Reformist Muslim

Exploring possibilities for the future of Islam and other thoughts

Location: London, United Kingdom

Monday, August 29, 2005

Progressive Islam - A Contradiction!

Came across this piece from Avaris from Nov 2004 on the problems with Irshad Manji and progressive Islam at his excellent blog. Mr Moghul raises some extremely good points. Islam is most definitely about submission to God's will and it is true to a certain extent that Irshad Manji 'validates' Osama bin Laden by quoting selectively from the Quran and Hadith to progpogate her particular viewpoint.

Having said that, at the beginning of the post the writer speaks as to how he doubts that people can have true faith without having doubted it. Unfortunately submitting to the will of Allah also seems to inculcate people with a sense of superiority in their status of superior human beings who will be rewarded in the afterlife. This would not really be a problem if that confidence did not spill over into the world we live in but alas it does.

Therefore, I would suggest that part of 'progression' or 'reform' is about education and a realisation amongst Muslims that whilst they are perfectly entitled to have their faith in God, scientific evidence casts aspersions on this and that at least right now, having a secular, liberal, pluralist and democratic government is the best form of political organisation available to humankind.

That's it for now, I'll be posting more thoughts on a similar theme hopefully in the near future, in the mean time I'll recommend Mr Moghul's blog again.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Muslim Council of Britain

This is a bit late, but I think that its an important matter. The Muslim Council of Britain decided to boycott a Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony on the grounds that the event should recognise Genocide wherever it occurs and not just the Holocaust.

On the face of it, the justification given seems reasonable. Genocide has occurred since then in places like Rwanda and Yugoslavia and the 'never again' rhetoric is pointless if that is not recognized.

There are however several problems with the explanation given by Mr Sacranie. Firstly, he asked for Palestinian suffering to be included as well. Whilst Palestinians have suffered gross abuses of their human rights, to call it a genocide is legally and morally incorrect.

Secondly and more importantly, it is irrelevant when commemorating such an event as the liberation of Auschwitz whether or not genocide has also taken place in other places . What happened under Nazi rule was a crime against humanity and as human beings and community leaders, the MCB should have attended the function as a sign of respect for their fellow citizens many of whom were personally affected by the Holocaust. There is a time and a place for everything and boycotting such an event simply sends out the wrong message to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Thirdly lets not forget some of the other outrages which have taken place over the last century. Millions of people were killed in Stalin's Russia and Mao's China. Lets hope the MCB's close association with the likes of Galloway have not blinded them to this.

Also while I also disagreed with the War in Iraq, the MCB could also have shown some solidarity and recognition of those butchered by Saddam including the Kurds the Shia's and the Marsh Arabs not to mention the countless dissidents or indeed those murdered gratuitously for the pleasure of Uday and Qusay - Not to justify what happened there, but Abu Ghraib existed before the Americans arrived there.

It is fashionable for those heavily influenced by the likes of John Pilger and Noam Chomsky to blame America for the sanctions imposed on Iraq and the suffering that that caused. However, the whole Security Council was behind that as a means to contain Saddam's regime. The fact that people suffered was due to the abuse of the sanctions by Saddam aided in some cases by those in the west which allowed him to live in luxury while 'his people' died. (This is not to mention that Chomsky constantly denied the Cambodian Holocaust which was also missing from the list of genocides)

Finally, the situation closest to Genocide today is happening in the Darfur region of Sudan. Perhaps Mr Sacranie when explaining his decision to boycott Holocaust Memorial Day should have called on Mr Blair and Mr Bush to form a coalition of forces to intervene in Sudan and put an end to the humanitarian crimes taking place there.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Mind Game

Here's a mind game for you.

You are a contestant on a game show. There are 3 doors. Behind 2 doors are goats and behind one of the doors there is a car. The aim is to choose the car.

You are asked to choose one of the 3 doors. The game show host then opens one of the doors revealing a goat (It is important to note that he knows what is behind each of the doors and will never reveal the door with the car behind it).

Before revealing what was behind the door that you initially selected, the gameshow host gives you the option of switching to the other door which is still concealed.

Do you
a) stay with your original choice
b) switch to the other door
c) it doesn't matter what you do

Answers with explanations in the comments section please. I'll post the answer with explanation in a few days.

