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  • A question of allegiance for British Muslims


    by guest
    16th July, 2009 at 12:22 am    

    this is a guest contribution by Shaaz Mahboob.

    Yesterday’s coverage about the repatriation of the eight British soldiers killed in Afghanistan and the welcome accorded to them by the British public has filled me with pride for our brave armed forces and instilled respect for the ordinary people who turned out to show their support.

    t the same time as a British Muslim it fills me with sadness that none of the leading Muslim organisations have bothered to publicly mourn the soldiers or show solidarity with the armed forces and their families, who are facing an immensely difficult battle with the Taliban in order to bring stability to the region, and directly securing the safety of our nation.

    Although many British Muslims objected and criticised the manner in which a small group of Islamic extremists in Luton hurled abuses towards the returning soldiers from Iraq, they apparently did so fearing a backlash from the rest of the British public, not for their love and respect for the British soldiers.

    Such lack of compassion on part of British Muslims for our Army which retains immense respect in the eyes of ordinary British people, is disheartening and needs to be highlighted at every forum. This is especially relevant since British Muslims and their respective organisations claim to be equal citizens of the country yet when it comes to wars against barbaric regimes and forces such as the Taliban in Afghanistan, who happen to be Muslims, their shift in allegiance on the basis of their religion becomes distinctly clear and disturbing.

    British Muslims did not object to the military campaign against former Yugoslavia, infact hailed it, when fellow Muslim Kosovars benefited from the war on foreign soil, deemed by the Serbs as foreign invasion and interference. Yet when it comes to brutal regimes and their atrocities such as the ones in Darfur or Afghanistan, the Muslim silence is deafening.

    It is high time British Muslims recognise and acknowledge that in order to exert their rights as British people, they must also fulfil their civic and moral responsibilities by beginning to show solidarity with the rest of the society, especially where it matters the most.

    ——
    Shaaz is part of British Muslims for Secular Democracy.


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    Filed in: British Identity,Current affairs,Middle East






    62 Comments below   |  

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    1. pickles

      New blog post: A question of allegiance for British Muslims http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5178


    2. Indigo Jo Blogs » How many Muslims has Wootton Bassett?

      [...] Muslims for Secular Democracy (along with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Taj Hargey), has written a guest post on Pickled Politics accusing British Muslims of lacking compassion for British troops by failing to publically mourn or [...]




    1. Edna Welthorpe — on 16th July, 2009 at 1:17 am  

      We can look forward to MUSLIMS FOR SECULAR DEMOCRACY filling Trafalgar Square with an overflow crowd which will eagerly listen to a star-studded cast of Leading Muslims.

      Who would speak first and what would be said?

    2. damon — on 16th July, 2009 at 1:18 am  

      I’m sure lots of people feel ambivalent about British actions overseas. I’d hate to feel obliged to support the military just because I hailed from the country.

      The bombing of the Belgrade TV station ten years ago was wrong.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO_bombing_of_the_Radio_Television_of_Serbia_headquarters
      If you think what NATO is doing in Afghanistan is right, then OK support it. But the thing at Wootton Bassett on tuesday left me a bit cold.
      Not the individual stories of the soldiers. I can read them with empathy too.
      But to many people who live in larger cities with diverse populations, on TV it looks like that Middle England that is often pilloried on this website.

    3. BenSix — on 16th July, 2009 at 1:33 am  

      Well, apparently, Mr Mahboob, you can read the minds of all “British Muslims“. Impressive. Perhaps you’d be better suited to displaying your telepathic skills than writing pieces like this.

      “Although many British Muslims objected and criticised the manner in which a small group of Islamic extremists in Luton hurled abuses towards the returning soldiers from Iraq, they apparently did so fearing a backlash from the rest of the British public, not for their love and respect for the British soldiers.”

      I see - so, let’s get your story straight…

      - Islamic organisations haven’t released statements mourning the deaths of these soldiers.

      Therefore…

      - “British Muslims” clearly have no respect for the Armed forces and have been deceiving us all along.

      Well, that displays two things…

      - A vivid imagination.

      And…

      - Rotten logic.

      “Such lack of compassion on part of British Muslims for our Army which retains immense respect in the eyes of ordinary British people, is disheartening and needs to be highlighted at every forum.”

      A lack of compassion? You haven’t demonstrated that they have a “lack of compassion“, or, indeed, that they don’t respect the soldiers, or, indeed, that they necessarily should respect them (let along love, for Christ’s sake).

      Interesting, by the way, to see that you don’t think Muslims are “ordinary British people“. When, in your eyes, can one cast off one’s abnormality?

      “…British Muslims and their respective organisations claim to be equal citizens of the country yet when it comes to wars against barbaric regimes and forces such as the Taliban in Afghanistan, who happen to be Muslims, their shift in allegiance on the basis of their religion becomes distinctly clear and disturbing.”

