As death hovers more visibly than what is considered “normal” thanks to the Coronavirus, you would think people would take stock of their own realities, subject the self to moral opprobrium, and perhaps discern way in which we can make society better.
Not so for some people, it seems. The same people, or that type. You know, the same type who intellectually philander with mass-murdering white supremacists hell-bent on preserving their ethnicities whilst standing on the skulls of those they dispossessed and put to the sword of modernity. The type who relish catastrophe as it enables new modalities for the creation of the phantom enemy – be they Muslims, or as is vividly depicted today in the media and social commentary, black people fighting against racial injustice.
Zakāt is fundamental obligation – quite literally a pillar of Islam and a subject of detailed, intricate rulings. Given we are in the blessed month of Ramadān, this means that we are in a period where Muslims are more likely to give their Zakāt money. With predictions of global Zakāt funds reaching $600 billion each year and talk of it stimulating an economy in recession following a global pandemic, its use – and potential misuse – is the focus of many.
There are Muslim organisations – some doing amazing work in the service of Muslims – which will adopt fiqh approaches and views that open Zakāt categories. This allows them to cover any cost in the organisation. This situation is a travesty as it puts Muslims in a precarious position; on the one hand we condemn deformist approaches promoted by counter-extremists and traitors, on the other, we adopt them at the level of usul if it suits our agenda. If an organisation adopts an approach to open the categories of Zakāt that leads to Zakāt money being spent on counter-extremists and deformists (see NZF, as an example, which has since made changes), we have little standing when we have contributed to its methodological normalisation in pursuit of our own causes and ends.
I have been thinking a lot lately about how we as Muslims operate amid difficulties. Here I am not specifically referring to the apologetic groups, or those who choose slavery and betrayal. It is those institutions and groups that have been at the forefront of fighting the good fight and defending the downtrodden at considerable personal cost.
During the period of colonial devastation, there was an extensive use of PR to spin harmful schemes and sell them to Muslims with objectives which ultimately served colonial ends.
You must be the right type of Muslim with the right type of mindset to be allowed into the political arena. A Sajid Javid/Maajid Nawaz-type whose practice of Islam is non-existent and politically kow-tows to the neocons and pro-Israel lobby, would be ideal.
Are you a confident Muslim who asserts mainstream Islamic and political views that do not pander to the aforementioned circles? Forget democracy and all that British Values nonsense and prepare to have the weight of the establishment bear down on you and your livelihood targeted.
A recent orchestrated furore exemplifies this.
First piece: NZF: “Give Zakat Locally to Counter-Extremists, Deformists and Purveyors of Pro-Israel Activism?
Second piece: NZF: A Clarification that Fails to Clarify
Luqman Ali of Khayaal Theatre published a “rebuttal” to “allegations” that have been made in my article on NZF. It can be found in the comment section of the first piece and as a published note on Facebook. This piece examines his statement.
The responses to my piece on NZF have been spritely to put it mildly.
Luqman Ali of Khayaal Theatre engaged with me on Facebook, first stating he didn’t have time to respond, before putting an emotional response together which accused me of proffering “spurious allegations” (the Facebook comments have been deleted, the comments left on the blog are still present). Of course, when asked to point out these spurious allegations, nothing substantive was forthcoming. What seemed to escape Ali was that it was the zakat funding at stake; would I or any other Muslim concerned about how their zakat money is used, fund what he is doing?
Some seemingly stamped out comments claimed it was a “fitna” and “defamation”. Another invoked the well-worn “adab” card, though I don’t recall donors and the poor being asked whether they agreed with the direction NZF was heading in. As expected, none of the comments engaged or disputed the material that had been presented.
Then came NZF’s “Statement of Clarification” (updated on the 29th of May in response to 5PillarsUK’s coverage, I am concerned with the “The Detail” section).
Post-War on Terror, the securitised discourse around the need to “reform” (deform) Islam has continued upon a slippery slope. In recent years, this descent has taken its aim at the fundamental aspects of Islam.
The pillars of Islam are referred to as pillars precisely, as the Ulama explain, because they constitute the core of Islam. Certain organisations, however, intentionally or otherwise, are in effect harnessing this powerful act of worship to undermine Islam itself.
One such organisation is the National Zakat Foundation (NZF).
On the 15th of March 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant walked into two mosques and murdered men, women and children, killing 50 and injuring numerous. This was particularly shocking for a country that, according to the Global Peace Index, is ranked as the second safest place in the world. Much commentary has followed since particularly on proposals for new gun-control measures, with various images of the New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern hugging of Muslims and speculating on whether her response was genuinely “intuitive” , or crafted for grief competitions.
The response most curious, however, has come from the neocons.
The previous detailed pieces analysing what is being taught as part of No Outsiders demonstrate there are fundamental problems with the programme. A summary of the issues with Andrew Moffat and his civilising mission can be found here.
Much of the mainstream media response to parents questioning the materials being taught at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham has entailed spin and ultimately, a dismissal of parental rights and concerns. These concerns include PREVENT underpinning contentious teaching material that is mainly aimed at Muslim children, and the fact that the material itself seeks to actively reconfigure the religious beliefs of not only Muslim children but the whole community.
The elephant in the room is conveniently ignored: state-backed interference into the private sphere.
What dominates is spin designed to frame Muslims as backward, intolerant and bigoted.