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Towards a strategy for Muslims in Europe

Background

Since their main immigration after the Second World War, Muslims in Europe have been living a relatively easy life. However, the proliferation of Islamic symbols and Muslim numbers has changed the mood of the establishments that really control most European states. Liberal Europe woke up to see another way of life, parts of which are at odds to its norms, competing to shape its domestic and foreign policies. The steadfast rise in the numbers of young people who refuse to live as immigrants as their forefathers did, makes the situation all the more interesting and complicated.

Unexpectedly to some, much of this younger generation is speaking proudly of their Islamic identity more so than their parents, and their sense of belonging to the Ummah is phenomenal. Furthermore, they do not feel inferior to the “white man” like their antecedents did or still do, cognitively or subconsciously. More importantly, they have received western education that provided them with knowledge of the right tools to catalyse change, which thus empowered them to aspire for securing a better place for themselves as “different” yet still indigenous peoples.

This sparked increasing concerns various governments started to feel towards Islām and Muslims in Europe. Different countries adopted different policies to respond to this increasing “threat”. It seems some countries, including the UK, are taking advantage of the hostile atmosphere against Islām and Muslims after the ousting of Egyptian President Morsi, and have attempted to wage a cold war on Islām and Muslims both at home and away. The past few months have witnessed an almost daily attack on mainstream Islamic practices: niqāb, hijāb, Islamic education, Madrassas, halāl meat, donations for Syria, Islamic charities, Jihād, not to mention the embarrassing and on-going Trojan Hoax scandals. [1]

Islām is not new

The British had colonised enough Muslim countries in the 19th and 20th centuries to be fully aware of the Muslims’ beliefs and practices. Furthermore, orientalists have translated many classical Islamic books whether in creed, theology, Islamic jurisprudence, Islamic history or anything else, that explains everything about Muslims. They know for a fact that mainstream Islām includes almost all of the beliefs and practices that are currently sensationalised to create scapegoats under the banner of ‘extremism’ or other such meaningless words. [2]

The key question, however is: why have some within the Establishment in Britain turned against these practices it knows to be intrinsic to Islamic belief? Do these people think that Muslims may change their belief systems as Christians did with enough pressure?

I think that the key parties and corporations trying to control today’s Britain have come to a point where they are worried that Islām is participating—or even competing—in shaping tomorrow’s Britain. This will ultimately minimise their control and monopoly in defining our culture, values and ethics as a country. They feel threatened that Islām strips human beings of the courtesy to define what is right or wrong based on ephemeral, subjective experiences, leaving it solely in the hands of their Creator. The same fear can arguably be seen in other European countries to different extents.

“Our way or the highway”

It is apparent that by limiting the freedom of active Muslims [3] and posing threats to them [4], the policy makers of today are sending a strong message to the whole Muslim community, that they have only one opportunity to live in the UK: assimilation. In other words, if Muslims want to live in the UK, they must adopt a version of Islām that will never dare defy the “British values” of whoever happens to be in power to define or interpret them. [5]

The Establishment also seems to give the impression that it is only a “bunch of extremists” that are forcing the rest of the Muslim community to uphold those traditional values and practices, and once they are ostracised, the rest of the Muslim community can be liberated from the shackles of being different to the “superior culture”. They feel that they are in a race with these extremists; who takes the control of the community? Unfortunately they do not realise that although various “bunches of extremists” are vocal about Islamic values that are different to western values, in reality, the vast majority of Muslims will never accept to be fully “westernised” if it means being stripped of one iota of their values, beliefs and core practices.

“Moderate” Muslims

Many non-Muslims do not differentiate between those that do not outwardly “practise” Islām, who may look outwardly similar to non-Muslims, and those that do not want to practise Islām for an ideological reason, such as believing that Islām is a backwards system that must be modernised according to particular western, non-Divine values. In reality, the latter are spectacularly rare compared to the former. Those in the establishment that are hostile to Islām and Muslims do not realise that as far as the Qur’ān exists in the hands of Muslims they will be never be ideologically secularised despite how they outwardly look.