      Er, a majority of the British public want out of this war - are they “shift[ing] [their] allegiance“?

      I’m with you all the way on secular democracy, but you should think about ditching a) the generalisations and b) the national chauvinism.

      Love n’ hugs to all,

      Ben

    4. BenSix — on 16th July, 2009 at 1:38 am  

      But, then again, you’ve said as much yourself…

      “bmsd welcomes news of the latest BBC / ICM poll results released 25th June 2009, which show that 75% of British Muslims pledge loyalty to the UK. The poll, targeting 500 Muslims, also revealed a reduction in perceptions of Islamophobia since 7/7, with just over half of respondents disagreeing with the view that the British Government, police and people are anti-Muslim.

      While British Muslims consider themselves to be loyal citizens and overwhelmingly reject extremist violence (95% of respondents opposed the Taliban’s use of suicide bombings and other terrorist activities), their reservations on the UK Government’s foreign policy decisions - which are shared by many non-Muslims as well - should be recognised as legitimate concerns and properly addressed.”

      It was well said, then.

    5. TMG — on 16th July, 2009 at 3:46 am  

      I think it’s a noble thing to join the armed forces.

      The problem then is that the armed forces are used by the government/business two heaeded beast as simple tools to gain access to valuable natural resources in other countries.

      There is nothing just about the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq.

      How can I have sympathy for that?

      I feel sorry for the poor guys that give their lives for an elite that consider them fodder in a larger agenda (and doesn’t even spend the money to equip them adequately).

      That’s about it.

    6. Jennifer Smith — on 16th July, 2009 at 4:39 am  

      Well said Mr Mahboob!

    7. halima — on 16th July, 2009 at 4:43 am  

      Thanks Ben Six . You said it all.

      I wonder if the guest poster will question the alliegance of non-Muslims and those non-Muslims who might also oppose military conflict abroad? Would their civic duty and responsibility be challenged?

      Or, is this just a requirement for Muslims?

      Does Jeremy Corbyn need to show more alliegance to Britain and the project of social cohesion?

    8. Halima — on 16th July, 2009 at 5:23 am  

      The soldiers look so young, really tragic to see. hope we don’t have to see many more body bags like these coming home.

    9. cjcjc — on 16th July, 2009 at 8:21 am  

      It might be helpful but who precisely should be doing what in your view? Surely not the ridiculous MCB?
      And how would you get them to do it?

      Ben @4 - does that mean that 5% do support suicide bombings? That’s still a large number of people if so.

    10. Golam Murtaza — on 16th July, 2009 at 9:29 am  

      God not the MCB. Anything but them.

    11. Sofia — on 16th July, 2009 at 10:05 am  

      Right..so we should all go out wearing our ‘muslim’ uniforms and show our ‘allegience’…wtf…what happened to opinion? personal thought? Me going or not going out to show my ‘allegience’ has nothing to do with my religion…and how do you know those ppl in luton condemned the small bunch of idiots because they feared a backlash..dont’ stick all muslims into one pot..and don’t think that showing up to mourn dead soldiers means anything. I feel sorry for British soldiers going out to Afghanistan, just as I feel sorry for ‘soldiers’ recruited by the taliban for their own pathetic agendas…and it makes me mad that this guest post writer thinks it’s lack of compassion…yeh because you speak for every single British muslim right???

    12. Letters From A Tory — on 16th July, 2009 at 10:06 am  

      Wow, someone speaking some sense about how to bring about a truly integrated society. For people to live and work in this country yet show no respect for our values, heritage and nationality is unacceptable and I’m delighted to read an article from someone who understands the importance of respecting the country that you live in.

    13. Sofia — on 16th July, 2009 at 10:08 am  

      oh yeh and how did you knw there were no muslims there along the roadside…cuz they didn’t have long beards or wear burkhas??? or because muslims aren’t white?

    14. Sofia — on 16th July, 2009 at 10:09 am  

      support our soldiers = integrated society..great

    15. chairwoman — on 16th July, 2009 at 10:34 am  

      “Does Jeremy Corbyn need to show more alliegance to Britain and the project of social cohesion?”

      Yes.

    16. Random Guy — on 16th July, 2009 at 10:48 am  

      I would have taken the time to compose a reply to this poor excuse for a post, but BenSix @ #3 has already done an admirable job.

    17. Joe Otten — on 16th July, 2009 at 10:53 am  

      There is something unbritish about demanding displays of allegiance. Karl Marx, for example, was quite welcome to come here to develop his plans to overthrow our government.

      Yet I don’t see why there should be any tension between British and Muslim allegiances, in the case of our troops serving overseas. In Iraq and Afghanistan, whatever the rights and wrongs of involvement, our troops are on the same side as some muslims and against others.

