‘What’s in the news this week?’ I asked my wife as she browsed the first newspaper we had seen for a whole week, having hitherto been blissfully disconnected from the rest of the country, without phones or the internet.
‘Muslims, largely,’ she replied, flicking from page to page, ‘a bit on in-and-out, but mainly it’s the Muslims.’ Oh, good. A perpetual optimist, I had rather hoped that during our week away the frequently promised Islamic Reformation might have taken place and peace and enlightenment spread all those many miles from the jungles of Banda Aceh to the dilapidated terraces of Kirklees. But nope, apparently not. They were still up to their stuff, a good few of them.
For a start, there was the fallout from Trevor Phillips’s excellent film about Islam in Britain, in which he reported, via an ICM poll, that two thirds of British Muslims would refuse to grass on a fellow Muslim, no matter how much ricin he was storing in his lock-up. And the added worry that virtually none share our outlook on life, don’t want to integrate and possess views about Jewish people which Ernst Röhm would have thought a bit gamey.
The fallout consisted of Muslims interviewed by the Guardian angrily denouncing the film as ‘divisive’: even those who do not blow things up are still partial to a spot of messenger-shooting, then. And then there was the appalling tale of the Glaswegian shopkeeper Asad Shah, an Ahmadiyya Muslim, stabbed to death by, allegedly, another Muslim for offending his sensibilities. And while the Glasgow Central Mosque expressed ‘shock’ at Mr Shah’s murder, its most senior imam — Maulana Habib Ur Rehman — has previously honoured a Muslim who murdered a blasphemer.
Meanwhile leaflets demanding the liquidation of the peaceable Ahmadiyyas were discovered in various other mosques up and down the country and a Facebook site entitled Anti Qadianiat greeted Mr Shah’s slaughter with a jubilant ‘Congratulations all Muslims!’ and drew approving comments from across the Muslim world. In the UK there has never been a prosecution for inciting religious hatred of any Muslim who has urged death upon the Ahmadiyyas — yet it happens frequently. In other news, the Times reported that a substantial proportion of the Muslim chaplains paid by the government to minister to the disproportionate number of Muslim criminals are actually inciting them to acts of extremism, rather than asking them nicely to be law-abiding. This story ran next to a quite astonishing tale about a bear discovered defecating in some woodland. We pay the 200 Muslim chaplains £40,000 a pop to further inculcate in these Muslim miscreants a greater sense of victimhood and irreducible loathing of western values. Most of the chaplains — some 70 per cent, the Times reckoned — are followers of the Deobandi school of Islam. So too are the Muslims who want all the Ahmadiyyas exterminated. Deobandi scholars influenced the Taleban, and the creed is behind a whole bunch of terrorist organisations operating out of Pakistan (and banned by the country’s benighted government). Did we think paying for these chaplains would help matters? What did we expect them to tell the inmates? Sew up those mailbags and find redemption in Jesus Christ?
It is likely that we convinced ourselves that the chaplains were ‘moderates’, as opposed to ‘extremists’ — a mistake which has been made time and time again over the last 15 years. A consequence of our desperate wish to believe that the faith itself is beyond reproach: it is merely the actions of a few evil men that discombobulate us all — the ‘extremists’. But those two terms lose all meaning when applied to the fissiparous and splenetic tribes of Islam. I remember a decade or so back a row breaking out when the then mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, invited the Egyptian Muslim preacher Yusuf al Qaradawi to the capital for a spot of congenial dialogue, presumably at the taxpayer’s expense. Many people objected, calling Qaradawi an extremist who should not be allowed to set foot in the country. No, no, said the Muslims, and Ken: Yusuf’s definitely a moderate.
Well, let’s see. This is a man who supports the execution of apostates, the murder of Israeli civilians, whipping homosexuals, genital mutilation and unconditional support for the terrorists Hezbollah, and who thinks that women who have been raped must prove they are of good conduct before anyone takes them seriously. And yet, in the wider context of the Muslim world, Ken was right — Yusuf is a moderate. For example, he believes that while uppity women should indeed be beaten by their husbands, this should occur only as a last resort and the husband should not use a stick. This makes old Yusuf a sort of Menzies Campbell of Islam — well towards the liberal wing of the ideology. There’s also his leniency towards homosexuals — lash the buggers by all means, but don’t push them off roofs. The term ‘extremist’ and ‘moderate’ serve only to re-inforce our collective delusions. They make no sense. They lead to the kind of problems we are now seeing with our state-sponsored Muslim chaplains, as they wander from cell to cell disseminating hatred or idiocies.
The Deobandis were also regarded as ‘moderate’, you see — and indeed, compared to some of the Salafist and Wahabi maniacs, they are a little more amenable in general. Not all of them yearn for the annihilation of the Ahmadiyyas or whatever other sect fails to believe precisely what they believe. But while there is a healthy trickle of clear blue water between what most British Muslims believe and what, for example, is believed by the Islamic State, there is an ocean between what they believe and what the rest of us here in the UK believe.