Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Islamic Reformation begins

The BBC reports that ‘British Muslim leaders are to tell mosques to reform and modernise in a government-backed attempt to prevent extremism’.

Thankfully, there is no appeal to Sola Scriptura, but instead an attempt to syncretise certain Islamic principles with the prevailing post-Christian, secular-Enlightenment context:

Four major Muslim organisations say they want mosques to sign up to a community watchdog with powers to launch spot checks on standards. The body has been two years in the making amid difficult negotiations. The draft guidelines published on Thursday are the most significant step yet by Muslims to regulate UK mosques.

Following the July 2005 suicide bombings, ministers asked Muslims to come up with ways to preventing extremism. One key recommendation was the creation of an independent community-led body to modernise more than 1,500 mosques. Critics say many mosques fail to adequately serve local communities. Ministers believe mosques could be important in marginalising extremists recruiting young Muslims. Two years on, the proposed Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (Minab) says it has come up with minimum standards for Islamic institutions.

Key standards
The standards include counter-extremism programmes, community relations schemes, support and proper conditions for imams and greater condemnation of "un-Islamic" activity. Mosques will also be asked to let more women and young Muslims have a say, while Minab wants spot check powers to make unannounced visits to check standards.

Yousif Al-Khoei, one of the plan's joint architects, said there was unprecedented determination to make the body work: "It's going to be quite a challenging task that we are embarking upon because this is something that has not been done before," said Mr Al-Khoei, a leading Shia Muslim. "We are four different groups from different backgrounds and we believe we have managed over two years of hard negotiation to come up with something that will work."

The government is a key supporter of the body and has been pressuring Muslim leaders to get it up and running. Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said it was government's job to support mosques rather than tell them what to do - but she urged them to grasp the opportunity. "The constitution and the standards being published today are a positive sign," said Ms Blears. "It shows that Muslim communities want to make the changes that will build community cohesion and ensure that mosques are playing a role at the heart of communities. Strong mosques positioned at the centre of community, and effectively governed, will be better able to withstand attempts to hijack them by certain groups supporting violent extremist interpretations of Islam."

Mr Al-Khoei said he wanted to underline that the body was entirely independent, including a decision not to take core funding from either the British or foreign governments. "Many people in the community will be suspicious and may fear the government wants to take over mosques. If we all work together then no government will have the will or the power to do so."

And Cranmer thinks this has to be worth a chance. In particular, the move towards establishing minimum standards in the training of imams shifts the system towards a professional scrutiny and accountability. And it may even move towards academic degrees and the three years required for ordination in the Church of England, or the five in the Church of Rome.

One can live in hope, and let that hope keep one joyful.


Anonymous Asian Colonial Subject said...

Your Grace,

I think your country has made the right move towards the taming of the Islamic extremist.

In my country, Singapore, a former colony of Your Grace's country, that is the way our government manages the Muslim population, via the scrunity and the accountability of the Imams and muslim leaders to ensure that they do not teach the "wrong" stuff. And we do have a track record of being able to tow the more extreme muslim sentiments in line, inspite of the fact that muslims constitute about 13% of the population. My government have even managed to ban the "tudong" or the Muslim head scarfs from being worn in school, displaying how success my government is in managing muslim sentiment in line with secular government policy. I cannot imagine if your government attempted to do that, you will have Muslim civil rights lawyers down your throat in no time.

In the meantime, I wish your Grace's country every success for nuturing the muslims into secular culture.

29 November 2007 at 08:00  
Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

Wonderful news. Thank you, Cranmer, for bringing it to my attention.

29 November 2007 at 12:22  
Anonymous Mike H said...

This is long overdue. Maybe now we will start to hear the voice of moderate Islam in the UK - something else that is long overdue.

Incidentally, I see that a BBC report about the 'teddy bear' incident quotes none other than Dr ("it depends what type of stoning") Bari of the MCB as saying "This is a disgraceful decision and defies common sense. There was clearly no intention on the part of the teacher to deliberately insult the Islamic faith."

Good to see an occasional glimmer of common sense in this mess.

29 November 2007 at 12:36  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

Yeah, I bet.

29 November 2007 at 14:18  
Anonymous najistani said...

Islamic reformation? This is just an exercise in taqiyya, dhimmitude and jizya. Our establishment politicians dare not admit to us (or maybe even to themselves) the magnitude of the national disaster which faces us as a result of their letting so many Muslims into our country. We need to heed the advice of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

‘We are actually at war, not just with Islamism, but with Islam itself.’

