A comment on Luqman Ali’s “Rebuttal” and NZF Update

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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.

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A Summary of the Concerns around Star Academies Schools

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NOTE: I have updated this article with a sample letter than can be used by parents to send to Star Academies in order to highlight their concerns. The sample letter is available at the bottom of this article.


As years progress there does seem to be growing sections of Muslims that uncritically co-opt policies without the level of critical scrutiny usually reserved for endless, centuries old “debates” on the finer points aqida or indeed, in the context of the deformation of Islam brigade, the very essence of Islam itself.

If only this level of concern and hair-splitting was directed to the interactions of certain philosophies, policies and schemes that seek to reconstitute our sense of value of Islam, its place in our hearts and in society at large.

This indifference, or perhaps, plain ignorance of such policies, their aims, and impact on the faith of our future generation, has led many to adopt them. A post War on Terror world saw Muslim organisations and Islamic scholars themselves adopting Muslim-specific, state-defined policies around terrorism and loyalty. They engaged in identity-restructuring topics like integration, selective, British-empire-friendly history, legality of joining the army, and a plethora of assaults on the Islamic regulations. This indifference has a consequence: stripping of agency to develop and prioritise one’s own discourse and internalising a demonised identity, collective guilt and hatred which cyclically reproduces and perpetuates discriminatory treatment.

It is self-destructive.

This attitude to policies and their implications seems to be observed by Star Academies, formerly known as Tauheedul Educational Trust.

With noble intentions, Islamic principles and successful academic outcomes, Taudeedul should be lauded. However, when such schools are repeatedly thrust forth by biased media and the government through an Islam-related, agenda-driven lens to the British population as model success stories, scrutiny is not only inevitable, it is necessary.

In the case of Star Academies, this scrutiny is long overdue.

November last year, the Times reported that the CEO of Star Academies, Mufti Hamid Patel, was excited to launch a cadet unit at Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School (TIBHS).

Whilst many Muslims expressed consternation over such an overture, what was largely ignored was the shocking trajectory of the Trust over the years. In addition to this, the people involved, and the current activities have also escaped critical scrutiny.

This piece summarises the three detailed pieces which examine these themes and concerns.

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How Star Academies is Subjecting Muslim Pupils to Militarism, PREVENT and Organisations Deforming Islam

The Trust is frankly obsessed with associating with the military to the obscene insensitivity of the countless Muslim victims of British imperialism, both old and new.

In September 2018, the Trust invited Major General Duncan Capps CPE of the British Army as a key note speaker for their annual conference. He provided “many anecdotes from this time leading operations in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

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Part 1

Part 2

Tauheedul Islam Boys High School, run by Star Academies, was reported in the Times as having started a Cadet Force, to the strange glee of Star Academies Chief Executive Mufti Hamid Patel. This is the third and final piece in a series examining Star Academies. Having outlined the background and the views of some of the Star Academies leadership, this piece will focus on ideological activities and individuals young Muslim pupils are being subjected to.

There is a fringe idea emerging within Deobandi circles (and of course, Barelwi/Salafi groups) in the UK that separates politics from the benefits and opportunities that accrue from militarised initiatives like the National Citizenship Service and the cadet force. The argument is that politics should be blamed on the politicians, and the army/cadet force is an innocent mechanism to provide pupils with opportunities to develop skills, experiences and achieve awards. Aside from the fact that these opportunities can be provided without pandering to military programmes, the idea that there that such initiatives are apolitical is extremely naïve.

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Star Academies: A Leadership of Warmongering, Racist Demonisers of Muslims and proponents of Militarism

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NOTE: Since writing the last piece, which garnered thousands of hits, Facebook has locked my coolnessofhind account. The only way Facebook allows me to unlock it is to provide a photo id – a passport, driving license or a marriage certificate. I find this very strange, and refuse to provide these highly personal details especially to a dubious corporation like Facebook. I have therefore set up a second FB account. Please add/join me there.


Tauheedul Islam Boys High School, run by Star Academies, was reported in the Times as having started a cadet force, to the strange glee of Star Academies Chief Executive Mufti Hamid Patel. This piece is the second in a series examining Star Academies, how it got to a point where it is celebrating an agenda to militarise young Muslim children, and what it is subjecting Muslim children to.

In the previous piece, it was shown how Star Academies – previously known as Tauheedul Educational Trust – had entrenched neoliberal and neoconservative policies from the outset of their free schools journey. Hamid Patel, had passionately defended the free schools neoliberalisation agenda, supported Michael Gove when he departed as Secretary of State for Education, and maintained what seems like a mutually beneficial relationship between neoliberal elements of the government and Star Academies.

