British Government’s Meddling with Islam & the Muslim Community

As I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion, I am subscribed to alerts from They Work For You – a free site that allows the public to keep track of parliamentary proceedings. Even so, I will continue to remind you all of this fact, because I think everyone should make use of this amazing service. I am hardly politically astute, but I still choose to keep an ear open for when the British government decides to talk about me (or rather, things dear to me), i.e., Islam and the Muslim community.

Recently, there was a sudden rise in the number of alerts I received, containing my keyword of choice, “Islam”, all because one particular British MP, Ben Wallace (Conservative MP for Lancaster & Wyre, Former Conservative MSP for North East Scotland), has been asking a lot of questions on the subject lately – six questions in just two days. After reading through them, I become somewhat alarmed, as they described a number of initiatives that have the potential to directly affect how Islam is understood and practised in the UK. This includes scholarly efforts to ‘contextualise’ Islam in Britain, and the teaching of Islamic Studies in universities. To add some further context, several of these questions were posed in relation to “Paragraph 9.21 of the UK Strategy for Countering International Terrorism“.

The six questions and answers are presented below.

Question 1 (submitted on the 15th July)

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to paragraph 9.21 of the UK Strategy for Countering International Terrorism, Cm 7547, what projects his Department is supporting with universities to work with Muslim scholars, leaders and academics on contextualising Islam in Britain; and which universities, scholars and academics are involved.

Answer from Shahid Malik (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government; Dewsbury, Labour): Cambridge university, in association with the universities of Exeter and Westminster, have hosted a series of seminars to explore how Islamic theology and Muslim communities might respond to the challenges of living in modern Britain.
The discussions and debates will be captured in a report and published by Cambridge university in autumn this year. The report will feedback the views of participants on the issues discussed.
This project is being independently led by Cambridge university who have included imams, scholars and leaders from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Question 2 (submitted on the 15th July)

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what contribution his Department has made to support the development of citizenship education in mosque schools through the Islam Citizenship Education Project.

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Answer from Shahid Malik: The Islam and Citizenship Education (ICE) Project is jointly funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and the Department for Communities and Local Government. The DCSF awarded a contract, worth £318,652, to the School Development Support Agency (SDSA) running from February 2008 to July 2009 to develop and pilot citizenship lessons for use in mosque schools. The SDSA, working in conjunction with Muslim communities, has successfully delivered this contract. We are currently in the process of tendering for the next stage of the ICE Project to roll out the lessons to mosque schools nationally. Apart from fulfilling their contractual obligations, the SDSA and community-based organisations have made no financial contribution towards the ICE Project.

Question 3 (submitted on the 15th July)

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to paragraph 9.21 of the UK Strategy for Countering International Terrorism, Cm 7457, how much of the £1 million which the Higher Education Funding Council for England has committed for work on the gaps in Islamic studies teaching and research has been allocated; and to what projects.

Answer from David Lammy (Minister of State (Higher Education and Intellectual Property), Department for Business, Innovation & Skills; Tottenham, Labour): In June 2007, the Government designated Islamic Studies as a strategically important subject and asked HEFCE to earmark £1 million of its existing funding to develop a programme of work to support this.

To date, HEFCE has allocated:

£100,000 towards commissioning research into Islamic Studies in higher education, building on Dr. Siddiqui’s report on Islam at universities in England, and holding consultation events with the Islamic Studies community at:

http://www.hefce.ac.uk/aboutus/sis/islamic

£850,000 towards the development and implementation of a UK Islamic Studies network to bring the community of UK Islamic Studies scholars closer together. The Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) are taking this forward at:

http://www.hefce.ac.uk/aboutus/sis/islamic/network

In the coming year, HEFCE is commissioning a symposium for Islamic Studies scholars across the UK and Europe. Hosted by the British Academy, the symposium will promote the UK as a centre of excellence in Europe for Islamic Studies.

Question 4 (submitted on the 16th July)

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many Radical Middle Way (a) roadshows and (b) other events have taken place in the UK and overseas since 2007; where they have taken place; what the cost of each has been; what assessment has been made of the outcome of each event; and for what dates future such shows have been scheduled.

Answer from Shahid Malik: From October 2007 to June 2008 the RMW held a total of 34 road show events and a number of other formal and informal meetings with domestic and international scholars and speakers in the following locations:

London; Luton; Leicester; Birmingham; Liverpool; Bradford; Peterborough; Milton Keynes; Woking; and Manchester.

CLG and FCO provided funding of £250,000 to the project in 2007-08 to support the programme of events including support for the RMW website (£12,000) and external evaluation.

From June 2008 to May 2009 the RMW held a total of 48 road show events and a number of formal and informal meetings with domestic and international scholars and speakers in the following locations:

Blackburn; Bradford; Cambridge; London; Birmingham; Peterborough; Hounslow; High Wycombe; Leicester; Manchester; Milton Keynes; Slough; Derby; Bristol; Rochdale.

CLG has provided funding of £350,000 to the project to support the programme of events. This also included support for the RMW website and an external evaluation.

