Which way for Islam?

That’s Are those extreme Muslims numerous or few in number? How representative are the severe voices of more general feeling? Those are the doubts (and yes – even fears) that many non-Muslims have when confronted with such views.the topic of my latest newspaper column – for Asian Voice this time:

When I conduct my surgeries (where people come to meet me to raise issues), I have one of my assistants with me to take notes. It so happens this is usually a man.

More often than not, when an older Muslim gentleman comes to see me, he will address his remarks to my male assistant.

And no matter how many times I say to him that I am the Member of Parliament and that the man is my assistant – he will almost automatically immediately return to addressing his remarks to my assistant.

You can read the full article on my website.

0 thoughts on “Which way for Islam?

  1. I am one of those non-Muslims who just doesn’t know how widely shared among Muslims are the views of ‘extremist’. I don’t doubt that potential suicide bombers and their supporters are in a tiny minority and I guess those who would like to see Sharia law in Britain are also in a (more significant) minority but what about feelings about apostasy and support for Fatwas – e.g against Salmon Rushdie? I may well be wrong ( I hardly know any Muslims) but I fear that Fatwa had quite a lot of support.

  2. It is not just Muslims Lynne! My daughter is a Managing Director of a small company employing twenty five staff. She has twenty two years experience in the company and her product and business knowledge is far in excess of that the salesmen she employs. But, in any group meeting, (with white male executives) who do you think prospective customers address their remarks and questions to?It is a cliche in the business world that you must ‘talk to the organ grinder not the monkey’. But if the organ grinder is female? Some men find it so much more comfortable to try to bond with the monkey!Having made that comment, I must say the Muslim attitude to women is a hundred times worse. It is primitive, cruel, suppressive and injurious to the progress of civilisation – even in its less extreme forms. It should be condemned and discouraged in every way possible – whether it is PC to do so or not!

  3. I think the member of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) was correct, as he affirmed on record, that British Muslims’ are divided in their position on varied issues. I am a British Muslim and shake hands with women and speak to them-Does this somehow turn me into a bad Muslims, that is simply preposterous. Yes, I agree, it is prohibited to shake hands with a woman if there is fear of provoking sexual desire or enjoyment on the part of either one of them or there is a fear of clear temptation. However, if you are shaking hands simply to say hello or anything else there is nothing wrong with that. Many people, as a consequence to global events, appear to have adopted a very extreme form of Islam. This is not Islam nor any form of Islam. There is a uniquely placed quote in the Hadiths (Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH) where the blessed Prophet mentions: ‘the one who fulfills the basic five pillars of Islam every day in their life will enter paradise.’ However, some people aim to put ostacles in front of them to make that simple practice difficult. Islam is simply about fulfilling the five pillars in accordance with Quranic teachings. Further, we need to really learn our beliefs which tells us to to speak out against injust and immoral action but we need to speak up within the boundaries of the law. So, put simply, the women was wrong to have not made eye contact with you. She speaks for herself and not Islam or Muslims. Thanks

  4. Hi Lynne,Your post got me thinking, but perhaps not in the way you intended. I could take issue with a lot of what you said, but what stuck in my mind most of all was the call for Muslims to take part in the whole community, not just interacting only amongst themselves.I started to think about the ways in which I, as a white British man, take part in the whole community, and I couldn’t think of a single one. My general routine consists of going to work, shopping, meeting friends or family and coming home. Because most of the people in my fairly small circle are white, I am seen as part of the “mainstream” and nobody tells me I need to participate more. Yet I am so isolated that I don’t even know what community means. And I don’t think I am the only one: what I see when I look around is not a community, but an atomised society of self-absorbed consumers pursuing individual goals. In fact, the Muslims you mention in your article seem to be participating in the community more than me, since they have taken the trouble to visit their MP and participate in the democratic process. Yet still they are asked to do more. What, exactly, would you have them do?I have a slightly old-fashioned notion to propose. It’s called hospitality. If I have a guest in my home, I make every effort to make that person feel comfortable and welcome. I take the initiative to find out about them, to enquire about their life and the place they come from. Perhaps if such principles were applied on a broader societal scale, we would indeed be a community of which I could feel proud to be a member.Finally I would like to commend you for applying your integration standards to British expats in Spain. Such a view is rare. In reality, most of the 5.5 million British people living abroad do not integrate into their host societies in any meaningful way, and nor are they expected to. The vocabulary reflects this: when we go abroad, we are “expats”, meaning we are away from our homeland; when they come here, they are “immigrants”, meaning they are moving in to a new land. Being an expat carries no responsibility to integrate; being an immigrant does. In fact would be more accurate to speak of the Brits in Spain as immigrants, since many have no intention of coming back to their rainy homeland, while many “immigrants” to Britain should more accurately be termed expats, since their aim is often to make money and then move back home. But when was the last time you heard anyone talking about Bangladeshi expats?

  5. Thanks, Lynne, for your level-headed comments on a complex and important issue. I go along with Ed Husain in his recently published “The Islamist” when he says the real heroes of Islam are the moderates who are standing up to the extremists in their midst. I am naturally concerned about the situation but at the same time heartened by developmenmts such as the new mosque being built in Bradford which is incorporating a community centre open to all.We need to learn more about Islam so as not to tar all Muslims with the same brush. At the same time it is good to see Muslims reaching out more to the wider community.IanMuswell Hill

  6. Hi Ian, I must differ with you about Ed Hussain, a Bangladeshi author of ‘The Islamist’ authored by Ed himself. His book has been welcomed by Melanie Phillips- that is laughable, one can only affirm. Check out the book- Londonistan- where she pokes fun out of Muslims- then she comes on SKY News and states not “militant Muslims”- but in her book she asserts it as ‘Militant Muslims and Islam’. Phillips is, of course, renowned for pro-Israel discourses and article on her website. She is very known for her anti-Muslim bigotry and her loopy belief that Iraq really did hav WMD’s except they were somehow taken to Syria before the war was launched. It makes one question- what would cause such a staunch Zionist like her to display strong support for Husain’s book? Husain also leads attacks on leading Muslim groups, including the Muslim Council of Britain. He claims that MCB is merely a front for Jamaat-i-Islami and the Muslim brotherhood. Husain does not mention that the MCB’s over 500 affiliates come from a very diverse range of organisations representing many different strands of thought present among British Muslims, sunni and shi’i. No national Muslim body comes anywhere close to achieving the broadness of representation that the MCB has, alhamdulillah, achieved in recent years. But, for some reason, the Government wants to meet with Sufi Muslim Council which has only three members.

  7. thankyou Lynne for an excellent, as usual, take on a difficult problem.I agree with Ian that we take too little trouble to welcome people.As an aged white middle-class person I have been privileged both in my teaching life and through my daughter-in-law’s family, to meet many ‘non white’ individuals. I have ‘black’ friends, but not any Muslim ones, sadly, because I am passionately Islamophile in regard to their art and history.Given the way the British [inter alia] behaved when they tore round the world colonising and anihilating native peoples, and imposing their mores and religion … I find it difficult to condemn, although impossible to approve of, the way that Muslims are not encouraged to accept and abide by, the customs of their host country, wear the same clothes and speak the same language. If Muslim women were treated the same way as white women and also taught to speak Englsih as a condition of entry, we would not then have the divided multilingual schools of our ghetto areas.All good wishes to Lynne and to moderate Muslims