The recent hullabaloo regarding Usama Hasan and his public pronouncements on matters of Islamic belief, has drawn an interesting line between the Muslim communities in the UK. There are many issues regarding Usama’s latest controversy, but I want to focus on two issues. Leaving aside the personalities, it’s very interesting how and where some people (those shouting the loudest) chose to draw their line.
Usama was asked the question, “You believe that Adam’s parents may have been apes”? To which he replied, “Sayyidina Adam alayhis salam… Yes, this is a matter of science etc. I will write a fuller paper on Islam and Darwinism later Inshallah”. He also wrote in the Guardian, “One problem is that many Muslims retain the simple picture that God created Adam from clay, much as a potter makes a statue, and then breathed into the lifeless statue and lo! it became a living human. This is a children’s madrasa-level understanding…”.
Whilst Usama later retracted his claims stating “I do not believe that Adam, peace be upon him, had parents”, he took exception to those that remained silent to the “incitement to murder” and threats of violence. There is much speculation about this, but as the police have been informed (as I understand it) I’ll reserve comment on this until they’ve concluded their investigations.
Firstly some people either condemned Usama’s blasphemous comments only, and others condemned the threats of violence against Usama, again exclusively.
We saw much condemnation of Usama’s contradiction of the Qur’an and established Hadith – which he himself accepted by his retraction later. On the other hand, you have those that condemn, rightly, incitement to violence launching Facebook groups and other lobbying campaigns.
For the neutral observer, Muslims have been presented as either anti-science stuck in their backwardness or intolerant thugs who cannot bear difference of opinions. Both of these positions are false and far removed from the reality for the vast majority of Muslims. Those that drew the lines did nothing but a disservice to Islam and the Muslim communities – as their actions only went to reinforce the negative perceptions of Islam.
Where are the Muslims and organisations that criticise both what Usama has said (his retraction seems to be on very shaky grounds according to Inayat Bunglawala) and those that incite violence? Or more precisely what online group or campaign can people join to show the balanced view of the the silent majority?
Inayat Bunglawala is living proof that most Muslims are mature and balanced individuals – his support for Darwinism is not new and he is very much alive and kicking. He did get hassled, but I don’t recall any threat of violence – let alone death threats. One may argue that Inayat did not receive as much attention as Usama – but there is a good reason for that. Usama is an Imam, leading Muslims in prayer. Those that are being led in the worship of Allah deserve to be led by a person whose faith and belief in Allah and His miracles are unshakable. Had Usama not been an Imam, then he too wouldn’t have received much attention.
It is sheer foolhardiness on the part of some, and the zeal to conceal hidden agendas for others, that makes them choose one side or the other – the just position is to condemn them both in this context. Had Muslims or their organisations taken this balanced approach, they would have united the majority and avoided confounding Muslims into either extremes.
Finally, on the issue itself there are many questions that people have – some are just plain confused. So where are the scholars (both from a scientific and Islamic background) in the UK and where are their comments on this matter? We usually have scholars lining up to sign statements on other issues, why not this critical one?