We have been here before. Yet, listening to the reactions, it would seem, on first impressions, that few people have learned anything constructive and that many will use this event for political gain.
In the last 24 hours we have seen back-to-back coverage and countless commentators, politicians and self-styled spokesmen lining up to talk about Islam and ‘extremism’.
The media has labelled this killing an act of ‘terror’ against an entire population, when it has the appearance of a targeted, bloody act that would shock anyone with concern for human life. Sadly, such labeling of some acts of violence as ‘terrorism’ and others as ‘targeted strikes’ or ‘defensive actions’ underline the fact that much of commentary is little more than propaganda.
Political leaders march out to say they will not be cowed by ‘terror’, but then give the impression that everyone ought to be terrified - by talking of instructing off-duty soldiers to wear civilian clothing instead of uniform. We would not be surprised if they went on to implement some macho security measures, so exacerbating ordinary peoples’ fears that they are in immediate mortal danger from a hidden enemy.
In their rush to comment before the facts are clear, some panicky Muslims protest their innocence – and inadvertently reinforce the false narrative that the Muslim community isn’t doing enough to prevent this type of attack. They would do well to hear the intelligent view expressed that Muslims shouldn’t have to distance themselves from this sort of attack.
Far-right bigots use the episode to make a more generalised attack on Muslims, immigrants and ‘creeping Shari’ah’ – whilst the MP George Galloway has somehow made a comparison to those rebelling against Assad in Syria! Within hours, everyone seems to be making political mileage out of this incident, before all the facts are actually confirmed.
In the face of this complex situation we make the following statements:
1. This episode will once again be used to try to silence critics of UK foreign policy and label religious Muslims as extreme.
The narrative that has been spun for the past 8 years in the UK is that British government foreign policy is NOT the cause of terror. Rather, it is spun that Muslims who have a grievance against foreign policy or who are more religious are the dangerous ones.
Those who are religious, who hold orthodox Islamic views, will be labelled with increased vigour as ‘extremists’ on a road to terrorism and those who legitimately criticise belligerent colonial policies in the Muslim world will be labelled as peddling a perverse ideology that needs tackling at its root.
We urge Muslims to resist this pressure. Whilst it is necessary to clarify to everyone that Islam considers it haram to take innocent life, it would be wrong to become silent about injustices where we see them. One should not allow fanatical media coverage to silence our criticism and the work to eradicate the scourge of occupation and colonialism in the Muslim world and unite the Muslim Ummah under the Islamic Khilafah State.
Allah (swt) says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا
“Believers, have taqwa of Allah, and speak in a direct fashion and to good purpose, and He will put your actions right for you and forgive you your sins.” [Surah Ahzab 33:70].
If today is not the day to address foreign policy or injustices in Muslim lands, then tomorrow is not a day to remain silent about such matters. To address such matters in a political and intellectual way is not ‘extremism’, but part of what our Deen instructs in speaking against munkar.
Nor would it be right for Muslims to shy away from what Islam really does say about war and peace, fighting and political matters – allowing the vacuum to be filled by people who either justify every act of violence through Islam, or who say Islam has nothing to say about such matters.
Our words should be frank but not discourteous, honest but not trampling over people’s concerns and sensitivities.
2. This episode will be used to create fear about Islam amongst ordinary people in society, stirring hatred and peddling myths
Average men and women in the UK get their information about Islam from politically motivated media stereotypes – and individuals who are either paid or promoted to tell them that ‘Islamists’ (their words for those who look to Islam to address any of life’s affairs) are today’s bogeymen.
It is only when sincere Muslims up and down the UK engage with people upon an honest and complete view of Islam – through their ideas and deeds – that an average UK man or woman has any chance of understanding anything different.
Our duty as Muslims in the West is to carry this Deen and to explain it in an honest way to the ignorant or misled.
We should open our Mosques and invite neighbours to talk about Islam – and be prepared to answer the difficult questions non-Muslims have.
We must instruct our community on how to be able to answer these difficult questions – not to shy away from them, nor to reinvent Islam to make it compatible with secular-liberal ideas, thinking we are pleasing them.
We should hold fast to the noble Islamic values so that in our personal lives people see the example of this beautiful Deen.
We should not fall into traps laid for us, to become locked into the agenda of the far-right racists and so get entangled into conflicts with people who are essentially jahil - when Allah (swt) tells us that the slaves of the Most Merciful are those…
((... الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا، وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا))
“who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the jahil address them (with bad words) they reply with mild words of gentleness.” [Surah Furqan 25:63]
Our role should be to carry dawah, as Allah commands:
(( ادْعُ إِلِى سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ))
“Call to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and a good admonition, and debate with them in a manner that is good.” [Surah al-Nahl 16:125]
This is our sincere advice. The Muslim who holds fast to their Deen with sincerity and steadfastness at such difficult times can look to Allah ‘Azza wa Jall to help them.
However, our sincere advice to anyone who deviates from their Deen– who does actions of any nature, whether political or physical, that contradict the Shari’ah of Allah – whether driven by fear of others, or expectation of some short-term gain, or revenge, or any other reason – cannot expect anything but humiliation.
فَإِن تَوَلَّوْاْ فَقُلْ حَسْبِيَ اللّهُ لا إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ وَهُوَ رَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ
“But if they turn away, Say: ‘Allah is sufficient for me: there is no god but He: Upon Him is my trust, and He the Lord of the Throne (of Glory) Supreme!’” [Surah At-Tauba 9:129]