RMW held their first international road show to Sudan in April 2009, reaching an estimated 25,000 people through six large public events. The FCO provided £70,000 to support this road show and the RMW are planning further pilot road shows in Sudan, Indonesia and Pakistan by end October. The pilot phase of the international project will be evaluated by an independent company.

The RMW project is subject to an independent external evaluation following each phase. Communities and Local Government are currently in the process of determining the future direction of this particular work stream in its domestic context.

Question 5 (submitted on the 16th July)

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what support his Department is giving to the independent Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board to raise standards in mosques; what objectives have been set for such standards; and how much his Department has budgeted for such support activities.

Answer from Shahid Malik: The Department for Communities and Local Government provided support to the independent Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB). MINAB are a community-led organisation and we supported them to develop standards for mosques, which were widely consulted on and piloted. In addition, we supported the development of their operational plan and their first Annual General Meeting.

We allocated the following sums to MINAB: £75,600 in 2007-08; £116,000 in 2008-09; and £58,000 between April and June 2009.

Further information about MINAB, including their five standards, can be found on their website:

www.minab.org.uk

[Note from author: how “independent” are MINAB if they are receiving money from the government?]

Question 6 (submitted on the 16th July)

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families

(1) what contribution his Department has made to the development of citizenship education in mosque schools through the Islam Citizenship Education Project;

(2) what financial contribution (a) the Schools Development Support Agency and (b) community-based organisations have made to the development of citizenship education in mosque schools.

Answer from Diana Johnson (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Children, Schools and Families; Kingston upon Hull North, Labour): The Islam and Citizenship Education (ICE) Project is jointly funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and the Department for Communities and Local Government. We awarded a contract, worth £318,652, to the School Development Support Agency (SDSA) running from February 2008 to July 2009 to develop and pilot citizenship lessons for use in mosque schools. The SDSA, working in conjunction with Muslim communities, has successfully delivered this contract. We are currently in the process of tendering for the next stage of the ICE Project to roll out the lessons to mosque schools nationally. Apart from fulfilling their contractual obligations, the SDSA and community-based organisations have made no financial contribution towards the ICE Project.

As you can see, the British government’s interest in the Muslim Ummah does not stop at foreign policy; there is a whole strategy in place, that includes the religion of Islam, itself.

The questioner, Ben Wallace, is a member of the Counter-Terrorism Bill Committee; his expertise stems from his counter-terrorism experience in the Northern Ireland conflict. In this article written soon after the 7/7 bombings, he states that he does not believe that restrictive laws, such as detention without trial, are effective in preventing terrorism; he much prefer that the government focus on local communities:

Terrorists need their local communities like we need oxygen. They need cover, logistical support, meeting places and safe houses. Every contact they make leaves a trace. Every action they take leaves a clue. The law enforcement agencies need those traces and only local communities are in a position to spot them. From communities comes tip offs, informers and peer pressure. I was always amazed by how many tip offs we received from the Republican communities in Belfast.

They wanted a united Ireland but they didn’t want terrorism. It wasn’t always that way. When in 1971 the Government introduced internment (detention without trial) to Northern Ireland they indirectly helped revive a flagging IRA and set the scene for another 25 years of bloodshed. The Republican communities felt picked on, under siege and did what came naturally – they turned in on themselves and trusted no one from outside. We must not repeat that mistake today.

There is another way. We can engage with the Religious leadership of Islam, we can encourage more recruits into the Army and Police force from the Muslim communities and we can develop such strong links that people are happy to come forward with information.

During his two day flurry of questioning, the MP for Lancaster & Wyre made it clear that he wanted to know how the government is engaging with local Muslim communities and their “religious leadership”, purely from the perspective of counter-terrorism – not from a concern over the welfare of Muslim constituents. Fortunately, Ben Wallace’s curiosity has served to highlight just how much money the British government is throwing at the ‘Muslim problem’.

I understand that we have an issue with ‘home-grown terrorism’, and that it is in everyone’s interest to work together towards an equitable solution. In this respect, I believe that the government engaging with the Muslim community is a good idea, even if they do think our kids need citizenship lessons – whatever that means.

However, what I find highly erroneous is the government’s decision to meddle with Islam itself, by influencing both how it is taught and interpreted. Clearly, their motivation is not to bring Muslims closer to God, or even to justice – it’s all in the name of ‘counter-terrorism’.

Well, newsflash, Westminster: we are no strangers to politicians and rulers interfering with our belief system for their own personal gains – Muslim governments have been doing it in vain for centuries. Certainly, non-Muslim interference is even less tolerable. Please realise that separation of Church and State goes both ways, and stick to secular politics. You’ll find that your Muslim citizens will be much more cooperative that way.

In the mean time, I remind my fellow British Muslims that knowledge is power: sign up to They Work for You, today. If anything, I hope this article highlights how important it is for ordinary individuals to keep abreast of governmental activity, for the sake of one’s family, community, and most importantly, our beloved faith.