    18. Sofia — on 16th July, 2009 at 11:07 am  

      I reckon Mr Guest post needs a lesson in propaganda

    19. Halima — on 16th July, 2009 at 11:10 am  

      Chairwoman@15

      Why?

    20. Arif — on 16th July, 2009 at 11:10 am  

      Shaaz, if someone in the UK has an allegiance to humane values regardless of nationality and acted accordingly, would you argue they lose their rights “as British people” - what position would such a person with allegiance much broader than to Britain alone be in?

    21. The Common Humanist — on 16th July, 2009 at 11:28 am  

      I have a friend from school, ok Facebook re-aquintance, who joined the army from school in 91. In the period since 93 when I went to Uni, has been deployed to:

      1. Bosnia
      2. Kosovo
      3. Afghanistan
      4. Kosovo again
      6. Iraq
      7. Afghanistan
      8. Iraq
      9. Afghanistan

      As he puts it - what the job has been fundamentally about everytime is protecting muslim civilians from aggressors be they non muslim or non-muslim and trying to establish security so that civil society could re-establish and their economy could grow 9the latter to cement the former). That has been the defining feature of his Army career. He doesn’t mind, indeed enjoys his job but does think that a little bit of more visible thanks from British muslims would be nice. He thinks that Bosniaks, Iraqis and Afghans are more appreciative of the actions of UK forces - despite the fuckups - then the folks back home, that includes all folks and not just muslims. I tols him that the quiet majority do but the MSM is only interested in getting quotes from religious fascists and not normal people.

      Anyway, interesting stuff and, see, Facebook occasionally useful.

      TCH

    22. The Common Humanist — on 16th July, 2009 at 11:31 am  

      Darnit - should read:

      “what the job has been fundamentally about everytime is protecting muslim civilians from aggressors be they muslim or non-muslim”

    23. munir — on 16th July, 2009 at 11:42 am  

      Agree with the vast majority of posters here- its interesting to see the only people backing Mr mahboob are our resident BNPers like Jennifer Smith

      What Mr Mahboob seems to be doing here is a mirror of Muslim extremsts who support al Qaida or other Muslims based on the notion of “my co-religionists right or wrong” - that you should alsways support Muslims regardless of what they do . he simply wants to replace it with extreme patriotism “my country right or wrong” - that you should always support your government/country regardless of what they do

    24. Draman — on 16th July, 2009 at 11:46 am  

      I’ve checked the websites of othe faith organisations, they too are silent. So why single out Muslims?

      Oh, news just in, the BBC apologises to the MCB for allowing the accusation that it condones attacks on armed forces to go unchecked…

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/question_time/8153401.stm

    25. munir — on 16th July, 2009 at 11:54 am  

      Common Humanist

      As he puts it – what the job has been fundamentally about everytime is protecting muslim civilians from aggressors be they non muslim or non-muslim and trying to establish security so that civil society could re-establish and their economy could grow”

      In the case of Kosovo and Bosnia certainly gratitude is in order to UK troops - as it is to the brave Muslims from all the world who went there to fight

      But Iraq and Afghanistan? Your mate is deluding himself and so are you if you think these wars (neither of which were necessary) were about protecting Muslims. These wars have made life much much harder for British Muslims -not quite sure why thats a cause for gratitude.

      He doesn’t mind, indeed enjoys his job but does think that a little bit of more visible thanks from British muslims would be nice. He thinks that Bosniaks, Iraqis and Afghans are more appreciative of the actions of UK forces

      Its interesting he refers to them as Bosniaks, Iraqis and Afghans (ie by their national identity) but when it comes to us he sees British Muslims , his compatriots, primarily by their religion not nationality. Perhaps he has some issues.

      You are also aware that showing support for or thanks to Muslims defending Muslims from non-Muslim agressors is pretty much illegal thanks to anti-terrorist legislation. this should put what you friend said into persepctive.

    26. munir — on 16th July, 2009 at 11:58 am  

      Draman
      “I’ve checked the websites of othe faith organisations, they too are silent. So why single out Muslims?”

      Because the attitude is entirely colonial. We can just about tolerate you being here but you shouldnt have the same rights as true Brits to speak out against wars or government policy. Just shut up and nod your head and agree with whatever we do and we’ll tolerate you or else. There will always be Uncle Toms from the minorty community in question willing to do so.

    27. chairwoman — on 16th July, 2009 at 12:01 pm  

      Halima

      MPs exist, in a democracy, to represent their constituents. That is their prime purpose. Most also have ‘special interests’. These should come a long way behind support for constituents and representing their views. It is my opinion that Jeremy Corbyn sees things the other way round. He also seems to show little or no allegiance to the UK, and the words “Social Cohesion” don’t seem (to me) to be in his political vocabulary.