In this section, I will continue to examine Star Academies to better understand the Trust’s recent moves.

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Star Academies – Tauheedul Islam or Tauheedul Neoconservatism and Neoliberalism?

 A report last month triggered some consternation in Muslim circles. On the 26th of November, Star Academies – formerly, Tauheedul Educational Trust – was reported in the Times as having started an army cadet force at Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School (TIBHS). It recorded a celebratory statement from the Star Academies chief executive Hamid Patel:

“They have recently been reflecting on the 400,000 Muslims who fought alongside the British Army for freedom during World War I…. So the launch of the cadet unit at TIBHS will be particularly poignant… We are excited that this will be the first cadet unit in the country established by a Muslim faith school.”

The report added that “local mosque leaders” had “given their blessing” to the militarisation of children and was being supported by parents and governors.

On the same day, a companion leading article with the subtitle “Cadet forces at Islamic schools could help to make the army more diverse” was also published in the same paper.  Both articles framed the news with three themes:

  1. “improving relations with Muslim communities”
  2. Selective history where Muslims are only seen to die for a dying British empire
  3. The army’s inability to “recruit from the Muslim community”.

The report was reproduced in a regional media outlet and the Asian ImageThe latter report usefully shared tweets from Star Academies and TIBHS’s Twitter accounts. Star Academies stated that they were “proud that [TIBHS] had become the first Islamic Faith School in the UK to start an army cadet force”.  TIBHS’s tweet claimed it was a “milestone”. The report also showed a Tweet from the racist Home Secretary Sajid Javid sharing the Times report declaring it to be “wonderful”.

There are deeply problematic issues with the activities of Star Academies and the psychological projects it is subjecting Muslim children to.  Pertinently, the Trust exemplifies a dangerous concoction of neoliberal and neoconservative policies.

In this piece, we will examine how the Star Academies has formed this troubling trajectory which has led to a disconcerting endpoint.

The trend is seeded in the period of 2011/12 when submissions were made to turn TIBHS into an academy. This was followed by waves of free school submissions. The submission forms reveal an insight into how Tauheedul has been pandering to detrimental policies from the outset.

Tauheedul states that it is “inspired by Deobandi Sunni Muslim values”. What will become apparent is that these set of values are not the only ones touted.

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Joining the Army? Qari Asim’s Support for Violence

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“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? ~Muhammad Ali on his opposition to the 1967 US military induction for Vietnam.

“If you look close enough at these medals, you can see the reflections of dead Iraqis. You can see the embers of Libya. And you can see the faces of the men and women of the British armed forces who didn’t return and also those who did with lost limbs and shattered souls. I no longer require these medals. ~ Daniel Denham, Former RAF, 2015

There has been a concerted effort to militarise Muslims.  This has ranged from cultivating a militarist, state-worshipping mind-set in schools where the pupils are predominantly Muslim, to parading the Army in mosques, and now, using religion to encourage Muslims to join the army.

Times-assigned “leading Islamic scholars and imams” attended a conference with the military at Sandhurst to encourage Muslims to join the British Armed Forces. The article quotes Qari Asim, the Imam at Makkah Mosque in Leeds, as reportedly saying,

“The armed forces are seen as a noble profession and it follows there are no inherent tensions.

The report further adds that he said scholars were agreed that Islam does not prohibit Muslims from serving in the British Army.

To better understand the validity of Qari Asim’s reported blanket proclamation, there is a need to understand the idea of violence from the perspective of a neocon state and its political domain.

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Sara Khan, PREVENT and the Ahmadiyya “Extremism” Blind Spot

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The last piece examining Sara Khan’s contribution to the Hope not Hate (HnH) report highlighted the sectarian exploitation by the very policies Khan advocates.  In addition to noting the dangerous smearing of whole groups, it was identified that the Ahmadiyya were being used to force a deformation of Islam agenda.

This piece will examine how Khan, continuing the neocon trait of double standards and hypocrisy, has overlooked the “extremism” – as defined by the PREVENT Strategy – within the Ahmadiyya community, reflecting a broader concerted, ideological political effort to attack and subdue orthodox Islam. The Ahmadiyya, therefore, provide a useful example of both HnH’s incoherent approach, and Khan’s selective social-cohesion concerns.

In stark contrast with the Muslim minority as a whole, the politicians and media have given an amplified and prioritised platform to project the Ahmadiyya persecution narrative. Whilst addressing such grievances is important for the state, the Ahmadiyya leadership dynamic in Britain echoes a colonial past where the emergence of the Ahmadiyya movement meshed with the British colonial power structure and aided it against colonial resistance.

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