ISIS & the US gun lobby

Whether it’s the sustained onslaught of gun crime in the US affecting the most vulnerable, school children; or murder and authority in the name of chasing an ideal which never existed, the perfect caliphate, espoused by ISIS. It has never been about the numbers.

While ISIS seek to embellish an Image of Islam which they feel reflects society at the time of Prophet Muhammad – which even a casual observer or history will acknowledge is nothing but an illusionary pipe dream built upon a narrow abuse of religion.  The gun lobby sustain their position to create their own paradise built around a world where we can protect ourselves.

Both groups share the same common element, the desire to provide a stable and safe environment in which their ‘citizens’ can live with obedience to their interpretation of freedom. Yet both struggle to understand that by adopting policies which result in the harm of any human life, they have reduced the quality of their message, appealing only to the weak and the feeble minded. Impoverished or wealthy, powerless or powerful, these external attitudes become manifest in a single word: insecurity.

For ISIS, it is a fear that people will not chose obedience to God so it must be imposed on them, believing themselves to be better than God, for God states there is no compulsion in faith. While for the gun lobby, it is distrust of a nation’s security infrastructure – our nation cannot protect us so we must have the right to protect ourselves,.

In pursuit of their respectively misplaced ideals, fuelled by their respective insecurities, they sacrifice something which no person should ever have to, their humanity. This is why, no matter how much of a shock death and destruction may be to most of humanity, to ISIS and the gun lobby, it has never been, nor will ever be, about the numbers.


H&M, GBBO, Hijabs And The Image of Islam

Remona Aly’s CIF article entitled ‘How the hijab – and H&M – are reshaping mainstream British culture,’ was welcome. It is true that Muslim women, and to a lesser extent men, despite being active contributors to our society, still suffer a degree of discrimination. More, better, positive images of Muslims are needed, but I find her closing remarks telling: “I hope it will render Muslim women less “them” and more “us”.”

Putting aside the factual reality that the word Hijab which is mentioned seven times in the Quran doesn’t actually refer to an item of clothing, let alone one worn on the head, as mentioned in a chat show for which I was one of the panelists to be aired on British Muslim TV in the next few days, the Muslim identity is considerably more complex than simply being women with headscarves and men with beards.

While Muslims who adhere to traditional Images of Islam, such as those with headscarves and those with beards struggle to find a visible place in society as part of ‘us’ instead of ‘them,’ everyday Muslims who do not wear headscarves, and men who do not grow beards, also struggle to be identified as ‘Muslim;’ often being ostracised from parts of the community because we hold a different point of view, interpretation of Islam.

Moreover, the mantra spoken by those who insist on following ‘true’ Islam instead of culture is often just lip service as they continue to misrepresent God’s use of the word hijab in the Quran, making it mean something that God never authored. And if educated, professional, intelligent and capable Muslims, are unwilling to correct this, what does it speak about the quality of the rest of our interpretation of faith, where culture becomes more important than the substance of the Quran and the desire to follow the example of Prophet Muhammad?
The real story here is that as those who are visibly Muslim continue to find acceptance in society, those of us who are not visibly Muslim continue to struggle to find acceptance amongst Muslims. The only thing which God obliges any of us to do in the Quran is to dress modestly, the rest is simply opinion which has shaped culture over the generations. So perhaps a better statement would be that  “I hope it will render all Muslims, irrespective of our interpretation of faith less “them” and more “us”. “

The Image of Islam should be much better than what we have reduced it to. True success will not be when there are more women with or without headscarves, or men with or without beards, on TV, in adverts, but when we as a society do not need to rely on such visible labels to demonstrate inclusion as part of British culture.

When ISIS fails the Muslim world and the Ummah

One of the hardest truths to interpret within any faith is the identity of those who are not within it. For me, when I read that part of being a Muslim is to want for others what I want for myself, I understand this in its literal sense: if I want food to eat, somewhere to work, a safe place to live, friends, a happy life, then the depth and meaning of my Islam can only defined by how I enable others to achieve the same.

Yes, the Quran does makes a distinction between those who chose to believe and those who chose not to believe in the message brought by Prophet Muhammad. But the Quran also continues to state that there is no compulsion in religion. Meaning that it is not for a Muslim to impose religion onto a non-Muslim, just as it is not for any Muslim to impose their interpretation of religion onto another Muslim. Moreover, this freedom of religion is underpinned by the traits of freedom of thought and expression, which may be penned as a singular concept: a common humanity. – God, we are taught is the One who judges, not humanity.

