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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Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Deformist Call and a Lesson from the Haskalah

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The past couple of weeks have been quite eventful in the context of the “reformist” deformist attack on Islam. There is no longer a need for a smokescreen of social issues behind which to mount the attack. It seems to be the case that the events like the actions of ISIS have provided a sufficient pretext to renew the call to deform Islam. This, despite the fact that scholars from different theological backgrounds have continually expressed their revulsion at ISIS activities, not as a matter of political expedience but through Islamic textual deductions.

The Conveyor Belt to Disbelief

Neoconservatism has been at the forefront of pushing a reformation, or as I call it, a deformation in Islam, particularly after the onset of the Iraq War. Leading neocon and architect of the disastrous US foreign policy, Paul Wolfowitz stated on the eve of the Iraq war,

“We need an Islamic reformation and I think there is a real hope for one”.[1]

The fountains of traditional Islamic learning also came in for neocon smear. In a speech at Georgetown University on the 30th of October 2003, Wolfowitz described madaaris (Islamic schools) as “schools that teach hatred, schools that teach terrorism” while providing free “theologically extremist teaching to ‘millions’” of Muslim children.[2]

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Tony Blair: The Neoconservative Threat to the World (3) – Declaring War on Islam

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This is the third piece in the series exploring the neocon “mode of thinking” based upon Tony Blair’s essay. The first piece can be accessed here. The second piece is available here.

“Spectrums”

What becomes evident is that, though other factors exist for violence, for Blair, they are trivial compared to the threat of Islamism. Be it extremism of other faiths now, or Christian barbarity of the past. “We are dealing with the present” we are told. And in the present, we have the Boko Haram and ISIS.

Blair writes that they are fanatic, and “thus it is hard to envisage compromise with such people. They have no reasonable demands upon which we can negotiate.” Therefore there is no alternative except to fight such people:

“At a certain point, once they know superior and determined force is being used against them, some of them at least may be prepared to change.”

In other words, take a leaf out of Israel’s book and bomb the people into compliance. Ironically, a month after Blair writing his neocon manual for World War III, ISIS have been negotiating with States and releasing prisoners whilst the Boko Haram have negotiated a truce.

The feed for these groups are the “spectrum”. And herein lies Blair’s blatant imperialistic design. “Islamism” he defines as a “politicisation of religion to an intense and all-encompassing degree”. It is an ideology and a theology derived from Salafist thinking, he claims. It isn’t. An analysis of contemporary Islamic political movements (most of which are reactions formed in the colonialist/Nation State paradigm) is beyond the scope of this piece however, suffice to say, an outright rejection of an Islamic political and military ascendancy denies 1300 years of Islamic history in which Islam ruled through the Caliphate. The existence and the preference for a khilafa within the Islamic paradigm is a position adopted by all four mainstream schools of Islamic jurisprudence.

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Is ISB Living Islam or Reforming Islam?

livingIslamReformationIt is interesting to note that those who compromise normative Islam or demonstrate a modernist tendency suddenly become “leading Sunni” Imams. The epithet was applied by the Times to former ISB President Ahtsham Ali who spoke at ISB’s Living Islam event, presumably because his statements fit in with neocon policy of attacking normative Islamic stances.

Claiming that the separation of the sexes is absent in the Quran, he iterated a statement which I would expect to see from modernist reformationists of the Usama Hasan variety,

“Stay in your houses and do not display yourselves like [women used to] in the time of ignorance [before Islam],” was intended specifically to the prophet’s wives, Ali said.

Aside from the obvious irrationality of ignoring principles of exegesis, like where a command is addressed to the wives it is for all women unless specifically stated otherwise, the validity of this statement can be determined by a perusal of a multitude of exegeses written on this verse which clearly indicate that the application of this verse is ‘aam (generic, to all Muslim women) as opposed to khass (specific).  The preceding verse which states that the mothers of the believers are “unlike other women” indicates to their special, raised status over other women by virtue of being the blessed wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him), not towards the specificity of the command (as claimed by proponents of Ali’s position).  (Tafsir Ibn Kathir – specifically states that these verses are an example for other women, Tafsir Alusi – also quoted supporting this view is Zamakhshari, Tafsir BaydawiTafsir Ma’ariful Qur’an).

There are more problems with Ali’s words.  By focussing solely on the Qur’an to unsuccessfully refute a mainstream understanding in Islam, he side-steps an entire corpus of hadith and usul al-fiqh (principles of jurisprudence) which is also used, in addition to the Qur’an, to extrapolate rulings.  It smacks of a Taj Hargey statement who uses similar reductionist diatribe to give justification to strange, un-Islamic views. One wonders how Ali would reconcile is position with the following hadith:

 Aisha (RadiyAllahu ‘anha) says that a woman from behind a curtain gestured a letter to the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) withheld his hand. The woman said, “O Prophet of Allah, I extended my hand to you with a letter and you did not take it?” He said, “I could not know if this is a man’s hand or a woman’s”. She said, “It is a woman’s hand.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “If you were a woman you ought to have changed your fingernails with henna.” (Sunan An-Nasa’i)

The attack however continues with the emulation of the Prophet with his incredibly misleading statement:

“You don’t emulate except what [the Prophet] asked us to emulate. Wasn’t he allowed to have the culture of his time in 7th century Arabia?”