Interview With Ms Chakrabarti

For those interested, here is a link to an interview in The Times with the Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti.

While I think the interviewer sometimes disingenously adds his own thoughts after an answer which Ms Chakrabarti has given, it is nevertheless an excellent read which brings out many of the main areas of dispute in dealing with terrorists and terror suspects.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Excellent critique of the Blairite response to 7/7 in the Guardian a couple of days ago by Shami Chakrabarti. Liberty is sometimes lumped together by conservative commentators along with the Galloway/Respect/SWP crowd.

This is unfortunate - Liberty is a pragmatic organisation which plays an important role in protecting our civil liberties while Shami Chakrabarti is an excellent conveyor of ideas making rational arguments which are feisty without going near the ideological guff which one sometimes hears.

As an added bonus, she not only discusses the problems of proposed government policy but at the same time offers concrete proposals of alternative measures needed to combat the terrorist threat.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Post on Secular Right India

Primary Red at Secular Right India has this post, based on some comments I made at his blog on the state of the Pakistani media and the supposed 'battle withink Islam' amongst other things. It's definitely worth a read.

Update on Multiculturalism

Thought I'd link to a piece by Johann Hari rethinking the benefits of multiculturalism. It seems that its not just the right which is attacking government policy on the matter. I'm not sure that I agree with the the feasibility of some of the conclusions but Mr Hari always makes you think and I recommend everyone to check out his website.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

David Davis and Multiculturalism

So unsurprisingly, David Davis has called for an 'end to multiculturalism'. This is unfortunate.What politicans such as Mr Davis need to foster and encourage is a sense of civic nationalism towards British institutions as opposed to a parochial ethnic nationalism to an imaginary British way of life. He does hint to this end when he speaks of 'a core britishness', but does not spell this out clearly.

These values would include adherence to fundamentals of liberal democracy such as tolerance, liberty, equality and the rule of law. The type of clothes one decides to wear (hijab included) or the cuisine which one eats should not be an issue and in fact diversity in such areas should be welcomed as they provide perspective and lead to less parochialism.

For some ideas as to how politicians can help to inculcate such values in both British born people of different cultures as well as immigrants there is an excellent piece by Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian.

Arab Reform

That political repression in the Arab world has led to many young people being drawn towards Islamic fundamentalism is now conventional wisdom. One thing which is missed out though is that a religious revival is also a backlash against the failed modernism attempted by the likes of Nasser.

What is often forgotten is that the Arab world did attempt to modernise, but that on the whole, it either went down a socialist path ala Egypt or a fascist path ala Iraq. This has led to modernism as a whole being rejected leading to a yearning for a return to a 'purer' Islamic heritage.

Recently, Egypt has shown signs of development with candidates being allowed to run against President Mobarak. Hopefully, this is not a one off event and continues after the current administration is finished. People need to see a liberal, democratic system working for them before they can fully rid themselves utopian visions of Islamic grandeur.

British Extremism

For anyone who reads this blog, sorry for the absence. Have been on holiday without prolonged access to the internet.

Firstly sympathies to all those affected by the terrorist attacks in London and Sharm-el-Shaikh. They were heinous acts which must be condemned without reservation. Whether or not the people who committed these crimes were driven to do so by policies which we may agree or disagree with is irrelevant.

However, I'm not going to rehash points which have already been made extensively. Instead I would like to focus attention to one of the contradictions within the British Muslim and especially the British Pakistani community.

The vast majority of preachers or 'imams' while being conservative believe that Muslims in Britain should peacefully co-exist with other communities. The problem is that these imams are also all almost imported from Pakistan, are relatively unfamiliar with British culture and are not able to connect with and meet the needs of second and third generation Muslims.

This is the 'gap' which provides the vacuum which enables more radical elements to be able to convert. Not only do they breed resentment towards the 'West, but also towards their own families who are portrayed as illiterate people who rather than following the 'true path' of Islam are clinging to their illiterate, cultural superstitions.

One solution to this problem is obviously for British born Muslims to get involved in religion but this is unlikely as kids who are half talented are unwilling to become religious scholars.

Apart from this, not much else I can think of right now. I would say though that those who are converted to the jihadi cause are pretty much lost causes and need to be apprehended before they cause any damage. The danger is if overexuberance helps lead to the next generation of al-Qaida sympathizers being recruited.

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