The gap between many such “non-practising” or “westernised” Muslims and inwardly- and outwardly-practising Muslims is no more than education and consciousness. Many Muslims who may look westernised or otherwise “non-practising” in fact sincerely love Islām, love our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), and would not accept that anyone insult or even disrespect their religion, their Prophet or their Qur’ān. They admit that they are not perfect and wish to be better Muslims. Weakness, laziness, procrastination, ignorance and desires are among the obstacles that hinder them from fully “practicing” Islām—not an aversion to Islām.

Islām will not change

It might be the mistake of the Muslim leaders, Imāms and scholars that they did not make it clear a long time ago that Islām is fundamentally different from the non-Islamic, western, liberal values. We did not follow the methodology of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) which he declared clearly to his people during the early days of the Makkan period:

Say (O Muhammad): “O Disbelievers! I worship not that which you worship. Nor will you worship that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which you are worshipping. Nor will you worship that which I worship. To you be your way, and to me myway.” [6]

This was the methodology of the other Prophets as well. For example, Ibrahīm (peace be upon him) said to his people “Fie upon you, and upon that which you worship besides Allāh! Have you then no sense?” [7]

Had we said this earlier on, we could have taken the lead on the type of the debate we want to have in the UK. The discourse could have been around how to live together despite our fundamental differences. Some of us deceived ourselves by imagining that we Muslims will be accepted wholeheartedly in this society. Others thought that the Establishment is not paying attention to the expansion of Islām and Muslims in the UK and other European countries. They thought this “overlooking” will continue as far as Muslims continue flourishing in a subtle way. They ignored some fundamental Quranic principles that talk about conflict between truth and falsehood, as mentioned by our Lord:

Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you (O Muhammad) until you follow their religion. Say: “Verily, the Guidance of Allāh that is the (only) Guidance.” And if you (O Muhammad) were to follow their desires after what you have received of Knowledge, then you would have against Allāh neither any Wali (protector or guardian) nor any helper. [8]

And they [the disbelievers] will never cease fighting you until they turn you back from your religion if they can. [9]

The challenge going forward

Many Muslims believed that Europe was just a non-Islamic society, without elements of it being anti-Islamic. We need to learn from our mistakes and hence we should identify them. We left it to the media and hidden establishments to define the debate and its parameters, and they did so. They are making it clear for us that values, norms, principles and ways of life are defined by one party only. There is only one way of life, there is no choice for anyone to have their own way of life. Pluralism and multiculturalism are either dead or should be confined to symbolic differences that do not influence public life.

It seems that those with the upper hand in the UK, the historical leader of multiculturalism in Europe, are fiercely regretful and want to adopt a French, extreme secular, mono-culture model. Like their friends overseas, they are trying to use the fraudulent pretext of ‘national security’ and ‘threats of terrorism’ to advance their agenda of ideological monopoly and cold war. [10] This is the only way they can gain mass support for their neo-Imperialist actions, turning the average British citizen to view their Muslim neighbours with suspicion.

The challenge for us as Muslims is to convince the Establishment that the vast majority of Muslims will never be ideologically secularised and they will never be anti-Islamic even if they look non-Islamic now. Furthermore, we need to win the hearts of the majority of Muslims to help them become more “Islamic”, lest they become anti-Islamic. We all need to send a clear message to the establishments in Europe that all of us should think of the real debate; how can we live together with our differences? How can we find the best way for the betterment of our countries and societies? We need to decide: is Europe a non-Islamic continent or an anti-Islamic one?

