Post-War on Terror, the securitised discourse around the need to “reform” (deform) Islam has continued upon a slippery slope. In recent years, this descent has taken its aim at the fundamental aspects of Islam.
The pillars of Islam are referred to as pillars precisely, as the Ulama explain, because they constitute the core of Islam. Certain organisations, however, intentionally or otherwise, are in effect harnessing this powerful act of worship to undermine Islam itself.
One such organisation is the National Zakat Foundation (NZF).
The 22nd May Manchester Arena bombing has etched a particularly traumatic experience into the people of Britain. The attack in Manchester has claimed the lives of young teenagers, including an eight-year old. My sympathies go out to the victims of this atrocity.
I delayed writing on this topic for two reasons; the first being in respect of the lives lost; the second because so little had been established concerning the motive. With the Westminster attack, if we recall, there was a significant internalisation of blame by the Muslim minority without establishment of key facts – a dynamic that was fully exploited by neocons. Indeed, once the motive was established, it pointed to an uncomfortable motive, which is increasingly being marginalised in the discourses that seek to analyse the “causes” of terrorism: Western violence.
The fostering of the Straussian neocon “closed society” continues to soldier on ahead. The main, but certainly not the only, conduit for this austere vision of society utilises the rhetoric of fear – “safeguarding”, “cohesion” and “counter-extremism”, augmented courtesy of puppets of the neoconservative malignancy within Government.
Despite being utterly baseless academically and broken as pre-crime tool, there has been effort to mainstream PREVENT into society. This normalisation of authoritarian PREVENT-thinking has led to the latest charade; anti-fascist group Hope not Hate (HnH) has been used to spread the tentacles of PREVENT further into civil society by using Sara Khan in its publication State of Hate 2017.
In doing so, HnH comprehensively debilitated its legitimacy.
The founder of HnH, Nick Lowles, has a history of confronting far-right racist individuals and groups. He has also campaigned for the banning of Pamella Geller and Robert Spencer for their anti-Muslim, hate filled rhetoric. The question is of course, how has such a campaign group been hoodwinked into co-opting PREVENT-thinking and allowed itself to be exploited by a cheerleader of discrimination?
Part 1: A Review of the Casey review (1)
As the introductory part of this series showed, a timeline of events and the PM’s proclamations had pretty much predetermined the outcomes of the Casey Review. The government now needed a person who could see this agenda through to its toxically racist end. Casey, based on her history, was the right person to get this done.
Louise Casey – Violently Averse to Evidence-Based Policy
Casey is referred to as a “Tsar”. A 2009 Commons Select Committee noted that a “Tsar” differs from a civil servant in two respects; “first the direct appointment by the minister or Prime Minister and second a degree of public personal identification with a particular policy or piece of work which would not normally be expected from a civil servant or special adviser.” In effect, the process shuns Parliamentary parties, and therefore potential opposition in the formulation of a policy in favour of individuals that operate as cronies. In written evidence submitted to the Committee, Professor Martin Smith of Sheffield University highlighted that Tzars like Casey “are not morally neutral; they have an explicit function to achieve particular government objectives”.
There has been a flurry of commentary and articles on both sides of the pond seeking to fathom and comprehend the somewhat diabolical outcome over in the US. Donald Trump, the orange hued caricature of the volatile white supremacy movement, is to step into the Whitehouse to take the reins of a country which has for over a decade defined itself by secular creedal beliefs like freedom and democracy which have been militarily imposed upon the rest of the peoples of the world.
The reaction from the commentariat and Twitterati has been one of shock, followed by attempts to understand the rise of Trump. From disenchantment of the people with the elite, to the interconnected rise of neoliberalism and globalised greed, to even questioning liberal democracy itself (PREVENT anyone?), the reasons have been varied. A further explanation is that this is historic white supremacy reasserting itself – a racist institution recalibrating in the aftermath of a black president and excessive equality. For this reassertion, however, here has had to be a catalyst.
Culture wars are a neoconservative forte which is born from neoconservatism’s societal prescription of nationalism of the type which actively creates enemies, Otherises “aliens”, courts the religious/nationalist fanatic, and champions wars abroad. This is done under the overarching aim of creating an authoritarian closed society based on fascist principles, which is for neocons the solution for America’s liberalism-based cultural decline. To facilitate the “enemy” aspect of neocon policies, the clash of civilisations thesis is used along with the military doctrine of pre-emption to normalise the culture war against Islam and Muslims within the upper echelons of government. It is pumped through a multi-million-dollar, sophisticated network of hatemongers, think-tanks, propagandists and “alt-right” racist papers. Neoconservatives, in other words, are key in fostering the climate in which people have chosen Trump.
Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian
The question needs to be raised. Muslim organisations have generally been silent. Scholars and Imams also seem to be mute on the issue. And Muslim civil society, bar a few examples, has generally been inert in its response. It seems the continuous abstraction of Muslims into the counter-terrorism discourse is taking its toll and numbing the minds to the elephant in the room.
