ImamsOnline – A Repackaged, PREVENT-Touting Radical Middle Way?

ImamsOnlineRMWPREVENT

In my previous blog, I elucidated upon the overt strategy of deforming Islam. In short, individuals, Muslims and non, demand a change in Islam, either by removing parts of the Qur’an, or by post-modernist deconstructionism vis-à-vis free-for-all interpretations of the texts. In this piece I intend to cover another method of pushing deformation and control: through the subterfuge of fronting traditional scholars for the counter-extremism agenda.

“Exacting Control”

The desire for a deformation in Islam, if it wasn’t clear from my previous blog, is to control/shape Muslims and/or their thinking. At the geopolitical level, Muslim movements deemed “moderate” are being closely monitored by Western governments and their agencies. A digital leak published by Al-Jazeera shows the Zionist intelligence agency, Mossad, tracking government-sponsored movements promoting “moderate Islam”. It notes that Arab and North African states are abusing Islamic scholars to push a “moderate Islam” in order to effectively ensure government compliance. The Egyptian government, for instance, has “harnessed” Al-Azhar institute and the Waqf bureau by sending their scholars on “indoctrination missions” to Sinai at the behest of the regime. As another example, the top secret document records that a new association of scholars has been set up and tasked to disseminate “moderate Islam based on the Maliki School in the accepted Sahel states and considered moderate compared to other schools of Sunni Islam.” It carries out “propaganda” work to prevent radicalisation and violence. In essence, Islam and traditional scholars are being abused to instantiate state control, all to the glee of Mossad.

The question is what is this “moderate Islam” which excites Mossad?

A clue is found in the intelligence agency’s assessment of an Algiers convention of scholars on the topic of fighting “radicalism”. It laments the fact that despite the association pushing “moderate Islam”, only one Shaykh from the Algiers convention welcomed France’s military intervention in north Mali in 2013.

In other words, “moderate Islam” is one which is amenable to Western military invasion. From a neoconservative point of view, we need a “reformation” in Islam because we can’t peacefully bomb secular liberal democracy into Muslims without them complaining.

This is unsurprising. In a previous article, I explained how neoconservatives like Tony Blair are promoting education programmes in Muslim countries, which would eventually allow for exploitation by Western “interests”. Maajid Nawaz’s remit, by his own admission, also extends to subverting Muslim countries by creating a “demand for democracy”, making them tractable to Western intervention.

The first iteration of the PREVENT Strategy was also set up with express purpose of “engineering if not exacting control” in the Muslim community, as well as prompting “a substantive change in the attitudes and beliefs of Muslims”. The vehicle to carry out this agenda was, inter alia,  Radical Middle Way (RMW) and its “British Islam” project.

Ulama signed up and sincerely endorsed (unbeknownst to them) the “engineering” of Islam through the façade of spiritualism. Sectarian politics were disgustingly played to control a minority.

Imams Online

This model has reared its ugly head again in the form of the Imams Online initiative. Imams Online has become active over the past year, especially with its collection of videos on ISIS. Whilst it boasts of a cross-section of theological Islamic groups attending their recent Imams Online Digital Summit, Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah along with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf are the “guiding scholars”.

We have been here before. The same set of Ulama were used as a front to push a “moderate” Islam. Traditional Ulama gave legitimacy to the organisations which implemented the government, conveyor-belt theory-based, counter-extremism strategy. It was utter subterfuge. Indeed Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa, who once delivered talks for RMW in the past, recognised the reality of the “extremism” discourse:

“…where they say that they are not targeting Muslims, that we are targeting extremists, from amongst the Muslims, that’s a blatant lie…”

The position of Imams Online seems to be similar. The state of the initiative became precarious when a blogger raised the presence of Quilliam Foundation at the Digital Summit. Faith Associates, which is driving Imams Online, has received PREVENT funds in the past, though it is unclear whether this is still the case. However, the link to PREVENT does not end here. Indeed, there are some dubious persons fronting their campaign.

