2016 Reflections: Deformation of Islam and the Neoconservative Threat to Society

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It is that time of the year: a hectic month as the British people recover from their frenzied Christmas shopping, briefly punctuated with the peace of the annual family get together, only to be followed by scrambling over various items thanks to the hype produced by corporations eager to increase the debt through boxing day “sales”. As the recovery from these activities begins and the damage to the bank accounts dawn, we take advantage of this lull for some customary reflection.

This year has been a particularly unsettling one; the sordidly racist campaign which ultimately culminated in Brexit; the far-right terrorist attack claiming the life of Jo Cox – the first killing of an MP in 26 years; the B-movie being played in the US starring Donald Trump, the West-wide rise of the far-right and unleashing of political and social xenophobia, security globalisation via totalitarian measures like the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) agenda; Britain passing one of the world’s widest and intrusive surveillance laws; the list goes on.  Sadly, it is the Muslim minority, either through scapegoating or being subjected to the fruits of this dangerous concoction of nationalism, disenfranchisement through the global neoliberal order, and neoconservative domestic and foreign policies, which has by and large, bore the brunt.

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Muslim Prison Chaplains and the Neoconservative Attack on Islam

opportunitytoattackislammichaelgove

A couple of years ago, I noted that the substantive content in the campaign of attacks against Shaykh Haytham al-Haddad designed to smear him as “extremist” were in fact normative Islamic beliefs which cut across the theological spectrum. Shaykh al-Haddad was the proxy for the attack on Islam.

Since then, David Cameron himself has interfered with religion, attacking Islamic beliefs and practices, promoting deformists as the face of Islam, all the while employing doublespeak and urging the Muslim minority to shun the “conspiracy theories” that Islam is under attack. Looking from the colonialist, Eurocentric lens, all manner of denigration has been hurled at Islam, as “mutual tolerance” and “respect” is simultaneously preached to the Muslim community.

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Maajid Nawaz, Ex-Muslims and the “Minority within a Minority”

douglasmurrayMaajidnawazOne of the most evident and prominent issues of self-proclaimed “reformist” deformists often guided by the malicious neoconservative discourse on Islam is that just a like a deformity, the arguments promulgated are often malformed, incongruent and inconsistent. With materialism and unfettered desires replacing a heart nurtured by spirituality, the claims of such individuals are as erratic as their egos.   Be it “feminists” like Sara Khan using women as “weapons” in the fight against extremism, or “reforming liberal Muslims” who use post-modernist malarkey to give justification to their lifestyles devoid of Islam, oxymoron and desperation does not begin to describe these efforts to deconstruct Islam and the Muslim identity rooted in within the Islamic paradigm.

Maajid Nawaz is no different in avoiding these contradictions.  Whether it is bemoandefing “hatchet-jobs” against him while feverishly tweeting blatant propaganda from the Daily Mail, happily receiving funding from “extremists” to counter-extremism, or attacking journalists and academics who have criticised him for their “privileged elite” backgrounds whilst simultaneously acting as a significant conduit in delivering a neoconservative, colonialist campaign of “reforming” Islam  to the glee of hate preachers like Douglas Murray and Sam Harris, (and blatantly ignoring his own Western liberal privilege when lecturing Muslims about the need to reform Islam to conform to ethereal liberal ideals), there is a clear display of the hallmarks of one riddled with internal conflicts devoid of a stable moral-compass.  Indeed, this moral compass, in his own words do not require “Hadith to set… morality”, the second foremost scriptural set of texts which form the basis of Islam.

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The Neoconservatism in Michael Gove and Celsius 7/7 (2) – Islam and Muslims as the Enemy

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In this series, we will delve deeper into the views held by our new Justice Secretary, Michael Gove as articulated in his book, Celsius 7/7, with additional commentary explaining the neoconservativism underpinning the statements where appropriate, and the impact it has thus far had on the good Britons of this country.

Click here to read Part 1.


The belief in Islam has been used by the Police and other Government bodies in Britain to disadvantage Muslims (see here, and here, for instance). The core understanding of this draconian manifestation can be found in Michael Gove’s book, Celsius 7/7. An inspection of this book reveals views that give credence to Whitehall sources, which have been quoted as having said that,

“Michael Gove’s views are so incredibly black and white. It’s either his way or no way. He seems to think that anybody who strictly follows Islam is not really integrated… And he thinks anybody who holds conservative Muslim views is a bit of an extremist.”