The question relates to Muslim refugees entering Europe and subsequently converting to Christianity.
Part 1 can be accessed here:
ASCL’ s Ramadan Paper: Deformation of Islam Beneath the Cover of Concern and Advice (1)
Doublespeak and Distorted Theology
The paper claims that “ASCL does not endorse any particular interpretation of Islamic law or practice.” A close analysis of the content reveals misleading and blatantly incorrect statements which are presented as erudite scholarship, and which the paper adopts as its position under the guise of “advice”.
Thus from the start the paper states,
“They should be made aware that there is a wide and diverse range of opinions on how to observe Ramadan and from what age, which give the necessary allowances for them to perform to the best of their ability in exams.
“If the school notices signs of dehydration or exhaustion then the child should be asked if they are fasting and advised to terminate the fast immediately by drinking some water. They can be reassured that in this situation Islamic rulings allow them to break their fast and make it up later.”
Assuming the position of a Mufti, the authors of the paper seemed to have gone fatwa-shopping and settled on a bad buy. The paper has clearly taken a position that where mere signs of dehydration or exhaustion manifest, pupils can break their fast. Of course, this new Mufti for schools struggles with the utmost basics. When one considers that that the paper asserts that “Those fasting are recommended to have one meal (suhur) just before sunrise”, there is not much hope in the reliability of the rest of the espoused theology. The suhur meal is just before dawn, not sunrise.
In a world dominated by a fast-paced environments denoted by the maximisation of profits, the tendency to enter into “cruise-control” upon the pathway of life is inevitable. The often spiritually devoid nature can take its toll. For Muslims, the month of Ramadan operates as the nudge which forces the Muslim psyche to recognise the spiritual state and take steps through the obligatory fasting (sawm) and associated worship to reform the soul.
Sawm is not just merely a ritual; it’s an obligation which is central to Islam to the extent that it is referred to as a pillar of this religion. To unshackle the understanding of modernity imposed upon Islam, it is not simply a ritual relegated to the private sphere but operates as an act which imbues the soul with Islamic morality which is defined by its quality of transcendentalism – i.e. its implications are not limited to the temporal but far more importantly, beyond the ephemeral. For a believer it is sine qua non for the purposes of discharging one of the most fundamental obligations in Islam.
Recent reports however, have taken to delegitimising fasting in the month of Ramadan in the context of schools.
There are certain things in life which you simply do not do. Reducing the benefits of the most vulnerable in society, like the disabled. Taking a country to war based on lies. Abusing children as the BBC and powerful elites turn a blind eye. And, of course, working with those linked to the notorious Quilliam Foundation.
ISB’s senior leadership, whilst leaving their former president Ahtsham Ali hanging as yet another victim in Michael Gove’s war on Islam, has had no qualms about liaising with and even defending deformists like Quilliam’s Usama Hasan, for instance. Connected to this group of individuals are people like Dilwar Hussain, former ISB president and a deformist who is listed among the personnel at the pro-Israel, neoconservative Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), which influences the global Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) imperial agenda.
The past week saw a chummy deformist get together to discuss the neocon-cherished topic of “British Islam”. Organised by Hussain’s New Horizons in British Islam, speakers in attendance provided for a who’s who list of opportunist spin-doctors and deformists. Thus speaking at the seminar was ISD “senior researcher” Rashad Ali, known for is dubious contortions of Islam, subversion of Muslim communities, his close relationship with anti-Muslim propagandist Andrew Gilligan and promoting Zionist propaganda. The state-approved Fiyaz Mughal, Usama Hasan of the Quilliam/neocon, far-right linked Muslim Reform Movement, and his newly acquired colleague Salah al-Ansari also made an appearance.
A report commissioned by 5Pillarsuk.com reveals some interesting insights into the beliefs and views of Muslims in Britain. One hundred and fifty “influential” Muslim respondents across the Islamic spectrum were queried. The results demonstrate a problematic curve ball for neoconservatives and their endless efforts to target Islam and Muslims.
The questions revolved around normative Islamic beliefs, and across the board a generally high level of agreement with these beliefs was achieved. Participants rebutted dominant propaganda against Islam and Muslims. For instance, 100% agreed or strongly agreed that forced marriages are forbidden, and 100% agreed or strongly agreed that British Muslims are an “integral part of the UK”. It also established a high rate of agreement upon those beliefs and practices which are typically attacked by politicians in concert with the media, analysts and commentators:
- Segregation of men and women in closed public, or religious settings – over 80% agreed or strongly agreed
- There is no compulsion in Islam, no one can be forced to become Muslim – over 95% agreed/strongly agreed
- Hijab is an obligation in Islam – over 95% agreed or strongly agreed
- Niqab is a legitimate piece of Islamic clothing – over 90% agreed or strongly agreed (chart 16 is somewhat unclear)
- Islam is a holistic comprehensive way of life – over 97% agreed or strongly agreed
- Jihad as is mandated in the Qur’an is used to maintain or restore order, peace and security or to remove oppression and injustice – over 95% agreed or strongly agreed.