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  • Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari


    by Leon
    5th June, 2006 at 4:47 pm    

    Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, now President of the MCB stakes his claim on the hearts and minds of young Muslims:

    “One of my first priorities will be to engage young people in our mosques and other institutions as volunteers and trustees. If they have ownership, they feel as if they belong to Britain’s Muslim community. It might be one way to turn them away from extremism.” [Guardian]

    Community leadership at it’s best; get ‘em while they’re young! Various religions try this tactic to shore up growing disillusionment or falling numbers at church/temple/etc.

    I can’t help feel that while his intentions may be good his understanding is misguided. By focusing on a new “problem” with old means the MCB is bound to repeat past mistakes or errors of judgment. They are also looking to marginalise themselves in the long run and help create the very “extremists” they seek to oppose. How? By offering only a conservative framework for British Muslims, they offer no new or relevant alternatives. How can they offer dissent against British foreign policy when they are seen as a mouth piece for pacifying the Muslim community? What will a young Muslim person learn in a Mosque about the realities of life in a modern and diverse country such as ours?

    Young people are far from stupid. Their frustrations with Britain need a new outlet, one that Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari and the MCB aren’t cut out to facilitate. In the long term they will decide for themselves how they wish to be defined, to be organised and express what they think.

    Profile here and a new Wiki page (courtesy of yours truly!) here, feel free to contribute.


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    Filed in: Current affairs,Muslim,Religion






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    1. Serious Golmal » Blog

      [...] Ijtihad has traditionally been banned to the point of blasphemy (innovation) by Islamic Modernists such as the Ikhwani, the Jamaati and the Salafi “brands”. In spite of the fact that the MCB follow one of these forms, we can hope (and lobby) the newly elected president of the MCB, Dr M A Bari openly encourages discourse towards the opening of the gates of Ijtihad for British Muslims. [...]




    1. Sunny — on 5th June, 2006 at 5:10 pm  

      Heh, the whole youth angle is always the first. Youth or “need for unity” is the rallying cry for all these organisations, the irony of course being that they neither represent the youth much and are only interested in their own version of unity.

      Good to see you finally made a start! I’ve edited it slightly.

    2. Amir — on 5th June, 2006 at 5:22 pm  

      Did anyone catch the end of England’s disastrous match against Sri Lanka? You could see Caucasian men in the crowd dressed up as Monty Panesar – black turban and piratical-looking beard. It was absolutely brilliant! I’ve never seen so many would-be Sikh converts in my entire life!

      As Monty’s superb bowling & batting performance goes to show, if you’re prepared to fight to the bitter end for your country, your countrymen will respond accordingly to any unique character traits that you might possess.

      The so-called community leaders don’t get this. Isolationism is their answer.

      And Monty… well, he’s becoming somewhat of a cult figure!

    3. sonia — on 5th June, 2006 at 5:23 pm  

      yes what’s this with the conservative framework indeed. talking about mosques - as if most of us go hanging around mosques. the problem is they’ve decided for us already - that by being a Muslim that must equate to religious.

    4. Amir — on 5th June, 2006 at 5:36 pm  

      As chairman of the East London Mosque Bangladesh-born Dr Bari was considered instrumental in helping controversial MP George Galloway secure his parliamentary seat by telling Muslims they had a duty to vote in the last general election.

      D’oh!

    5. bd — on 5th June, 2006 at 7:03 pm  

      Amir,

      He told worshippers that there was no crime in voting. ie to counter few nutters saying muslims shouldn’t vote.

    6. Fatwadodger — on 5th June, 2006 at 7:04 pm  

      Bari’s mate Chaudhrey Mueen-uddin, vice-chairman of east london mosque was implicated in Banglaeshi war crimes in a documentary by Dispatches.

      http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19950503/ai_n13980368

      I had to interview Mueen-uddin and he was all friendly and ‘oh these terrorists don’t understand Islam’ until I asked him about Ismailis (who he described as non-Muslim during the interview). Pointed out that Ismailis see themselves firmly as Muslim at which point he turned very unfriendly (also mentioned the fact that loads of Ismaili schools and hospitals had been firebombed in north pakistan). Plus he was wittering on about how his kids can’t speak Bengali cos their culture was being eroded by living in Britain. I pointed out that I’m a fluent urdu speaker (plus i was brought up in a really english area, unlike mr mueen-uddins kids) just to wind him up. Well actually not JUST to wind him up, but to make the point that it’s not britain’s fault his kids can’t be arsed to learn his language, maybe they just didn’t want to talk to him.

      Plus, controversial Bangladeshi Jamaat Islaami politician Delwar Hussain Sayeedi stayed at East London Mosque during his last visit to london. The guy has been quoted as saying that ‘Dhaka, the land of mosques is becoming the city of temples’ and saying that Muslims should drive Hindus out of Bangladesh. And he describes the taliban as his brothers and said that even if the americans destroy Afghanistan he will fight on in solidarity with them.

      I spoke to Bari when Sayeedi visited the mosque. At the time loads of Bangladeshi activists were campaigning that he not be allowed to stay in the UK.

      I don’t trust him one bit. He’s not just a misguided old fuddy-duddy out of touch with youth, he’s a dangerous right-wing politician who, thanks to captain hook et al, has managed to potray himself and his MCB cohorts as moderate. Grrrrr.

    7. bd — on 5th June, 2006 at 7:17 pm  

      Worth pointing out Unaiza Malik was elected as Treasurer of MCB.

    8. Ismaeel — on 5th June, 2006 at 7:22 pm  

      While I’m not an MBC supporter, i have some problems with the assertions put foward in this piece.

      Firstly that MCB espouses a form of conservative Islam. Actually MCB espouses a modern and in a scholarly sense very liberal form of Islam detached from traditional understandings.

      So i as a Muslim am unclear what you mean- do u mean conservative in terms of social values- so are many British people, why do Muslims have to be forced to have liberal social values.