      Mr Corbyn, along with Ms Short, Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner, and others were part of the parcel of circumstances that kept Labour in the political wilderness for so long.

      Here is a difficult question. Should a politician vote according to his/her conscience, or according to the public that elected him to vote according to their collective conscience?

      BTW, I don’t intend to spend long periods of time debating this point today but will look at it again tomorrow if it’s called for :)

    28. chairwoman — on 16th July, 2009 at 12:03 pm  

      I am inclined to agree with today’s Daily Mail.

      Such outpourings of emotion, whilst very moving, are intrinsically unBritish.

    29. BenSix — on 16th July, 2009 at 12:36 pm  

      Thanks, Halima and Random Guy.

      Cjcjc…

      “…does that mean that 5% do support suicide bombings? That’s still a large number of people if so.”

      Don’t know (others may have put “not sure” or something similar). Doubtless, some do - notions about resistance and so forth.

    30. Sunny — on 16th July, 2009 at 12:40 pm  

      Aha! But there’s two separate issues here.

      One is about the presumed opinion of British Muslims, which Shaaz is somewhat guilty of. But then Muslims on the opposite if the spectrum are also guilty of doing the same when it suits their political agenda.

      The second is a point about the armed forces. I have a bias here - my dad was in the army (Indian) and so was my brother (British). Both lefties a d both humanitarian.

      There is an automatic aversion to the army and some display of nationalism that I find troubling. Both can be, to my mind, be used to achieve positive aims and therefore can be celebrated. Frankly - I would celebrate the soldiers who went to Afghanistan and would argue against those who thought it was stupid.

      I’m just wondering if the ppl apposed to this piece are doing it from te first perspective than the second. They sound like it’s the first but I bet it’s the second.

    31. Keith — on 16th July, 2009 at 1:08 pm  

      Very few people, even firm Atheists want to remove the right of freedom of belief, but of course that also includes the freedom of non belief or we do not live in a Democracy and almost without exception Christians support a secular democracy. The Christian Church is not a supporter of a Theocracy-even the Pope would not contend that he should rule Europe, certainly the organised religions keep trying to slip bits of privilege for themselves into legislation but that, in my opinion, is more about a lust for political power and influence, more about the self aggrandisement of the heirarchy than about support for goodness. The problem with Islam is that it appears to me to be more of a political cult than it is a religion. Many have looked at it as a philosophy and found it wanting and it has its own brand of politics and law and from this seems to come the militant brand of wild DEMOCROPHOBIA that we see so often at demonstrations but almost never with any attempt to justify the argument or engage in the debate so although some Muslims have a problem with Allegiance this seems to be more rooted in mischievous interpretation of the Koran than justified by reasoned debate.

    32. damon — on 16th July, 2009 at 1:14 pm  

      Although I, like most other people on here (it seems) didn’t really agree with Mr Mahboob’s point of view, it’s still has some interesting implications (to me anyway). For example, are people who are minorities in the UK less likely to feel affinity with the state and the wider society? As someone born to Irish immigrant parents, I never felt stirred by the sounds of the British national anthem, or felt that the royal family had anything to do with me.
      And I could never feel the jingoism of the Falklands war was somthing that tugged on the heart strings like it did for so much of the country.

      Does that give non minority Britons a right to feel slightly aggrieved if they feel that people who have come to the country (or are 2nd, 3rd generation), are not fully ”onside” as bona fide Brits?

      You can notice this in the couple of weeks leading up to rememberence sunday. Who’s wearing a red poppy and who isn’t. People of a visible ethnic minority are far less likley to be wearing one (I don’t either).
      And I’m sure this is noticed by some of the people who do. I bet if those people from Wootton Bassett who turn out to honour dead British soldiers coming back from Afghanistan go walking up Green Lanes in north London at this time, it will be noted that amongst the Turkish and Kurdish community that has a big presence there, you would probably look in vain to find one person from those communities wearing the poppy.

      I think that many immigrants (like my parents) see the day they came to England as a kind of year zero. So mine came in the late 50′s. ”War? what war?” was probably their attitude to the privations and suffering that the British had been going through just a decade before. They had some austerity and rationing in Ireland too growing up, but had never been under the Blitz. If I asked my mother who lives in south London did she know what a doodlebug or V-2 rocket was, I bet she wouldn’t know. (Even though I know that one landed near the house where we later grew up).

      If you promoted an event about (for example) ”Brixton at war” in the town hall Brixton, with a historical talk and slide show about what it was like in Brixton in WW2, who do you think might turn up? Probably not many people who didn’t have some family connection to those times. I very much doubt if any of those young Afghani and Kurdish men who work in the halal butchers shops on Atlantic road would show up.

      Is any of that relevant??

