremist nor of a particular sectarian persuasion by anonymous sources quoted in the Sunday Times. That is all very well, but what about some damage limitation on behalf of these Muslim chaplains who have rendered a great deal of public service in prisons for many years? Who is going to speak up for them?

It is naïve to expect fair play and even-handedness, or a reliance on evidence or the measured conclusions of academic research, especially where the incumbent minister, Michael Gove, is concerned. The news reporting and, one must surmise, the forthcoming MOJ report rely on the fallacious idea that the Deoband school is stuck in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, in the context of its original anti-colonial foundations (ignoring massive transformations since, both in the Subcontinent and the diaspora). It also seems to have discounted the findings of the three-year AHRC/ESRC ‘Religion and Society’ research study on Muslim chaplaincy in Britain (2008–2011) carried out by the University of Cardiff. That study acknowledged the conservative orientation of Deobandi chaplains but also found that pastoral practice in the challenging prison environment and working within a multi-faith chaplaincy team had a transformative effect:

Muslim chaplains working across most sectors learn new attitudes from their experiences. While they often tend to start with normative, didactic approaches that are directed towards their co-religionists, their experiences of working with all kinds of people in a multi-faith environment seem to inculcate within them attitudes of empathy, person-centredness, equality, broad-mindedness, openness, approachability, supportiveness, tolerance, non-judgementalism, non-directedness, compassion, patience and humility. (Gilliat-Ray, Ali and Pattison,Understanding Muslim Chaplaincy, p.175)

The Cardiff team also found that, when called to do so, Muslim chaplains provided genuine pastoral care for non-Muslim inmates. Furthermore, the study established that Muslim chaplains’ pastoral training and experience was having an impact on the mosque imamate in Britain, giving more profile and credence to the pastoral dimension in serving local communities. It also argued that the preponderance of Deobandi seminarians among Muslim prison chaplains was largely due to the huge investment in imam training that this denomination has made in Britain, more so than any other Sunni or Shia group.

Another factor that the Cardiff research team did not mention was that, after 7/7, the government wanted Muslim prison chaplains to have theological training as part of the professionalization of the sector and for them to possess the wherewithal to tackle the arguments of violent extremists. Again, this policy shift favoured Deobandi applicants who already had the necessary qualifications to hand. That said, the main formal role of Muslim chaplains remains pastoral and aimed at the spiritual welfare of the general Muslim prison population, yet they have made informal efforts to tackle extremist ideas within this primary remit, and have facilitated greater cultural awareness and understanding of prison staff about mainstream Muslim beliefs in the context of radicalisation (Gilliat-Ray et al, p.110). Overall, however, they have not been formally involved in theological deradicalisation efforts aimed at inmates with terrorist offences, for which outside specialists have been brought in with the collaboration of the authorities (HM Prison Service, Muslim Prisoners’ Experiences, 2010, p.35, Para 7.12).

For all those who agree that Muslim prison chaplaincy in Britain has been a growing and largely successful sector over the last two decades with a solid track record of public service and professional development, now is the time to make your voices heard. There is genuine fear that the government is now going to smear this sector as “extremist Muslim entryism”. Is the government going to brush aside all this dedicated public service and experience and start getting rid of people on the basis of lazy and pernicious sectarian labels? Where is the due process? Where is the expectation that professionals should be treated in a meritocratic way on the basis of their individual performances?

From my sources, I am hearing that many Muslim prison chaplains are feeling resigned to losing their jobs, and that, as public servants, they have no right to speak out if Mr Gove — who is ultimately their boss — is going to sack them. How terrible it is that even high-achieving Muslim professionals feel so isolated and demoralised that they cannot defend themselves against such baseless smears? And more importantly where will that leave the pastoral and spiritual care of Muslim inmates who sadly now make up 12% of the prison population? It is hard not to see this as anything other than institutional Islamophobia being sanctioned at the highest level, which could have really damaging and deleterious effects. Now is the time to speak up and set the record straight.


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