5Pillars’ usual line is to condemn critics of Islamism as Islamophobes who are targeting entirely mainstream Islamic teachings. Here’s an extract from their recent attack on Andrew Gilligan:
And of course, there the “usual suspects” who Gilligan will find any excuse to malign, even if it’s a random sentence or paragraph in a totally unrelated article: Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad, advocacy group CAGE, Islamic political party Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), and dawah organisation the Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA) – all of whom have a grassroots following within the Muslim community.
I am sure there is no need to remind readers what Haddad’s views are – certainly no one should be accused of bigotry for finding them disturbing.
However sometimes they try to have things both ways – defending ‘normative’ Muslim beliefs yet also trying to brush them under the carpet. Their latest post focuses on Ibrahim Hewitt. Hewitt is concerned that the Murdoch press is trying to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment by branding him an ‘Islamic extremist’. The most revealing section concerns his 1994 book on Islam.
I wrote a book in 1994 which is a collection of short statements on “What does Islam say?” as a guide for GCSE students; subsequent editions of the book had other contributors who were not named.
For 20 years, up to January this year, there have been no complaints to the publisher as far as I am aware, and certainly none to me about the content of the book, which is now out of print with no plans to reprint any further editions.
I do not “advocate” violence or witch hunts against homosexuals (or anyone else). I profoundly disagree with any calls for violence against homosexuals. I have made it quite clear that, “the sexual preferences of homosexuals are none of my business.”
In that book, the question of adultery and apostasy is dealt with on the basis of a Prophetic saying in two key texts after the Holy Qur’an. There are texts in the Old Testament that call for equally draconian punishment. These do not mean that I would advocate such actions. Of course I do not; if I did, I would rightly be arrested for doing so.
The lack of complaints is not in itself proof that the book’s teachings are not extreme. Neither is the fact that no subsequent editions are planned. Hewitt’s reference to the Bible might give the impression that he was only invoking the idea of extreme punishment within a historical context. The casual reader might be further reassured by the information that Hewitt does not ‘advocate’ violence. However in the final sentence of the extract he carefully delimits the meaning of ‘advocate’ so that it means ‘call for right now’ rather than ‘approve at some future time’. But of course here he merely follows what he and 5pillars presumably see as mainstream Islamic teaching – the need to follow the law of the land.
He also refused to answer a question about whether he supported the homophobic laws in some Islamic countries, where some do include death by stoning. He said to answer the question requires a much deeper discussion than could be discussed on a phone call.
And here’s a reminder of just why the Sun and the Times might reasonably have found Hewitt’s views extreme:
Muslim jurists have held differing opinions concerning the punishment for this abominable practice, some slat ing the punishment for fornication, while some stating the death penalty for both the active and passive participants. It is important to mention that these rulings are not given in an anarchic sense where a Muslim takes the law into his own hands. Rat her for these punishments to be implemented, due legal process needs to be carried out, which can only be done under a state implementing Islamic Law. While such punishments may seem cruel, they have been suggested to maintain the purity of the society and to keep it clean of perverted elements, allowing for the spiritual development of its members in an ideal environment. The spread of this depraved practice in a society disrupts its natural life pattern and makes those who practice it slaves to their lusts, depriving them of decent taste, decent morals, and a decent manner of living.