On Tuesday the Guardian reported on a leaked draft government strategy document. Contest 2, the latest counter terrorist strategy proposes that people (read Muslims) should be considered extremists if:
• They advocate a caliphate, a pan-Islamic state encompassing many countries.
• They promote Shariah law.
• They believe in jihad, or armed resistance, anywhere in the world. This would include armed resistance by Palestinians against the Israeli military.
• They argue that Islam bans homosexuality and that it is a sin against Allah.
• They fail to condemn the killing of British soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Of course these plans have ‘won’ favour and support from Ed Hussein, Majid Nawaz and their foundation, from Harry Toube and Mad Mel. But what does Contest 2 mean for you?
For me, it means the key players in government still refuse to acknowledge that foreign policy plays a big part in drawing young Muslims towards extremism, this despite the government’s own security minister’s acknowledgement that claims there is no link between the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK and this country’s foreign policy was, and I am quoting so do excuse me, “clearly bollocks”. Essentially the government is not grown up, and responsible enough to admit its failures, to hold its hands up and admit that it has made mistakes.
It also lays bare the government’s plan to criminalise Muslims by criminalising civil and political dissent. The government promotes the values of democracy such as the freedom of speech and thought, but for Muslims under Contest 2 there is no freedom to think or believe - only compliance! Muslim thought and belief is to be dictated and policed, fall out of line and you will be ostracised.
In failing to acknowledge and appreciate the nuanced discussions and debates amongst learned scholars and leaders of the Islamic tradition on issues such as Khilafah and Shariah the government has chosen a particular (incorrect and incomplete) understanding of these concepts, imposed this understanding on all and sundry and decided to wage war against these based on their misunderstanding under the pretext of clashing with shared British values.
The government fails to appreciate that Muslims in the UK are already implementing Shariah in their personal and family lives; to not apply Shariah in our personal lives is to be non-Muslim! We’re even, dare I say it, implementing Shariah in our public lives though Shariah compliant banking and insurance! I’d like to see the government turn away Islamic Banking and the Millions it is adding to the UK economy. There is more to Shariah then the penal code (exactly what the definition of penal code is yet another discussion). Muslims believe any rule or legislation which brings about real benefit and wards of real harm is Shariah! Man, this refusing to promote Shariah is going to be hard!
Moving on to the Caliphate, again there is a complete failure to acknowledge that the source texts of Islam (The Quran and Sunnah) are in many cases silent about the details of governance and administration of a state or provide space for flexibility and Ijtihad. What is clear for all Muslims is that we do not believe in anarchy, that as human societies we need executive leadership and laws to govern our lives and that rulers are to be just and fair. As Muslims living in Britain our religion compels us to abide by the laws of the land, if we cannot do so we have no legitimacy to remain here. For Muslims living in Muslim majority countries, they too have a right to choose what system of governance they wish to live under, and if they choose Shariah, to create a federation of Muslims states, or a Union of Islamic Nations (not to dissimilar to the EU) who am I or you or anyone else to oppose them? A union of Muslim states governed by laws which bring about real benefit to people and ward off real harm is a good thing, is it not? If I was living in a Muslim majority country I would prefer that over the despots and tyrants currently in office!
According to the Guardian, those labelled extremist would not be targeted by the criminal law, but would be sidelined and denied public funds. And it is here where this latest attempt by the government will fail. For Muslims (whether community organisations or individuals) in Britain will not relinquish fundamental principles of their faith. Concepts such as Jihad, Khilafah, and Shariah are rooted in our tradition. That the open and unashamed practise and propagation of homosexuality is a sin is also an established Islamic fact.
Yes let’s have discussions about the how and why of all these issues, let’s discuss the foreign and cultural implantations some of these concepts and ideas might have. Let’s discuss to what extent these issues impact Muslim minorities living in non Muslim countries. But to describe as extreme anyone who holds these concepts to be a legitimate part of the Islamic tradition is not going to do anyone any favours.
One thing will become clear if Contest 2 becomes governmental policy: There will be no hiding space for Muslim sell-outs.