With ISIS and its British recruits dominating the news we are also bombarded with ‘messages’ that parcel out the blame for radicalisng these Jihadi warriors….Western foreign policy being the favoured, default, unthinking but sometimes Machiavellian option.
The BBC has always accepted that assertion without challenge…thereby adding to the credibility of the cause for potential recruits to the Jihad…it after all fits in with the BBC’s own agenda about the Iraq war and it will promote any line that makes Blair’s ‘illegal war’ the trigger for all the evils in the world.
However because the subject is very involved and complex before we take a look at whether there really is a justification for that claim let’s look at a sample of the rhetoric expressing such a narrative so that any post about foreign policy can be kept as short as possible.
Mehdi Hasan is always fun to read….guessing how long it will take before you realise he has completely contradicted himself on a subject having previously said something totally different always makes it worth the effort to read the double-dealing dissembler’s dodgy prose.
Hasan has many lines to spin but few scruples. One day he’ll be saying this, the next day that…it’s hard to take him seriously…unfortunately many people who should know better do swallow his guff whole and regurgitate it for their own readers giving Hasan an unwarranted veneer of respectability and credibility and his words an undeserved authority.
Daniel Hannan, for example, unfortunately references a Hasan article that misleadingly tries to separate Jihad from Islam…and Hannan is not the only one to pick up on Hasan’s article, it has spread far and wide on the Web which is why I think it is worth looking at his claims in detail.
Here is Hannan’s reference to it:
What makes some British Muslims become jihadis?
Mehdi Hassan has a fascinating piece in the Huffington Post, in which he reveals the books that two Brummie Muslims had ordered from Amazon before heading out to join the insurgents in Syria. Yusuf Sarwar and Mohammed Ahmed, who pleaded guilty to terrorism offences last month, had not bought works on politics or advanced theology, but Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies. Dummies indeed.
Daniel Hannan is no doubt well meaning rather than wilfully naïve as many are who want to brush the subject under the carpet and do so by proclaiming Islam is the religion of peace and that the Jihadists aren’t Muslims.
What did Mehdi Hasan say that caught Hannan’s eye? Hasan tries to ridicule the Jihadists as ignorant of Islam because they bought books about the religion…he concludes this proves they can’t have a true knowledge of Islam that would provide a credible intellectual and theological basis for their Jihadi adventure…..and we, on that basis, presumably can’t be considered democrats because we don’t know every law in the statute book and need lawyers (God bless ‘em) to represent us …Others, less intent on trying to mislead readers, might conclude that buying such books showed a commendable desire to become more conversant and knowledgeable about their own religion and might indicate that they did take their religion seriously. But Hasan has a political point to make…Islam has nothing to do with Jihadis…..which is a hard sell really….Jihadis being ‘Holy warriors’ with an intent to set up an Islamic caliphate.
It might be noted that the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is theologically qualified having a degree in Islamic theology and having been an Islamic cleric in a Mosque….therefore just like the Pope, his ‘flock’ need only listen to his authoritative judgements to know the ‘correct’ path to follow.
Below is Hasan’s piece from the New Statesman…..but consider this first:
One former hostage, who was held for a year by the [Islamist] group in Raqqa, told the Guardian that the British executioner [of James Foley] is “intelligent, educated and a devout believer in radical Islamic teachings”.
Who do you believe…a slippery, dishonest Islamist who will say anything to further the cause of Islam or someone who has had close contact with the actual Jihadists and has no axe to grind?
What the jihadists who bought “Islam for Dummies” on Amazon tell us about radicalisation
Pretending that the danger comes only from the devout could cost lives.
Sarwar and Ahmed, both of whom pleaded guilty to terrorism offences last month, purchased Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies. You could not ask for better evidence to bolster the argument that the 1,400-year-old Islamic faith has little to do with the modern jihadist movement. The swivel-eyed young men who take sadistic pleasure in bombings and beheadings may try to justify their violence with recourse to religious rhetoric – think the killers of Lee Rigby screaming “Allahu Akbar” at their trial; think of Islamic State beheading the photojournalist James Foley as part of its “holy war” – but religious fervour isn’t what motivates most of them.
Islam isn’t to blame for the behaviour of such men
So that’s Hasan’s pitch….Islam isn’t to blame for the Jihadist’s behaviour.
Perhaps he should consider the words of Bertrand Russell who compared Islam to Bolshevism… ‘Practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of the world’.
Note that word….’unspiritual’.