Often Muslims interpret the word Ummah to mean those who follow the religion of Islam. However, an analysis of Prophet Muhammad’s own life, including specifically his relationship with non-Muslim communities in the Constitution of Medina, demonstrates that the Ummah was not defined by religious lines, but as a term reflecting a collective of different religions who came together to establish and sustain social cohesion. I repeat, the Ummah was not about Muslims, it was about establishing human welfare across the religious spectrum.

That ISIS – an organisation claiming to represent the values of Islam – have failed to acknowledge this historical reality by murdering everyone and anyone is simply an extraction from established teachings around the Muslim world today, where in an effort to create a Muslim identity, engagement with local communities and secular government is often viewed as being ‘unIslamic.’

But it is not in the Muslim nor non-Muslim world that any person will find a utopia. Instead, it is only by acknowledging our different ways of life, and helping one another achieve social justice, where the rights of human beings are represented as the rights of human beings, that humanity achieves it’s objective of success in this life and success in the next; something Muslims are taught to pray for.

Prophet Muhammad understood the need for people of all faiths to come together on a common platform. Muslims must move away from defining society on religious grounds, focusing instead on a single human community respecting the different religions of the world, the global Ummah, using Prophet Muhammad’s definition which included everyone in Medina: Christians, Jews, even Pagans.

Want for others what we want for ourselves, Prophet Muhammad once said. This is the sunnah – his example – that we should adopt. And if any person is so concerned about another person’s disbelief, as faith is a blessing from God, do not set yourself up as a God imposing it upon others. Instead, ask God Almighty to guide them. As Prophet Muhammad also said, do not allow your dislike of a person (their faith, way of life, etc), lead you to be unjust to them. Honour a person’s right to live and chose, this is the sunnah.

RIP Maya Angelou

It is odd how that as one of our era’s more inspirational women – Maya Angelou – dies, a woman in Pakistan is stoned to death, outside a court of law no less. Two women, two deaths. One who fought for justice, one who suffered a grave injustice. God Almighty have mercy on them both and raise their rank, amen.

This is one of my favourite quotes from Maya. And it is dedicated to every person, man, woman or child who I have come across, who have given me a positive feeling and memory. To feel inspired, to feel alive, is a wonderful thing, and for any person to bless anyone else with that feeling, may they too be raised in rank by the Grace of God, amen.

Haram-ness Of Boko Haram

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The clue should have been in it’s name which, when translated from the northern Hausa language means, ‘Western education is a sin.’ But for the handful of delusional men (and perhaps even women) who have formed a group whose primary objective is to fulfill the Quranic verse (2:11): “When it is said to them, Do not cause mischief in the world, they say, We only want to create peace.” they do as the Quran states in the next verse (2:11) “For sure they are the ones who make mischief, but they do not realise it.”

In an act of such audacity, Boko Haram have kidnapped over 270 school girls, married some off, and now claim to ‘own’ them as ‘slaves’ with a view of ‘selling’ the rest in local markets, all in the ‘name of Allah.’
As a Muslim I happen to wonder if such practice was ordained by Allah, why have we Muslims been so flippant with our duty to our Creator? After all, surely we all want to be the best and most obedient to our Creator? But another clue comes in the form of it’s targets, not just Christians, but other Muslims as well.

Prophet Muhammad once said, he who harms a non-Muslim living under a Muslim land, it is as if he has harmed me directly. All these criminal acts committed against Christians (and indeed Muslims) are genuinely at odds with the substance and spirit of what Islam preaches. Worse their leader perpetuates another common misconception held amongst Muslims stating ‘I will marry off a girl at the age of nine,’ proving again that the more absurd a claim is based on – in this case, the false belief that Prophet Muhammad a man in his 40s married a 9 year old – the greater the delusion.

Prophet Muhammad once said that a person who has been in authority over people will arrive on the day of judgement shackled, and it will only be justice in the way they conduced their affairs that will loosen the chains and set them free, or lead them to destruction.

Going into a school, kidnapping children, forcibly marrying them off, these are not the actions of the righteous. The irony in all of this is that the the ultra conservative Boko Haram who opine that the ‘hijab,’ covering the hair is a ‘protection’ for a woman have demonstrated that a piece of cloth is no such thing. The only protection for a woman (or man) is the conduct of other men and women, and how society enforces rules and regulations.

