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Maajid Nawaz and Hizb ut-Tahrir

Posted By Sunny On 12th September, 2007 @ 3:01 pm In Current affairs, Religion | 63 Comments

Asim Siddiqui has written [1] a good summary of the saga around the defection of one of Hizb ut-Tahrir’s top people - Maajid Nawaz - and the impact that may have on the organisation. Nawaz was on Newsnight last night, which you can watch again [2] from here (top right). Asim makes some very good points in his article:

Maajid is important because he has spent time engaged in a root and branch review of the theological, intellectual and legal roots of HT, eventually coming to the conclusion that their methods are invalid under Islam. What is perhaps more interesting is what he has discovered on the way: the implication on Islamism more generally. Maajid has described Islamism as being “the phenomenon of politically inspired theological interpretations”; ie using Islamic theology to justify and promote your political objectives and ambitions. This goes beyond Hizb ut-Tahrir.

All Islamist ideologies believe in establishing an “Islamic state” - they differ only on the methods. What critiques such as Maajid’s do is remind us again that creating an “Islamic state” where “God’s rules” are to be imposed top-down is not part of Islam.

The purpose of the state is to allow citizens to live in peace, security and free to perform their religious practices, not to impose their religious doctrines upon you. This minimum requirement renders a state Islamic in the view of some recognised scholars. So what should Muslims do when faced with corrupt or oppressive rulers? The answer is they do what anyone else does: stand up for justice for all people irrespective of faith, campaign for civil liberties, develop civil society institutions, promote democracy and engage in peaceful political and social reform. And that applies wherever a Muslim might live.

In essence, Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political party which uses Islam to justify their political goals. People would counter that politics and Islam are inherently mixed and they would not be wrong. The same concept (called [3] miri-piri) exists in Sikhism. But using religion to justify political goals is very different to using political means to make it possible to practice your religion. What Pizza HuT actually fantasise about is having their own religiously inspired dictatorship across the Middle East and eventually the world. And if millions die, then so be it.


63 Comments To "Maajid Nawaz and Hizb ut-Tahrir"

#1 Comment By Riz On 12th September, 2007 @ 7:00 pm

Is the problem one of using ‘religion to justify political goals’ or is it one of using extreme politics (in this case, extremist political views) as the foundation from which to create an extreme theological interpretation of Islam? Perhaps the two feed off each other i.e. a vicious circle where one’s political bias is fed by extreme interpretation and where extreme interpretation fed by political bias.

ps - I currently in the process of deconstructing my views on Islam, and rebuilding them from the perspective of being awake to my own biases. We can be our own worst enemy…we need to be awake to this.

#2 Comment By sonia On 12th September, 2007 @ 8:32 pm

Interesting. look forward to hearing more about your deconstruction riz = i’ve spent the last 8 months or so in a similar sort of exercise.

#3 Comment By Sofia On 12th September, 2007 @ 9:43 pm

Oh great another “defector”..if god forbid I was a cynic…i’d think they were using this as some sort of pathetic spin…I’ve come across lots of HT nuttos who seriously just need to grow up. What does Maajid want..a pat on the back for using his brain?? Maybe he now needs to write a book to quell a bit more of his adhd…now that he hasn’t got the HT faithful behind him.

#4 Trackback By Radical Muslim On 13th September, 2007 @ 3:10 am

Maajid Nawaz - Courting Islamophobia…

Yesterday I watched Maajid Nawaz talk about his defection from the Hizb ut-Tahrir movement.

I do congratulate him for coming to realise that exponents of the Islamic State should not be using strategies involving violence, bloodshed and oppression. …

#5 Comment By Sofia On 13th September, 2007 @ 10:25 am

Radical, i’m not having a go at you, and i’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic, but can you not see how obvious your statement is? HT is nothing short of a cult, I know people who are part of it and they drive me insane as all they talk about is the “party”..it’s like they can’t think, breathe, eat, sleep without the “party’s” permission. If that isn’t a cult then what is??
How obvious is it that for the word Islam to come from the word peace, you then have people like Maajid to twist their religion and propagate violence in a “them vs us” world.

#6 Comment By sonia On 13th September, 2007 @ 11:37 am

“those who wish to sell their deen for a small price” Radical quotes Sumayyah Evans on his blog.

i get confused when stuff like that gets said. does it mean that they think they should be carrying on with their deen as they ( presumably) imagined they were doing before? ( i.e. that their activities aren’t against their Deen). Now clearly there are many muslims who don’t think HuT activities are Deen-like, but clearly some who do. or maybe they don’t - perhaps they think one shouldn’t be telling the world ( esp. the West and the Press) any of this stuff.

yep clearly HuT is a cult, that said, if someone leaves a cult, its’ better they speak up - isn’t it. appearing in the press isn’t about us affirming their moral worth and thinking they’re great people - but about listening to what useful things they do have to say.