    33. munir — on 16th July, 2009 at 1:23 pm  

      damon thanks for your post it was a very interesting persepctive. Some try and lump together all white people as having a strong patriotic allegiance to Britain (in contrast to ethnic minorities) but the reality as it nearly always is , is much more complex

    34. munir — on 16th July, 2009 at 1:29 pm  

      Keith it might not be helpful for you to learn about Islam from the tabloid press or from anti-Muslim sources.

      You should read books written by Muslims themselves
      Id recommned “Islam and the Destiny of Man” by Gai Eaton or “Unveiling Islam” by Roger de Pasqier or a good translation of the Quran

    35. Sofia — on 16th July, 2009 at 2:32 pm  

      Sunny- my grandfather was an engineer in the Indian Army, and was in the army whilst India was at war with Pakistan. I do not have a problem with war, soldiers, the army..as long as there is transparent justification for going to war. I have relatives in the Indian army now, and I do have a conflict when thinking that if India went to war with Pakistan, who would my allegience be with…as I also have family in Pakistan.

      I do not agree with trooos in afghanistan, but this does not mean I would not agree with any future involvement in war.
      I do not think it is easy to generalise how British Muslims feel about soldiers per se and I don’t actually think it has anything to do with religion, more about how first, second, third generations feel about being British and what being British means in terms of loyalty.

      This applies to people I know; My friend’s grandfather fought in the first world war in France. He was from Morocco. She, in the eyes of the French, is just an Arab immigrant regardless of what her forefathers did for France.

    36. Ravi Naik — on 16th July, 2009 at 2:44 pm  

      Damon is quickly becoming one my favourite commenters. His insight is an asset to PP, in my view.

    37. Keith — on 16th July, 2009 at 3:16 pm  

      Munir,Why do you assume that a contrary opinion is based on ignorance? I have read the Koran and spent much time studying religious beliefs, including Islam. I think Muslims sometimes forget that the Koran can be obtained at almost any bookshop in the UK and it is usually easy to see when it has been misinterpreted, mostly by those whose interest is in making the simple into a maze of complication and getting excitement from power to influence the minds of others. My personal experience was that I found Islam wanting and flawed as a philosophy but it is also my view that much of what is practised today is simply not Islam(I would say the same about Christianity) not least because where there is coercion in any Tenet or practise of any ethos there can never be, or ever have been, true belief since the knowledge of coercion obviates it, and we can exchange contradictory quotes from scriptures forever but it seems to me that the basis of all the religious doctrines is unproven belief that the Divine communicated to man.There are at least 40 creation stories, many more credible than the Abraham versions. However many do believe in a Supreme Being who sees into our hearts and guides us daily but that it is the doctrines and practises of the organised religions that are a barrier between man and the divine.

    38. Sofia — on 16th July, 2009 at 3:21 pm  

      Keith, I am intrigued as to what you found wanting..

    39. Halima — on 16th July, 2009 at 4:39 pm  

      Chairwoman

      Thanks - I don’t think your assessment of Jeremy Corbyn is fair.

      “Here is a difficult question. Should a politician vote according to his/her conscience, or according to the public that elected him to vote according to their collective conscience?”

      I think you should let the electorate decide this question.

      “MPs exist, in a democracy, to represent their constituents. That is their prime purpose. Most also have ’special interests’. These should come a long way behind support for constituents and representing their views. It is my opinion that Jeremy Corbyn sees things the other way round. ”

      If Jeremy Corbyn is voted in, I’d say it’s a fair bet that a large number of his constituency support him.

    40. Keith — on 16th July, 2009 at 5:55 pm  

      Hi Sofia, This is about my personal experience and you should take into account that I read the Koran and studied the notes, cold, as it were, after studying other philosophies but with no Islamic preconditioning and if you have been brought up a Muslim it would now be impossible to have that experience, so I could not excuse or forgive anything extreme I read and I was appalled and shocked. I am trying to reply while conscious that I am dancing on the very edge of the ‘Incitement to Religious Hate Act’ which, in my view, has suppressed legitimate debate about organised religions and, yes, I do fear the knock on the door in the night of the thought Police, but I will try to explain my personal experience because I think I would rather die than lose the right to free speech.I have an exercise book full of notes, as I have on other types of ethos but, as with the Bible and others, it is the contradictions and the sheer mess and confusion in the way it is presented which strike home,as if the Divine might be confused or suffer from loss of memory or be unable to organise a book in a clear and coordinated manner that raise a huge question. If it was the same Supreme that created more Galaxies than there are grains of sand on the Earth(Fact)then you would expect producing an organised book (in every language) would not be a problem. I was also very uncomfortable with the general tenor of disrespect for other beliefs and for the rights of humanity in general. Just to paraphrase-All who believe in a God other than Allah are in partnership with Satan- and then you will reply but it also says- Let him who will, believe, and him who will, disbelieve- and so we can bounce contradictory quotations at one another like a tennis match but because it is so badly and planned and contradictory I doubted the divine authenticity and felt that only politicians would write and organise something so that it could be interpreted any way you like, but God would not. I also feel that God would not create a situation where hundreds of hangers on are needed to interpret his word by, it seems to me, actually placing their own words above those in the Koran.One of the essentials of being a God is surely that you can make yourself clear. I am also not convinced that the Divine would be so full of self aggrandisement as to require such constant worshipping, such a thing also sounds like a political need and a politician talking. I could go on but there is not room here for an analysis of the Koran but essentially I hoped that, whether I believed it or not,I would find a greater and more profound, more human, kind and equitable philosophy and was disappointed.