      What i imagine Dr Abdul Bari means that he wants the Mosques to be opened up to fresh ideas, which is what actually most Muslims want if you speak to them. People want the Mosques to be more relevant to our diverse society with english speaking Imams who can relate to the issues young people have, to have the Mosques open for community events, educating the youth about their traditional values and how to adapt them to the society out there. All these things are lacking from our mosques at the moment. I doubt MCB have the ability to deliver but the Doctor is at least addressing a long standing issue which is widely accepted as a problem.

    9. Sunny — on 5th June, 2006 at 8:30 pm  

      Actually MCB espouses a modern and in a scholarly sense very liberal form of Islam detached from traditional understandings.

      How so Ismaeel?

      Doctor is at least addressing a long standing issue which is widely accepted as a problem.

      Well he has not addressed it yet. This has been said for years now, to little avail. Once things change one could say he is addressing it.

      None of the articles refer to whether Bunglawala remains media secretary.

    10. Ismaeel — on 5th June, 2006 at 8:38 pm  

      Sunny,

      the majority of the affiliates of MCB and their key figures like Sacranie et al follow either a form of Ikhwani, Jamaat-ul-Islami or Salafy thinking. What these movements have in common is that they reject traditional scholarship and view it as the raison d’etre for the decline and now powerless situation of Muslims politically. Traditional scholars on the other hand view the decline of power as being a result of Muslim’s lack of adherence to the shariah and piety.

      From this perspective many of these groups reject Sufism and the very complex and spohisticated legal and theological works of our predecessors and emphasise on re-reading the sources and mixing in modern western political ideologies. The results have been uniformly disastrous.

    11. Ismaeel — on 5th June, 2006 at 8:48 pm  

      “Well he has not addressed it yet. This has been said for years now, to little avail. Once things change one could say he is addressing it.”

      fair enough, like i said i doubt they can deliver.

    12. Sunny — on 5th June, 2006 at 9:14 pm  

      Well, I agree with your point 10 entirely. Isn’t that a big surprise - even we can agree on certain issues.

      But perhaps you mis-understand something else. One can go back to traditional ways of thinking - focusing on piety, freedom from exploitation, a rigorous and rational approach to Islam etc, and it would not be very different to what modern day “liberal Muslims” want.

      Outside liberals would also be much more comfortable with this tradition rather than the Salafi and Jamaat-ul-Islaami approach to behaving.

    13. Ismaeel — on 5th June, 2006 at 9:16 pm  

      Sunny,

      you’re going to be shocked, but yes i agree with you, that’s why you find people like Fareena Alam more palatable than MCB as do I

    14. Sid — on 5th June, 2006 at 11:58 pm  

      Nice opener Leon.

      We would like to see Mr Abdul Bari take on weightier social subjects such as the role of Ijtihad in Islam and its relevence today for both Salafis and Brelvis. But given he’s come aboard, we’ll give him time to settle down. ;-)

    15. calculator — on 6th June, 2006 at 10:24 am  

      lol - this was the guy who appeared on Panorama a while back. The transcipt of what he said there makes good reading. Taken from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/panorama/4171950.stm

      John Ware: Sheikh Sudais is a leading Imam from the great mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city.

      He had one voice for his Western audience - another for his followers in Saudi. Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais: The worst … of the enemies of Islam are those… whom he… made monkeys and pigs, the aggressive Jews and oppressive Zionists and those that follow them: the callers of the trinity and the cross worshippers… those influenced by the rottenness of their ideas, and the poison of their cultures the followers of secularism… How can we talk sweetly when the Hindus and the idol worshippers indulge in their overwhelming hatred against our brothers… in Muslim Kashmir…

      John Ware: The East London mosque received $1m from the Saudis towards their new centre. The mosque’s links to Saudi go back many years.

      The mosque’s Chairman Dr Bari remains to be convinced that his honoured guest Sheikh Sudais has repeatedly vilified other faiths.

      John Ware: Do I take it that if you were satisfied he had said such things you would not have invited him over?

      Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Chairman, East London Mosque, Deputy Secretary General, Muslim Council Of Britain: Well of course if it was proved that he exactly said this thing that you mentioned then why do you invited people who would be saying like this?

      John Ware: I mean, let me say what else he’s reported to have said, he said: ‘There should be no peace with the rats of the world.’ Again he refers to Jews as the scum of the human race, offspring of apes and pigs, and he has also referred to Christians as worshippers of the cross.’ You don’t see Christians in those terms?

      Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari: I don’t see Christians in those terms.

      John Ware: You don’t see Christians in those terms?

      Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari: No.

      John Ware: No. And idol worship¿ you don’t see Hindus as idol worshippers, do you ? I’m sure you don’t, do you? Do you?

      Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari: Well… why are you bringing all this?

      John Ware: You, er, I mean you do not regard Hindus as idol worshippers?

      Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari: Well Hindu… you mean the definition? When it’s idol worshipper, different people worship God in different manners.

      John Ware: Mmm.

    16. calculator — on 6th June, 2006 at 10:25 am  

      lmao at the idol worshiping bit - hes not very media savy is he.

    17. leon — on 6th June, 2006 at 11:04 am  

      “Firstly that MCB espouses a form of conservative Islam. Actually MCB espouses a modern and in a scholarly sense very liberal form of Islam detached from traditional understandings.”

      I couldn’t comment on Islam in a scholarly sense; I go on what I see, experience and know about how political organisations work. If memory serves isn’t there some serious discomfort within the MCB regarding their views on homosexuals? Didn’t they recently reject offers by gay groups for a solidarity based approach to fighting inequality?

      “So I as a Muslim am unclear what you mean- do u mean conservative in terms of social values- so are many British people, why do Muslims have to be forced to have liberal social values.”

      Young Asian people who happen to be Muslim don’t always define themselves solely by their religion. The MCB does and would like to shoe horn them into that mould (hence my comments about new measures with old means).

      It’s a bit limp to say that just because Britain is generally conservative (debatable imo) that we should just accept it and allow [irrational] belief based organisations to grow in influence and frame that conservatism…

    18. sonia — on 6th June, 2006 at 12:26 pm  

      right on leon.

      of course what i find interesting in all this (as a student of sociology and social dynamics) is the similarity to the Catholic Church’s struggle for power and authority of the bishops + priests over personal illumination ( gnosis) and boy did they stamp the ‘heresies’ out. Look see these Muslims are trying much the same sort of thing now, despite the decree against ‘priests’. still once you start setting yourself up as ‘authority’ that distinction doesn’t make any difference( from the point of view of social impact..)