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32 responses to “British Government’s Meddling with Islam & the Muslim Community”

  1. […] for my article that was published today, over at MuslimMatters: As I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion, […]

  2. amad@ says:

    Interesting stuff on the funding of Radical Middle Way by the government. So, it isn’t just the Quite-lame (otherwise known as Quilliam) Foundation that is in bed with the govt??

    What does this say about RMW? Or does it? I mean just receiving govt funding doesn’t automatically disqualify an organization from being beneficial and sincere, but it does put it under greater scrutiny.

    Does anyone have thoughts on RMW-Govt associations and whether the Quilliam-type “everyone else is radical” issues have plagued the output of RMW?

  3. any reason why you omit to mention perhaps the obvious that the Minister responding to some of the questions is a Muslim who replaced a Muslim (Shahid Malik replacing Sadiq Khan)

    My point is Muslims have been involved in the formulation of UK Govt policy which as far as I’m concerned is healthy.

    What would be even more healthy is more Muslims being actively involved in politics, influencing policy at the outset rather than reacting to “goverment activity” eg Iraq, Afghanistan etc when its to late.

    Policy is formulated by a small clique of think thanks, special advisers, influential lobbyists, Big business which currently are Muslim no go areas.

    Oops correction one recent example of a change in British govt policy was when the Serious Fraud Office considered investigating the BAE Arms deals involving kickbacks to the Saudi Royal family. The Saudi’s in a classic case of self preservation forced Blair to stop the SFO inquiry.

    • iMuslim says:

      Muslims in government aren’t beyond ‘towing the line’. As I said at the end of my article, Muslim governments (and therefore Muslim government officials) have employed similar tactics in the past, and continue to do so.

      I do agree that more Muslims need to get involved in policy making. But when it comes to Islam itself, should government money and influence be part of the equation? Scholars have always been encouraged to be as independent as possible, either taking money from the community whom they serve, or through their own enterprise.

  4. mpacuk says:

    We need politically intelligent Muslims – NOW!!

    Freedom through politics – Muslim Public Affairs Committee – http://www.mpacuk.org

  5. MR says:

    UK Muslims can now say that their tax dollars are being spent on Muslims, literally.

  6. MUA says:

    JazakAllahu kheir to the person who posted this. I clicked on the HEFCE links above and there is a lot of material to go through. I perused some of the material, and although I think we all knew Islamic Studies is a “strategically important subject” to Western (and Eastern) governments, these documents provide us with good insight as to some of the planning involved. Obviously this is another attempt to assimilate Muslims and Islamic discourse. The recent rise of Muslim colleges in the UK and the US by well-known Muslims definitely embodies some of the policy paper observations and recommendations. And although I am a huge advocate of creating Muslim academic institutes, but it must be on our terms since this is an area subject to strategic manipulation. I am now not sure if that is the case with the current attempts to create these types of insitutes. It’s is our duty to first figure out the full extent to what is going on and following the money trail; certainly there are people who are trying to shape the destiny of Muslims.

    • iMuslim says:

      That’s my point. Who are the people trying to shape our destiny, and for what purpose? If it’s to make us better Muslims, then alhamdulillah. But if it’s to take the ‘teeth’ out of Islam, in order that we become more compliant to government rule, then no thank you.

      • MUA says:

        iMuslim, I think you’re incorrectly framing the discussion. “To make us better Muslims” can be achieved according to those in authority (in ruling and some in positions of relgious authority) by assimilating and/or integrating Muslims in the societies they live in by engendering a sense of nationalism of the host country in which they become “British Muslims” and practice “British Islam.” And anything in the sources of Islam (Quran and Ahadith) that conflicts with this paradigm must be softly reinterpreted or marginalized to sap it of it’s value. This is domestication 101, before the imperialist powers used these tools in the countries they occupied now they must use it on their foreign citizens. Let’s not be so naive to think they’re doing this to make us better Muslims. Instead let’s research their plans, understand their approach, and question whether some Muslims may, intentionally or unintentionally, be instruments of their policy and strategy.

  7. Dawud says:

    While I’m happy to investigate whether funding is being directed at swaying the opinions of muslims or for studying the opinions of muslims, and we should be cautious about government support or initiatives that undermine the integrity and autonomy of our ulema, it would be delusional to think that this is new anywhere in the world. Many scholars, including ibn Taymiyyah, identified the decline of Islamic governance as occuring when the Sultan appointed the chief Qadi, rather than a body of consultative ‘ulema. Name a ‘muslim country’ where the judiciary/Islamic Shari’ah courts are not interfered with by the ‘powers that be’ and that the sincere guidance of the Qur’an and Sunnah is followed for the sake of Allah alone. And please, nobody suggest that Saudi Arabia, Iran or Afghanistan are models to be emulated, rather than criticized.

    As for the RMW, I know the sincerity of those involved, the difficulties under which they’ve worked and that the scholars who have participated have never agreed to change the message of the Qur’an or the Sunnah for the sake of the British government. Indeed, Hamza Yusuf may be more diplomatic in his speech and not call openly for the lynching of the American or Sudanese president these days, as has been well-noted, but if anyone wants to say that the speeches of recent RMW events such as “From Anger to Action” are dictated to the scholars participating by the Foreign Office hasn’t been listening.