#7 Comment By Sofia On 13th September, 2007 @ 11:57 am

Sonia, I do agree with people speaking up, once their dusty brain cells have managed to engage again…however, my issue with people like Maajid is that they do want some moral acceptance from people..just like he wanted acceptance when he joined HT…HT thrives on insecure people or people who have a “collective” mentality..they are only worth something if they are part of a group that gives them this feeling. He says he’s now trying to undo all the damage he’s done..well clap clap well done..isn’t that what he really wants…bad boy turned good…well done after 10 years he’s finally got his degree…is this supposed to make us think he’s ok now..why did he do the interview…HT is made up of arrogant, insecure attention seekers like him who need a fix…I’m sure now he’ll do the same circuits as Ed Hussain. Let’s hope he doesn’t end up writing a book. More of the same rubbish..

#8 Comment By The Common Humanist On 13th September, 2007 @ 12:01 pm

Did anyone see the Newsnight stuff on radical islamists?

Also, The Today program were in Islamabad outsidethe Red Mosque and I have to say the callous bloodlust and willingness to murder innocent civilians was both very apparent and very disheartening.

(Que the ‘But Islam is a religion of peace’ comments’)

No it isn’t. It is a religion. People interpret it in both violent and peaceful manners.

Just like Medieval Christianity infact.

#9 Comment By Sofia On 13th September, 2007 @ 12:02 pm

As for the useful things he has to say…there are many former university students who came across misfits like him at university, listened to the crap that came out and managed to not get brainwashed..you don’t need to be part of a particular cult to know what they’re about. All you have to do is talk to them, and know what the set up is..I couldve told you about their secret meetings, their “the left hand shouldn’t know what the right hand is doing” childish schoolboy mentality..pretending like they’re part of a global spy network..where even their closest family members don’t know what theyre doing. As for going to pakistan to spread HTness..yes I couldve told you about that too…so could plenty of other people..but you won’t see them on newsnight because they weren’t or aren’t a part of HT…

#10 Comment By Sofia On 13th September, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

Humanist, I will not equate a religion with the fanatical interpretation of its so called followers, whether it is Buddhism, Christianity Islam or any other religion.

#11 Comment By The Common Humanist On 13th September, 2007 @ 12:17 pm

Sofia

I appreciate your point.

But they (the crazies) do and thats part of the problem (along with exploding public transport, beheadings of school girls etc etc). A PR disaster no less that has thoroughly distorted how much of the world views Islam and, by extention, muslims. Grossly unfair but thats where we are on this rock unfortunately.

TCH8-(

#12 Comment By Sofia On 13th September, 2007 @ 12:24 pm

TCH - I too understand your point but disagree:)..if I did extend this theory I would blame wars in Iraq on democracy. As it was to get rid of a dictator and impose democracy that we went in.

#13 Comment By The Common Humanist On 13th September, 2007 @ 1:00 pm

Hang on, thats my point too - it is not the religions fault per se, but the narrow interpretation by a small, unrepresentative group.

#14 Comment By Sofia On 13th September, 2007 @ 1:40 pm

TCH- I think we agree to a point…Maybe I was wrong in interpreting this comment:

“Que the ‘But Islam is a religion of peace’ comments’)
No it isn’t. It is a religion. People interpret it in both violent and peaceful manners.”
Did you mean Islam is not a religion of peace?
My argument is that it is a religion of peace, but people have turned it into a version of hell on earth.

#15 Comment By Sunny On 13th September, 2007 @ 1:41 pm

I’ve come across lots of HT nuttos who seriously just need to grow up. What does Maajid want..a pat on the back for using his brain??

Ha ha! I have another friend who says the same. I think you’re point is right. I guess the interesting thing to listen to is their own experiences of being part of that Pizza HuT cult.

#16 Comment By The Common Humanist On 13th September, 2007 @ 2:08 pm

“Did you mean Islam is not a religion of peace?
My argument is that it is a religion of peace, but people have turned it into a version of hell on earth”

Yes, its a religion. It goes both ways so to speak.
(All mono’s do. This is not an anti-islam point)
The undoubted peaceful elements are coupled with (much smaller) warlike elements (Dar al Harb etc) that fuelled Arab Imperialism through the Eastern Roman Empire, the Maghreb and the Persian Empires in the 600 and 700s. For example, most Sharia is judicial opinion from this military expansion - hence the harshness compared to judicial systems that evolve in peacetime. Religion is always shaped by the environment within which it evolves - the Arabian peninsuala, long wars of conquest and a vibrant merchent class being of particular relevance to islamic theology and cultural practices.

#17 Comment By Sofia On 13th September, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

Once again I do agree to a point but things like dar al harb are often simplified to an almost laughable state..I cannot comment on the history of sharia as I am no expert in it..so cannot agree or disagree with this:)

#18 Comment By The Common Humanist On 13th September, 2007 @ 2:36 pm

Am a history buff but no theologian. My knowlege of Islam is as history rather then as religion.

IMHO given the environment of its evolution in Arabia (constant intercine warfare between Arab tribes, Arabs often employed by the Romans and the Persians as mercenaries etc) and the incredibly violent first 300 years of its history, its actually rather impressive that islamic culture maintained its elements of tolerance, hospitality and respect for learning and lets not forget the awesome merchant class. It is amazing to thhink that in 1000 I could, as a merchant in Kandahar, Afghanistan exchange goods for a credit note I could take all the way to Cordoba and exchange for goods or hard currency (perhaps someone ouught to tell the chavlims who make the money hand sigh thing at orthodox jews just who were the uber capitalists of the medieval world…..???)