This is a grossly incorrect, reductionist statement. Emulation without an express command formed the basis of many rulings. Furthermore, emulation without exhortation was an expectation:

‘Aisha said, “The Messenger of Allah did something as an example in order to make things easier for people but some people still refrained from doing it. When the Prophet heard about that, he praised Allah and said, ‘what do you think of people who refrain from anything that I myself do? By Allah I am the greatest of them in knowledge of Allah and the strongest of them in fear of Allah”. (Bukhari wa Muslim)

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“Happy Muslims” and the Muslim Minority Need for Political Maturity

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I did not wish to write about this for the last thing the Muslim minority needs is an object of discussion which creates a rift. I refused to comment on everyone in the happy Muslim video. Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad among others was the reason why. My personal position is strong on the actions in the video, however what concerned me more and compelled me to write was the way in which video ended up being used and the fact that it is starting to be picked up mainstream media.

It was saddening to see opportunists jump at the chance to use the video to drive a wedge through the Muslim minority and condemn those who didn’t agree with it as “unhappy” and even perpetuated the hyper-simplistic Sufi/Salafi divide, with the Salafis categorised as those not agreeing with it. The conversations proceeded to then demonise this position. It now seems there was a “Salafi” in the video too then. People on Twitter took to even swearing at people with this position, with subsequent retweets by the usual suspects who propound the “Islamist extremist” agenda.

At the same rate sweeping generalisations were made of those in the video, including Shaykh Abdal-Hakim, which, without realising, was also un-Islamic; husn-al-dhan (thinking good of others) is a staple principle in dealing with such issues – where was it being employed?

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The Homosexuality Smokescreen, Personal Interpretations and the Reformation Agenda

 

BBC Three Free Speech aired on 25/03/2014

BBC Three Free Speech aired on 25/03/2014

Many contemporary and normative Muslim writers have brilliantly discussed the issue of homosexuality. A nuanced, intellectual answer is certainly in order and has been provided to the emotional topic. This discussion however differs from the above. It is to ascertain the “why” behind the discussion. To understand this, we need some context.

Christian/Jewish Reformation

During the 1500s the reformation movement began challenging the papacy. It was a response to nationalism, the Vatican’s rigidity with philosophical thought and the abuses of power by the Church. Calvin and others promulgated the separation of Church and State in an effort to protect the citizens from abuses of power. It was thus a response to societal and authoritarian degeneration and the lack flexibility to deal with advancements. It was a unique European paradigm. Christian religion began to be reduced to a private sphere and with this came the notion of a “personal” understanding of Christian texts in effort to reconcile it with changing attitudes and societal norms.

The Jewish faith underwent the same reformation with the Jewish Haskalah, a movement which sought revision within the faith which allowed easier assimilation, through the adoption of the culture in Europe and resultant survival from the onslaught of persecution by the Europeans.

The experience of the Jews and Christians, thus was unique to their conditions.

Islam as a faith did not suffer these problems because the jurisprudence emanating from the Islamic sources of Law did not allow for abuse of power and economic inequity. Nor did it hinder intellectual development. Conversely Islam provided the catalyst for the European Enlightenment which forced Christian scholars to rethink their sciences. St. Thomas Aquinas derived much of his thought from the Andalusian Muslim Maliki scholar Ibn Rushd’s understanding of precedent, logic and physics for instance.

Subjecting it to a European-style reformation thus, is illogical due to the distinct paradigms of “reformation” on the one hand (being Euro-centric) and Islam on the other (theologically flexible and universal to the whole of humanity).

Nevertheless, a Western desire to reform Islam into an indistinct set of rituals has been strong, especially to break the connection with the Qur’an, which provides the protection mechanism necessary for a distinct Islamic society unique in its practices. It also, at a geopolitical level, provides for the Muslims globally, the spiritual connection to al-Quds, which hinders Western Zionist and neoconservative aims.

RAND’s “Democratic Islam”

Which neatly brings us to the neoconservative think tank RAND’s report on reforming Islam. To understand the contemporary debate on homosexuality and the complimentary positing of modernists and progressive “Muslims” there is a need to study the father of the current UK Government’s PREVENT policy, the RAND Corporation policy document ethnocentrically entitled “Civil Democratic Islam”. In it, the methodology suggested to deconstruct Islam into something but Islam is mentioned in some depth by its author Cheryl Bernard. She states that her approach,

“seeks to strengthen and foster the development of civil, democratic Islam and of modernization and development.” (p.47)

 

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