    Do you wish Imam Sudais to get the same treatment (as he is already via the British media), or the scholars who serve at the pleasure of the Saudi family? Do remember that two gulf wars took place with the concession of the Saudi ulema, and with the acquiescence of a lot of international muslim leaders – of which the RMW scholars remain innocent. If you want to talk about blood on the hands of scholars, then the tables could easily be turned, and almost every scholar in the middle east could be accused by the words of Imam Ali: “Silence is complicity.”

    Fear Allah in your statements about the scholars, as “the flesh of the ulema is poisoned.”

    • Amad says:

      Dawud, I am not sure who you are directly responding to, but I don’t think anyone here has claimed that RMW is “bad” or downplaying any of its efforts.

      In fact, since I made the comment about RMW, I will repeat it:

      I mean just receiving govt funding doesn’t automatically disqualify an organization from being beneficial and sincere, but it does put it under greater scrutiny.

      And you have essentially said the same thing in your comment: being funded isn’t automatically a bad thing, and that you have to be more cautious about such organizations.

      Also, while I see your analogy with Muslim govt scholars, I think it is not directly applicable. It is one thing for Muslim governments to provide funding for Islamic institutions through awqafs (endowments), a tradition that has been with our Ummah from ages, it is quite another for non-Muslim governments to support Islamic organizations. It’s not like the British government wants to pay for dawah and the muezzin? Hence, the intent and the goals become doubly important. And that’s all I am saying… it puts such organizations “under greater scrutiny”.

      Our iMuslim participated in RMW’s forum recently, so MM or I (as an individual) aren’t making any judgments about the organization. At least, until such a time that evidence of “Quilliam-type” activities appear :)

      w/s

      • Usman Akhtar says:

        I’m not saying anything bad about RMW, but I think we can all agree that money from outside the ummah that supports Muslim activities can really pollute things.

        I agree that RMW isn’t necessarily working for British Intelligence, but from the history of the world, it is financial support that corrupts things. Whether it is political institution, education, military campaigns, and yes religious institutions as well.

        The wealth we use to help our Ummah must be purified, and come from within the Ummah, we need to be more independent. How sad is it that we can’t support our on activities, and need the help of non-muslims and their financial support to continue, it leaves a huge window to corruption and compromise.

  8. Iftikhar says:

    Children from minority groups, especially the Muslims, are exposed to the pressure of racism, multiculturalism and bullying. They suffer academically, culturally and linguistically: a high proportion of children of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin are leaving British schools with low grades or no qualification.

    In the 1980s, the Muslim community in Britain started to set up Muslim schools. The first was the London School of Islamics which I established and which operating from 1981-86. Now there are 133 schools educating approximately 5% Muslim pupils. Very few schools are state funded.

    The needs and demands of Muslim children can be met only through Muslim schools, but education is an expensive business and the Muslim community does not have the resources to set up schools for each and every child, and only eight Muslim schools have achieved grant maintained status.

    This leaves a majority of children from Muslim families with no choice but to attend state schools. There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models.

    Prince Charles, while visiting the first grant maintained Muslim school in north London, said that the pupils would be the future ambassadors of Islam. But what about thousands of others, who attend state schools deemed to be “sink schools”?

    The time has come for the Muslim community – in the form of Islamic charities and trusts – to manage and run those state schools where Muslim pupils are in the majority. The Department for Education would be responsible for funding, inspection and maintenance.

    The management would be in the hands of educated professional Muslims. The teaching of Arabic, Islamic studies, Urdu and other community languages by qualified Muslim teachers would help the pupils to develop an Islamic identity, which is crucial for mental, emotional and personality development.

    In the east London borough of Newham, there are at least 10 state schools where Muslim pupils are in the majority.

    The television newscaster Sir Trevor McDonald is a champion of introducing foreign modern languages even at primary level in schools in Britain. The Muslim community would like to see Arabic, Urdu and other community languages introduced at nursery, primary and secondary schools along with European languages so that Muslim pupils have these options.

    In education, there should be a choice and at present it is denied to the Muslim community. In the late 80s and early 90s, when I floated the idea of Muslim community schools, I was declared a “school hijacker” by an editorial in the Newham Recorder newspaper in east London.

    This clearly shows that the British media does not believe in choice and diversity in the field of education and has no respect for those who are different.

    Muslim schools, in spite of meager resources, have excelled to a further extent this year, with two schools achieving 100% A-C grades for five or more GCSEs. They beat well resourced state and independent schools in Birmingham and Hackney.

    Muslim schools are doing better because a majority of the teachers are Muslim. The pupils are not exposed to the pressures of racism, multiculturalism and bullying.
    Iftikhar Ahmad
    London School of Islamics Trust
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

  9. Hafiz says:

    salaam aleikum,

    rather interesting article and comments. Just had a few questions:

    1. the so-called “Muslim” MPs that were briefed and were briefing Ben Wallace, were they any of the same that were named/shamed here:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5502358/MPs-expenses-Shahid-Malik-unable-to-produce-receipts-or-rental-agreement.html

    http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2009/07/17/1-500-signature-petition-calls-for-perry-barr-mp-khalid-mahmood-to-quit-97319-24176050/

    2. Would any of their supposed defenders please comment on this post:

    UK Muslim MP’s what good have they achieved?