    19. Ismaeel — on 6th June, 2006 at 4:23 pm  

      Leon, i don’t think that those young Asians who happen to be born into Muslim families but don’t identify themselves as such either feel the MCB represents them or care similarly MCB doesn’t claim to represent them, so your initial thesis is a misnomer.

      Also the MCB and other Muslim groups represent Muslims from other ethnic communities such as the Somali, Turkish, Arab and Iranian communities, based on their faith. Just as the COE and other religious groups have a right to discuss the issues of the day as do Muslim ones. The MCB regards itself as a Muslim body not an asian one.

      Islam frowns on homosexuality as does the Catholic Church, Buddhism, Hare Krishna, Judaism etc, why should Muslims not be allowed to voice their opinion about that, as i’ve said before there is no conclusive evidence to suggest homosexuality is a genetic given and is thus open to debate as to it’s moral and social benefit. Sacranie for all his faults didn’t tell people to go around persecuting people for their sexuality, he argued that it was morally and biologically damaging, you can argue that can lead to persecution but then so can blase statements like Islam is an irrational belief system.

      I didn’t say Britain was generally conservative, i said many Britains were. If a Muslim group wants to represent it’s traditional values in a conservative way, why shouldn’t it be allowed to.
      In short why do liberals get so worried about anyone expressing opinions that don’t suit their liberal consensus, is it because they actually view it in a sense as a religion, whose values are set in stone.

      You can call Islam an irrational belief, in the same way i regard atheism as an irrational belief. Muslims regard their religious beliefs as utterly rational and a huge corpus of literature is devoted to the subject. If you can prove it is “irrational” then we’ll be happy to debate with you about it. But to write it off as irrational just because you have no clue about our religion is intellectual laziness.

      If young Asians from Muslim families don’t want to identify themselves as Asians let them get involved with other organisations, no-one is stopping them and no-one is stopping them forming their own organisations.

    20. Fatwadodger — on 6th June, 2006 at 5:24 pm  

      “Firstly that MCB espouses a form of conservative Islam. Actually MCB espouses a modern and in a scholarly sense very liberal form of Islam detached from traditional understandings.

      So i as a Muslim am unclear what you mean- do u mean conservative in terms of social values- so are many British people, why do Muslims have to be forced to have liberal social values.”

      I understand what you’re saying but don’t agree entirely with this statement. Political Islam, as instigated by Maududi (and Jamaat Islaami) in the sub-continent and through orgs like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or the ALF in Algeria are, as you say, relatively modern movements. I also agree that these are political movements and therefore distinct from other schools of Islamic orthodoxy.

      However, to describe them as Liberal is completely wrong. Maududi himself said that the men that he held in the highest admiration were Stalin and Hitler and Maududian philosophy is clearly indebted to both Communism and Facism. He believed in organising Muslims as a political army - as do groups like the MCB.

      When I say army I do not mean necessarily an overtly violent one either.

      Maududi instigated riots against Ahmadis in the 1950′s (which led in 1974 to the succesful constitutional apostasisation of the sect - which does not believe in a state being run along religious lines) and throughout Pakistans history Maududis followers have campaigned in an outwardly anti-semitic, anti-western,anti-minority and anti-democracy ticket.

      Now that a secularist dictator is in power in Pakistan, they are of course quite keen on democracy, and having learnt a thing or two about the global media Jamaat groups in the west at least have started to outwardly deny any links to violence.

      On the other hand Jamaat has recently been implicated in anti-minority (Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis) agitation in Bangladesh - senior JI politicians have been shown to have links with parties they outwardly claim to disinherit, which have been shown to be involved in violent attacks on minorities.

      http://www.shobak.org and Daily Star newspaper (Bangladesh)

      You can say that Sacranie didn’t go around telling people to persecute people because of their sexuality - but have a look at the people he openly says he admires and associates with - in their respective countries where they would not lose Home Office grants and be pilloried in the media - they have urged exactly this.

      Would a politician or religious representative in this country get away with saying he was a great admirer or Hitler or Stalin?

      It’s time we stopped making apologies for the MCB - they are no more moderate than the BNP - a ‘legitimate’ political party that claims to believe in democratic change to achieve it’s aims and rejects violence.

    21. leon — on 6th June, 2006 at 5:51 pm  

      “You can call Islam an irrational belief, in the same way i regard atheism as an irrational belief.”

      Well, you can regard it anyway you want but atheism is a factual [scientific] viewpoint where as the belief in God etc is far from proven to be factually based.

      That said the MCB is a political organisation with some clout, they should be treated the same way all influential orgs should and more so if they are based on an irrational belief system like a religion. It’s true dangerous not too.

      Do you think the MCB honestly have anything to offer young British (Muslim) people? Do you think that being told to be intolerant of other people’s sexuality is going to help toward creating a stable and civil society?

    22. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 6th June, 2006 at 7:07 pm  

      But to write it off as irrational just because you have no clue about our religion is intellectual laziness.

      There is no doubt that there is a lot of it and it is a complete intellectual framework. Not only that, but I have to learn Arabic to understand the Q’uran in its “context”.

      However in the centre there is a man that claims to be spoken to by God.

      It is not intellectual laziness to know that single point and consider those that unquestioning believe it to be irrational.

      TFI

    23. Ismaeel — on 6th June, 2006 at 8:42 pm  

      “Well, you can regard it anyway you want but atheism is a factual [scientific] viewpoint where as the belief in God etc is far from proven to be factually based.”

      What a load of codswallop, what scientific “facts” “prove” atheism. Again mere assertions unbacked by any sort of argument or evidence. Are you talking about darwinism: a contested scientific THEORY, or what exactly. Like i said intellectual laziness.

      “Not only that, but I have to learn Arabic to understand the Q’uran in its “context”.

      However in the centre there is a man that claims to be spoken to by God.