    41. Don — on 16th July, 2009 at 7:04 pm  

      dancing on the very edge of the ‘Incitement to Religious Hate Act’

      Not really, although it’s a lousy act it does specify that it must involve intent to cause hatred towards individuals. A Lords’ ammendment. I think it has to involve threats or incitement to violence as well.

      I think it perfectly reasonable to expect that a book claiming divine authorship/inspiration should be unambiguous and radiant with moral clarity. And scientifically accurate.

    42. Sofia — on 16th July, 2009 at 8:29 pm  

      I was curious that’s all…it’s always good to hear other ppls’ points of view

    43. Sofia — on 16th July, 2009 at 8:31 pm  

      and yes this is probably not the best place to discuss it all…

    44. chairwoman — on 16th July, 2009 at 9:09 pm  

      Keith - Interesting post.

      I too have often wondered if The Almighty has a touch of low self esteem as, certainly in the Abrahamic faiths, he needs to be reassured of his greatness on a regular basis.

    45. Refresh — on 16th July, 2009 at 9:16 pm  

      Jeremy Corbyn is a fine fellow, and a great MP which explains why his constituents keeps voting him in.

      Its the alternative career minded minions who will swing anyway the prevailing mood as expressed by the tabloids swings. And look where its taken the country.

      People do want clarity and integrity from their MPs. That is probably the only thing the electorate has come to accept from Westminster.

      As for conscience v. wants of the constituents, Jeremy Corbyn was wholeheartedly supported in his stance against the Iraq war. And the other wars.

    46. Sunny — on 16th July, 2009 at 9:25 pm  

      I think that many immigrants (like my parents) see the day they came to England as a kind of year zero. So mine came in the late 50’s. ”War? what war?” was probably their attitude to the privations and suffering that the British had been going through just a decade before.

      Damon - I think that’s probably true.

      Keith - do you mind trying line and paragraph breaks? Just makes it easier to read.

    47. anobody — on 16th July, 2009 at 10:51 pm  

      Pathetic post, by another career apologist.

      I don’t get why as a Muslim I have to come out and publicly mourn the death of these soldiers. I feel sorry that there are soldiers out there dying for an unjust cause. I feel empathy when there are children left behind who will not grow up without a father. It is unfortunate they died, but they are soldiers. You’d be pretty darn stupid joining up thinking getting popped wasn’t part of the risk.

      I just don’t get why I have to come out and say sorry every time there is a suicide bombing? Or an act of terrorism?

    48. Boyo — on 17th July, 2009 at 7:43 am  

      Keith, thankyou - real nuggets of gold:

      “If it was the same Supreme that created more Galaxies than there are grains of sand on the Earth(Fact)then you would expect producing an organised book (in every language) would not be a problem.”

      “I also feel that God would not create a situation where hundreds of hangers on are needed to interpret his word… One of the essentials of being a God is surely that you can make yourself clear. I am also not convinced that the Divine would be so full of self aggrandisement as to require such constant worshipping”

      Case closed I’d say. Religion exposes Man’s inability to express Divine reality, whatever that may be. Instead we graft on our own pathetic prejudices to the inexpressible.

      Abraham, Jesus and Mo certainly gave it a go, but each clearly failed in their own way. It was then down to every other “human, all too human” to twist their insight for purely selfish purposes and use God as an excuse for their pathetic prejudices.

      That’s why I despise the exploitation of others in the name of any religion (or religiously-inspired act, like the war in Iraq). The only religions that work for me are Quakers (who keep their mouths shut), Buddhists, and Unitarians.

      Munir - as a liberator of Kosovo, I’d like to express my thanks for your appreciation. But I don’t understand how on one hand you can complain that Muslims in Britain are being seen as Muslims first, then complain soley about wars that affect Muslims?

    49. Hantsboy — on 17th July, 2009 at 11:50 am  

      Nick Griffin gave an excellent maiden speech in Brussels showing up hypocritical ‘liberal’ support for opposition in Iran as a pretext for yet another western assault on a Moslem country.

