Monday night a bomb went off in Manchester Arena.
After the attack the immediate response of commentators was to suggest how it could have or could be prevented from happening again. Despite good intentions the answers given were particularly western and cyclical: more solutions to problems brought about by previous solutions to previous problems. Science, technology, procedures, tighter security were the order of the day. ‘More’ the catchphrase.
Others framed the incident within the sphere of politics. They see it as a political act that requires a political solution. Saying this is life now, like malware and hacking attacks, “we can’t stop all attacks all the time” as though this were some natural phenomena and those caught up in it were just, unlucky. That mass surveillance by GCHQ on everyone is only good for after an attack and scores of people are killed, cannot protect the NHS from WannaCry or the British public they are harvesting emails and other communications from nor our children from being blown to bits.
Nor does the MI5’s monitoring thousands of jihadis, hundreds of concern, make a difference either: we just have to live with bombs, being watched under the guise of protecting us and inept politicians and their incompetent guards that cannot protect them in their own houses of parliament. Trump has ‘The Beast’, the Prime Minister has her car facing the wrong way.
And then there is the not-all-white-people-are-pedophile-logic policing that deals with Muslims as ‘not all terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim.’ The kind of malicious and misogynistic policing that shoots an unarmed Muslim woman – who clearly was not a threat – in her own home; otherwise they would have cordoned off the street, and the delivery driver moseying by on his scooter as they shot her would not have had the luxury of a ring side seat.
Such are the responses of a people that once had an empire and are too use to having the upper hand in a fight that they’ve missed the point: the motivations behind such attacks are religious. The subject matter here is the subject matter most unpalatable to the West: death, and death is principally a matter of religion not politics, science, technology or more of the same security tightening.
Shaykh Ibn Uthaymin’s Famous Ruling Allowing Equal Retaliation in Slaughtering Women and Children gave al-Qaedah the green light, which went on to copy-cat attacks from the media Usama bin Laden was fond of reading. ISIS simply took up the baton after them.
Theresa May’s eagerness as Home Secretary to deport clerics such as Mustafa Kemal Mustafa and Al-Qatada, who in the 90s vied with each other for influence, respect and position, has left a void in the British Muslim community. Where well researched – sometimes erroneous – fatwas were announced from pulpits and Sheikhs argued and countered and strove against each other in an environment of free speech, wanting to be more knowledgeable, authentic and closer to the truth; today DIY fatwas are whispered between convicts in prisons and youths in the streets and markets in closed circles without challenge, from persons whose only qualification in Islam is that they came to it before the person they are preaching to. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi when he presented himself, did not present himself in the guise of Sisi in Egypt – a military man – or Bashar in Syria – a modern Arab man – he presented himself in the garb, image and sounds of a cleric, the picture image of the clerics of ‘Londonistan’.
Extremism in Islam is to take one evidence alone about a matter and then make a fatwa out of it. When there is only one reference point, anyone can justify anything and still claim piety. Islam deals with boundaries, and therefore several evidences (plural) about a matter have to be collated before a believer knows where they can and cannot go, what they can and cannot do. That is why scholars are needed. But they are either missing or gagged in the UK!
Today single-evidence fatwas go unchallenged in an environment, after 9/11, where even those scholars in the UK qualified to speak will not because they, quote, “don’t want to go to jail.” What is left are imams in the mosques that lead the prayers but understand about as much of the Qur’an as the lay persons following them.
Where are the youth to turn when peer pressure says, ‘Come’? Where are they to get an alternative view and guidance so they can say when they hear these DIY fatwas, “Bruv, that doesn’t jive with what I’ve read in the Qur’an, what I’ve heard the Prophet said.”?
So we have a situation of ‘roadmen’ whose first exposure to Islam is from an ignorant reading in English of a single evidence taken out of context. The irony is, in Syria Omar Bakri, who in the 90s wasn’t on the radar of the clerics and their followers; his videos are being played and watched by some of the 800 British citizens that have left because, “he is the only one left that speaks the truth.” The double irony is, the media makes much of the ‘typical profile’ of a lone-wolf but doesn’t connect that this age group amounts to a whole generation that’s grown up in this void of ignorance.
On the other hand, those raised as Muslims from traditional Muslim backgrounds are being passed down ignorance in this vacuum of no-Sheikhs too. They are taught that as long as a person calls themselves Muslim they can do what they like, they are guaranteed Paradise in the Hereafter; that rewards in Islam are automatic: go to hajj and you are certainly forgiven; pray and fast and the reward is guaranteed; die in battle and your are 100% a martyr, which is far from the case.
The clerics, before they were purged, warned of the likes of DAESH before they came about. DAESH are Khawaarij. A lay person should know this, and should have been taught this by the absent scholars of Britain. But that has not happened. And so while ISIS confuses malleable young Muslims without alternative guidance, the knowledgeable are gagged by ‘hate speech’ legislation that in cyberspace de facto doesn’t apply to IS.
Add to this the idea among Muslims of the UK that any bloodthirsty Arab, simply because they speak Arabic and quote a few verses and passages from the Qur’an, must be super-pious even though the tribes that fought against the Prophet and disparaged the Qur’an understood Arabic better than anyone alive today.