      It is not intellectual laziness to know that single point and consider those that unquestioning believe it to be irrational.”

      It is laziness because your conclusion is based on several assumptions as given facts: 1)belief in God is irrational 2) the concept of God speaking to men is irrational 3) languages don’t lose anything in translation especially when translated by people who are far from experts in the subject 4) that the vast majority of Qu’raanic exegesis, law, theology etc of the classical period is available to an english reader (it is not).

      “Do you think the MCB honestly have anything to offer young British (Muslim) people?”
      No i don’t, i’m just questioning your poor analysis of the situation.

      “Do you think that being told to be intolerant of other people’s sexuality is going to help toward creating a stable and civil society?”

      It depends on what you mean by intolerance, the vast majority of Muslims in this country tolerate homosexuals, we don’t go aroung harassing them with verbal or physical abuse, that doesn’t mean we approve of their sexuality or consider it morally or socially acceptable, just like many other non-Muslims of various faiths and none. I think society would be far more civil and stable without the acceptance of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle choice.
      Oh and for Sunny’s interest this is a traditionalist viewpoint. CF: the letter of the month in Q-News this month the magazine edited by Fareena Alam.
      Sadly Leon, what you mean by tolerance is nothing of the sort- you mean acceptance not tolerance.
      Do you think calling Islam an irrational belief system helps to build a stable and civil society? Or making ludicrous claims that atheism is scientifically factual?

    24. Ismaeel — on 6th June, 2006 at 8:46 pm  

      Fatawadodger i agree with you MCB et al are not liberal in the western ideological sense, i was questioning Leon’s grasp of what he was talking about. It’s quite clear he has none.

    25. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 6th June, 2006 at 8:53 pm  

      1)belief in God is irrational

      Without any proof evidence it is not a rational stance. It is not a belief born from the scienifitic method.

      2) the concept of God speaking to men is irrational

      Yes it is. So is listening ghosts.

      3) languages don’t lose anything in translation especially when translated by people who are far from experts in the subject

      Of course transcoding can lose information. But translations can be accurate.

      4) that the vast majority of Qu’raanic exegesis, law, theology etc of the classical period is available to an english reader (it is not).

      I was assuming that?

      Do you think calling Islam an irrational belief system helps to build a stable and civil society?

      It helps provide a free and open one if one can do so with the threat of death.

      Or making ludicrous claims that atheism is scientifically factual?

      It is factual by the scientific method.

      You really ought consider pulling your head out of your Q’uran once in a while.

    26. Don — on 6th June, 2006 at 9:03 pm  

      Ismaeel,

      Atheism is not a belief, it is the assertion that a theistic explanation of the world lacks sufficient evidence to be viable. The irreducible basis of any theistic system is ‘God is.’ An atheist simply asks for evidence for this and, none being forthcoming, declines to believe. Much as we decline to believe in chimera until and unless verifiable evidence is produced. Yet we don’t need a name for those who do not believe in chimera.

      Personal conviction is not evidence, nor are holy writings or endless commentaries upon them. I believe it was Huxley who said, ‘ We are all atheists, I just believe in one fewer gods than you.’ All the sincere belief in the world, the philosophy, the social cohesion, will not bring you to a belief in Shiva or Wodin. Why? because you would, reasonably, ask for evidence and there is none.

      I don’t deny that a personal spiritual experience can make a profound impact, but the essence of a personal experience can never be communicated. It may be hinted at, metaphors may be constructed, poetry may be written, but the experience itself is not communicable.

      And, sincerely, stay away from ‘Darwinism is only a theory’. It suggests a failure to understand both ‘darwinism’ and ‘theory’.

    27. Fatwadodger — on 6th June, 2006 at 10:51 pm  

      I don’t think it’s fair to say ‘stay away from darwinism is only a theory’ - it is a theory. It’s one that has a lot of evidence supporting it but it is still based on a belief in science, just as religions are based on a belief in religion.

      ‘It’s a scientific fact’ is the mantra of many who would consider themselves rational and logical (as compared to irrational and illogical non-scientists). Even by scientific reasoning itself, science is constantly evolving, therefore there can be no absolutes in science. I think it’s unfair to completely dismiss Ismaeel’s arguments in this way.

      I’m not sure I agree with her but the philospher Mary Midgely discusses this very subject in her book ‘Evolution as a religion’.

      I’m not arguing for equivalence between say creationism and evolutionism, but pointing out that there is a real philosophical argument behind Ismaeel’s standpoint - to just dismiss his arguments is not a good way to understand them.

      Having said that, I have to admit that I have yet to come across anyone who considers themselves a religious Muslim who does not have issues with homosexuality. The main reason I think this is, is that thusfar there is no school of Islam - no sect, scholar etc, who has tried to interpret the Koran in a way that would not have issues with homosexuality. Which is of course very different to Christianity, as many Christians are able to accomodate homosexuality within their faith. I know that some Muslims, such as those involved with progressive movements like Muslim Wake Up! are speaking out about the treatment of gays and lesbians in Islam, but their movement is very much grassroots, and not supported by any mosques/relgious bodies.

    28. Ismaeel — on 6th June, 2006 at 11:39 pm  

      Misnomer No 1:

      Without empirical evidence, a belief in something is irrational.

      Wrong.

      The empirical method (developed in the Muslim world) means deriving knowledge from tangible evidence that can be assessed by the five senses- it is not the same as rationalising something- i.e. coming to a conclusion based on a logical set of ideas. See misnomer three.
      For certain people (ahem TFI) who claim to base their cultural heritage on the enlightenment, you seem to know little about Descartes and his theory of doubt of all the evidence of our senses and the rational deduction of the belief of a God. This is especially strange as his theory of doubt has been made very popular via the Matrix triology of films.

      Misnomer 2:
      Atheism isn’t a set belief.
      It is Atheists are people who are convinced absoltley that there is no God. One who is unsure or is open to the possibility of the existance of God being proved to them is called an agnostic (from the Greek meaning not knowing).

      Misnomer 3:
      Comparing the lack of empirical evidence to the lack of empirical evidence for a chimera, Thor or a Leprucuan.

