For centuries the British government has tried to control and secularise Islam under the name of promoting reform and modernisation. Their attempts in occcupied colonial India were most famous when establishing the Qadiani religion. In the Arab Muslim world and Turkey they had many attempts at promoting reformist movements, ultimately leading to the collapse of the ‘Uthmani Khilafah (Ottoman Caliphate). Their attempts continue within the UK and overseas and, as with other western governments, they have hastened their efforts since the onset of the ‘war on terror’.
Although their experiments to reform Islam, establish the religion of ‘British Islam’ and state-endorsed Muslim clergy with credibilty will ultimately fail, the most dangerous aspect to their plans are the labelling of Islamic beliefs and ideas with labels such as ‘extremism’ and potentially ‘terrorism’. This sinister process, already established at a national level, has begun to permeate down to a local council level and accompanies the vicious propaganda attacks on Islam and the Shari’ah. Its effect is to make Muslims fearful of holding Islamic beliefs that conflict with secular liberal beliefs, so that they adopt a version of Islam that is both secular and liberal.
In July 2008, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, when addressing the right-wing think-tank the Policy Exchange (discredited by embroiled controversy about the fabricating of evidence about extremist materials in mosques) said: “Our policy is designed to change behaviour. Our strategy rests on an assessment of firstly whether an organisation is actively condemning, and working to tackle, violent extremism; and secondly whether they defend and uphold the shared values of pluralist democracy, both in their words and their deeds.1”
Such a coersive policy is likely to fuel resentment and alienation amongst Muslims who sense the advance of a neo-colonial agenda of control, intimidation, assimilation and the targeting of their community and places of worship – all of which reinforces an image of a suspect community, despite government rhetoric about ‘Community Cohesion’.
Such attempts at social and religious engineering cannot ultimately succeed, for Islam is a truth from Allah (swt), built upon a rational and reasoned belief. Its rules are derived and understood by established processes from authenticated texts. However, if there is a lack of awareness amongst Muslims, individuals can go astray from the Deen, as they have done before. The likes of Ali Abdul Raziq, Ghulam Mirza Ahmad, Mustafa Kamal and others have gone astray over the years, yet Islam is still intact, though sadly not implemented under the Khilafah as it should be.
We offer this paper as a brief summary of events over the past few years, highlighting some plans that are in the public domain, and attempting to illustrate where the potential harms can emerge, but under no doubt that Allah (swt) will protect His deen.