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Islam is Not up for Negotiation

The “reform”-deform project has been engaged post-War on Terror on the pretext that, following the doctrine of pre-emption, there is, in the words of Douglas Murray, a “problem with Islam” because a Muslim has behaved in an (ironically, un-Islamic) unsavoury manner.[1]  This logical bent has seen funded voices clamouring to present their unique version of Islām and issue the call to deform Islām into one which is concomitantly subservient to Western hegemonic interests.[2]

The Intellectual Failure of Deconstructing Islām

Neocons and various deformists normally associated with the counter-extremism organisations project a concerted effort to inject uncertainty in Islām through postmodernist deconstructionism. This has given rise to free-for-all hermeneutical gymnastics of Islamic source texts. Thus, established legal doctrines are undermined,[3] creedal discourses are distorted and conflated with legal views,[4] or, taking the Ayaan Hirsi Ali approach, calls are made to drop verses of the Qur’ān because some choose to interpret them in their own destructive way, i.e. in precisely the same way deformists encourage.[5]

The dominant Western narrative is that Islām 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 I have already addressed in previous articles. The first is that this requires twisting and distorting Islamic texts (as highlighted above) which no credible jurist will permit.  Secondly, the demand of Islām 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.[6]

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.”[7]

“Progressive” Islām

Thirdly, uncertainty is also born from the associated “progressivism” as espoused by the likes of Nawaz, one need only review his attacks on the Left,[8] and the born-again neoconservative “Muslim Reform Movement”.[9] 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. It is uncertain, fluid and essentially docile and vulnerable to the intellectual repression of the pre-reform Church variety as demonstrated by the neoconservative-cum-Quilliam attitude towards mainstream Muslims. This is projected through 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”.[10]  Such dogmatism, contrary to Nawaz’s claim of “non-dogmatism”,[11] intrinsically enables supremacy. It thus arrives at the precipice of an undeniable reality: that the intellectual justification for imperial colonialism, which destroyed the Islamic paradigmatic structures of society and unsettling the unprecedented stability in the lands it governed, are resurgent once more. The doctrine continues to destroy the natural order, from nations, through their 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. Islām 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”.[12] 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…”[13]

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.”[14]

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”.[15]

As for the doctrine of progress, neoconservatives advocate a return to a closed society based upon fascist, imperial principles, governed by pre-modern ideas.[16] Kristol argued that America was required to start the “long trek back” explicitly towards “pre-modern political philosophy”.[17] By “pre-modern political philosophy” he meant the Straussian-Platonic conception of the ideal state which is encapsulated in the oligarchic society marked by immanent inequality.[18]

Why should Islām, 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 Islām concordant to modernity, liberalism and progressivism, is a deliberate call to trigger failure in the faith.

Deform and Fostering Hatred of Islām

If the deform project is a failure amongst mainstream Muslims, who then is the target 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 Islām, 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, which will now be further explored.

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

Of pertinence is the fact that Quilliam was founded under the “advisory” of Michael Gove, who sees normative Islam as “Islamism”,[19] and therefore an enemy open to securitisation and discrimination. Githens-Mazer and Lambert, explain the function of organisations like Quilliam. They 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.”[20]

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.[21] 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.”[22]

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.””[23]

This is the neoconservative objective.  To make Islām 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 Islām. According to a Yougov poll last year, 56% of Britons regarded Islām as “a major” or “some” threat to Western liberal democracy – a ten percent increase from the figure taken soon after the 7/7 bombings.[24]  There is now 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.[25][26][27] The manifestation of this hatred of Islām and association of criminality now sees women in ḥijābs brutally attacked,[28] and a defenceless pensioner on his way to the mosque killed by a white attacker who cites stereotypes endorsed at the highest level of government.[29][30]  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 the neocon tool of persuasion, argumentum ad metum,[31] which fosters prejudice against a minority resulting in violence against the vulnerable, a benefit or threat to social cohesion?

Are those who advocate totalitarian, closed-society policies, those who subvert democracy and actively promote a clash of civilisations from the pulpits in Parliament a threat to Britain?[32][33] Or are Muslims the threat, those who believe themselves an integral part of Britain despite experiencing cold-war era subversion strategies of repression?

Despite the attempts to dissect the hearts of Muslims, Islām 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: Islām is not up for negotiation.