#19 Comment By The Common Humanist On 13th September, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

Infact Islams rapid expansion owes much to the fact that by 630 the Eastern Roman Empire and the Persian Empire had fought a very long and bloody war. The Byzantines had come out on top but at the price of consuming almost a whole generation of young men. Alexandria, for example, one of the stars of the world, was a qtr depopulated at the time of the Arab invasion.

Had it not been for the Justinian Plagues that gutted the western portions of the Eastern Roman Empires plus the aforementioned wars it is highly likely that Arab expansionism would have been much constrained or even completely prevented.

But then history is replete with such happenstances.

#20 Comment By sonia On 13th September, 2007 @ 3:09 pm

its all very complicated. islam’s past isn’t as glorious as our “elders and betters” would have liked us to think. despite all that, the fact that people have such different views about how it bears on today - is part of why this is all so mixed up.

a detailed understanding of sharia and islamic jurisprudence might indicate whether any atrocities committed during the expansion of the Islamic empire out of Arabia were ‘islamic’ or ‘unislamic’. but many people like to argue about this (including myself!) and its not an easy or generally un-biased discussion to have.

some people clearly like to hark back to this ‘golden’ past and that’s where the disagreements come from - a) whether it was golden or not and b) whether those who think it was golden and want some new version of it - can have it, or some variant and c) people dont think was golden or dont have an opinion or even if they find out, doesn’t affect their feelings about their religion today.

and clearly lots of people who are happy to accept that the past was golden still wouldn’t necessarily want it back as it was then.

so if we are going to ignore the past and go forward -the fact of the matter is history is history. it doesn’t necessarily have to have relevance today unless people want it to. christianity for example had similar unpleasantnesses in the past - which most christians are able to admit - and whilst some may want those days back, kindly vicars now are different to nasty popes back then. presumably the same can happen for other religions with dodgy pasts - after all, its what you make of it now rather than what ‘it’ is/or was about - that matters. going forward, i daresay that’s what’s important. the more influential people ( i daresay this Asim S guy has some influence)who generally distance themselves from unpleasantness, and feel free to shape the future in a mutually acceptable manner, the better.

( of course - if you can’t critique something easily - that’s a big problem we have to deal with here and now.)

#21 Comment By Sunny On 13th September, 2007 @ 3:23 pm

But everyone harks back to a mythically great past. Even our current generation of ‘enlightenment was great’ intellectuals.

That is what defines a conservative. They keep looking back.

#22 Comment By Boyo On 13th September, 2007 @ 4:47 pm

“(Que the ‘But Islam is a religion of peace’ comments’)

No it isn’t. It is a religion. People interpret it in both violent and peaceful manners.

Just like Medieval Christianity infact.”

Quite right. The Crusades were bloody but relatively short. For the past 50 years, they have also been held up by the West as the epitome of religious brutality. However they were in response to (at least) equal brutality from the other side, a conquest of Christian land (eg Egypt) that had spanned centuries. The Moguls and Ottomons of course were quite spectacularly brutal, often in the name of their religion, and certainly out-did the Crusaders on many occasions.

Yet where is the Islamic revisionism? When do Muslims look back in shame at the brutalities committed in their name and shine on them the same light of oprobrium Westerners do of the Crusades?

#23 Comment By Sofia On 13th September, 2007 @ 4:59 pm

boyo give me a break… “the same light of oprobrium Westerners do of the Crusades?” yeh right??!!! what do you want people to do..stand on street corners with placards? I have never met any westerner who knows enough about the crusades and then apologise for it. Actually I know a bunch of muslims that highlight human rights abuses…HT..they go on and on about Turkey, Iran, Pakistan etc etc..and how terribly unIslamic they all are…oh and as for crusades being relatively short..which crusade are you talking about???

#24 Comment By Jagdeep On 13th September, 2007 @ 5:17 pm

But Sofia, there is extensive writing and study and criticism of the Christian crusades and history of that time, including severe criticism of it, from European thinkers, writers and society. In fact, one reason why secularism and secular rationalism is so strongly central to the conception of modernity and the ideal of the free secular democratic dispensation is because Western institutions and people look back in horror at the excesses of the religious era when politics and Christianity were intertwined, resulting in horrific oppressions, inquisitions, persecution of those deemed to be heretics, classical European Christian anti-semitism, the crusades. So you could say that the very paradigms and ways of thinking, our institutions and the ideals we strive for and how we live today in Europe, our way of looking at the world, is a response to the excesses of extreme religiosity that was the story of European civilisation until the enlightenment. It’s something that India wrestles with too, today, in the context of its constitution and the pressures of religion upon it.

I have to say too Sofia that history is full of violent Islamic crusades against non Muslim peoples and civilisations and there is very little acknowledgment of this either academically or amongst grassroots Muslims. In fact to even raise this in a similar fashion to how European inquisitions and the crusades are acknowledged and critiqued makes for a stark contrast. It often leads to a kind of sullen hysteria and ultra-defensiveness, denial or counter-accusation. I think the Muslim world would benefit from an honest appraisal of its history in the same way that European culture is stronger and more robust and came to the right conclusions after appraising the dark ages it lived through when mixing Christianity with state and politics.