‘The Prophet would have not have disapproved of 9/11, because it was carried out in his example. When he came to Medina, the Prophet had a revelation, of jihad. After that, it became an obligation for Muslims to convert others, and to establish an Islamic state, by the sword if necessary.’

‘I find the word “moderate” very misleading.’ There’s a touch of steel in Hirsi Ali’s voice. ‘I don’t believe there is such a thing as “moderate Islam”. I think it’s better to talk about degrees of belief and degrees of practice. The Koran is quite clear that it should control every area of life. If a Muslim chooses to obey only some of the Prophet’s commandments, he is only a partial Muslim. If he is a good Muslim, he will wish to establish Sharia law.’ all Islam, not just Islamism — has not acknowledged that it must obey secular law. Islam is hostile to reason.’

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s eyes are now aglow. She is a terrific believer in reason. For her, Western civilisation is built on the bedrock not of Judaeo-Christian values, but of logic. After seeking asylum in Holland, she spent five years at Leiden university studying political science, absorbing the Enlightenment philosophers — Spinoza, Hobbes, Voltaire — and she mentions them fondly, as if they’re family. But there’s a steely side to her atheism, which says with Voltaire: Ecraser l’infâme

‘I was a Muslim once, remember, and it was when I was most devout that I was most full of hate,’
‘You, here in the UK, are in danger. Of course you can’t ban Islam outright, but you need to stop the spread of ideology, stop native Westerners converting to Islam. You definitely need to ban the veil in schools, and to close down Muslim schools because that’s where kids are indoctrinated.’

29 November 2007 at 15:45  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

We are doomed by our own belief in reason and enlightenment values. The multi-culti chumps hold onto the deluded idea that man can save himself, perhaps with reason, and that all Islam requires is reasonable dialogue to create a new Islam without its transcendant revelation (which is called "fundamentalism"). It's impossible of course, but that's what they believe.

29 November 2007 at 16:53  
Blogger Mark said...

These people have got about as much chance of reforming Islam as I have got of flying to the moon. Islam cannot be reformed, since to change even a word or just one syllable of the Qur'an would be tantamount to heresy. And we all know what they do to heretics.

Forget it! Islam is, and will remain, what it always has been: a mind-numbing religio-political system (90% politics, 10% spirituality) intent on dominating the world by means of the Jihad, making all infidels submit to their version of the 'one true god'.

One can but tire and grow weary of all this PC claptrap. Our politicians need to get with the story, BEFORE it is too late to save Western civilization.

29 November 2007 at 17:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) There is NO SUCH THING as a moderate Muslim, not one who is Muslim in anything more than name anyway. The Koran does not allow for moderation or for any movement towards the ways of the Kuffar whatsoever.

2) This new body will be just as likely to be swiftly taken over by the same extremists who control the MCB et al as so many other, even the publically funded, Islamic organisations have been.

3) The fact that those same extremists have learned not to express their more unpalatable and violent views in public and in English does not mean that they do not still hold those views and share them often within their various own communities.

4) Yes we are indeed at war with Islam, a war that the Muslims started and intend to prosecute until the very bitter end.But because of both political correctness, and fear of the enemy within created by a disasterous failure to control immigration, European Governments are too scared to either effectively address the problem or tell the people the truth about it.

You may well be encouraged by this new initiative Your Grace but I remain disappointed and fearful for our future.

29 November 2007 at 20:05  
Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

500 years ago, Cranmer & Co. were torturing and burning people and, also in the name of Christ, the Spanish were serously violating the human rights of their Muslim citizens, particularly the Moriscos. But look at these former extreme Christaians now, all nice and boojwah.

30 November 2007 at 09:10  
Blogger Irene Lancaster said...

20% of the Israeli population is Arab, the vast proportion of whom are Muslim. And yet many of these are cultured, cultivated, urbane and witty.

I am not sure if this overhaul of British mosques will work, as the overriding attitude in Britain is the appeasement of Islam.

Israel is different, as you can imagine. I haven't yet met a Muslim here who actually believes in the implementation of sharia law, which is already in evidence in all areas of British society.

I recently wanted to visit Bethlehem, for instance, something that all Arabs I know want me to do. I was going to go in the company of a Muslim Arab Israeli journalist, who has just contacted me to say that it would be dangerous for me to go at present, as well as illegal.

This is the mature and caring aspect of Israeli society which is not reported in the British media.

30 November 2007 at 10:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Aethelbald what are you saying, that we shold expect to have to put up with 500 years of violent jihad, suicide bombings and wholesale intolerance on the part of Muslims before we can expect them to abide by the standards of the civilised and largely secular (Sorry Your Grace)world? Two wrongs still do not make a right you know.