    3. I fail to see what difference, if any, there exists between the self styled “Radical” Middle Way and the Quilliam Foundation. Ed Husain claims that he has spoken with the leadership of the RMW, as well as Abdul Hakim Murad/TJ Winter and came away further convinced to go ahead with founding Quilliam. Further on numerous occassions he has justified his acts and words by claiming that the RMW is fully in support of him. It must also be mentioned that BOTH the RMW and Quilliam were flown to Egypt to push the British govt. agenda there, it was well covered here:

    http://traditionalislamism.wordpress.com/2008/07/16/ed-on-holiday-in-egypt/

    Lastly, how does all of the above relate to this:

    Imam Ghazali, that great intellectual of Islamic history, has given excellent advice in his masterpiece, Ihya Ulum al-Deen.

    Shun those ulama who go to the courts of the rulers. Go and learn from those who shun the rulers.

  10. Abdullah says:

    For some reason the British government is using RMW to become involved in Indonesia. Why, I don’t know as there is no ‘extremism threat’ to Britain from Indonesia! RMW has set up a group called ArusDamai (which I translate as Peace Stream) as seen from it’s links page:

    http://www.arusdamai.com/

    “Radical Middle Way is a London-based Islamic organisation, who is the parent organisation for ArusDamai.”

    RMW also has job vacencies abroad, including Indonesia (as well as Pakistan and Sudan):

    http://www.radicalmiddleway.co.uk/news.php?id=1&art=55

    Also, I have noticed that for some reason, QF is active in Syria (as well as Pakistan).

    Can anyone figure out what the British government is up to outside the UK, through RMW and QF?

  11. […] via British Government’s Meddling with Islam & the Muslim Community | MuslimMatters.org. […]

  12. iMuslim says:

    I just saw this event advertised last night. Good timing, eh? :)

    Campusalam.org & The City Circle present:

    STRINGS ATTACHED? GOVERNMENT FUNDING AND THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY

    With Sister Humera Khan (An-Nisa), Abdal Haq Baker (Brixton Mosque and Street Project): Daud Abdullah, MCB, Mohammed Ali, Islam Channel and Arun Kundnani, Institute of Race Relations

    Date: Wednesday 19th August 2009
    Time: 6:30pm – 8:30 p.m. (Doors open at 6:15)
    Venue: 45 Crawford Place, Abrar House, London W1H 4LP

    It’s high time for an informed and honest discussion on the money being ploughed into the Muslim community by the Government, particularly under the controversial ‘Preventing Violent Extremism’ (PVE) agenda. This event will critically examine the impact of funding on the government’s relationship with the Muslim community, and its influence on Muslim civil society in the UK.

    Using the original Campusalam format of a Student Jury, a panel of informed students will grill a group of ‘Expert Witnesses’ on their expertise in the issues at hand. After hearing testimony, the student jury will then deliberate and reach a verdict together. The audience will also have an opportunity to question the expert witnesses and express their views. Join us in exploring these crucial questions for the community on civil society, political independence, what constitutes ‘grass roots’, and working with the ‘Establishment’.

    Spaces are limited hence please register online: http://www.campusalam.org

    All welcome and free entrance

    For more information please contact:
    Tel: 07810560124 / 07903259913
    Website: http://www.campusalam.org

  13. Dawud says:

    a follow-up question: if British funding or support makes an organization questionable, shouldn’t one be concerned that the entire state of Saudi Arabia exists because of British support to abdul-Aziz al-Sa’ud during the first World War, delivered by the British spy William Shakespear? And American aid thereafter? Quite a few ‘Muslim country’ regimes exist now only due to American and British financial and military support – Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and arguably Pakistan… and one might point out that they’re all doing far worse things, such as torture, murder, etc on behalf of the American and British regimes (there was a suggestion back in 2004 from Saudi Arabia that Saudi, Jordan and the UAE would take all the prisoners from Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and other CIA ‘black sites’ – I gather under the logic that if anyone should get their hands bloody from torturing Arabs and Muslims, it should be Arabs and Muslims doing the torturing)…

    I mean, the logic is sound, no? Or is it fair to question a group like RMW, whose members I know personally, and haven’t gotten rich off gov’t funding (AbdurRahman Malik and Fareena Alam live in council housing blocks in East London, off the infamous ‘Brick Lane’) and all the scholars who’ve participated are known for their criticism of Western foreign policy – whereas one can easily point to all the scholars from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt who have openly changed their statements and fatwas based on decrees from Washington, London and Tel Aviv…

  14. Khalid says:

    All one has to do is read the RAND report put out by the neo-conservatives in the U.S. to realize that kufr states at war with Islam and Muslims funding indigenous Muslim groups is not something that is innocent, done by coincedence or by accident, but all part of a coherent design. Since there was/is extensive collaboration by the security and intelligence services of the U.S. and UK (both with armed forces currently killing Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan) I don’t consider it accidental that the two would borrow strategies from each other:

    1. RAND, Civil Democratic Islam, Partners, Resources, & Strategies

    2. State sponsored Sufism

    3. Hearts, Minds, & Dollars: America is spending millions to change the very face of Islam

    Whether political/media whores in the community can somehow make a living and justify taking this money in the name of “dawah” is a wholly different subject.

