Tell MAMA was a government funded project to measure hate-crimes targeting Muslims because of their faith. The latter point is key because what follows by Fiyaz Mughal is the exact act which Tell MAMA seeks to report on. Before we delve in, it is worth getting some background on Fiyaz.
His previous work was around his interfaith organisation called Faith Matters. On its homepage, the website claims that,
“We understand that minorities face discrimination and hate incidents and attacks in the United Kingdom”
His wife also runs Jan Trust which is another PREVENT cash cow. Before jumping on the more lucrative tackling extremism (reducing Muslim minority rights) bandwagon, during his time as the chair for the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats, Fiyaz associated with Azhar Ali and Haras Rafiq attending multi-faith events. According to sources within DCLG, Fiyaz and Azhar are still good bedfellows (metaphorically of course). Azhar Ali was an advisor to Hazel Blears regarding extremism in the context of the Prevent strategy and used and abused the “Sufis” in-line with the RAND Corporation policy document, and made them the “moderate” voice, contributing to the splintering of the Muslim community. Haras Rafiq was infamous for pushing the now defunct Sufi Muslim Council and for also making false, anti-Muslim, hate stirring statements, claiming on a Channel 4 documentary, without evidence, that it could take less than two-weeks for one in five Muslims in the UK to become terrorists. Haras Rafiq was, during the Sufi Muslim council days, exposed as having connections with the neoconservatives and the controversial Shaykh Hisham Kabbani. Since then he has worked with his colleague Rashad Ali and the extremist Douglas Murray as the director of CENTRI, a neoconservative organisation which is dedicated to destroying community cohesion as much as it claims to the contrary.
This is quite some company Fiyaz has. And all the more understandable given his latest tirade against the 90 year old Dr Mohammed Naseem, Chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque. Fiyaz makes some seriously shocking claims, cherry-picks his quotes to attack and conveniently ignores Dr Naseem’s other statements. His entire piece can be rebutted with the highlighting of a singular fallacy which runs through the course of his article; the conflation between the Islamic position on homosexuality, which has been established for well over 1400 years through the consensus of the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and his experiential view of the society around him. Nevertheless his points will still be addressed in detail.
Fiyaz accepts that there are those in the faith communities whom regard homosexuality as a sin but then proceeds to conflate two epistemologically different paradigms. He states that only the conservatives within a faith group believe homosexuality is sinful. The concept of “conservative” and non-conservative perspectives are etymologically Western constructs. Thus their application to the Islamic paradigm is fallacious and do not exist in Islam especially in the context of the Shari’ah which is unchanging. In Islam there are particular prohibitions which are definitively established (Qat’iy). Homosexuality being a sin is one of them. Thus the normative, not the fringe, position on homosexuality is that it is prohibited. The consensus upon this position has existed from the inception of Islam and to deny such a reality is to deny Islam itself. I can produce pages upon pages of evidences to prove this point from all four schools of Islamic jurisprudence. However, instead we will see how Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, the neocon-linked spiritual head of Fiyaz’s friend’s organisation Sufi Muslim Council responds to homosexual Muslims who wish to “reorient to normal”:
“Recite audhu billah mina ‘sh-shaytani ‘r-rajeem, Bismillahi ‘r-Rahmani ‘r-Raheem 1000 times, 3 times daily (morning, evening, night).”
Accepting homosexuality is a sin, he prescribes litanies for the answerer to combat his desires. Another answer on the same website which is run by his spiritual students states the following:
Homosexuality is a haram practice just as kufr is haram or just as wrongdoing is forbidden, but Allah is the Creator of everything. As for “why this or that was created” it is up to Him not us. We are only meant to use our will and be responsible for our actions.
Thus even the previously “government approved” versions of Muslims reiterate the fact that homosexuality is forbidden, “just as kufr [disbelief] or wrongdoing is forbidden”.