      All of the other entities usually adduced in these kinds of arguments have some kind of form which can be compared to other material things that we know of- they have form. They would thus have to be formed.
      God has not been formed because he is the former, the first cause.

      Scientists posit a first point in time- a big bang- what happened before it- everything has a beginning- that is empiraclly proven and everything has an end- also empirically proven therefore our universe also has a beginning and an end. What started it, what is the first cause? What is the ultimate destiny of everything?

      Misnomer No 4:
      The theory of evolution is a fact

      Wrong it is a theory- a hypotheses which requires testing and evidence to prove it.

      All the evidence so far adduced has been challenged by scientists globally coming from all kinds of cultural backgrounds and belief systems. The insistance of certain scientific bodies to try and drown out opposing scientific views is because they hold to the religion of materialism.

      Misnomer No 5:
      Religion needs to be subected to how our society is.

      Wrong.

      Religion especially Islam (meaning peace through submission to Allah (SWT)’s will) means conforming to the will of the divine not attempting to comform his will to yours. The reason no Muslim school or sect has attempted to justify or accept homosexuality is because it is a clear cut issue in the Qu’raan and hadith- it’s practice is prohibited.

    29. RudeHealth — on 7th June, 2006 at 12:05 am  

      Oh dear oh dear people. Please do your homework before you make uninformed, ignorant and slanderous remarks. MCB is not perfect, has made bad (not disastrous) calls on certain things. But the level of invective levelled at it means that it has wide community support.

      As for silliness espoused here, I’ll focus on a few:

      1. MCB being the bastion of conservative, reactionary, Salafi Islam:

      You guys bought the John Ware line hook, line and sinker. You decided to highlight the Salafi, hardline Sunni groups. Yes, there are some of these who are MCB affiliates. Now, Salafis (though not necessarily Ikhwanis) and the groups Ware mentioned supposedly hate (almost to the point of considering them infidel) anyone who differ from their point of view. This includes, as Ismaeel rightly points out, Sufis. But the worse heretics are those who follow the Shia branch of Islam.

      Now here’s the rub for those of you who consider MCB to be full of those with reactionary thinking. How many of you actually bothered to read the list of organisations affiliated to MCB? Sunny? Here it is

      http://www.mcb.org.uk/affiliates.php

      I count at least a dozen Shia organisation. This fact alone negates the untruths perpetuated here and other places that MCB is narrow, conservative, intolerant of other traditions of Islam.

      Sunny, I’ve seen your remarks on commentisfree stating you think MCB is an unrepresentative organisation. It doesn’t claim to be representative. Yet it is the only one to be democratic (how many members does the Muslim Parliament have? And who appointed Fareena Alam on our behalf?). Which other groups have the various shades of Islam in its ranks? British Muslim Forum?

      I have more comments for you below

      2. Fatwadodger: The fact is, most young British Muslims don’t give a monkeys about politics back home. They (like me) are forming their own references and eschewing the politics and the narrow version of subcontinental Islam.

      So, please, keep your Deshi Awami League politics out of this debate. The people of Tower Hamlets (especially my generation) have had enough of the silly tribal bickering between the Awami League and the Bangladesh National Party. Oh, by the way, on the Awami League website there is a wonderful article on Jamaat-I-Islami and how beastly it is. All well and good. To repudiate its theology it uses the fine mullahs from Deoband, India. Guess what line of thinking the Taliban adheres to? You guessed it, the Deobandis…..

      Fatwadodger and others point to how beastly the East London Mosque is by highlighting the visit to the Mosque (visited by 3,000 a week) of beastly Bangladeshi MP Delwar Hussain Saydee and Imam of Makkah Shaykh Sudais. Lies have been perpetuated by the former in the guise of the said Awami League (btw: did you know that Delwar Hussain Saydee’s constituency is largely Hindu?) and latter by MEMRI, that wonderful pro-Israeli lobby group out to make a quick buck whilst demonising Muslims.

      East London Mosque has also been visited by (amongst others) the Chief Rabbi, the Bishop of Stepney, Prince Charles, Prime Minister of Malaysia Abdullah Badawi, Prime Minister of Turkey Erdogan, the gorgeous couple Oona King and George Galloway, Muslim reformer Anwar Ibrahim etc. I’m waiting for the guilt by association here.

      3. For all of you insisting that we be good little Muslims roll over and be compliant puppys.

      a) read Ziauddin Sardar’s piece in the New Statesman about Brown Sahibs
      http://www.newstatesman.com/200606050011

      b) This one is for you Mr Sunny who insist that Muslims oblige you and conform to your Liberal template.

      I had you in mind when I read Rageh Omar’s piece in the Sunday Times. Outsiders, claiming to know Muslims (please stick to the Sikh community):

      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2092-2199873,00.html

    30. Don — on 7th June, 2006 at 12:11 am  

      Fatwadodger,

      The line that ‘Darwinism is only a theory’ is a well established gambit among creationists, intended to blur the distinction between the everyday use of the word and it’s specific use in a scientific context. It just raises my hackles and induces brusqueness. I certainly did not intend to denigrate sincerely held personal beliefs; just to suggest that they cannot be presented as evidence for an argument.

      However, those who ‘consider themselves rational and logical’ tend to avoid ‘mantras’. If anyone tells you that something is a ‘scientific fact’ I think you can safely assume they don’t know what they are talking about. Please don’t fall for the well disseminated line that science is some sort of conspiracy against
      ‘other’ ways of knowing.

      I agree, ‘science is constantly evolving’. That’s what it is. Ismaeel’s argument is not dismissed by this, it is simply in another arena.

      I have great respect for Mary Midgely, (partly because I know for a fact that if I took her on she’d rip my philosophical guts out and throw them to the dogs, and then provide tea and scones), but like you I don’t really agree with her stance in ‘Evolution as a religion’, there’s a real sense of a personal stake in the argument.

      I didn’t dismiss Ismaeel’s arguments, I objected to his dismissive characterisation of atheism and his lazy attempt to wave away Darwinism as a ‘disputed theory’.