      BNP want a withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan.

      No other mainstream party is supporting this.

      Anyone who wants peace in the area should support Nick’s efforts.

    50. Shamit — on 17th July, 2009 at 12:47 pm  

      “Anyone who wants peace in the area should support Nick’s efforts.”

      What kind of peace are we talking about here?

      How would that peace impact on the UK?

    51. Hantsboy — on 17th July, 2009 at 4:26 pm  

      How would that peace impact on the UK?

      50

      It hardly needs saying that if British troops pulled out of the middle east it would have a huge impact on the UK.

      The whole raison d’etre of the ‘terrorist’ would of course disappear unless you think they would carry on bombing which I doubt.
      If they did we’d have far greater resources in terms of manpower and finance to deal with the situation here

    52. jookymundo — on 20th July, 2009 at 1:58 am  

      British Armed Forces have no respect among the muslim community. Why should we pretend to respect them while they kill fellow muslims?

      Because whitey says so? Fuck that.

    53. Random Guy — on 20th July, 2009 at 12:50 pm  

      Keith @ 40: Good on you for taking the effort to understand Islam on your own initiative.

      In response to your post, there are a few comments I would like to make which are purely my opinion:

      You WILL miss most of the Philosophy of Islam if you (a) go straight into it cold and (b) in English. If you are truly sincere about discovering more about the religion, you will need to take your questions to a well-versed imam, or a very devout (and wise) practicing muslim. Islam is not something that can only be understood by reading the Koran. Without observing its practice, you will derive very little benefit.

      Islam is a religion of action and interaction. It would be difficult, if not impossible to sit in isolation and understand the philosophy of Islam. It is true that the language seems contradictory at first, but to me that is the beauty of it. The challenge of attaining the truth through interpretation while you try and absorb the whole message, piecing together the context of different verses etc.

    54. damon — on 20th July, 2009 at 2:00 pm  

      I’d have thought that the biggest test for these Abrahamic religions was whether they are actually inspired by God on not.
      And it would seem highly unlikely.

      Like Keith says about the constant need to tell this god how much we worship him.

      I remember being taught the catholic Catechism at about 10 years old, and I couldn’t really accept this bit:

      ”Q. Why did God make you?
      A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven. ”

      I thought that he must be very conceited to have made us for that reason.

    55. Random Guy — on 20th July, 2009 at 2:40 pm  

      damon, we differ in that Islam does not prescribe human attributes to God - so ‘conceited’ may as well have no meaning whatsoever.

      Regarding what you were taught in church when you were 10, I think there is such a huge difference in being prescribed a religion, and going out there and finding it for yourself. The entire answer is seldom completely found in one place, and even then, it requires a lot of thought.

      Here is another take on your Q/A:

      Q: Why did God make you?
      A: God made me to know Him [by learning how this world is made and by applying this knowledge in the best way possible], to love Him [ by appreciating the fortune He gave me in making me one of the lucky few members of humanity who have enough to eat and drink and shelter - and by trying to help those who do not]…etc.

      As you can see, the basics take you only so far. In Islam the act of worship is inextricably linked with the teaching.

      Anyway, I do not deign to speak in any authoratative manner - simply putting forward my point of view.

    56. sonia — on 20th July, 2009 at 3:46 pm  

      56. Random Guy: this is repeated all the time. But it seems to be a matter of semantics to me. Can you pls explain a bit more about how you see us not attributing human attributes to God. In particular, if you could please address my points of view below ( disclaimer: they are not intended to ‘insult’ your belief of God by the way or Islam in particular, rather they were the earliest questions I had as a child, and as do most young people about ‘God’.)

      Humans perhaps should not attribute human characteristics to “God” - but theistic religion certainly seems to encourage it. Across the board. this is very central (i think) to why religious mythologies developed and the psychological significance.

      Any characteristic we can really “understand” generally appears to be those we apply to describe humans. is that then a ‘human’ characteristic? I refer to 99 names for Allah, the ‘merciful’ the ‘compassionate’ - the fact that we ‘understand’ these names as representing values (those values we would like to see in ‘good’ humans) - suggests to me that they are ‘human values’: to us anyway. Wrath, anger, love, mercy, kindness - these are all human - as in we experience them. Obviously so might other supernatural beings or creatures, (we don’t know_) but my point is we view it through our human lens.