#25 Comment By Boyo On 13th September, 2007 @ 5:32 pm

“what do you people want do…” gosh, quite a strong reaction, don’t you think? i wasn’t trying to excuse anything - i’m aware of the excesses of the crusades.

The general thought struck me on a recent holiday to Otranto in southern Italy where an atrocity was carried out in the name of Islam.

Nothing new there (i mean in religious atrocities) but i just stumbled upon Otranto, so to speak [4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otranto
which i bet none of you have heard of. My point is, i discovered this kind of thing was very common indeed, yet we (yes me, a dreadful Westerner) hear about the Crusades as if they were some terrible unprovoked attack, which i don’t believe they were. Otranto happened centuries after.

Here’s what wiki says about crusades btw

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades

i’m sure there’s plenty to feel victimised about, but that was not my point

#26 Comment By Jai On 13th September, 2007 @ 7:11 pm

the word Islam to come from the word peace

Hmm. With all due respect to everyone concerned, Islam means “submission”, not peace.

“Salaam” is the word that actually means peace.

#27 Comment By Jai On 13th September, 2007 @ 7:15 pm

Jagdeep,

history is full of violent Islamic crusades against non Muslim peoples and civilisations and there is very little acknowledgment of this either academically or amongst grassroots Muslims.

Well, historically there were people like Bulleh Shah, Baba Farid, Mian Mir etc who obviously had a different viewpoint.

But I do understand what you mean about the denial in some modern-day quarters.

#28 Comment By The Common Humanist On 13th September, 2007 @ 8:52 pm

In terms of reconnciling the past, Christianity and Islam are like Germany and Japan. One has largely come to terms with the darkness of the past and one largely hasn’t.

The Crusades are an interesting example. It does seem that Muslims are very happy to label them western imperialism and yet I wonder how many seriously ask themselves why they happened? Do they just think that ‘oh one morning most of the Eastern Roman Empire - Christian for four hundred years and pagan for a thosand just up and converted?’

The Crusades were a delayed response to Islamic expansion and conquest. A response to the treatment of pilgrims and the destruction of the Holy Selpuclture in (i think) 685 (I need to check that) but anyway, you get the drift.

It is interesting to note that once Jerusalem fell to the First Crusade in 1097 it did take an awful long time for the Islamic world to take much notice.

If the Franks had been smarter and more tolerant to the locals the Crusader States would have persisted for a lot longer then 200 years. But then pre-enlightenment European Christians weren’t exactly known for smarts all round - how to use a sword yes, how to govern, no.

Anyways, neither Islam or Christianity have much to be proud about in their medieval periods when it comes to conquest and war. BUt I think Christian and Secular Europeans have come to terms with this, am not sure non European Muslims have (though I think some European Muslims have and sites such as this are clear signs of such)

#29 Comment By soru On 14th September, 2007 @ 12:20 pm

The Crusades were a delayed response to Islamic expansion and conquest.

Rather like al qaeda, then.

There are actually a lot of parallels between crusaderism and islamism:

- the divided squabbling kingdoms, once united in an empire (Holy Roman/Ottoman).

- the attempt to make a direct appeal to the populace, bypassing the warriors, kings and princes.

- the religious language used in that appeal.

- the external enemy of a different religion.

- the military incompetence and blundering.

In contrast, military (as opposed to spiritual) jihadism is, by the book, supposed to be a top down thing, ordered by the rightful ruler and carried out by dedicated full-time warriors.

By that book, if you haven’t got a rightful and righteous king, and mighty and virtuous warriors, the last thing you should be doing is starting a war with some country on the other side of the world.

One unusual thing about the Qu’ran, in comparison to other equivalent books, is that it is pretty short, with few variant printings. Consequently, the wrongness of islamist interpretations is actually pretty obvious to anyone who actually reads it while not being pressured to think differently by a cult-like crusaderist group.

So, once outside that environment, you do see people like Nawaz come to a realisation of where they went wrong.

#30 Comment By Sofia On 14th September, 2007 @ 12:41 pm

Jai although your point is correct there are scholars that look at root words such as Salama meaning peace where islam is derived from

#31 Comment By Sofia On 14th September, 2007 @ 12:44 pm

As for not accepting the past, I would agree there are many who don’t know what the past is for them to not accept it.

#32 Comment By The Common Humanist On 14th September, 2007 @ 1:04 pm

Sofia
Agreed, history lessons for all!

#33 Comment By Boyo On 14th September, 2007 @ 1:53 pm

“One unusual thing about the Qu’ran, in comparison to other equivalent books, is that it is pretty short, with few variant printings. Consequently, the wrongness of islamist interpretations is actually pretty obvious to anyone who actually reads it while not being pressured to think differently by a cult-like crusaderist group.

So, once outside that environment, you do see people like Nawaz come to a realisation of where they went wrong.”

Soru, I’m not trolling but I am genuinely interested why the wrongness of Hiz is made obvious by someone who actually reads the Qu’ran. I thought that was part of the problem, ie most Muslims don’t read it so are not aware of the more unsavoury passages therein but if you actually do, there they are?