To buttress his argument Hasan quotes from a leaked MI5 document obtained, and interpreted, by the Guardian…….
In 2008, a classified briefing note on radicalisation, prepared by MI5’s behavioural science unit, was leaked to the Guardian. It revealed that, “far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly. Many lack religious literacy and could . . . be regarded as religious novices.” The analysts concluded that “a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation”, the newspaper said.
Instead they point to other drivers of radicalisation: moral outrage, disaffection, peer pressure, the search for a new identity, for a sense of belonging and purpose.
Religion does, of course, play a role: in particular, a perverted and politicised form of Islam acts as an “emotional vehicle” (to quote Atran), as a means of articulating anger and mobilising masses in the Muslim-majority world. But to pretend that the danger comes only from the devout could cost lives.
Whatever the Daily Mail or Michael Gove might have you believe, long beards and flowing robes aren’t indicators of radicalisation; ultra-conservative or reactionary views don’t automatically lead to violent acts.
What is wrong with Hasan’s reasoning? Firstly he has no idea as to the extent of the Jihadist’s knowledge of Islam….in one BBC radio interview with a Cardiff Imam talking about youths who had gone to Syria the Imam stated that the youths had been acting very strangely…they were far more devout than usual, wanting to follow their religion far more strictly….strange indeed…following their religion! Most Imam’s would be pleased…but here it is a reason for suspicion!
That might indicate, if not any particular level of knowledge, at least the desire to learn and practise the religion undermining Hasan’s claim that they couldn’t be religiously motivated.
Secondly Hasan tries to pull a fast one hoping the reader knows nothing of Islam, or indeed what the MI5 document actually said. From the Guardian….
The MI5 authors stress that the most pressing current threat is from Islamist extremist groups who justify the use of violence “in defence of Islam”
That ‘violence used in defence of Islam’ is a crucial conclusion by MI5 and gets to the heart of the problem….
Islam imposes an obligation upon all Muslims to defend Islam and Muslims when they are perceived to be under attack.
The Obligation of Jihad “Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). …Those that neglect Jihad will be disobeying something God has commanded us all to partake in; they have not aided in protecting the Religion of God, they have not defended the Book of God, its messages and His law, they have not helped the Ummah against the enemy who wants to destroy them.
“He who dies without having fought in the way of Allah or without having felt it to be his duty, will die having a trait of hypocrisy
Hasan refrains from mentioning that obligation and instead tries to claim that anyone going on Jihad requires a deep knowledge of the Koran and Islamic law….that’s just not true….the only requirement is that you be a Muslim, practising to whatever degree, and that other Muslims are under attack whom you must defend.
This is from Luton Mosque’s information website:
Honour, victory, and strength will only come to this Ummah when we return and unite upon the pure religion as it was brought by the Prophet (alayhis salaam) and practiced by the Companions. Only when we single out Allah, alone, in worship and give obedience to Him and His Messenger, will the Help of Allah come.
You might ask just how much can you trust MI5’s report on the causes of radicalisation and its belief about the lack of religious influence on radicalisation (seemingly in contradiction to its final conclusion)? The government makes tremendous efforts to play down any link between Islam and Jihad in the interest of community cohesion. Some suggest this might have been a deliberate leak in order to spin that line:
To our suspicious minds, this makes it more likely to be a cynical bit of Whitehall propaganda spin and media briefing, rather than a principled leak by a courageous whistleblower.
The Telegraph has a more realistic view of the MI5 document than the Guardian….one that backs up the ‘conspiracy’ theory that the government is downplaying the link to Islam…….
People in MI5 tell me that denying the connection between Islamism and terrorism derives from the belief that if you accept it, there’s no hope for a multicultural society in Britain: we would just have to recognise that part of the population is permanently liable to become terrorists.
Of course you have to trust the Guardian’s interpretation and emphasis on certain parts of the document.
And what of that ‘Islam for Dummies’ jibe from Hasan?….‘Sarwar and Ahmed, both of whom pleaded guilty to terrorism offences last month, purchased Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies. You could not ask for better evidence to bolster the argument that the 1,400-year-old Islamic faith has little to do with the modern jihadist movement.’