For Boko Haram to insist on an ‘Islamic society’ with a particular set of rules and customs, only to then breach the very conservative rules they themselves espouse, can be summed up in another verse from the Quran (2:44), “Would you encourage people to be righteous but fail to practice it yourselves? And you recite the book of God? Have you no sense?.” Sadly the question is not rhetorical, simply a statement of fact: like their education (Western or otherwise) they have none.

Which is why is it is the duty for us, the international community, men and women, irrespective of our faiths, to band together and tackle threats to all of our safety, starting by finding these school girls and returning them to their parents, safely.

Recognising Muslim Women

Noor Inayat Khan (1914 - 1944)

While Muslim men squabble on Newsnight demonstrating once again why so many Muslim men simply cannot hold a respectful debate-discussion, Royal Mail bypasses the politics and releases a new stamp collection of 10 famous people born in 1914. It includes Noor Inayat Khan (1914 – 1944).

Noor was a British-Indian (Muslim) secret agent, who served during World War Two. She was dubbed the “Spy Princess”. She worked as a wireless officer for the British Special Operations Executive in Paris during 1943 (she had escaped to Britain after the fall of France in 1940). She evaded capture by the Nazis and continued to send important messages to London for far longer than expected. She was captured, imprisoned, tortured and eventually shot after being sent into occupied France to help the resistance. Noor was awarded the highest honour, the George Cross, by Britain. France awarded her the the equivalent, the Croix de Guerre.

While so many Muslims squabble and continue to squabble, it is refreshing to see other Muslims being actively engaged in, involved with and contributing to society. And in the case of Noor, a British Muslim woman, fighting for the freedoms we enjoy today. – Peace be upon those who have gone before us and those who follow, ameen.

Misogyny Of Abu Eesa et al


As I sit here enjoying the simple pleasure of truffled scrambled eggs for breakfast, I wonder at how the beauty of faith can be reduced to ugliness, no better represented by events of late. Apparently, some guy named Abu Eesa (who I never heard of prior but) who is a religious teacher at a religious institution (which I have also not heard of), spoke a series of misogynist comments. I’m less interested in what he said, as I’ve heard such commentary before but this is what it means to me:

1. There are men conversant in the Quran and Prophetic sayings whose attitude to women reflect neither the values taught by the Quran nor the Prophetic example.

2. When such men make anti-women statements they demonstrate that their religious knowledge is ‘learnt’ not ‘understood.’

3. When men, and it is predominantly men, make excuses and support such men, they are not protecting him from being the subject of criticism, nor are they ‘hiding his faults.’ Rather, they are simply covering over a real issue – some men’s unIslamic attitude towards women – and by defending them, imply that such is an acceptable norm.

Faith is often used (mostly by men) to enforce deep rooted prejudices and this is just another example of how Muslim society has transformed away from the holistic message of justice and fairness which was preached by the Prophet, which, incidentally doesn’t matter as much, after all, God Almighty says in the Quran that the Prophet is just a reminder and not an enforcer (c 88: vs 21-22). Though the irony is that such men ignore the reminder (of being fair and just towards half of humanity) and instead enforce injustice (misogyny and more).

I stopped paying attention to most Muslims years ago as I found these misplaced values almost everywhere. It does not matter how many platitudes one serves to remembering God, or speaking in God’s name, ugliness is ugliness and I have no desire to take my understanding of faith from any ‘teacher’ whose attitudes towards women is so flippant and unpleasant.

If such men cannot get their attitude towards half of humanity right, then nothing else they say, no matter how truthful, is of meaning to me. Much the same way that shaitan is described: speaking partial truths while misguiding the people en masse.

We all make mistakes, it is part of being human but this doesn’t excuse the under lying attitude, which, through his expression, he revealed. And for any person to hold such feelings towards half of humanity – despite many of his positive works – it’s a glimpse of their ugliness of which I want no part of.
As a Muslim however, I strongly believe in the Prophetic statement, that a person does not have faith until they want for another what they want for themselves, so I will say a prayer for guidance for myself first and for everyone else.

As God Almighty says in the Quran, guidance is a mercy and kindness from God, which God can give or take at God’s discretion, so I will not trouble myself with trying to convince such men of their religious obligations, nor will I mix in environments where such people exist. Instead I leave it to God to inspire them (and the rest of us), amen.