      Quite agree with your last paragraph. Except I’d like to comment on ‘many Christians are able to accomodate homosexuality within their faith’. How very sweet of them. So, not hanging ‘em any more? Who the hell asked their opinion?

    31. Ismaeel — on 7th June, 2006 at 12:15 am  

      “MCB is not perfect, has made bad (not disastrous) calls on certain things. But the level of invective levelled at it means that it has wide community support.”

      LOL, you have got to be kidding me, i have never met a single Muslim ever who supports the MCB. As you well know the vast majority of mosques and Imams of both the Brelvi and Deobandi schools who between them make up more than 2/3rds of the Muslim community are not affiliated to MCB and do not support it in any way, shape or form. Proof if proof were needed came when the Danish cartoons situation happened and MCB’s demo was dwarfed by the newly created MAC’s ad hoc rally the following week.

      I don’t think anyone here said that MCB was the bastion of Salafy Islam, we said rightly that it is the bastion of Ikhwani Islam, which as part of it’s ideology will naturally ally itself with any other establishment type Islamic group as the Shi’ah groups like Al Khoei are.

    32. Ismaeel — on 7th June, 2006 at 12:23 am  

      I did like this by Rageh though:

      “felt shocked and humiliated. I realised that no amount of privilege, education, knowledge or experience could shield me from moments like this — moments that since September 2001 have become particularly familiar to British Muslims: being silent while our identity is made by others.”

      So true, so true.

    33. Amir — on 7th June, 2006 at 12:31 am  

      Ismaeel,
      being silent while our identity is made by others

      Yes, pathetic self-pitiful groups such as the MAC ventriloquize Moslems to such an extent that non-Moslems pigeonhole Islam as a faith that is anathema to freedom of speech/expression and, as a result, Moslems are seen to act, ex hypothesi, like sulky teenagers whenever somebody ‘offends’ them.

    34. Amir — on 7th June, 2006 at 12:36 am  

      Now, at the end of the day, the MAC’s mission is quite clear:

      To curtail freedom of speech, or, more specifically, to illegalise the right to lampoon Islam

      Here, in a nutshell, is the goal of your organisation. Of course, you use fancy words such as ‘civility’ or ‘solidarity’ or ‘respect’ to conceal or soften this goal, but it is your goal nevertheless.

    35. Ismaeel — on 7th June, 2006 at 12:38 am  

      “Ismaeel,
      being silent while our identity is made by others

      Yes, pathetic self-pitiful groups such as the MAC ventriloquize Moslems to such an extent that non-Moslems pigeonhole Islam as a faith that is anathema to freedom of speech/expression and, as a result, Moslems are seen to act, ex hypothesi, like sulky teenagers whenever somebody ‘offends’ them. ”

      Yes Amir, i see you have still made no attempt to read any of our articles or saw or read any of our interviews to find out our real positions of any of the above. Instead preferring to use your FOE just to demonise and stereotype because you are too lazy and too arrogant to accept any Muslims except for yourself and perhaps some of your mates have any independent thoughts.

    36. Amir — on 7th June, 2006 at 12:43 am  

      Ismaeel,

      Answer this very simple question:

      Do you support the democratic right of a British citizen to lampoon the Islamic faith – be it in writing or in pictorial representation?

      Yes or No?

    37. Ismaeel — on 7th June, 2006 at 12:50 am  

      Amir
      there is a difference between having a right and exercising it. What we have called upon people to do is self-regulate and act civily by not insulting people’s beliefs.

    38. Ismaeel — on 7th June, 2006 at 12:51 am  

      Nowhere but nowhere have we called for anything to be made illegal, nor is it our aim.

    39. Amir — on 7th June, 2006 at 12:57 am  

      Nonsense upon stilts!

      there is a difference between having a right and exercising it.

      No, there isn’t: a right (freedom of speech and expression) presupposes the ability to use it (speaking freely and expressing oneself freely) – or, to put it another way, right ‘x’ (freedom of speech and expression) sanctifies action ‘x’ (the drawing of a nasty, provocative cartoon) without the fear of violent retribution, censorship, state interference, and so forth.

    40. Amir — on 7th June, 2006 at 12:59 am  

      Nowhere but nowhere have we called for anything to be made illegal, nor is it our aim.

      Yes, but that’s the operative conclusion of your discourse.

    41. Amir — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:00 am  

      And you haven’t answered the question…

    42. Ismaeel — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:00 am  

      Now Amir, you’ve just proven how little sense you actually have.

      I have a right to go and cuss out my mother, i do not exercise that right.

      I have the right to heap abuse on my sister, i do not exercise that right.

      Someone insults me on the street, i have the right to insult them back, i don’t exercise that right.

      Why, because that’s what being civil is.

    43. Ismaeel — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:01 am  

      “Nowhere but nowhere have we called for anything to be made illegal, nor is it our aim.

      Yes, but that’s the operative conclusion of your discourse.”

      Only for people who cannot understand nuance like you.

    44. Ismaeel — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:06 am  

      Do i support people’s right to insult one another is what your question boils down to, which is a daft question.

      You ask questions about rights without asking any questions about corresponding responsibilities.

      People have the rights to say what they want, they also numerous responsibilities that go along with that as members of a society whether that society be liberal, democratic, Islamic or socialist.

      There is also such a thing as provocation which can be consitiuted by insulting speech.

      So you can make all the stupid yes/no questions up you like, but while you and every body else skirts around the fundamental questions of rights and responsibilities and insist on your right to insult without being culpable for any form of reaction, you will mark yourselves out as one of the most uncivilised and backward set of people who ever lived.

    45. Amir — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:08 am  

      Okay

      But here’s the crunch Ismaeel:

      By refusing to cuss your mother and by refusing to heap abuse on your sister and by refusing to insult the man on the street, you are, so to speak, speaking freely. It’s a choice. It’s a choice of words. Civility is a form of expression. Being polite, tempered and amicable is just another form of speech – a civil discourse. It’s a choice to speak civilly, and is thus free speech.

    46. Ismaeel — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:11 am  

      Amir,

      yes we know that, that’s why we’re encouraging people to choose to speak civily.

      When will u get that simple preposition?

