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Islam today

April 2006 | by Patrick Sookhdeo

This article was first published in The Spectator (12 November 2005) under the title ‘Will London burn too?’

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, has warned recently of ‘sleepwalking our way to segregation’. Although he was not speaking principally about Muslims, they have become perhaps the most dominant minority group in British society.

Divided along ethnic and sectarian lines, Muslims are nevertheless united by their creed, their law and the powerful concept of the umma, the totality of Muslims worldwide.

The process of migrating and establishing a Muslim community in a non-Muslim context has an important place in Islamic theology. The word hijra is used to describe such a migration, in particular the migration of Muhammad and his followers in AD 622 – from Mecca where they were persecuted, to Medina where they established the first Islamic state.

Eight years earlier another hijra had occurred when Muslim refugees found freedom of worship in the Christian kingdom of Abyssinia.

Muslims see the establishment of a Muslim community in the UK as a contemporary hijra. But an important question concerns which seventh-century hijra they compare it to – the hijra to Abyssinia in which the Muslims became contented and loyal subjects of a Christian king, or the hijra to Medina where they seized political and military power.

Religious apartheid

While the contemporary Muslim scholar Imtiaz Ahmed Hussain looks to the Abyssinian model, many other Muslims seem to favour the Medina model. A book published in 1980 by the Islamic Council of Europe instructs Muslim minorities how to work towards achieving domination of European countries – through a policy of concentration in geographical areas.

The Muslim writer Amir Taheri, tackling the question ‘Why Paris is burning’, described how France’s policy of assimilation began to fail when (Muslim) immigrants grouped themselves in concentrated areas.

The resulting alienation, says Taheri, opens the way for radical Islamists to promote religious and cultural apartheid. Some are even calling for Muslim-majority areas to become like an Ottoman ‘millet’ – free to organise their own social, cultural and educational life in accordance with their religious beliefs.

In parts of France, says Taheri, a de facto millet system is already in place, evidenced by Islamic headdress, Islamic beards, Islamic control of the administration, and the elimination of cinemas, dance-halls and shops selling alcohol and pork.

The Muslim community in France is well on the way to becoming a millet, a state within a state. The only substantive goal still outstanding is the implementation of Islamic law (shari’a) instead of French law.

Muslims in France have by and large rejected the concept of the integration of individuals and are working instead for the integration of communities. The same is happening in the UK, where the concept of multiculturalism has long been popular.

Sacred space

Two other Islamic principles are important subjects of debate amongst contemporary Muslims. The first concerns ‘sacred space’. Islam is a territorial religion. Any space once gained is considered sacred and should belong to the umma for ever. Any lost space must be regained – by force if necessary.

Migrant Muslim communities in the West are constantly engaged in ‘sacralising’ new areas – first the inner private spaces of their homes and mosques, and latterly whole neighbourhoods (as in Birmingham) by means of marches and processions. The ultimate end of ‘sacred space’ theology is autonomy for UK Muslims under Islamic law.

Radical Muslims hope for the re-establishment of the Caliphate, abolished by Atatürk in 1924. The possibility of a Southern Europe Caliphate and a North Sea Caliphate has been raised.

Which house?

The other important principle is the classic Islamic division of the world into Dar al-Islam (the house of Islam) where Muslims rule and Dar al-Harb (the house of war) where they don’t. The sinister name for non-Muslim territory indicates that Muslims have an obligation to wage war until it becomes Dar al-Islam.

There is much debate within Islam today as to whether or not the West is Dar al-Harb. Non-Muslims can be thankful for alternatives such as Dar al-Sulh (House of Truce) and Dar al-‘Ahd (House of Treaty).

Some radical British Muslims used to believe in a ‘covenant of security’ which forbids Muslims living in the UK from engaging in military action within the country. Preposterous though it seems, they held that were it not for this ‘covenant’ they would be duty-bound to attack the majority community. Most now believe the covenant to be null and void because of the UK’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the most radical of all hold that the covenant of security applies only to Muslims who had sought refuge in Britain, not to those who were born here. In the words of Hassan Butt, ‘They [the British-born] owe nothing to the Government. They did not ask to be born here; neither did they ask to be protected by Britain’.

Muslim violence

In Britain we already have many examples of Muslim violence. Some cases are between Muslims and other communities, such as Blacks versus Asian Muslims in Birmingham or the armed black Muslim gangs in south London who threaten to kill those who will not convert to Islam.

Other occurrences of violence take place within the Muslim community – ethnic violence (such as Kurds against Pakistanis in Peterborough) and the violence of so-called ‘honour killings’. Will we see the same patterns of sectarian violence as in Pakistan, the homeland of so many British Muslims – with Shias and Sunnis killing one another, and the persecution of Ahmadiyyas by Sunnis?

Most alarming of all is the prospect of Muslim secessionist violence in the UK – as has occurred in Kosovo, the Philippines, Thailand and elsewhere. Now this is apparently happening in France.

A radical Muslim, preaching at Hyde Park Corner on 6 November 2005, called for what had happened in France to be repeated here. He urged all Muslims to move into Muslim areas, after which any Christian churches would be expelled. He told his audience that Europe had once been Muslim and called on them to make it Muslim again.

Muslim enclaves

Many British cities already have concentrated Muslim communities. Conservative estimates based on census returns indicate that Bradford had a Muslim population of just under 49,000 in 1991 rising to over 75,000 in 2005.

But Sher Azam, President of the Bradford Council of Mosques, claims that 100,000 Muslims in Bradford attend mosque each week, suggesting a total Muslim population in Bradford far in excess of this.

Whatever the true figures, it is clear that within a few years Bradford and many other British cities will have Muslim majorities. It is also likely that the often-quoted figure of 1.6 million for the total British Muslim population is an underestimate.

Islamic enclaves would be defined by Islamic values – education, politics, religious practice and, above all, law. They would be ‘cleansed’ of any non-Muslim presence. This cleansing is already beginning by means of threats and violence to isolated churches in Muslim-majority areas.

Even Islamic law is already semi-established, in that a multitude of shari’a councils and shari’a courts exist which deal with family issues, effectively creating an unofficial parallel legal system within the UK.

Unless we reverse the multi-culturalist policy that has been indirectly facilitating the separatist agenda of radical Islamists, we shall wake up and find we have sleepwalked into apartheid and segregation. If we sleep long enough we may even wake up to find that, like Paris, London is burning. Or that we are living in an Islamic state.