30 November 2007 at 17:34  
Blogger Dr.D said...

Izlam cannot be reformed. This is just fakery, another delusion being foisted upon you by your government. The government may honestly think that this can be done because they prefer to engage in self deception, but that does not make it true or smart. It cannot be done. You must deport all of the muzlims NOW. That is the only solution that will preserve English society as it has been. Izlam is fundamentally incompatible and cannot be reformed.

30 November 2007 at 23:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MINAB's mosques may not be so moderate
By Paul Goodman

The consensus about how to combat violent extremism can be summed up in three words: reform the mosques. British mosques and madrassahs - the argument runs - are dominated by elderly men from abroad who don't speak English and have limited means of communication with the younger generation. This leaves young British Muslims vulnerable to exploitative English-speaking al-Qa'eda operatives.

The solution seems obvious: open up the mosques. Bring in young, English-speaking people to run them. Sweep away the old-fashioned assumptions, and empower Muslim women. Above all, monitor the masjids and madrassahs. Inspect them, regulate them, control them and subject them to the blizzard of best practice and quality standards guidance that's done so much for local government since 1997.

Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, seems to agree. She recently praised the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB), which was launched yesterday - gaining rather less coverage than the plight of Gillian Gibbons in Sudan.

advertisementThis government-approved board requires scrutiny. It is a product of the Government's Preventing Extremism Together project set up in the wake of 7/7. The Government rejected its key recommendation of a public inquiry into 7/7, and Mr Blair lurched away from its approach by producing his own 12-point plan - described by John Denham, now Skills Secretary, as "half-baked".

But MINAB has survived. Its consultation document contained details of a steering committee and results from a questionnaire which revealed that 92 per cent of respondents "supported the creation of MINAB". Only later did it note that out of the 1,202 questionnaires sent out, only 74 were returned.

The steering committee contains four members - the mainstream British Muslim Forum, the Shi'ite Al-Khoei Foundation, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB). The MCB's controversial status is well known, though it has been helpful over the teddy bear row.

MAB's credentials are even more eyebrow-raising, given its links to the Muslim Brotherhood in general and Hamas in particular.

Dr Kamal Helbawy, its founder, admitted two years ago to still being a member of the Brotherhood and has been denied entry to America. It has also been alleged that Dr Azzam Tamini, its leader, issued communiqués on behalf of Hamas during the 1990s. His views on suicide bombing are unambiguous. Asked if he would carry out such an attack in Israel, he said: "Sacrificing myself for Palestine is a noble cause. It is the straight way to pleasing God and I would do it if I had the opportunity."

Such are the qualifications of one of the members of the body set to advise Britain's mosques. MINAB, according to its draft constitution, will "produce advice on the suitability of Imams and scholars coming from abroad for employment in the UK". It will "facilitate harmonisation of standards" in relation to religious education. These standards will "complement and supplement the law". It will be paid "fees".

Membership is voluntary and based on self-regulation. But pressure to write MINAB's regulatory role on to the statute book is bound to grow. And if ministers resist this pressure, MINAB will be in a powerful position to lobby statutory bodies, such as the Charity Commission.

Yes, more English should be used more in mosques and other places of worship. Yes, women and young people should be encouraged to be more active in them. But what matters most for community cohesion isn't whether English is used: it's what's said in English. It isn't whether women or young people are more active: it's which ones are more active.

Mainstream mosques, with their gentle, sufi-influenced spirituality, will fall within the purview of MINAB. There's a case for a national advisory body, but it would be fatal to the struggle against extremism were the allies of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood to regulate and ultimately control - under the politically acceptable jargon of best practice and quality standards - Britain's Islamic religious institutions.

The author is a Conservative spokesman on community cohesion

1 December 2007 at 09:16  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

It's stupid isn't it? Still looking to reform Islam into something that has never previously existed, these nabobs. We train young men to drop fire on people, but I can't suggest a discriminatory immigration policy because it's obscene.

1 December 2007 at 15:26  
Blogger Dr.D said...

Are you desperate to be conned that you will believe this MINAB thing? Read the muzzie's own documents, particularly the quran, and see what it says. There is no way to reform izlam. There is no moderate izlam, there is no reformation possible in izlam; it is what it is. The sooner you come to believe what they have plainly told us for years, the sooner you have some chance of survival. It is getting pretty slim, but soon it will be none at all.

1 December 2007 at 21:36  

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