Another fundamental misconception that has allowed DIY fatwas to thrive in a void of ignorance is the lack of understanding of the core principle Allah will not forgive a person before the person they have hurt does. Those they have hurt must forgive first, before God forgives.
Were the 800 that have supposedly left the UK for Syria aware of this they would know that there is no martyrdom for anyone who owes a debt; and certainly anyone who dies – whether in battle or not – will have to answer to those who they have taken from or hurt on the Day of Judgement. ISIL doesn’t understand this as they have oppressed, according to media reports, the very people under their rule, expecting it seems that once they die in battle they are automatically martyrs and therefore unaccountable for all deeds done. This core principle extends to those that DAESH consider to be satan worshipping pagans. The Prophet told us to, “Fear the supplication of the oppressed, even if it is coming from a pagan.” That means, if a non-Muslim is oppressed by Muslims and prays to God seeking God’s help, Allah the very God ISIS professes to worship will answer that call. Were the allied forces to drop leaflets stating this simple tradition rather than the cannon-fodder leaflets that are merely an advert for 72 virgins in Paradise, they may have had a better response.
Then there is the wider Islamophobic British society and openly hostile British press and media. A week does not go by without Muslims being reminded as is stated in the Quran, ‘They will never be pleased with you until they turn you away from your religion’ and ‘They will continue to fight you until they turn you away from Islam’. We are laughed and mocked at, jeered, harassed and assaulted in the street by a non-Muslim majority that are happy to go along with the media scaremongering simply because our suffering is entertainment for them. We are hated not because we are fat, black, ugly or poor but because we are flesh proxy for a people that hate God. We integrate as far as our religion allows, but that is not far enough. We are socially excluded, socially sanctioned for holding faith, and when we seek to leave, the security services keep us here or have us deported back. Unable to stay and unable to go, our thoughts turn dark.
It is absolutely true that we will never be accepted in this society, will always be excluded. If the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet doesn’t make this clear for us, years of experience in this Islamophobic West will. But we cannot give in to our thoughts of anger and mistrust, they will only lead down the path of hate. But rather we must approach our situation in a new light, live the dream now whatever that dream is: feel now, whatever our situation, that we are free, secure and accepted and look to those sparse examples in our experience where that is true, rather than the cacophony of hate on-air and on-line. Believing we are discriminated against, no matter how true, will only limit our abilities and perpetuate the prejudice we face. God is not racist, and God is in charge. No body, no matter how discriminatory can stop us from what God wants us to have.
Our response to those who purposefully alienate us where we live and work should be one of increased faith: we need to read the Qu’ran so that its message counters the internal narrative that sees only a hostile world; we need to read genuine translations of the Qur’an to understand what our holy book is telling us; our religion should be a personal private reflection, and a place of solace from the troubles of our life situation; we need to understand the Arabic of the Qur’an, even if it is three consecutive words, so its power will enter and rectify our hearts; we also need to ask Allah, supplicate with sincerity, for help in the manner the Prophet Muhammad has shown.
We must find in ourselves the strength of faith that allows us to disassociate our true selves, our soul, from the voice in our head (nafs), and look to improve our lot in life without envy, but rather appreciation, for what Allah has given to the non-Muslims, and not let Islamophobia’s negativity spread amongst us and the cycle of fear and hatred perpetuate itself.
It is not enough to say that we just have to live with bombs exploding our children. What has changed so fundamentally in human relations that our acceptance needs to apply to loss of life on Britain’s streets? Commentators are rightly asking, “How does a 22 year old become so radicalised that they will kill children at a pop concert?” The answer is, in an environment when the knowledgeable are understandably unable to speak, there will be plenty of malicious actors ready with DIY fatwas that tell young men and women going through a rough patch in life that if they blow themselves up they can leave failure in this world behind for martyrdom and instant success in the Hereafter. Our youth learning to say, ‘What is the daleel (evidence) for what you say?’ sounds simplistic but strikes at the heart of what has changed in human relations that we have to accept ‘the security services have to be right all the time, but terrorists only once’; that being the void of ignorance after the purging of the Sheikhs and Clerics that once allowed young Muslims to at least see that with any issue, it wasn’t as simple and straight forward as ISIS is making out today.
But what is more likely to happen, is the response from this carry on government, agencies and society will be to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. Madness, more bombs and more killing, until, in a society of ‘against’ the two factions destroy each other and only the meek are left to inherit the earth.
Islam is the last thing a government whose singular focus is to drive its citizens into debt and therefore modern slavery; to take away anything of worth they have and replace it with increasingly worthless paper (now plastic) notes borrowed on interest which by design cannot be fully paid back; and for which Islam and Muslims and their abiding moral compass are an impediment, will do.
We are expected to accept that GCHQ is harvesting our communications for our protection, to then demand we swallow the argument that they cannot protect us from an attack but are better placed – through mass surveillance – to find out who the attacker is after they have killed. Only to be exposed when they need the military on the streets because they don’t know whether the Manchester Arena bomber was working alone or within an active cell.
In a society that hates the religion of God, the last thing their politicians will do is the very thing that is needed: promote Islam as a solution.