“[This is] the revelation of the Book about which there is no doubt from the Lord of the worlds.”[34]


“This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islām as religion.”[35]


“And We sent you (O Muḥammad) not, but as a Mercy for all creation.”[36]


“The best of people are those who bring the most benefit to the rest of mankind.”[37]

Source: www.islam21c.com


[1] https://twitter.com/DouglasKMurray/status/698166604845207552

[2] https://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/tony-blair-the-neoconservative-threat-to-the-world-3-declaring-war-on-islam/

[3] https://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/maajid-nawaz-and-his-call-to-deform-islam/

[4] https://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/deforming-faith-and-history-to-serve-a-neocon-agenda-part-iii-adam-deen/

[5] https://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/ayaan-hirsi-alis-deformist-call-and-a-lesson-from-the-haskalah/

[6] https://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/deforming-faith-and-history-to-serve-a-neocon-agenda-part-iii-adam-deen/

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

[8] https://twitter.com/MaajidNawaz/status/698926538696355840

[9] https://twitter.com/MaajidNawaz/status/498499939279077377

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

[11] https://twitter.com/MaajidNawaz/status/498499939279077377

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

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

[14] Ibid., p.132-133

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

[16] https://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/terrorist-toddlers-prevent-neoconservativism-and-the-impending-british-neo-stasi-state/

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

[18] As alluded to in the Allegory of the Cave. C.f. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave

[19] https://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2015/05/24/the-neoconservatism-of-michael-gove-and-celsius-77-2-islam-and-muslims-as-the-enemy/

[20] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2009/oct/19/prevent-quilliam-foundation-extremism

[21] https://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/the-neoconservatism-in-michael-gove-and-celsius-77-1-his-inspiration/

[22] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2009/oct/19/prevent-quilliam-foundation-extremism

[23] http://www.danielpipes.org/3362/flemming-rose-interview-the-threat-of-islamism

[24] http://5pillarsuk.com/2015/07/06/poll-over-50-of-brits-view-islam-as-threat-to-uk/

[25] https://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/sexual-slavery-and-the-slanderous-neocon-attack-on-the-quran-by-the-times/

[26] https://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/cameron-cromer-and-colonialism-yes-mr-cameron-it-is-a-colonialist-style-attack-on-islam/

[27] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Eternal_Jew_(1940_film)

[28] http://5pillarsuk.com/2015/11/30/muslim-student-in-birmingham-punched-in-the-face-for-wearing-a-hijab/

[29] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/muslim-pensioner-ignored-grooming-insults-before-being-beaten-to-death-a6867786.html

[30] http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/rochdale-sex-grooming-case-david-688369

[31] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_fear

[32] https://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/more-desperate-press-smears-reinforces-bankruptcy-of-prevent-policy-exposes-neoconservative-threat-to-britain/

[33] https://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2015/07/31/neocons-and-gradualism-no-counter-entryism-for-fascists-in-government/

[34] Al-Qur’ān, 32:2

[35] Al-Qur’ān, 5:3

[36] Al-Qur’ān, 21:108

[37] Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), Daraqutni

About ʿAbd Allāh Nūr al-Dīn

A concerned Muslim with an interest in international law, domestic and foreign policy, history and contemporary ideologies and thinking such as neoconservatism and secularism and their impact on society and in particular Islam and Muslims.


  1. Pedro stop being a TROLL!

  2. muslims are just sickos who worship there fairy god that never existed,if he did exist,why dont you allow him to be depicted,islam is a political movement pretending to be as a religion.

  3. Even if you do you can’t change Islam even 1 iota! You collectively can’t even add a comma of take a comma out of anything in Islam.
    We have 2 pilars which Islam is based on. They are the Quran and the Sunnah. The onslaught of every Orientalist mind for a century and a half has tried to change this but they haven’t even been able to take away a comma from the Quran or Sunnah as it’s protected by Allah.
    Thats proof in itself of the truth of Islam.
    Islam is perfect.

  4. If the Quran was perfected on that day, then how is it that so many verses follow that one? And at least 2 Suras were added after that one? You don’t say that something was perfect and then add stuff? Just saying.

    • At least you agree it was perfected so had to be the truth!
      The next step is belief and worship of 1 God and that Muhammad was the last and final Prophet. Time is of the essence!

  5. Hector, cmon man! Not another TROLL posting from you. Do we have to keep telling you to move along. Why does the average Troll crawl out from under the wood? Because he’s just finished eating worms sonhas to soew it out somewhere.
    If you don’t like Islam or political islam or ‘normative’ Islam as you keep calling it why do you spend your time writing comments on an Islamic website.
    In reality the truth is you have no friends or a life and you come here to feel a sense of belonging!
    I know eventually you will see the error of your ways and become a Muslim Allah willing.

  6. JazakAllah Khair for this article, as much as I enjoy the articles at 21C I really wish you would tone down the lingo. It seems to me that some @ 21C try way too hard to sound intellectual and it is quite irritating. I’m born here, hold 2 degrees, not thick by any means, but I find some of the articles hard word and end up turning off. So please keep up the great work, just write in an easy intelligent manner, no need for fancy speech. And it is not from the Sunnah either, the Messenger sws spoke in an easy concise manner.

    Nice article, much needed and JazakAllah Khair

  7. I have said this before and I will say it again. May Allah swt preserve you all at Islam 21c in whatever small or large roll you are in.
    The need for these articles is so great right now.

