Public Debate: Is Islam the Cause or Solution to Extremism?

On Friday 16th Oct 2015, Zara Faris was invited by the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) to speak at a cross-panel debate on the criminalisation of Islam and tackling extremism in London entitled, ‘The Big Question: Is Islam The Cause Or Solution To Extremism?’

The panel was chaired by Peter Oborne, the former Chief Political Commentator for The Telegraph and included:

• Fiyaz Mughal – Tell MAMA
• Mohammed Amin – Conservative Muslim Forum
• Hamza Tzortzis – iERA
• Zara Faris – Muslim Debate Initiative
• Dr. Anas Altikriti – Cordoba Foundation
• Peter Tatchell – Peter Tatchell Foundation

All the speakers provided an interesting (and sometimes heated) debate. MDI’s Zara Faris performed admirably, by keeping the debate on the topic and exhorting the attendees to deal with the bigger picture, namely that people have blindly  accepted the word ‘extremism’ without questioning what right does the government or Political Liberalism have to call other worldviews ‘extreme’? Zara also demonstrated through use of extensive evidence that religion, and the interpretation of religion, had no connection to violence whatsoever. However, Zara pointed out that the top philosophers of Political Liberalism do justify terrorism done in the name of Liberalism in ’emergencies’. Zara argued that the government’s clampdown on ‘extremism’ is just a smokescreen to cover it’s clamp down on anyone who politically differs or dissents from Political Liberalism. Anyone who examines the history of political liberalism, will see that it has a well-defined history of intolerance to ideologies/religions it considers to be rivals.

2 replies »

  1. When a native Brit goes to Middle East, he is called a voluntary fighter. When a Muslim goes there he is called a terrorist. Double standard by the British society. Also lot of British Jews went to Israel to fight but on their return no action was taken against them.

    The three Jihadi Muslim girls, missing Bradford family of 12 and the Jihadi John were in a wrong place at a wrong time in a non-Muslim school with non-Muslim teachers during their developmental periods. They suffer from identity crises. They are unable to enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry. They were not radicalised at a non-Muslim school, says principal. But the school with non-Muslim teachers are responsible to create identity crises. Muslim children must be in state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. Why should we be surprised? They have gone through a rotten education system where there is no consequences for anything and they have grown up in a rather pathetic, wet nation with a liberal criminal justice system which actually seems to view law upholding people with pure contempt. Jihadi John has been identified, tried and convicted by the media. Surely this would prejudice any criminal case against him. In my opinion, he was also radicalised by MI5. To stop radicalisation of teens we need to find out the cause. We will get no where if all we do is just condemn but to actually stop this we need to find the cause and stop immediately, that includes All the way from extremist imams to extremist family members AND the pressure and the factor some of the security forces have upon teens.

    British schools are not doing enough to tackle racism and promote race relations. Many teachers are unaware of racist attitudes amongst pupils. Schools have a responsibility not only to deal with racist incidents but also to prepare pupils for life in a multicultural and multiracial society.

    Children from minority groups, especially the Muslims, are exposed to the pressure of racism, multiculturalism and bullying. They suffer academically, culturally and linguistically: a high proportion of children of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin are leaving British schools with low grades or no qualification.

    In education, there should be a choice and at present it is denied to the Muslim community. In the late 80s and early 90s, when I floated the idea of Muslim community schools, I was declared a “school hijacker” by an editorial in the Newham Recorder newspaper in east London. This clearly shows that the British media does not believe in choice and diversity in the field of education and has no respect for those who are different.

    Muslim schools, in spite of meagre resources, have excelled to a further extent this year, with two schools achieving 100% A-C grades for five or more GCSEs. They beat well resourced state and independent schools in Birmingham and Hackney. Muslim schools are doing better because a majority of the teachers are Muslim. The pupils are not exposed to the pressures of racism, multiculturalism and bullying.

    A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brit. The whole world belongs to Muslims. He/she must learn and be well versed in Standard English to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. At the same time, he/she must learn and be well versed in Arabic, Urdu and other community languages to keep in touch with their cultural heritage and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry. For a Muslim English is an economic language and Arabic is a religious while Urdu and other community languages are social and emotional.

    In Islam there is no commandment to kill people by making such allegations against them. The cartoonists had exercised their freedom of expression, and freedom of expression is totally allowed in Islam. Even during the Prophet’s time there were several instances of ridicule, however the Prophet and his Companions neither punished such persons nor asked anyone to do so. On every occasion of this kind, the Prophet’s Companions always tried to positively disseminate the message of Islam. They never tried to punish these people. The killing of those people who had published the cartoons is a gravely un-Islamic act in the name of Islam. What did killing Saddam Hussain do. What did killing Osama Bin laden do? NOTHING!!!. There is a long long line of replacements. I don’t know the answers. He was asked by MI5 to join them…so you know he is working for them.