The Whitehall source went onto suggest that his agenda drove his militant “intervention” into the Birmingham schools last year vis-à-vis the Trojan Hoax plot.

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Reverend Gavin Ashenden: The Queen’s Chaplain and a Glasshouse

Copyright Independent – Gavin Ashenden

In response to the Archbishop of Cantebury’s warning about being too quick to call people with strong religious views “extremists”, Reverend Gavin Ashenden expressed concerns about the Qur’an, which were outlined by the ever-objective Daily Fail. According to him,

“Islam has, I think, over 100 verses inviting people to violence in the Koran which Christianity doesn’t have. If you’re going to invite people to be dedicated … followers of their scriptures, Christians will go around forgiving people and Islamists will do something else.”

He then declared that Christianity is about “delivering people from evil”. Upon being asked whether the Qur’an was evil, and after citing verses which “tell you to kill your enemies” and “strike off the heads” he said, “I notice that they invite people to violence. I’ll let other people decide whether that’s good or evil,” thus intimating the Qur’an is “evil” without explicitly stating it.

I respect the priest for airing his view, although I do question the opportunistic nature of his delightful contribution to the theological discourse. In an era in which Islam and Muslims are open season for all manner of physical and non-physical attacks, such statements add to the demonisation of Islam and Muslims in Britain.  However, it is welcomed.  I’d rather have a priest who is honest in his view of Islam, much like the rawness which emanated from Pastor James McConnell than a deceitful neocon who disguises his assaults on Islam behind the façade of “Islamism”.

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The New Neocon Subversion of Islam: Undermining the Islamic Obligation of Amr and Nahy

The concept of ‘amr bil ma’roof wa ’nahy ‘an ‘l-munkar– commanding the good and forbidding evil – which has its roots in the Qur’an as well as the Sunnah and has been expounded in some detail by pious scholars of the past – is one of the most critical aspects of Islam which ensures the spiritual maintenance of the Muslim nation.

The following verse of the Qur’an establishes the obligation,

“You are the best nation produced for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah.” (3:110)

The following hadith is staple in this regard,

Abu Said (radiyAllah ‘anhu) said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: Whoever sees in an evil let him change it with his hand, and if he is unable to then let him change it with his tongue, and if he is unable to then let him reject it with his heart, which is the weakest level of faith” (Imam Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim)

Well over 1400 years of traditional scholarship in Islam has elucidated upon the meanings contained within the above hadith and the various ahadith and verses of the Qur’an pertaining to concept of amr (enjoining) and nahy (forbidding). From these sources the Ulama have extrapolated a framework for discharging this obligation.

The Henry Jackson Society and “ Coercive Enforcement of Sharia”

The Henry Jackson Society recently held a seminar entitled Coercive Enforcement of Sharia in the UK and in Europe: An Assessment, with Dr Lorenzo Vidino, to discuss “Hisba”. He is a former researcher at the American neoconservative think-tank, RAND Corporation, which pedalled the proposal authored by Cheryl Bernard to reform Islam and which formed the basis for many of the policies (including PREVENT) implemented by the UK government (see here). He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich and a policy adviser at the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD).  Interestingly, the “experts” which serve at the EFD include the following:

  • Irshad Manji – belonging to the Ismaili religion, she authored a book called The Trouble with Islam, claiming herself to be a Mujtahida reformist of Islam. She believes herself to be a “Refusenik”; she refuses “to join an army of automatons in the name of Allah,” which incidentally refers to most Muslims who do not agree with her reformist outlook.   She also believes most Muslims regard women as inferior. For a lesbian Mujtahida, the bigoted claims are grand indeed.
  • Tehmina Kazi – is the director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, an organisation which previously had anti-Muslim, Ismaili Taj Hargey, Hijab-hater Yasmin Alibhai-Brown who was the director and who is now currently vice chair, and Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, another reformist who believes Islamic laws are outdated.
  • Ahmad Mansour – another born-again, “I used to be an Islamist therefore believe me” anti-Islamist, who attributes most of normative Islam to a “Salafist” understanding, believes that those Imams who pay “lip service” to democracy should in essence, not be trusted. Normative Islamic beliefs, according to Mansour, lead to violence:

“This is where the delusion begins. Violence doesn’t only occur when people are ready to kill in the name of religion. Problems in education and marriage also lead to violence, as does propaganda about gender-discrimination, the claim of exclusivity of one’s religion, the declining state of democracy, or the belief of having to save others from a godless life – all represent facets that can incite violence.”

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