And We have already written in the book [of Psalms] after the [previous] mention that the land [of Paradise] is inherited by My righteous servants. [11]

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/11/michael-gove-assault-on-schools-naked-discrimination

[2] http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2014/06/the-word-extremism-does-not-mean-anything.html

[3] http://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/iengages-birmingham-freedom-of-speech-event-a-necessary-first-step-in-the-assertion-of-the-muslim-identity/

[4] http://cageuk.org/report.pdf

[5] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/15/david-cameron-british-history-values

[6] Al-Qur’ān 109:1-6

[7] Al-Qur’ān 21:67

[8] Al-Qur’ān 2:120

[9] Al-Qur’ān 2:217

[10] http://www.islam21c.com/special/the-war-on-terror-is-one-fine-scam/

[11] Al-Qur’ān 21:105

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About Shaikh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad

Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Sharia Council (UK & Eire). He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom's Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari'ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Sharia Council as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.

3 comments

  1. My comments on the shiekh’s article.
    Salam dear sheikh. I must say that I do respect you as you are very intellectual and articulate mashallah. May Allah increase the number of sheikhs like this. Not afraid to debate and halt to be counter argued. The sign of strong understanding.

    Now for the negative side. … Just joking :-)

    Ok , I can see you are looking at it in a different way. My feeling is that if they don’t want people living in an Islamic way in their country isn’t that their right? I think the answer is no because these Muslims are British citizens too. But they are not as British as them so they are a bit lesser than the norm.

    This makes it hard for them to accept the Islamic way especially as it seems so anti western. So will they accept living with us with us bring so different? Not sure. There is a lot of work we need to do to show them that Islam is not a threat to them. That it is a beautiful way. But at the moment this is very hard to convey. The media is the obstacle.

    So our life here becomes a struggle to convey the good understanding of Islam. Ie we all need to be super active in dawa explaining Islam and exposing the media bias. I think this may be our role today dear sheikh. Wassalam

    ali

  2. Promoting or Espousing British Values has all but been outlawed in this country. What he ought to have said was promoting Politically Correct, state Sanctioned British Values which just goes to show that this statement by them is mere propaganda. Ok Mr Gove, I challenge you to tell us what these British values are. For a start, do you mean English? Are they, looking after the sick and elderly, privatising public services, allowing the City who caused the debt we’re in, to continue making millions whilst we suffer losing out for past 4 years, that democracy must always prevail when we have a rampant right wing media. Don’t talk s*** Gove, you wouldn’t know a decent value even if the Mail printed it. Telegraph report……..Gove became embroiled in the Commons expenses scandal after the Telegraph reported that he had claimed £7,000 to furnish his London home before “flipping” his designated second home to a house in his constituency, Surrey Heath. Are these the British Values he is talking about? It says that schools must promote British values of respect for the law, democracy, equality and tolerance of different faiths and religious and other beliefs. Since the government itself fails to do that, why should schools have to?

    What British values? The only values politicians have are greed, nepotism, sleaze and corruption.What a load of BS…. Birmingham council admitted that there is no evidence of extremism in the schools so you’re just trying to scare people with your crap Mr Gove…Does the man mean British values or the values of Cameron’s corrupt junta? The two are certainly not the same. Democracy and free speech or the limitation of them are the first issues that come to mind. so if you haven’t worked it out yet, Gove’s Trojan horse plot was meant to create a fake hysteria around Muslims and Islam so that Gove could extend his powers with little complaint from the brit public. If anyone gets the time just read Theresa mays leaked letter to Gove .. it alludes to what had been discussed and planned. the Trojan hoax was just the means of getting there – not that the bigots care about Gove’s abuse of powers. Sick and tired of this minister and his gang! Think BIG, teach people to think universal values instead of old-fashioned nationalism conducting to xenophobia. You won’t have extreme practise in your school Mr Gove but you will end up with what something even more terrifying: a mass sentiment of rage against other cultures and nationalities, ignorance all around you. Shame on you.