  15. Saarim says:

    Dawud, your analogies are farcical to say the least and typical of the selective criticism that many Sufis engage in. You say that the shuyookh involved in the Radical Middle Way haven’t been compromised and that there are no strings attached. Then, are these shuyookh willing to publicly condemn to British role in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and their funding of the Quillam Foundation, a group which calls for a secularist “Islaam”? Do they agree with the policy of the Radical Middle Way which calls for a “moderate Islaam” to please the kuffar? You said that all of their shuyookh are known for their criticism of Western foreign policy. Where are these criticisms and have they criticised the British role? Many of these criticisms I have seen from these shuyookh have been very mild. Some of them are more prone to attacking “Wahabis” then attacking Western foreign policy such as Abdul-Hakim Murad. Don’t you Sufis also like to used the term “Petro-Islaam”, yet, what do you call the shuyookh who participate in the Radical Middle Way? You mentioned the treachery of the Saudi government in it’s colloboration with the British, which should be condemned from an Islaamic standpoint, but many of the Sufis who love to mention this, are totally silent on the treachery of Sharif Hussein who also was a British stooge or the Jordanian government which has a history of colloboration from its inception with the Zionists, British and Americans. Also, I might add that the Rasheed tribe(many of whom were “Wahabi” even though they were political opponents of Aal-Sa’ud) fought on the side of the Ottomans. You also fail to distinguish between the ulama and shuyookh in Saudi Arabia and the government as many of the ulama and shuyookh oppose the actions of the Saudi government and there are many Salafi shuyookh who have strongly criticsed the foreign policy of the Saudi government. Many of the Sufis who like to cite this are brazenly hypocritical on this point as they like to engage in selective criticism on this regard as many of their shuyookh are silent on the treacherous foreign policy of their countries. An example of this is Ali al-Jifri who is backed by the Emirati government which also colloborates with the Americans and which awarded the war criminal, Tommy Franks, a medal. Has Jifri spoken out against this? Why do you also single out the Saudi goverment as there are other governments in the Muslim world who are just as treacherous? Can you also name the scholars who have changed their statements and fatwas based upon decrees from Washington, London and Tel Aviv?

    • dawud says:

      I could try to reply to the slanders present above (‘you Sufis’ & ‘brazenly hypocritical’) but given MuslimMatters policy on slander and their desire to respond remove it, I’ll just trust their protocol…

      really though, I must have touched a nerve – you spare all of one sentence to acknowledge that the state of Saudi Arabia was established with the help of the British and maintained by the Americans, which would seem to imply (by your reasoning, vis Habib Ali al-Jifri) that anyone who accepted the support of that government should be judged by association.

      as for the al-Rasheeds and others, while I can understand the desire to loosen Ottoman rule, I think that the Arab nations as a whole have not improved themselves under their believed ‘independence’ – as one Arab once told me about the Ottomans: “they took the wealth of our lands, to build mosques and monuments for themselves while they kept our people poor and ignorant” – does that description remind you of anyone as much as the tyrants who currently rule the Arab countries, and what great efforts are Arab muslims making to remedy the ignorance and poverty that mire their lands?

      as for RMW, I do believe they should have made their funding clear from the beginning, but don’t believe their values are compromised, as I’ve already argued above. I’ve made my own personal arguments about funding directly to the organizers of RMW and Shahid Malik of the FCO, but also recognize that the muslim community in Britain neither could (help with visas) nor is likely to (preferring prestige projects like domes and minarets) fund anything like the RMW.

      However, if one compares it to anything like the al-Haramain or other Saudi projects, RMW pales into insignificance – and if one says that taking money from a government involved in haram makes all one’s actions questionable, wouldn’t that also apply to any scholar who took from the wealth of the Saudis, the Egyptians and the Jordanians? (or any other ‘Muslim/Islamic country’ for that matter)

      as for citing a scholar/fatwa that was altered upon decree from Washington, London and Tel Aviv: Gulf War I & 2, the fatwa that all Palestine was ‘dar al-harb’ and Palestinians had to make hijra (to where?)… just as a start

      • iMuslim says:

        I agree, Sarim’s language is not appropriate for this forum. But it, and your own response brother Dawud, highlights an issue that perhaps is more important than how government funding may skew the output of a dawah organization – and please note, that by government, I mean any group that places politics and power, over Islam, truth and justice – and that is, how government interference will automatically cause division in the community that is being called to, even if the dawah itself is intact.

        As you say, RMW is doing a good job in their efforts to aid the British Muslim community. So then the question for the masses becomes: are you simply going to reject them out of suspicion of their patrons? And that’s immediately where the split comes.