      Also:(as someone pointed out to me the other day in a cafe): needing to ‘improve’ on your message throughout the centuries, sending ‘edits’ down to your books - seems a particularly human attribute! First favouring one tribe, telling them they’re the chosen one, then someone else, then someone else - what’s that? sounds a lot like a human leader playing divide and conquer, who kisses my ass best gets into least trouble. Highly human kind of logic if you ask me - and placing qualities we see in our human rulers and attributing them to ‘God’. . Why is God who created the universe - dependent on our worship and our gratitude? The only reason i can see if we think God is like a human leader or benefactor - who demands something back from us. What can we possibly give to God? why do we even factor ourselves in the equation? We may be ‘humbled’ by thinking about Creator/God, we may resolve to do something because it has inspired us, but to imagine we make any kind of difference to a Creator, is certainly self-centred and somewhat arrogant as a species (for us humans i mean)

      so in the end, theism seems to end up not being able to avoid being anthropomorphic..it gets confused because it tries to say you can’t understand God, yet seeks to - in human language, using human constructs (naturally, otherwise how can we understand?) if it’s that mystical, let’s leave ‘god’ as a mystical, metaphysical ‘unknowable’ concept (more like pantheism) but then you can’t have your cake and eat it (god isn’t going to be writing messages to you saying he’s angry if you don’t do this, happy if you do that, will let you into heaven if you worship him, he’ll be jealous if you won’t…etc. so on and so forth) All that sounds frightfully human and sycophantic to me. (from the point of view of the worshipper that is)

      Of course it’s no surprise to me that humans would create such an elaborate leader to ‘placate’.. but then saying we don’t clothe God with human attributes seems a bit absurd to me. Surely people must see this. Either we do or we don’t.

      I can see why it would be so satisfying to have a personal relationship/idea that we have some connection to the most Powerful one who created the world (after all, we’d all like Obama to be following us on Twitter)

      If you could share with us how you see us not prescribe human attributes to God, I’d be very interested.

    57. sonia — on 20th July, 2009 at 3:57 pm  

      Anyway, this is all rather silly and not particularly radical enough. People should be concerned about the reality of what soldiers have to do for a living - and the so-called necessity of having standing armies and demanding our young (people who haven’t got too many options who will become the cannon fodder) sacrificial lambs. I “support” and empathise with real life individuals who suffer - and i would rather they didn’t suffer - and not the abstract notion of ‘military’ -as the military is a killing machine regardless of where its alliance sits.

      The core problem: why in allegedly sophisticated 21st century human organised groups who have been legitimized as nation-states cannot expect/do not ‘aim to’ to get along without resorting to violence. When within the nation-state ‘boundary’ we are expected to get along without recourse to violence, and do not have ‘standing’ armies. We have a police force, which is different.

    58. sonia — on 20th July, 2009 at 4:02 pm  

      P.S. why ‘individual Muslims’ should have to stand up and say something as a ‘collective’ when ‘they’ DO NOT actually exist as a collective in this country - with ONE opinion or a related set of opinions- is beyond me.

      But Perhaps you mean the MCB who makes its Muslim-ness its business, or the “we are muslims therefore we think this…brigade” ought to be the ones saying we support the british trooops?

      anyway what does ‘support’ mean? do people really think in terms of i am ‘in favour’ of you/’against’ you ??? (unless they’re actually in a war and you ‘supporting’ someone means you’re not going to kill them?)

    59. Random Guy — on 22nd July, 2009 at 12:27 pm  

      sonia @ 58, 59: Pretty much agree.

      sonia @ 57: You realise that if we have this discussion, it will end up being about the size of a PHD chapter (and consume as much time and effort).

      To answer your question - “If you could share with us how you see us not prescribe human attributes to God, I’d be very interested.” - I will start from my position and lay out my point of view, so once again, do not take this as a generalisation of any sort.

      First of all, the main position for Islam is that God is NOT a person. No matter how much we want to ascribe human qualities to Him, there are many verses in the Quran which remind us that He is something we cannot conceive - an entity that is infinite. You specifically raise the 99 Names of Allah. If you examine them, you will see they are not all emotional constructs, and in all cases they imply a level of power that humans cannot imagine. While you are correct that we view the world and abstracts through a human-emotional lens, the language in Al-Quran and the 99 Names etc. is particular in pointing out what the relationship between Creator and created is.

      The second part of your argument seems to be more confused - why does God need us? You are right, He doesn’t. Where has it ever been said the God needs us? You seem to be hovering on one of those “What is the meaning of life” questions. Well its not “42″ and if you ask me…well, that is not part of this discussion.

      Your third argument concerning anthromorphism would pretty much negate any form of quantification of abstract/super-normal concepts since the start of history. I can see where you are coming from though, and I am sorry to say that nothing is that black and white.

    60. Raymond Terrific — on 23rd July, 2009 at 9:30 am  

      mmm…

      more point scoring inanity

      While I appreciate your need to believe in medieval theories of gods and stuff, some of us have evolved beyond the point of needing retarded religions that we follow to the point of absurdity while viewing non-believers as second-class citizens.

      YOU people are the problem. You make my world, which could be beautiful, much worse.

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