That’s a key difference between the Bible and Qu’ran, ie the former with more authors is more open to interpretation, while the latter is dictated by God so to speak, who whatsmore says this is the final word.

And his final words (chronologically) include allowances for violent jihad against non-Muslims, certainly superceding the Christian requirement for peace.

Isn’t this a correct reading? If possible I’d appreciate an answer if anyone has one, rather than a sneery put-down. Ta.

#34 Comment By Chris Stiles On 14th September, 2007 @ 2:18 pm


That’s a key difference between the Bible and Qu’ran, ie the former with more authors is more open to interpretation, while the latter is dictated by God so to speak, who whatsmore says this is the final word.

Hence the need for Higher Criticism (in the literary and philogical sense).

#35 Comment By sonia On 14th September, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

history lessons would be a good idea! mind you history teachers do it so badly in school they put people off. and also the question arises - whose version of history?

soru has a good point about the similarity of crusades and islamism.

but unfortunately - i think this is overly optimistic:

“Consequently, the wrongness of islamist interpretations is actually pretty obvious to anyone who actually reads it while not being pressured to think differently by a cult-like crusaderist group.”

interpretation of Quranic passages does not seem to be a simple task.

#36 Comment By Sunny On 14th September, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

that’s a key difference between the Bible and Qu’ran, ie the former with more authors is more open to interpretation

There are plenty of different interpretations in Islam too, but many of you don’t hear them or want to hear them.

This is typical of self-styled experts on blogs, both those who are Islamists (who pretend only their interpretation exists) and those who don’t like the religion, and keep saying only the violent interpretations exist.

#37 Comment By sonia On 14th September, 2007 @ 2:51 pm

there are some passages which i have read recently which horrify me and make me think - well this is clearly where Osama got his ideas from. I have it from other people that these passages cannot be taken literally now as they only applied to ‘back then’. so then someone might read it and ignore it, and someone might read it and think this applies to me now. who’s right and who’s wrong? and also - we have been over this many times with Usman on many a thread - the business of killing innocents - and we got him to agree that the understanding of innocent is subjective.

so that’s why i don’t think its all that simple that if someone read the Quran and was looking for backup of HUt claims, they wouldn’t find it. I think you can find what you are looking for - violent passages, peaceful nice sounding passages, the works. Depends on what filter you are using.

#38 Comment By Sofia On 14th September, 2007 @ 2:52 pm

Like any faith there are aspects of blind faith..this is of course open to criticism from people who don’t believe in that particular religion or in any religion. I believe there has to be respect when talking of other people’s faith which would then be conducive to proper debate and constructive criticism.

#39 Comment By sonia On 14th September, 2007 @ 2:53 pm

clearly most people have been ignoring the violent bits in the Quran.

#40 Comment By sonia On 14th September, 2007 @ 2:55 pm

i think sofia makes a good point in no. 38 - i would qualify it to say that i think any constructive discussion requires respect for the other person’s POV.

#41 Comment By sonia On 14th September, 2007 @ 2:56 pm

regardless of any person’s faith or the lack thereof, i mean.

#42 Comment By The Common Humanist On 14th September, 2007 @ 3:05 pm

“And his final words (chronologically) include allowances for violent jihad against non-Muslims, certainly superceding the Christian requirement for peace”

Christians who put the New Testament first would tend to be more peaceable then the ones, and there are increasing numbers, partic in the US, that put the Old Testament front and centre.

Like I said, religion is what you make it. There are neither montheisms of peace or war, just mono’s with current human interpretation poured on top.

It is interesting to note that when the Kingdom of Jerusalem was established in 1097 and Franks started to arrive in large numbers one of the things that astonished local Muslims was the behaviour of frankish women - their independance (even then! I was surprised to read this) and the fact that they were often allowed out on their own. The visibility of Frankish women being one of the key differences between the Crusader States and their Islamic contemporaries of Aleppo, Damascus and Egypt.
Which makes the often made islamic claim that it liberates women kind of difficult to substantiate if, even during its period of itijihad women were excluded from public society. In the long term it is difficult for societies to remain vibrant and productive if one arm is securely tied behind its back.

#43 Comment By The Common Humanist On 14th September, 2007 @ 3:25 pm

“clearly most people have been ignoring the violent bits in the Quran”

Yep, ditto Christians and Jews. Only people who are borderline sociopaths anyway focus on the violent bits of any religion and who can’t absorb the fact that the conditions then (at the time of evolution) are very far from those that exist now.

I also think it does matter to what end violence is undertaken, although it is almost always wrong, there are just uses of it (E.g. the WW2 struggle against NAzism, Some aspects of the Cold War against Stalinism, the Union cause in the US Civil War, the Jamaica Slave revolts (You get my drift). Anyway, take the various violent jihadists around the world - they are struggling for more oppression not less. Makes an enormous difference all round IMHO.

But lets be clear, the Islamist justification for deliberately targeting civilians is always wrong.

#44 Comment By Sofia On 14th September, 2007 @ 3:39 pm

whoever justifies killing of civilians needs their heads examined..including our very own forces who call civilians “collateral damage”

#45 Comment By sonia On 14th September, 2007 @ 3:45 pm

yep, agreed.