Platforming Deformists and PREVENT-Pushers

Questionable key figures appear amongst the scholars proudly presented on the website. One such individual is JIMAS CEO Abu Muntasir. He has made appearances on the Imams Online’s YouTube channel. PREVENT “extremism” is his basis, yet Abu Muntasir has no problems endorsing a book written by the neocon Rashad Ali and published by the extremist, bigoted Henry Jackson Society. If we recall, he was John Ware’s ideal Muslim in his abhorrent documentary on “British Islam”. In it, Abu Muntasir (Manwar Ali) declared, perfectly in tune with the PREVENT Strategy, that an “us and them” mentality is the starting point of a path which leads to terrorism. He also spoke at what can only be described as an orgy of deformists held by the Muslim “support group” Imaan in conjunction with the Muslim Institute. Other attendees at this event included deformist Dilwar Hussain, who recently called Theresa May’s ridiculous measures blatantly targeting Islam and Muslims as “even handed in recognising the need to also tackle other forms of extremism”.   “Incomplete Qur’an” Usama Hasan, women-abusing failed feminist Sara Khan, Tehmina Kazi, opportunist Fiyaz Mughal, old-school deformist Ziauddin Sardar and “gay Imam” Daayie Abdullah also joined the list of speakers. That’s quite the circle to be attending.

Khola Hassan is a contributor to the “scholar’s blog” section of the Imams Online website, as well as various videos condemning ISIS. She is also a listed speaker for the aforementioned RMW project. The sister of Usama Hasan, it seems over the past years she too has also been chugging alongside the PREVENT gravy train.

Politicising the niqab in the context of PREVENT, when “social cohesion” was the buzzword, she said,

“I think that the niqab does not help in terms of integration and it does not help the community.”

A few years later she sat on a panel alongside anti-Muslim extremist, neocon Douglas Murray, and Islamophobe Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, against a group of niqab-wearing women to discern the question of “Should the niqab be worn in Britain”. Despite this, she assumed the mantle of moral-superiority, and wrote a follow-up piece in which she described a person telling her that she isn’t following the Sunnah a “takfiri mentality”. Takfir is declaring someone a disbeliever. By stating someone is not following the Sunnah is not the same as pronouncing Takfir. Using politically charged, not to mention inaccurate buzzwords to demonise a minority within a minority speaks volumes of Khola’s mindset.

Interestingly, it was Tweeted by the female-abusing feminist Sara Khan as a “fabulous piece”. And more interestingly, the article was published by the Muslim Institute, at which she is a fellow, and which co-hosted the aforementioned conference of deformists with Imaan.

Recently, Khola also co-signed a letter authored by her brother, Usama Hasan, and endorsed by a host of Quilliam-linked, neocon-sympathetic and deformist individuals.

Another individual who co-signed this fatwa/letter was Sheikh Dr Qari Mohammad Asim MBE, Head Imam at Makkah Masjid, Leeds and the senior editor of Imams Online. Sources have confirmed that he has been involved with PREVENT over the past years. As recent as late last year, Makkah Masjid was mentioned in response to the question of what is being done to “encourage British Muslims to address interpretations of the Qur’an, the Hadith and the Sunnah which deem them to form a justification for violence.” The following response came forth,

“The Government has worked closely with British Muslim community organisations, such as the Federation of Muslim Organisations and Leeds Makkah Mosque, to enable the voice of the vast majority of Muslims across the country, who strongly oppose the poisonous rhetoric of violent extremists, to be heard.”

In the past, he has contributed to a report published by the Quilliam Foundation. Of course, such a contribution is not evidence of accepting their ideology lock, stock and barrel however, signing a “fatwa” authored by the discredited Usama Hasan, especially in the current climate, is outrageous, not merely for political reasons, which should be enough, but for the mere fact that credibility by association is being given to a man who advocates deformism within Islam.