    None of 7/7 bombers and British Muslim youths who are in Syria and Iraq are the product of Muslim schools. They are the product of British schooling which is the home of institutional racism with chicken racist native teachers. It is absurd to believe that Muslim schools, Imams and Masajid teach Muslim children anti-Semitic, homophobic and anti-western views. It is dangerously deceptive and misleading to address text books and discuss them out of their historical, cultural and linguistic context.

    Bilingual Muslims children have a right, as much as any other faith group, to be taught their culture, languages and faith alongside a mainstream curriculum. More faith schools will be opened under sweeping reforms of the education system in England. There is a dire need for the growth of state funded Muslim schools to meet the growing needs and demands of the Muslim parents and children. Now the time has come that parents and community should take over the running of their local schools. Parent-run schools will give the diversity, the choice and the competition that the wealthy have in the private sector.

    There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies. This mean the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islam’s teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society.

  2. I am greatly disappointed by the Islamic knowledge of all the Muslims on the panel. There are many reasons to believe that they are inclined towards Wahabism and that is the main reason why they were unable to define the Islamic perspective of Islamic extremism and fundamentalism.

    Hence, none of them were able to clarify that Islam is a post-modern system of life, which was against both secular and religious extremism and fundamentalism and only accepted that part of religion that was acceptable to the secular and scientific path of the creation.

    For example, we do not believe in God because religious beliefs and dogmas require us to believe in God. We believe in God because the Intelligence Design of God’s Work in His creation provides us with adequate proof of His existence. Hence, we do not believe in a Hindu, Muslim or Christian God. We believe in the ONE GOD who is responsible for creating and sustaining our entire creation.

    Thus, post-modern Islam has a unique vocabulary that distinguishes secular and scientific path of Islam from the religious path of Islam that breeds religious extremism and fundamentalism. For example, the Arabic word deen is “way of life”, not “religion”. Likewise, ibbadat is to “serve” God as His vicegerent and friend and not to “worship” Him as in religion.

    In the same way, in post-modern Islam, an Aalim (singular for ulama) is one who teaches and function according to the secular and scientific methodology of ilm-ul-yaqin (certainty of knowledge by inference and reasoning), ayn-ul-yaqin (certainty of knowledge by seeing and observing) and haqq-ul-yaqin (absolute knowledge, like this is a computer, etc). He is a genuine scholar.

    He is very different from an Aalim who teaches and functions according to the religious methodology of taqlid (blind following), aqidah (blind faith based on dogmas and doctrines), sainthood, sects and madhabs (usually four schools of thoughts). Such an Aalim is a priest and has no place in post-modern Islam.

    The cardinal teaching and essence of the Islamic way of life is Tawhid (an Arabic word for unity and universality). In simple form, these teachings include the teachings of the unity of God, unity in the teachings and practices of all the Books and Prophets of God, absolute unity between the Word of God and the sayings and doings of the Prophets, unity between the Word of God and the Work of God in the signs and science of Nature and in the history of religion, the world of God and the world of Caesar and so on.

    In a more sophisticated way, it teaches unity between the knowledge of the seen and the unseen, the secular and religious, the individual and the community, the national and international, this world and the Hereafter and so on.

    Thus, post-modern Islam is a means of superimposing the knowledge science, religion, politics, culture, etc, one top of the other without creating barriers and boundaries that make them separate and exclusive. In other words, it is a means of eliminating the dichotomy of the secular and religious and all extremism and fundamentalism within and between them.

    Likewise, the Qur’an goes to great lengths to teach DIVERSITY in the Islamic mission for world PEACE. For example, there exists in the ground different colours of sand with different textures, water holding capacities, rooting depths, etc. In the same way, there are different species and varieties of plant and animal life. Similarly, God created nations and tribes from a single male and female so that may understand one another.

    Hence, in the unified field of the Islamic way of life, there is no universal sight, sound, symbol, language, dressing, image, culture, custom, tradition or socio-economical and political affiliation. Therefore, Islam permits us to integrate and assimilate with all diversities of the different nations and tribes if we are required to do so in their pure form.

    Hence, to restrict the Islamic way of life to the seventh century Arab culture, custom, tradition, etc, is totally against the knowledge of Islam. For example, to state that because the Prophet (s) kept a beard, wore a kurtha, sat on the floor and ate his food, etc, it is his Sunnah to do so would be like stating that a certain soil profile is Islamic and all others are not. Or, it would be like stating that a certain flower or fruit of a certain plant life is Islamic and all others are not or that the stripes of the zebra are Islamic and the spots of the leopard are not. Similarly, hijab, burqa, niqab, etc, are tradition, not religion.

    Therefore, in conclusion to the debate, I would state that while Islam is a solution to all extremism and fundamentalism, both secular and religious, the majority of the Muslims and their ulama (priests) are not. They are the major cause for Islamic extremism and fundamentalism because of the ignorance of what they believe and practice.

    AK Sayed.

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