#46 Comment By sonia On 14th September, 2007 @ 3:57 pm

good points TCH

#47 Comment By Jai On 14th September, 2007 @ 3:58 pm

whoever justifies killing of civilians needs their heads examined..including our very own forces who call civilians “collateral damage”

I got into an argument with an ex-military guy at work about that once. He insisted that when one’s life is on the line and you need to make split-second decisions where your very survival is at stake, you need to have a “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude purely as a defensive measure and in the spirit of self-preservation — even if you accidentally kill civilians in the crossfire, or as a result of mistaken identity, or while you’re shooting at the real enemies in their midst.

He also insisted that someone who hadn’t been in a combat situation would not understand this.

Even worse was that he extrapolated this to justify being paranoid about any Asians in the vicinity right here in Britain, thanks to the activities of our recent homegrown jihadists, and quite obviously pre-emptively regarded anyone Asian as being the “hostile enemy” by default.

#48 Comment By soru On 14th September, 2007 @ 4:11 pm

so that’s why i don’t think its all that simple that if someone read the Quran and was looking for backup of HUt claims, they wouldn’t find it.

It all depends on what question you ask, what alternative understandings you are trying to choose between.

HuT do know the book well enough to ask a clever set leading questions, for example to set up a false dichotomy between supporting them and pacifism. Nobody could realistically read the Qu’ran and come away with the impression it was advocating absolute Quaker-style pacifism.

On the other hand, if you ask different questions, the answers are similarly clear.

#49 Comment By The Common Humanist On 14th September, 2007 @ 4:35 pm

“collateral damage”

nasty isn’t it.

I mean, in combat situations mistakes do happen and people do genuinely get caught in the cross fire but if an Army, say the US one, puts a premium on ‘force protection’ - partly due to cultural reasons but also due to their relative lack of numbers then the number of times “collateral damage” occurs tends to unfortunately go up rather alot. Its also incredibly poor counter insurgency tactics. Hearts and Minds are not won that way. I know the UK in Basra have been taken aback by how the Shia have turned on each other but upto that point the reletive lack of ‘force protection’ first tactics by the British Army lead to much better relations and far fewer civilian casualties. I know its been far from perfect but you know what I mean.

“”Nobody could realistically read the Qu’ran and come away with the impression it was advocating absolute Quaker-style pacifism”"

Yes, but neither is it a manual for a totalitarean state either but thats what the Jihadists are fighting to impose, cause they are seeing it through a particular lense or rather seeing only sparse sections and inflating their importance. Imagine if all Christians saw was Leviticus??? The effect would be the same - violent christianists fighting to impose in the name of Jesus* a state that would make Mao sigh in admiration over.

*Oh the irony

#50 Comment By Boyo On 15th September, 2007 @ 8:56 am

My understanding re the discussions surrounding the interpretation of the Qu’ran is that the latter revelations have seniority over the earlier ones, which is how violent Islamists justify their position, ie there is plenty of peace stuff in the early verses but as Mohammed and his followers became stronger and fought back against their oppressors along come the stronger, violent verses.

I think the argument that “all religions are violent” is not necessarily relevant. Of course all holy books (except Buddhist?!) contain violent passages, but isn’t it through the lens of the divine messenger that we should interpret them? So while Mohammed actually led military campaigns and specifically endorsed violence in certain circumstances, Jesus strictly forbade violence and instructed his followers to turn the other cheek. Furthermore while the Prophet was very strict about his verses coming directly from God, the Jesus story was told second or third hand (yet still not once did his various versions countenance violence).

Just because people who call themsellves Christians may commit violent acts does not make Christianity a religion of violence any more than peaceful Muslims mean that Islam is a religion of peace.

My concern is that theologically the facts challenge our wishful thinking: the Qu’ran DOES specifically justify religious war, and possibly even requires it, and violent Jihadists are an authentic expression of Islam. That seems to me to be the elephant in the corner, yet unless we notice it, won’t the denial, misunderstanding and cult of victimisation continue?

This was why earlier on I asked whether anyone could demonstrate precisely why Hiz and the other Islamists were wrong according to the theology. I would love them to be, but I don’t think the argument stands up.

#51 Comment By The Common Humanist On 15th September, 2007 @ 10:26 am

Boyo
That argument is beyond my knowlege of Islamic Theology. Muslim readers / writers - help us out here?

I am thinking that you would call yourself a Christian right?

Don’t you think there is a hint of ‘my religion can’t be violent’ or ‘violent Christians aren’t Christians’ about your statements? How would you view such from a Muslim?

I think Christianity can very much be a violent religion - particularly when Christians pay attention to the Old Testament and conveniently sideline the New. This is increasingly apparent in some US Churches. There are alot of Christians who talk about Jesus alot and act very unlike his examples. Take for example, the vurulent hatred of homosexuality that many supposed Christians espose. Not very tolerant. And lets be honest, it takes a supreme act of arrogance to state that your god made a mistake with, what, 3-5% of the population being gay. I have never been so full of myself to think like that but then am not a sky cultist of any description.

I would definately agree that Islam had a more violent environment of evolution however.

Had Jesus lived, say, during the Jewish Revolt, cerca AD70, then I rather suspect the character of the New Testament would be very different indeed. The environment within which man creates religion is absolutely key to its content.