        One group will say “yes”, and rightly so, because of warnings in the Qur’an and Sunnah about taking non-Muslims as allies and benefactors, for all the reasons we have already discussed: it jeopardises the purity of the message.

        The second group will say “no”, and I think rightly so, because in the end, suspicion is haram in many cases, and we must judge people on their fruits, not just hearsay.

        And that’s when the labels are brought out: ‘Sufis’, ‘Salafis’, ‘Wahabbis’, ‘Moderates’, ‘Progressives’, ‘Radicals’, ‘Extremists’… and so on. If you’re not with us, you’re against us: but who is “us”?

        So there you have it: the poison in the well is not necessarily the corruption of dawah, as alhamdulillah, Allah has promised to preserve this deen, so if ever the da’ees dare pollute the message, He will replace them with better. Rather, it is the division of the community, through warranted suspicion; and hasn’t “divide and conquer” always been one of the best political and military stratagems to date?

  16. abdullah says:

    salaam aleikum,

    this should not be turned into another round of sectarian partisanship, but rather serve as a discussion for the realization that:

    1. ANY funding of Muslim groups by a state (be it Muslim/Non-Muslim) is something that
    a. creates a cycle of dependency — you skew your actions to ensure funding
    b. politically compromises you — you become aware of red lines that you cannot and should not cross
    so as to not jeapordize funding. Your message becomes compromised.

    2. As far as some masjids and groups defending taking money from Saudi Arabia vs. the employers/managers of the Saudis — the UK — BOTH are wrong. Neither state is functioning according to Islam and both have and continue to exercise hostility to Muslims when Islam runs counter to their political and commercial interests.

    3. As for RMW:

    a. ” The Radical Middle Way initiative has received funding totalling £350,000, of which £250,000 was provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and £100,000 by Home Office.”

    source: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm061204/text/61204w0034.htm

    An open attempt at blackmail of the RMW was done by none other than one of the Quilliam Munafiqs who supported the Israeli bombardment of Gaza (Muslims should condemn Hamas NOT Israel) and who advocates removing hijab:

    Here he is openly urging the cutting of funding for RMW for associating with other groups which the govt. doesn’t like:

    The RMW admits to being ‘primarily funded’ by at least two separate government departments and is then supporting a group who would rather replace our liberal democracy with a puritanical Islamist theocracy? That doesn’t strike me as the most effective way to spend taxpayer’s money.”

    source: http://www.hurryupharry.org/2008/08/07/the-radical-middle-way-attacks-quilliam-endorses-hizb-ut-tahrir/

    a. Shiraz should know having fleeced 1 Million pounds from British taxpayers for Quilliam Foundation with ZERO achievements to date.
    b. Muslim institutions and “scholars” if they claim to represent and speak for the community should be funded by local Muslims IN the community.
    c. You cannot condemn “petrodollar wahabbis” for being promoted by the Saudi govt. while you in turn are being promoted and funded by the EMPLOYERS of these same Saudis — the UK and US.
    d. You cannot oppose controversial political legislation in regards to Muslims/Islam in the UK and still maintain your independence while doing so:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/feb/17/counterterrorism-strategy-muslims

    because the govt. can and will cut your funding (as Shiraz is openly advocating them to do so) if you show any hesitation in supporting them. There are numerous ayats in the Quran which describe how kuffar will never accept Muslims even if they compromise their deen, it behooves one engaged in taking funds from others to reflect upon this.

  17. Saarim says:

    Dawud, I prefer that when someone responds to me, that they have some knowledge of current affairs. I am willing to spare many sentences in condemning the Saudi government’s foreign policy and I already told you that many Salafi ulama and shuyookh have condemned the Saudi government’s foreign policy and it’s colloboration with the enemies of Islaam. I mentioned the Rasheed tribe previously, but I will also mention Salafi ulama like Shaykh Haamid al-Faqi and Shaykh Ahmad Shakir of Egypt who were strongly against British colonialism. Many of the Sufis who love to bring this up are totally silent on the treacheries of Sharif Hussein and the Jordanian government(which is beloved by many Sufis) and this is a clear example of their selective criticism and brazen hypocrisy on this point. Why don’t you also mention that the Jordanian government was backed and founded by the British government?! Many of the ulama and shuyookh( even the ones who are close to the government) in Saudi Arabia don’t agree with every action of the Saudi government even if they are backed by the Saudi government. That doesn’t mean there aren’t Saudi ulama who always toe the government line and these shuyookh should be criticised.

    The reason I criticise the RMW and the shuyookh who participate is because that there are strings attached even if you are unwilling to acknowledge this point. The goal of the RMW is to promote a “moderate Islaam”. Do you honestly think that the British government has the best interests of Muslims at mind? It’s one thing to take money for example, for health care from the British government. It’s a whole other equation to take money to promote a “moderate Islaam” to suit the desires of the British government. If as you say, that these shuyookh aren’t compromised or that there are no strings attached, are they willing to condemn the British role in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq or it’s sponsoring of groups like the Quillam Foundation? If these shuyookh are willing to do this, then they might be excused, but I haven’t seen this from them.