    47. Amir — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:11 am  

      You ask questions about rights without asking any questions about corresponding responsibilities.

      In other words, you don’t think that people have a right to insult or lampoon or provoke the Islamic faith and faithful because it’s irresponsible?

      Correct?

    48. Amir — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:12 am  

      Why won’t you answer my question?

    49. Ismaeel — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:12 am  

      No, i’m saying with that right comes the responsibility of dealing with the consequences of that insult.

    50. Ismaeel — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:14 am  

      Because your question is a stupid one which is based on a whole load of suppositions which i don’t buy into in the first place.

      Guess what the world is not black and white and as clear cut as u would like to make it.

    51. Amir — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:15 am  

      By ‘No’, you mean to say that people should not have a democratic right to insult or lampoon Islam or the Islamic faithful?

    52. Ismaeel — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:16 am  

      Anyway Amir, i hope one day you can learn to think, read, analyse and evaluate another person’s opinions before you jump to stereotyping them because they happen to be religious Muslims.

      From our discourse so far, that seems a long way off.

      Goodnight
      Allah Hafiz

    53. Amir — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:18 am  

      Answer my question Ismaeel…

      Answer it..

      You haven’t answered my question…

      Do you support the democratic right of a British citizen to lampoon the Islamic faith – be it in writing or in pictorial representation?

    54. Ismaeel — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:18 am  

      Amir, believe what you want, you’re going to anyway, you know exactly what i’m saying, but you’re deliberatly being a twit. I have a suggestion, go read the articles at http://www.globalcivility.com
      and we’ll continue this conversation another time cos i’m tired of repeating myself ad infinitum

      Allah Hafiz

    55. Siddharth — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:18 am  

      Fatwadodger and others point to how beastly the East London Mosque is by highlighting the visit to the Mosque (visited by 3,000 a week) of beastly Bangladeshi MP Delwar Hussain Saydee and Imam of Makkah Shaykh Sudais. Lies have been perpetuated by the former in the guise of the said Awami League (btw: did you know that Delwar Hussain Saydee’s constituency is largely Hindu?) and latter by MEMRI, that wonderful pro-Israeli lobby group out to make a quick buck whilst demonising Muslims.

      Looks like the M A Bari supporters, the kind of people who get a hard on by rubbing up against genocidalists are crawling out of the woodwork now. Sayeedi is a war criminal who has repeatedly taken the safety provided by the British Government in spite of a known record of being in cahoots with the Pakistani army of 1971 and being involved in a catalogue of mass murders. He has blood on his hands and the justice is due.

      East London Mosque has also been visited by (amongst others) the Chief Rabbi, the Bishop of Stepney, Prince Charles, Prime Minister of Malaysia Abdullah Badawi, Prime Minister of Turkey Erdogan, the gorgeous couple Oona King and George Galloway, Muslim reformer Anwar Ibrahim etc. I’m waiting for the guilt by association here.

      East London Mosque might have been visited on by the archangel Gabriel for all I care. It doesn’t detract from the fact that Delwar Hussain Sayeedi is a war criminal, plain and simple.

    56. Kismet Hardy — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:21 am  

      I’m kinda with you Amir but ‘moslem’?! You daily mail reader you

    57. Amir — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:25 am  

      Ismaeel,
      Freedom of speech and/or expression is a black and white issue. I don’t usually like quoting Noam Chomsky, but I can’t think of any better proponent of this doctrine:

      Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech

      Ismaeel, you’d make a great politician. You haven’t answered my question. Just a lot of sulking and evasive bunk.

      It makes you look very, very silly.
      Amir

    58. Siddharth — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:26 am  

      I too am kind of with you too, Amir. But that shrill, holier-than-thou secular fundamentalism tone you use is sooooo Harry’s Place. Can I call you Melanin Phillips?

    59. Amir — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:27 am  

      Kismet Hardy, I don’t read the Daily Mail. :-)

      I read the Guardianista (sigh), the Times, and the Daily Telegraph.

    60. Siddharth — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:28 am  

      whooooa!!!! Template change!

    61. Amir — on 7th June, 2006 at 1:38 am  

      Sid,
      Call me what you like, because, ya know, I believe in free speech and expression. :-)

      But likewise, I can call you an Alexander-Cockburn-cock-licking Counterpunch cunt. Try and say that 30 times without blinking!

    62. Amir — on 7th June, 2006 at 2:03 am  

      I was joking by the way…

      ‘Sid’ will do. :-)

      Although, to be fair, your worldview is probably much closer to Alexander Cockburn (destroy Israel, arm Chavez, arm Iran, arm Cuba, destroy Halliburton, support the Jihadist-insurgent-scum in Iraq, 90% income tax, abortions for all, rehabilitate murderers and rapists - don’t punish them!, anti-imperialism, anti-imperialism, etc…) than mine.

      Heh heh!

    63. Kismet Hardy — on 7th June, 2006 at 2:22 am  

      Abortions for all?!

      That’ll be hard to impose. I fear they’ll knock on my door one day and demand I have one

      Thanks. I won’t be able to have on now

      You say moslem, I say mausoleum

      Nope. Not funny even after I edited it

    64. Fatwadodger — on 7th June, 2006 at 8:54 am  

      Rudehealth - it’s time you do your homework. You can’t say this is not about politics back in the subcontinent - these people are a LOBBYING GROUP (ergo - political) - they are TRYING TO INFLUENCE GOVERNMENT POLICY (ditto) and after ‘consultation’ with them the Foreign Office has decided that Muslims Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islaami are MODERATE bodies.

      Plus “I count at least a dozen Shia organisation. This fact alone negates the untruths perpetuated here and other places that MCB is narrow, conservative, intolerant of other traditions of Islam.” is a nonsense.

      Quite frankly so what? Allowing Shias into the fold doesn’t automatically make you moderate - anyone heard of the Islamic republic of Iran? Not all Shias are moderates you know. PLUS this Shia involvement is used time and again by MCB apologists to prove how ‘inclusive’ the MCB is. If that’s the case - then why did Chawdhrey Mueen-Uddin (vice-chair east London mosque) tell me that Ismailies are not considered Muslim by the MCB?

