UK Politics

Boycotting Moderates

The Muslim Weekly reports that Dr Azzam Tamimi, Dr Musharraf Hussain, Imam Ibrahim Mogra and Mawlana Shahid Raza all pulled out of a conference held last month at the well-respected Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford on “Jihad in Islam”, citing “major doctrinal differences” as their reason for withdrawing.

The Muslim Weekly opined that the real reason for the boycott was that MECO chairman, Dr Taj Hargey was a secret Qadiani (or more politely, an “Ahmadi“): that is, a member of a progressive tendency within Islam whose adherent are slandered and violently persecuted as apostates. As can sometimes happen in even the best newspapers, The Muslim Weekly got it wrong. Dr Hargey is not an Ahmadi: and so, quite properly, the newspaper apologised.

What then were the “major doctrinal differences” with Dr Hargey which prevented the four speakers from attending the MECO conference?

The original Muslim Weekly article gives us a clue:

Dr Hargey attracted much criticism in the Muslim community for appearing in the now infamous Panorama programme last year A Question of Leadership by John Ware

It is a fair guess that Dr Hargey’s doctrinal error was to appear on television, arguing that:

The Muslim Council of Britain is mainly composed of Indo Pakistanis. They have a very narrow, in my view a conservative view of Islam. They toe the line generally of what conservative groups in places like Pakistan preach, and here in Pakistan we have the ascendancy of a group known as Jamaa’at Islami who are quite rigid and quite inflexible, and to a large extent the MCB replicates the ideology of Pakistan and other places in the subcontinent.

Indeed, that’s the sort of thing that MECO generally says. For example here:

The strictures against non-Muslim worship in places like Saudi Arabia not only aggravate tensions between Islam and Christianity, but also violate the eternal ethos of the Holy Qur’an.

and here:

Under the pernicious influence of repressive Wahhabism and its extremist offshoots, like the Deobandi sect in the Indian sub-continent, Muslim leaders in contemporary times have falsely asserted that legal sanctions for political treason apply to freedom of conscious and belief. Any systematic study of the Qur’an will expose their willful corruption of primary Islamic precepts.

Muslims should therefore not defer to unsound theological arguments from those who infringe sublime Qur’anic commandments. The clerical classes, by endorsing the death penalty for Abdul Rahman, not only defy the transcendent text that guarantees human rights, but they also deny him natural justice.

Sadly, that’s precisely the sort of doctrinal difference which might prevent Azzam Tamimi (a prominent MAB/Muslim Brotherhood activist) and Ibrahim Mogra (of the Muslim Council of Britain) from sharing a platform with Dr Hargey.

Indeed, saying these sorts of things tends to result in extremists spreading the livelihood and life-endangering rumour that you are an apostate.


In a similar vein, readers may be interested in An Awaaz – a UK-based secular network committed to monitoring and combating religious hatred in South Asia and the UK – who are holding a colloquium on the Challenges of Political Islam, with a range of interesting speakers:

The horror of the London bombings raises critical questions for all of us. What are the root causes of this tragedy and whoat role did political Islam play in these events? Is political Islam an inevitable reaction to the “Global War on Terror”? The government reaction to 7/7 has been deemed draconian. Do these policies spell the end of muliticulturalism or a plural civil society? Awaaz has brought together a unique cross section of speakers, including key academics, political, antiracist & women activists to address these vital issues.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, Fatty Bodi is winding up the CiFers here:

“If our own history has taught us anything about policing minorities, it’s that when the gloves come off, the Molotovs come out.”

My prediction is that Melanie Phillips will blow another gasket, and then Andrew Murray will write another piece ridiculing her for the wholly unreasonable suggestion that Bodi is doing any more than making an interesting sociological observation.