  8. Muslims have created a “repulsion” of Islam and – ironically – their emphasis on “normative islam” increases the repulsion. Normative muslims” believe that if they explain what “normative islam” involves and pointing out that to followers of “normative islam” the “moderate” reforming muslims accepted by politicians and society as representative muslims aren’t really muslims at all “normative islam” will become acceptable to the general public.
    It won’t. Looking at violent islamists and followers of “normative islam” the only difference seems to be that the followers of “normative islam” recognise that they can’t impose their prejudices at the moment and that they aren’t powerful enough to impose them by violence. If normative islam is not up for negotiation there is no point in pretending its followers are or can be members of an open society.

    • Are the grounds you want to negotiate ‘normative Islam’ on non-negotiable? If the answer is yes, then clearly those grounds (which you ascribe to) are also not open members of society, but want to enforce their dogma on everyone else. If the answer is no, i.e., they are negotiable, then how can we accept to use negotiable and uncertain grounds for our discussion? So the question is not to define normative Islam as this has been defined many hundreds of years before neo-cons. The challenge is to prove that current societal values are non-negotiable, stand the challenge of time and worthy of being internationally accepted. Muslims, against what they possess of inimitably powerful ideals are only ever challenged with what is a pathetic, and hardly convincing alnernative, rendered by a bunch of cultish neo-cons, or confused liberals.

      • So far from wanting to “negotiate [with] ‘normative islam'”. I agree with the essay that it is impossible to do so. “Current societal attitudes” are not non-negotiiable but are made up of formal and informal negotiations between interested parties and are not intended to “stand the challenge of time ” but are alterable as circumstances change. If “normative islam” is not negotiale there is no point in negotiating. Society can decide what it considers tolerable among those who will negotiate and those who wil not negotiate will be disregarded. The recent legalisation of same-sex marriage epitomises the process.

    • Hector, cmon man! Not another TROLL posting from you. Do we have to keep telling you to move along. Why does the average Troll crawl out from under the wood? Because he’s just finished eating worms so he has to spew it out somewhere.

      If you don’t like Islam or political islam or ‘normative’ Islam as you keep calling it why do you spend your time writing comments on an Islamic website. It’s not like you live in a Muslim country.
      In reality the truth is you have no friends or a life and you come here to feel a sense of belonging!

      Your own family and kids threw you out and you ended up in an old people’s home which very sadly has become the norm in your culture, which you regard as so high and mighty. Is that what you want for us? To abandon our elders in their time of need?

      I know eventually you will see the error of your ways and become a Muslim Allah willing, we would look after you even after your troll behaviours!

      • “Normative islam” isn’t my term, actually. You’ve forgotten all about it already, Abu Mustafa? https://www.islam21c.com/politics/what-do-influential-british-muslims-believe/ as a refresher.
        As ʿAbd Allāh Nūr al-Dīn says – and as Dr. Butt confirms – “Islam is not up for negotiation”. In that case, though, there is no point negotiating with muslims. We – everyone else – can decide what we find mutually acceptable after negotiations and muslims can like it or lump it.

        • Even if you do you can’t change Islam even 1 iota! You collectively can’t even add a comma of take a comma out of anything in Islam.
          We have 2 pilars which Islam is based on. They are the Quran and the Sunnah. The onslaught of every Orientalist mind for a century and a half has tried to change this but they haven’t even been able to take away a comma from the Quran or Sunnah as it’s protected by Allah.
          Thats proof in itself of the truth of Islam.
          Islam is perfect in every way.

          • What’s proof in itself of the truth of Islam? Are there commas in the koran anyway?
            It isn’t a matter of changing islam. It’s a matter of whether islam can co-exist with other philosophies in a culture. As you acknowladge, it can’t, so there’s no point pretending it can.

            • Hector, where did I say Islam can’t coexist.
              Islam has coexisted for many hundreds of years when it’s allowed to do so.
              I believe all fighters should call it a day and we can all live peacefully. One human brother to the next. Free yourself from the shakles of being a thought slave.

              • Islam has coexisted for many hundreds of years when it’s made the rules.

                • There are more examples of when Islam has not made the rules and we have coexisted. You want a world where everyone kills everyone else?
                  You need to unshackle the slave mentallity and think free.

                  • Where have muskims not tried to impose itheir rules on others? A very recent example: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/apr/06/asad-shah-murder-accused-says-killed-disrespected-islam

                    • It’s documented that in ww1 and ww2 more than a Muslims died fighting and defending your rights!
                      What khilafah were they establishing or imposing on you.
                      The official numbers are staggering. Over 4 million fought the Europeans and you!
                      You trolls forget so easily!

                    • Where is it “documented that in ww1 and ww2 more than a Muslims died fighting and defending your rights”, Abu Mustafa? I think you’ve rather overestimated the casualties.

                    • Each agency gives different figures. I have seen from half million to 1.5. Let’s take it half a million Muslims died for your right to have an opinion on this website. Instead of hating and always being against Islam try opening you mind and heart.

                    • If you take a look at the casualties, Abu Mustafa, you will probably find that most of the muslims who died in WWI were actually fighting for the freedom of the Turkish Empire to rule nonmuslims and other muslims, whether they liked it or not.

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