      Who the hell is he to say whether they are Muslim or n ot? I asked the Ismaili centre for comment and they most definitely see themselves as Muslim. So it’s not people like me who are bringing sectarian politics to the UK, but groups like the MCB.

      Plus, this Awami league stuff - I’ve nothing to do with them. They are a political party and no doubt are using these issues to their own advantage, this doesn’t take away from the validity of the information.

      Plus the fact that Prince Charles et al have visited East London Mosque means diddly squat. What on earth do people like him and Islamo-facist apologists like Galloway know about it?

      And no, I have not bought the John Ware line hook, line and sinker. I didn’t entirely agree with the documentary, but he was right about Maududi and Jamaat.

      PLUS MCB reps were later on PTV (Pakistani channel) with Martin Bright discussing the programme. The interviewer took calls from the general public and - bearing in mind that this is a Pakistani channel broadcast from Britian - it was hilarious to see the MCB completely slaughtered - EVERY SINGLE CALLER - said they agreed with Martin Bright’s piece in the Observer (which was along the same lines as John Wares documentary).

      People who bother doing the research have known about the MCB for a long time, it is just naive and lazy to bury your head in the sand.

      And, for the record, I was born in this country, am of Pakistani background so this: “So, please, keep your Deshi Awami League politics out of this debate. The people of Tower Hamlets (especially my generation) have had enough of the silly tribal bickering between the Awami League and the Bangladesh National Party.” has absolutely no relevance to me whatsoever.

    65. Fatwadodger — on 7th June, 2006 at 8:58 am  

      Plus I think you are missing the point entirely on Ziauddin Sardar’s piece on Brown Sahibs - it doesn’t mean you should mindlessly defend any group of idiots who claim to authentically represent Muslims. It’s about the impact of colonialism and the fact that being British or ‘acting’ British is still, sadly, valued among some colonised peoples over and above an attempt to develop an authentic modern discourse within our own cultures. It’s the same in Africa too.

    66. Ismaeel — on 7th June, 2006 at 11:49 am  

      Amir, i answered your question several times, however your prejudices refuse to allow you to recognise that. Like i said go read the articles on the site, because whether you, Chomsky and Sunny regard it as a black and white issue, alot of other people don’t and your pureile attempts to cache me with Stalin and Hitler is risable.

      I’ll say it one last time I’m for freedom of speech and i’m for civility- for people to choose to restrain themselves from delieratly insulting and provoking one another.

    67. Kismet Hardy — on 7th June, 2006 at 11:57 am  

      -Layman’s Tale-

      Bad Freedom of Speech
      ‘I hate you. I’m going to tell people they should beat you up.’

      Fair enough Freedom Of Speech
      ‘I think the religion you follow is a crock of shit’

      First is offensive and inciting hatred

      The second is, this is what I think. What the fuck’s it got to do with you?

      -Ends-

    68. fugstar — on 12th June, 2006 at 5:05 pm  

      Hello folks,

      Who knows if anyone will notice this 69th comment?

      People do attack leaders and organisations as a prozy for whatever beef they have with islam.muslims.religion.britishness.boredom. Its quite obvious from the flavour of speech and the aggression.

      we mustnt generalise the worst aspects of Muslim britain with the potential of Dr Bari, who is actually associated with what i feel is one of the funkiest, community owned, loved, multi functional outfits in the country. He actually works professionally with with hard cases,be they parents or kids. He can do a lot with that job, and is a very able man (not a galloway sycophant). He is accountable to the Muslim organisations…which are getting more fluent these days.

      I think commentators need to get out of their intellectual ghettos and experience real life a little more deeply than through the corporate media and bloggosphere.

      Also , before we bring factional and personally depressingly regressive artefacts of bangladeshi politics here, you cannot tar dr Bari with higly politically valuable accusations levelled at people and organisations that did not think that following Sheikh MujiburRahman was a good idea. He was too young during the war of independance. Also there are lots of accusations floating around which have been disproved in law courts.

      There are lots of people with a political bitterness about 1971, the parties in bangladesh would fall apart if they didnt stake their claim of ‘independantness’ on that dark chapter of history. I know enough to say that they are not interested in the truth.

      I think a lot of you commentators are labouring under the delusion that Muslim organisations are set up to reflect your experience, world view and ambitions for Muslims/capitalism/liberalism/whatever. where did you get that from? Muslim communities are very diverse (anarchicly so) and benefit from greater interconnectedness that the mcb promotes. ITs difficult i know, but actually desirable for people who might want to make policies that help get the best out of people.

      The panorama programme wasnot very complete, i think thats what limits your comprehension. Your primary pieces of info are a little duff…

      shayk sodais is primarily a beautiful reciter of the quran, not a political analyst. google sodais and quran and hear his voice. So Jon Ware kinda manufactured some nonsense to appeal to your commonsenses and well intentioned political correctnesses.

    69. Sunny — on 12th June, 2006 at 5:38 pm  

      People do attack leaders and organisations as a prozy for whatever beef they have with islam.muslims.religion.britishness.boredom

      What rubbish. We don’t have a beef with Islam, religion or Britishness - we have a beef with how our voices are represented in the mainstream and who claims to speak for everyone.

      Your primary pieces of info are a little duff…
      Great piece of analysis there fugstar.

      are labouring under the delusion that Muslim organisations are set up to reflect your experience

      No we’re not, we’re labouring under the fact that these organisations are treated by the politicians and media as representign everyone. If there was a diversity of opinion being reflected and the MCB was one of those organisations I would have no problems.

    70. Jai — on 12th June, 2006 at 7:29 pm  

      Good point, Sunny. I made the same kind of comments in the forced marriages threat with regards to so-called “community leaders”, re: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/578#comment-24512

      In fact I’d like to amend my last point in that comment and state that the people concerned do not “represent” everyone in the “community” they claim to speak for — they may have the some opinions/viewpoints as some of their “constituents” (for want of a better term), but not necessarily a broad cross-section of the group, and they do not “represent” them in the sense of accurately reflecting the opinions of the ethnic/religious group as a while.

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