You wouldn’t know it from listening to the news but many British Muslims have been cheering Home Secretary, Alan Johnson’s announcement this week that he’s banning the extremist group Islam4UK while a London based group Minhaj-ul-Quran holds a seminar at the Parliament to explore solutions of tackling extremism amongst the youth at UK campuses.
It makes better headlines about ‘crazy extremist’ stereotype but for the majority of UK Muslims who are both moderate and law abiding it is not only the extremism of the views of extremist groups that causes them distress but also the misrepresentation of the teachings of Islam.
Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri, an Australian academic speaking at a parliamentary seminar on radicalism this week, called for an end to the slogans of ‘Khilafa’ promoted by extremists amongst young British Muslims.
Until this week the website of Islam4UK stated “The struggle for Khilafa system will continue.” This ideology is based on establishing one globalised political authority of the Muslim ummah or Islamic state, Islamic government, or Islamic rule. In today’s world of nation of states, this ideology is not just un-Islamic, baseless and outdated but it’s also absurd.
According to professor of Islamic law, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, the meaning of Khilafa “The literal meaning of khilafa is trusteeship (Niyaba) and vicegerency (amaana)”.
This system of one globalised political authority never existed in the history of Islam and extremist groups who portray this ideology need to consult the history books. They will discover that Islam advocates a system of open democracy, freedom of speech, parliament and supports the nation-state theory. According to Dr Qadri, after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) the Caliphs were either elected by the citizens or appointed by an elected committee. We can see both these systems today in the presidential and parliamentary forms of government. Extremists must understand that Islam has never advocated a single rule of the world.
Speaking at the seminar, Communities minister Shahid Malik MP has echoed the point urging British Muslims to “Look at ourselves first and learn about Islam first before preaching to others.”
The question if poverty or globalisation supports extremism or radicalism is discussed by Contrary to popular belief poverty does not play a significant role in creating extremists - in the west most of the extremists come from educated and middle class families. However, we must look to Pakistan which has around 20,000 traditional madrassas (religious schools) if it really wants to tackle the problem of extremism. The majority of madrassas are run by the schools of thought similar to that of Islam4UK. The pupils who attend such madrassas are from lower class families who cannot afford to send their children to state or public schools. I believe the scholars who preach extremism and in some cases violent radicalism have attended such madrassas. British youngsters are receiving support and guidance from these dangerous institutions and their literature is distributed at University Islamic societies. If we are serious about tackling radicalism amongst British Muslims they need to join forces with other moderate elements, get the madrasses closed down and instead offer an alternative modern, scientific education to those who don’t have the mean to pay for their education.
The writer is Shahid Mursaleen, a spokesman for Minhaj-ul-Quran International UK.