And lets be clear, it is man that creates religion and hence it is as flawed and as beautiful as we are as a species.

#52 Comment By soru On 15th September, 2007 @ 1:20 pm

Of course all holy books (except Buddhist?!) contain violent passages

WWII Japanese Zen Buddhism managed to find a very [6] violent interpretation.

Although fighting battles and killing enemies would seem to violate the Buddha-dharma, specifically the Precept of the Buddha not to kill, an apparent violation that has troubled many over the years, certain samurai, and later the modern military, ultimately could see themselves as fulfilling a Buddhist purpose in what they did, even in the horrors of World War II in the Pacific.

Institutions (the Daimyo/Samurai system, Japanese military, HuT) matter a lot, texts matter little to anyone within their influence.

It may be grotesque, but should not be surprising, to have duelling divebombers from two different pacifist religions. Rebels fighting against the lawful civil order from a religion whose name means ’submission’ are no stranger.

People do what they do because other people ask them to, expect them to, would disapprove if they didn’t. Occasions where they let books influence their actions, in even the smallest way, are statistically very rare.

#53 Comment By Boyo On 15th September, 2007 @ 2:40 pm

CH - For what it’s worth exposure to Sufi Islam changed my life very much for the better. I had psychotherapy for five years at a Sufi-run centre and my therapists were all Sufis, so I do not see Islam as all bad by any means.

I think it is interesting that we have got back to the relativist argument, which wasn’t really my point - I was simply challenging the assumption that Hiz is wrong. Sadly, I have yet to see any convincing argument that theologically they are.

In fact, as much as I love the Sufis, I suspect that their more liberal interpretation of Islam is theologically less robust.

“Don’t you think there is a hint of ‘my religion can’t be violent’ or ‘violent Christians aren’t Christians’ about your statements? How would you view such from a Muslim?”

Not really. I think it is much harder to justify violence in the name of Christ than the name of Allah and I think both the practical actions of the Jesus and Mohammed, as well as their specific “instructions” bear this out. I’m not sure trying to avoid these facts is particularly helpful. There are clear differences between Islam and Christianity: Submission V Love, the separation or unification of the temporal and the spiritual realms, the emphasis on justice and forgiveness, etc. Violence is another distinction.

I believe Islam spread because it was a great unifying force (among the Arabs, for eg) and violence to demonstrate the power of submission also had the side-effect of making its adherents wealthy, a great motivator. Violence (jihad) was central to the early success of Islam, whereas Christianity, following centuries of violent oppression, was subsequently presented with a ready-made empire, ie the Roman.

Arguably Hiz et al represent a movement similar to that of Lutherism (which itself took place against a backdrop of not only allegedly “decadent” Christian practice but at a time when Islam was more or less dominant). Luther claimed to offer a more authentic form of Christianity, which was on the whole borne out by scripture. The same could be said of Islamists and their ilk.

The trouble therefore is that if you challenge their interpretation of Islam, they can bat back that YOU are not an authentic Muslim. And they may, strictly speaking, be right.

I’m not a Christian btw but a Unitarian, though I have a lot of time for Christians, and Sufis for that matter. And Taoists, Buddhists, Humanists, Athiests even… that’s the good thing about being a Unitarian, nobody can ever claim that you are not authentic.

#54 Comment By bikhair aka taqiyyah On 15th September, 2007 @ 5:29 pm

Boyo,

“My concern is that theologically the facts challenge our wishful thinking: the Qu’ran DOES specifically justify religious war, and possibly even requires it, and violent Jihadists are an authentic expression of Islam.”

Violent “jihadist” arent wrong because they are violent, they are wrong in the kind of violence they met out against people. Violence isnt wrong in and of itself. Lets make that clear. However, when attacking certain people, who under most circumstances are entitled to their life and their property, than attacking them would be over stepping the boundaries prescribed by Prophet Muhammed’s Sunnah. Typically when he waged war, or battles, it wasnt customary for women, children, people who dont traditionally fight to be killed. Today, these violent “jihadist” are willing to kill anyone and anything. Also, their position on the rulers of Muslim countries is completely problematic. First, the leaders, be they corrupt or pious, have a right to rule. It is expressively forbidden to violently remove them from power. There are clear expressions in the Quran about this kind of mischeif making. For their Muslim victims, there are very few circumstances where a Muslim can be deprived of his life. Very few of the Muslims that have been killed by these “jihadis” have met those conditions. To me it seems that they have a right to kill anyone who objects to their practices, even when proofs from the Quran or authentic hadiths are used to support their position. There is no arguing with one who is convinced of his righteousness.

#55 Comment By bikhair aka taqiyyah On 15th September, 2007 @ 5:32 pm

Boyo,

Youre adorable. More style than substance unfortunately.

“The trouble therefore is that if you challenge their interpretation of Islam, they can bat back that YOU are not an authentic Muslim. And they may, strictly speaking, be right.”

How so exactly. First, I would like to know what Islamist believe. They seem to borrow heavily from other intellectual discourses. Basically they all sound like a bunch of freshmens (first years) to me. But please explain what their generally held beliefs are.