    I would like to know, from Mr Gove, what is being done to investigate the school inspector who failed to observe, report and prevent the take over of these schools? Lee Donaghy, the assistant principal of Birmingham’s Park View School which was placed in special measures over fears children were at risk of radicalisation, said many of the concerns over Muslim extremists were ‘plain old Islamophobia’. It was clear from remarks made by Muslims involved in the running of the schools that they were just continuing during school hours the culture that children were living in for the rest of the time, and where 95% of the pupils were Muslim it seemed only natural to do so. The whole ‘Trojan Horse’ thing reminds me of the Satanic Abuse scandal, which turned out to be a load of paranoid rubbish. Is there any evidence for it at all? Looks like an excuse to spread nationalist dogma into schools to me..The British government is advertising hatred and disgust for foreigners with many of its policies and the attitude of the press is also very unhelpful… i do not know where they think this will lead us to.
    I always thought British values were:

    - to divide, exploit and steal from other countries
    - to travel to exotic lands, meet interesting people, and kill them
    - to uphold the tradition of bad haircuts, ugly shoes and trousers, tattoos, potato-sack-dresses and blue brass-buttoned blazers
    - to apply horrible and mutually maximum-clashing patterns of wallpaper, curtains, carpets, lamps and sofas in the dullest colours imaginable
    - to live in poky draughty and damp matchbox houses with funny little kitchens and only one toilet up a steep flight of steps as soon as you enter
    - to display dis-ease in communicating with other humans
    - to consume nauseating but simultaneously tasteless food which doesn’t evolve
    - to overfish and then ruin the fish dish
    - to invent proper games and then lose leadership in them
    - to be strictly monolingual
    - to be bureaucratic and robot-like in the repetition of rules when confronted with a new situation
    - to claim to be the world’s oldest democracy and then elect abominable and embarrassing politicians with foot-in-mouth disease
    - to have invented the railways and then proceed to develop the sleaziest, most inefficient, worst-designed trains in Europe
    - to be part of a continent yet pretend to have nothing to do with it

    I am enjoying myself and could go on and on, but seriously, in this case I agree with the ministry: those who are ideologically brainwashed and refuse to respect other religions and thinking -including atheism – have no place in schools!

    I prefer to fight evil by not allowing one minority group to be blamed, accused and then discriminated against because of a minority of the minority. There were terrorists before the current jihadist terrorists. The IRA to name but one example. Did we ban the Irish from being involved in running schools? Did we curb their liberties? Did we wholesale blame the Irish and look to enforce ‘control measures’ as you so worrying phrased it, against them? No, we did what all reasonable, rational and just societies did and looked for those responsible. It may not be the easiest route, but it is the just route. Wholesale discrimination of the kind you are implying is wrong, immoral and frankly disturbing that anyone would suggest it. Gove tells the teachers which books they should let the children study, forces the schools to accept a Christian version of the Bible…and if that is not censorship, I don’t know what is.

    When I heard Cameron talk about people “respecting” British values and institutions, I couldn’t stop laughing. Institutions like the police force, that have been found to be institutionally racist? Or what about the CPS and the IPCC, who have FAILED to arrest let alone prosecute, one police officer over the five hundred or so death in custody cases. Then you have the corporate controlled corrupt media institutions in Britain, that deserve no respect.

    BRITISH VALUES??? I blame them for the Expulsion of the
    Acadians, the War of 1812, WW1 and WW2. The British were terribly cruel to the people of Africa as were the Portuguese in the Congo. British ships were
    necessary for the African slave trade. Thousands of ships may have been
    involved. The British knew of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen but could not be bothered.

    The British are the world`s second greatest hypocrites and liars who ILLEGALLY OCCUPY GIBRALTAR and the
    FALKLANDS if we are to judge them according to International Law. Britain was
    never under threat by the British at any time by the Spanish nor by the tribes
    in South America.

    This massive Muslim immigration is now a needle being poked in the eye of the fish and chips tribe, I say good show! Best it be used to divide and conquer this island as poetic justice for their illegal occupations and bloody invasions.
    IA
    London School of Islamics Trust

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