So Fiyaz, is it only the ultra-orthodox? This also contextualises Dr Naseem’s point which is clearly speaking from the Islamic paradigm in him equating homosexuality to other acts which are regarded as sinful. Fiyaz, pandering to his newly established patron, Peter Tatchel, clearly ignores this and proceeds to compare Dr Naseem’s views and arguments which are grounded in the Islamic paradigm with the common practices of the society (in itself, argumentum ad populum) in which we live. What is even more perverse on the part of Fiaz is that Dr Naseem accepts this who clearly states:
“Not being able to accept them in religion should not be confused with denying them their human rights such as their right to have education, employment, housing and respect.“
Thus meddling with religion to fit society is one thing, allowing people to do what they wish within the confines of the law in this society is completely another.
Upon Dr Naseem’s comment on the Islamic position of homosexuality and highlighting the ignorance of the Islamic position on the part of the drag queen, Fiyaz states:
“Islam was never meant to be brittle and to create people to conform so that they are all the same. If the strength in Islam is its diversity and plurality, which many Muslims say, then you assuming that we should all sexually be the same is just bizarre…The reality of life is that people are different.”
The reality is Fiyaz has again amalgamated the emphatically established Islamic position on homosexuality with the practices of the people. The two are mutually exclusive. Islam is a live religion giving guidance on every matter of our lives and has clear ahkaam; whether one chooses to accept this is a different matter entirely. Ironically, Fiyaz falls foul to the very charge he levies against Dr Naseem:
“Who exactly made you judge and jury on this matter Dr Naseem?”
So who made you the judge and jury on what Islam is, or says? What indeed are your scholarly credentials in terms of speaking on the topic of Islam?
Fiyaz takes issue with Dr Naseem’s comparison of homosexuality with paedophilia, yet has completely ignored his new patron’s implications with paedophilia. LGBTQ activist Peter Tatchel besides attacking Islam, calling the Shari’ah a “clerical form of fascism” has been involved in controversy surrounding paedophilia and whilst reiterating he does not condone paedophilia, his statements make him a paedophile apologist. Talking against the prohibition of a book in the 90s called “Boy-Love” he wrote a letter to the Guardian in its defence stating that:
“The positive nature of some child-adult sexual relationships is not confined to non-Western cultures. Several of my friends – gay and straight, male and female – had sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy… it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful.”
Will Fiyaz pander some more to his new friend and support his views on paedophilia? Will we see Tell MAMA stepping outside its remit and condemn this view of their new-found friend?
This brings us to another point. The About Us page for Tell MAMA outlines the work it does which is to measure anti-Muslim attacks and provide a mechanism to report them. So why on earth is Fiyaz refuting, rather poorly, Dr Naseem’s expression of beliefs on homosexuality on the Tell MAMA website? This seems to be beyond the remit of Tell MAMA and in-line with what his abovementioned associates delve into. Or could it be that he is proving his credentials to Tatchel which will enable him to get more funding? After all, after the government funding was pulled because they didn’t have the “stomach” to proceed with the project, the Muslim minority only provided him with a paltry £57 of funding – an indication of how much faith the Muslim minority place in him. New channels of funding are required. Perhaps Tatchel being a patron gives him that opportunity.
After delving into what seems to be his personal sexual fancies Fiyaz questions whether those whom engage in particular acts are still Muslims. With this remark, his complete ignorance of Islamic jurisprudence comes to the fore. Sinful acts do not render one out of the fold of Islam.
He then says, based upon Dr Naseem’s beliefs which by and large represent the views of the majority who are the followers of normative Islam, that he should “move on” meaning he needs to leave his position as Chairman of Central Mosque. Do I sense minority discrimination against the followers of Islam who happen to hold the majority view on homosexuality because of their faith? I think Fiyaz needs to be reported to his organisation since he has joined the forces he initially set out to fight. The same organisation which states:
“Anti-Muslim prejudice whilst being targeted against the followers of Islam, (Muslims), can also sometimes include opinions on Islam such as that it has no common values with other cultures, is inferior to the ‘West,’ and is a violent political ideology rather than a religion. Anti-Muslim prejudice in this context can therefore promote a social stigma towards Muslims and Islam, namely by creating a sense of fear and dread about them.” [emphasis added]