#56 Comment By sonia On 15th September, 2007 @ 7:57 pm

liberals don’t like authoritarians, its simple

#57 Comment By Ngugi Wa Tiongo On 15th September, 2007 @ 10:55 pm

the boundaries prescribed by Prophet Muhammed’s Sunnah.

I’m sorry, but it’s this kind of silliness that’s getting Muslims in a historical pickle.

What ‘boundaries’ did Mohammed proscribe at the time of war?

He allowed non-combatants to be butchered (the Jews of north Saudi), women to be raped and to be taken as booty. If these are the boundaries to which you refer, you are on dodgy ground to say the very least.

#58 Comment By soru On 15th September, 2007 @ 11:43 pm

Not really. I think it is much harder to justify violence in the name of Christ than the name of Allah

Maybe so, but then it is much harder to justify rebellion in the name of Allah than in the name of Christ.

Anglo-american culture is pretty saturated with the idea of rebellion being a good thing, from Robin Hood to Washington to James Dean to Star Wars to Battlestar Galactica. I can’t think offhand of one single popular western myth where a ruler who arrested and tried some bandits was in the right.

If you have a foot in both cultures, you might assume that stuff to be unambiguously true, while rejecting the more explicitly Christian themes of pacifism, mercy, innocence and so on that allow the western world to coexist with a rebel anti-materialist religion.

#59 Comment By Boyo On 16th September, 2007 @ 9:49 am

Soru, I think that’s a very good point.

BAT - I’m not sure what your point is, precisely. You have accepted the place of violence in Islam, just criticised its application. If anything you seem to be agreeing with me?

No one has yet come up with a convincing argument why Hiz is in the wrong (apart from some chipping away around the fringes). If I was a young revolutionary (Trotsky of course being as much an inspiration to a Hizzer as the Prohphet) I wouldn’t buy your argument that Muslim leaders are entitled to rule without criticism just because they claim to be Muslims. This has never been the practice in the Islamic world. Look at the Sunnis and Shias!

#60 Comment By bananabrain On 17th September, 2007 @ 12:18 pm

before you all start loading all the violence in christianity onto the “old testament”, it is worth remembering that it is important to actually understand the context, in the same way as in other religions. i don’t understand why my sacred texts are the only ones people are slapdash about, by way of taking literlally. so FYI, the following:

1. statements about war, extermination, idol-worshippers in the OT generally are less important than those specifically in the Torah.
2. these statements are limited to members of the “7 nations” which inhabited canaan prior to the israelite conquest, i.e. the hivites, hittites, canaanites, jebusites, girgashites, amorites and ammonites (not the fossils, btw, we have nothing against any fossil). special mention is given to the amalekites who we are commanded both to blot out entirely and to always remember (the contradiction is important)
3. there is no commandment to exterminate the philistines as their territory is not included within the biblical borders of the land of israel
4. NONE OF THESE GUYS ARE AROUND ANY MORE (since sennacherib mixed up the nations during the assyrian conquests (C7 BCE) and therefore they cannot be used as a basis for action
5. the 7 nations were the only people against who we could wage an aggressive war that was a Torah commandment
6. all other wars are either optional or defensive in which case entirely different rules apply, viz taking captives, slavery etc - and slavery was not as practised as by, say, the greeks, romans, persians, muslims or anyone else. in fact, it can only really be described as a kind of indentured servitude where the “slave” had a number of legally enforceable rights
7. therefore, any jews who talk about this sort of thing nowadays are playing fast and loose with a number of Torah definitions and this is why these sentiments are largely constrained to a bunch of loony tunes in the west bank settlements and why arguably the most religious of us, the ultra-orthodox, refuse to get involved in anything to do with weapons, although they are quite happy throwing rocks at cars or having the odd punch-up.

as for the comments about jesus’s timing, the majority of classical rabbinic judaism was in the context of the roman occupation and the rebellions against them and it still turns out at least quietist, if not entirely pacifist - for this you have to understand what happened immediately after the Temple was destroyed when r. yohanan ben zakkai gained permission from titus to set up the first yeshiva at yavneh (jamnia).

in short, READ THE FECKING SOURCES before you make assumptions.

b’shalom

bananabrain

#61 Trackback By Sports Illustrated On 3rd October, 2007 @ 7:49 am

Sports Illustrated…

I couldn’t understand some parts of this article, but it sounds interesting…

#62 Comment By JK On 7th October, 2007 @ 5:18 am

A thorough refutation of Maajid’s dubious article is available on:
[7] www.abu-ibrahim.blogspot.com

Though Maajid has said he will do a point by point refutation he has done nothing to date

#63 Trackback By High School Online On 10th October, 2007 @ 7:28 am

High School Online…

I couldn’t understand some parts of this article, but it sounds interesting…


Article printed from Pickled Politics: http://www.pickledpolitics.com

URL to article: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1368

URLs in this post:
[1] a good summary: http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/asim_siddiqui/2007/09/beyond_hizb_ut-tahrir.html
[2] from here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/default.stm
[3] miri-piri: http://www.sikhpoint.com/religion/resources/miripiriconcept.htm
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otranto: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otranto
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades
[6] violent interpretation: http://www.friesian.com/divebomb.htm
[7] www.abu-ibrahim.blogspot.com: http://www.abu-ibrahim.blogspot.com