Whenever the respected Imam chooses to address “British values”, he refers to them as being “our core values”, glossing over the PREVENT definition of “British values”, and the resultant implication of such a definition. The reality, courtesy of the PREVENT Strategy and the accompanying Channel deradicalisation framework, is the effective criminalisation of aspects of the Islamic faith (see also, here, here, here, here and here).

Quilliam/Usama Hasan et al have been instrumental in propping up the PREVENT Strategy – not to mention pivotal in the promotion of a deformation within Islam. I would like to know when a magazine “combatting” this type of “extremism” and denouncing it as unrepresentative of the true “moderate Islam”, will be published. Now that would be a magazine worth subscribing to. Or is Imams Online only dedicated to portraying one type of “Haqiqah” – a convenient neocon-government supporting one?

ShaukatWarraichTheresaMayIs Imams Online a PREVENT-funded project? Aside from Faith Associates being funded by PREVENT in the past, a number of sources who attended the Summit have disclosed that Shaykh Hamza Yusuf stated that Imams Online was indeed a government project, and that despite this, it should be supported. Whether it is specifically set-up to counter “extremism” is not known, however, with key players of the lucrative counter-extremism industry present, videos and publications focussed primarily on “extremism”, it certainly displays the hallmarks of the insidious PREVENT Strategy. Retweeting RMW’s event does not help their cause. Neither does Warraich being involved in arranging for Theresa May the extremist (above all people!) to visit Al Madinah Mosque in Barking and then nonchalantly sitting next to her, while she calls on Muslims to help defeat “extremism”.

A Flawed Basis

Many of the Ulama who attended Imams Online’s Digital Summit were shocked at the presentations. Despite this, it must be made clear that this is not an attack on the scholars of Islam who are supporting yet another neocon government initiative. I am also told that Shaukat Warraich is a decent person. However, wool cannot be pulled over the eyes of the Muslim minority. Righteous scholars have been abused in the past to lend legitimacy to government initiatives to promote a “British Islam” through the counter-extremism PREVENT Strategy – it furnished nothing but schisms in the Muslim community and enabled the ground for the true “moderates” to emerge: progressive, liberal, secular Muslims.

Warraich and the supporting Ulama must realise that their call operates on a very simple narrative – address the theology and the problem will be solved. This is a failed strategy. And one which props the PREVENT understanding and conveniently absolves the government’s failed domestic and foreign policies, which create contexts in which radicalisation ferments.

Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah in an interview with Warraich says those who travel to fight should study the Shari’ah. Ironically, the PREVENT Strategy of today relegates the mainstream understanding of Shari’ah to the minefield of “extremism”, thanks to its conflict with “British values”. Britons are advised by the Shaykh to learn the rules of Jihad to prevent excesses (interestingly, something CAGE has also echoed), however again, gaining such material and studying it would very likely render one foul of the Anti-Terror laws for possessing material which could be used for terrorism.

The Shaykh on the topic of Palestine stated that the British Parliament voted in favour of recognising Palestine. Though this is true, where it mattered, at the UN, UK abstained from voting in favour of Palestinian statehood. British Muslims are further advised to “argue the Palestinian cause in Britain”. Yet opposition to the Zionist entity and Western foreign policy, is categorised as “extremism”; charities supporting Gaza and Syria or critical of Western foreign policy are unfairly targeted by the Charity Commission; bank accounts belonging to Muslims are shutdown in a coordinated effort to stifle voices and humanitarian relief efforts.

The Shaykh, addressing Muslims in Britain says,

“as citizens, they should strive to do good while protecting their faith and teaching their children. They should teach them Islam”.

And herein lies the conundrum: the Shaykh, along with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, are seemingly not aware of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, which placed PREVENT on statutory footing; they are perhaps not aware of Theresa May, who discriminatorily targeted Shari’ah courts, whilst protecting Beth Din courts from scrutiny; they are not aware, that the belief in the primacy of the Shari’ah, orthodox penal laws, and viewpoints on homosexuality and music for instance are construed as “extremism” and therefore Muslims, for believing in mainstream Islam, are to be disrupted, treated as a pariah, and then “deradicalised”.