    Your third paragraph is not relevant to our discussion and there are many problems in the Arab world and they should be addressed, but not by parroting the view of MEMRI, which demands that Arabs and Muslims engage in extreme self-criticism and self-flagellation and total deference to their Neo-con agenda, when the same people(Neo-cons, right-wingers, etc)who are demanding this are unwilling to do this themselves and they are well-known for squelching opposition to their agenda. An example of this double standard is mentioned here, http://www.henrymakow.com/000642.html, by a Jewish writer. I didn’t say taking money from governments make all of one’s actions questionable, but taking money specifically when a government has a specific agenda, such as the British government which trying to foster a “moderate” Islaam” under the guise of groups such as the RMW and the Quillam Foundation.

    As for the events you mentioned in your last paragraph, I will address the fatwa of Shaykh al-Albani. This fatwa has long been used by many Sufis in their anti-Salafi propganda and their has been alot of controversy surrounding it and Shaykh Mashoor Salman(one of Albani’s students) has a written a defense of Albani. I believe that the fatwa was wrong but it was just an opinion and it was never implemented. If the Sufis who cite this fatwa are really sincere and care about the Palestinian cause, how come they are totally silent on the Jordanian regime(which is beloved by many Sufis) whose treacherous actions(not just a fatwa) have played a large part in helping and strengthening the Zionist regime from the time of King Abdullah I, whose treachery and colloboration with the Zionists played a large part in the establishment of the Zionist entity in Palestine right up to this day. This selective and sectarian criticism exposes the utter insincerity and brazen hypocrisy of these Sufis who cite this fatwa. I was also say in defense of Albani, that he went to fight the Zionists when they were trying to take over Palestine and that he was no court scholar as he was jailed in Syria because some Sufis incited government against him, under house arrest in Jordan and expelled from Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War because of his opposition to using American troops. I already mentioned to you that many Salafi shuyookh(inside and outside of Saudi) have and still oppose Saudi foreign policy and they have criticised the Salafi shuyookh who have defended the Saudi regime. Here(in Arabic), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i5rBJlslms, is an example of Shaykh al-Albani strongly condemning the Saudi goverment’s decision to use the assistance of American troops in the first Gulf War and I can bring you many more examples like this. Why just focus on the treachery of the Saudi government when there are many treacherous governments in the Muslim world, including governments which are officially Sufi and “traditional” such as Morocco, Jordan, Dubai(where Sufi shuyookh like al-Jifri are silent on the pro-American foreign policy). etc.

    iMuslim, sometimes harshness is called for.

    Abdullah, many of Dawud’s criticisms were sectarian and so I replied in kind. As for sectarian partisanship and how it applies to this discussion, I can say, whatever the faults of the Salafis in the West, they haven’t stooped to the behaviour of some Sufis who have exploited the political climate in the West to incite against the “Wahabis” in the media., though I have no doubt that the majority of Sufis and “traditionals” condemn this behaviour.

  18. Dawud says:

    ‘Eid mubarek to all;

    I didn’t respond over the past week, as I wanted to devote the end of Ramadan to Allah and not to online arguments; I will only say in response to the slanderous arguments above that I don’t promote government interference in Islamic scholarship, neither in the ‘Muslim’ countries nor in the West. (Also it’s somewhat ridiculous to keep banging on about me supporting Jordan, when I explicitly wrote in the above comment he responded to:

    Quite a few ‘Muslim country’ regimes exist now only due to American and British financial and military support – Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and arguably Pakistan… and one might point out that they’re all doing far worse things, such as torture, murder, etc on behalf of the American and British regimes (there was a suggestion back in 2004 from Saudi Arabia that Saudi, Jordan and the UAE would take all the prisoners from Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and other CIA ‘black sites’ – I gather under the logic that if anyone should get their hands bloody from torturing Arabs and Muslims, it should be Arabs and Muslims doing the torturing).

    I should also note I don’t defend the interference of the governments of Turkey, Egypt, Morocco or Indonesia in the religious affairs of the ulema.

    A good statement of my feelings is actually in the initial post by IMuslim, so take this as a summation:

    I believe that the government engaging with the Muslim community is a good idea, even if they do think our kids need citizenship lessons – whatever that means.

    However, what I find highly erroneous is the government’s decision to meddle with Islam itself, by influencing both how it is taught and interpreted. Clearly, their motivation is not to bring Muslims closer to God, or even to justice – it’s all in the name of ‘counter-terrorism’.

    Well, newsflash, Westminster: we are no strangers to politicians and rulers interfering with our belief system for their own personal gains – Muslim governments have been doing it in vain for centuries. Certainly, non-Muslim interference is even less tolerable. Please realise that separation of Church and State goes both ways, and stick to secular politics.

    +1

  19. Saarim says:

    Dawud, how are my arguments “slanderous”, especially compared to what you have written previously? I didn’t specifically say that you support the Jordanian regime, but that many Sufis do and I am pretty sure that many Sufi shuyookh won’t approve of your criticism towards it.

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