You may remember Mehdi Hasan made an infamous speech where he denounced non-Muslims as ignorant cattle …but the speech had much more in it than that….here(19 mins in ) Hasan explains the importance of knowledge and the obligation to keep learning for Muslims, especially as most Muslims have little knowledge of their own faith and are therefore unable to defend it from critics……
Our holy Imam said that one hour spent in reflection, in contemplation, in thought, is worth seventy years of worship…think about that…one hour of thought…..how can that be?……because worship is worth nothing unless we have first put our thought into it, unless we have engaged our intellect, Allah is not asking us for blind worship, faith based on our brains, they are based on our minds engaging with Allah
How much do you understand what he is praying and why you are praying…do you blindly pray?….if so you benefit very little……the benefit from that worship is based exactly on your understanding and intellectual engagement with that worship.
We are not told only to engage intellectually with the argument, to use our reason to find Allah, no we are also called upon to acquire knowledge…Islam says don’t give up on that intellectual pursuit, there is no point thinking if you have nothing to think about, if you have no knowledge to go with those thoughts.
Islam orders us that to go with those thoughts you need some basic knowledge…..it may not be common to our community but it is common to our holy book.
Our Holy Prophet said seek knowledge your entire life from cradle to grave…the most learned of the learned has to acquire knowledge till he dies.
We Muslims everyday embarrass ourselves by our lack of knowledge….when challenged about our faith we don’t defend it because we don’t know our faith…we haven’t bothered to study and understand it so we have no response and embarrass ourselves.
Knowledge is the twin of action, knowledge goes hand in hand with action. He who is knowledgeable must act for knowledge calls out for action, if it is not answered that knowledge will depart. We must use that knowledge to improve our lives, our families, our Umma….do not act just on emotion but with knowledge.
Hasan preaches that Islam demands you learn, that you continue to learn about Islam, and that you use that knowledge to further Islam’s cause.
From that you might conclude Hasan’s recent outburst against the Jihadis who bought the ‘Dummies’ books is dishonest and highly political, an outburst designed to deceive people by steering them into a particular, and mistaken, way of thinking about Islam, that is, that it is a ‘religion of peace’.
What you have to remember is that Hasan himself is every bit an Islamist as these Jihadis…the only difference is that he doesn’t advocate violence to spread Islam.
As said from the beginning Hasan has a habit of saying one thing one day and the opposite the next…here’s a couple of examples…..
Hasan attacks Muslims for being too concerned about foreign policy:
British Muslims have too long defined politics by the Middle East. We have an obligation to engage with the national debate.
Why is it that most British Muslims get so excited and aroused by foreign affairs, yet seem so bored by and uninterested in domestic politics and the economy?
And yet here he is himself complaining that Muslim complaints about foreign policy are ignored…..
Extremists Point to Western Foreign Policy to Explain Their Acts. Why Do We Ignore Them?
He accuses David Cameron and others of trying to “zealously police the parameters of the debate, pre-emptively warning off those who might dare connect the dots between wars abroad and terror at home”.
Foreign policy is purportedly a recruiting sergeant for terror yet it has become “the issue that dare not speak its name”….establishment figures continue to denounce those of us who cite the radicalising role of foreign policy
The inconvenient truth for Rubin, Johnson et al is that Muslim extremists usually cite political, not theological, justifications for their horrendous crimes.
[disingenuous…as it is based upon Muslims defending Muslims as instructed by the Koran]
The point is this: terrorism may indeed be a criminal political act but it is a political act nonetheless. It is not, contrary to the conventional wisdom, theologically motivated; according to a leaked MI5 study in 2008, most violent extremists are “religious novices”.
In another example Hasan shows just how slippery he can be….and paradoxically, considering his comments about the Jihadists not knowing about Islam, he himself deliberately misquotes a passage from the Koran in order to make the Koran appear merciful and forgiving…….Hasan says:
‘Whosoever killeth a human being…” says the Koran, in the 32nd verse of its fifth chapter, “it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.”
Thus, the two supposedly Muslim men suspected of killing and mutilating an unarmed, off-duty soldier in the middle of a London street, while shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Great”), were violating the injunction of their own holy book
However when a Muslim quotes that verse (5:32) to you in that manner you know immediately you are being spun a line and it seems Hasan has been ‘cutting and pasting’ to suit himself for the actual, full quote reveals that verse refers to Jews and not Muslims:
We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.
The verse was not telling us that God told Muslims that killing another human was like killing all mankind, it was merely telling what God had said to the Jews, not Muslims.
The ‘peaceful’ Koran goes on in the next verse (5:33):
Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.
Which conveniently brings us back to Hasan and the Jihadis…going on Jihad to defend Islam against ‘those who wage war against Allah’.
Just another verse in the Koran justifying what they do…..guess they have read the Koran.