They also seem to be completely unaware that the Quilliam Foundation in cahoots with anti-Muslim, Islam-hating Henry Jackson Society has been instrumental in achieving this state neoconservative Britain is in. They have collectively established the new “moderate”: secular liberal, “progressive” Muslims. By Quilliam standards, Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah is an “extremist”. Yet, Imams Online sought to defend the invitation of the “Imams” responsible for the postmodernist/liberal destruction of Islam: Quilliam Foundation!

To worsen the situation, those linked to Quilliam, or funded by PREVENT are among the scholarly faces of Imams Online.

Concluding Remarks

Whilst the importance of disseminating the true teachings of Islam is of paramount importance, the greater game cannot be ignored. I cannot say that everything Imams Online is doing is questionable. Engaging Ulama is to be lauded. However, the promulgation of a singular aspect of Islam coupled to the counter-extremism industry, and further tainted by government-deformists who have in the past heavily undermined the Muslim minority, does not make for a promising concoction. Indeed it is a poisonous one devoid of overall benefit.

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him said,

“A believer is not stung by the same hole twice.”

We have seen this before. We will not accept it. The Muslim minority has been abused enough.

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6 thoughts on “ImamsOnline – A Repackaged, PREVENT-Touting Radical Middle Way?

  1. Salam Alaykum,

    Insha Allah you will agree to what I say and maybe improve it: The same mentality which made the so-called Enlightened Spanish, French, British, Dutch, etc, go forth to conquer land is still at work today with regards to the Muslims… This is exactly there is this talk of extremist views to begin with, since for them, someone who holds that a perfect revelation can be given to a man is basically insane, and this comes directly from their worldview. For me, the issue is that we have one League (“The U.N. Premiership League” let us call it), and 190+ participants, so obviously competition will be seen as a huge threat even if it is only ideological.

    I do not know in this context, how the application of the Shariah can be calibrated to deal with such issues, since in their worldview the concept of Shariah itself is “anathema” and the whole worldview and its institutions are against Islam from the root.

  2. One more thing which I forgot to mention: We have to be relentless in our goals; if we see, the acceptance of the “gay lobby” as natural definitely would not have worked 3 decades ago, since people’s views were different back then, but by being relentless they achieved some position and acceptability in society. (However, I again wonder about us Muslims and Islam, since the distance the gay lobby had to traverse was relatively small – what with the concept of total personal freedom and so forth- but we will at least force a “final decision” if we are relentless, while in the current state it is like a recurring illness that neither recedes nor kills the patient).

    • Walaykumsalam, thank you for taking your time out to comment. The colonialist endeavours were premised on a similar sentiments – the “dark world” needed to be enlightened. The discourse is less brazen but its still there. Neocons believe what controls the world are ideas, and hence their “idea” must remain supreme. Such a corrosive start will inevitably lead to clashes not only with other world views as it seeks to impose itself where it’s simply not wanted (e.g. ME) but with their own purportedly propounded secular liberal world view.

  3. Fair synopsis, thank you for stating what many are thinking, and no as an individual I am not aligned with any conservative Muslim fraternity, but as a box standard British Muslim I feel the Deen, it’s fundamentals, belief system and values must be protected for our future generations, otherwise in 50 years time all that may be left is a community with Muslim names.

  4. Brother “coolness” I do not know about the wisdom of this, but eventually we Muslims will have to stand up and say that our religion and our beliefs are what they are: If they want to make legislation to drown us into the ocean because normative orthodox Islamic beliefs have no place in their lands, so be it (let us see how that works out).

    What is really surprising is that we are so afraid to articulate this position, even though now the projections show us as overtaking even the Christians in number of adherents in the next few decades (so it cannot be that we are too few, our numbers would seem to suggest that they are afraid of the potentiality of Islam, not its real current application).

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