How should Muslims in the UK respond to the #Corbyn phenomena? Are we seeing a new form of politics which Corbyn espouses (at least in style), or an old politics based on old Socialist programmes which have failed previously in Europe? Will he bring real change and hope?
1. Many Muslims respect or like Jeremy Corbyn as a person – he seems to hold to his principles and follows a programme which is very different from the big business and foreign policy interest led agenda of the establishment. However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Corbyn is working within an overall system which protects itself. The media smears, political party structure controls and critiques will continue. The civil service and core institutions including the military remain firmly behind the Capitalist system. Even the coup within his party is one of the checks and balances in the system. Despite Corbyn’s increased mandate from members, the Labour party members of parliament (MP’s) remain overwhelmingly opposed to him and speak of party unity with muffled voices. It is one thing to win a majority of his party, but the rest of the key institutions remain large obstacles to any change he might promise.
2. Corbyn’s victory reflects the public mistrust of a political class, sometimes corrupt but mostly disengaged from their daily problems. This is partially related to increasingly difficult economic conditions for the poor. This includes a mistrust of the mainstream media as well as establishment politicians. Despite blanket media coverage setting out Corbyn’s weaknesses, supposed un-electability and danger to the Labour Party and the country (anti nuclear), he managed to increase his mandate from 59% to 62% from within the Labour membership and supporters (and despite widespread voting exclusions of Labour members by its own executive). With a hostile media and parliamentarians Corbyn supporters relied upon generating their own media, particularly social media and word of mouth. This is no isolated matter. The Brexit vote triggered the resignation of PM David Cameron as well as the sidelining of Tory Brexit leaders including Boris Johnson. Corbyn, working for a return to left wing Socialist ideals, appears the antithesis of the centre-right ‘New Labour’ first espoused by Tony Blair – which represents the same interests as the majority of the Conservative party, even in coalition with the Lib-Dems. Labour establishment figures who are backed by big business interests including “Progress” which is heavily funded by Lord Sainsbury, objected to a party with stronger Socialist policies including re nationalising the railways.
3. Muslims cannot rely on one secular politician for political representation in this country, no matter how decent they might think he is. Rather they must work towards acting in a united manner with one voice on key issues, to represent their views themselves and engage with the wider society based on Islamic values not secular and Socialist ideas.
4. Whilst it is positive that Socialists see the flaws of Capitalism and oppose it, both of these ideologies fail to address the human reality in terms of belief and laws. They both oppose the Shari’ah of Allah (swt) and are active opponents of belief in Allah (swt) or at best are agnostic over belief in God. Their man made solutions inevitably favour their favoured interest groups whether those are from big business or the unions. Even some of their views people welcome are not straightforward. For example, Corbyn has been vocal in opposition to Zionism but supports Israel and a two state solution for Palestine that Muslims can never support. He supports high tax and spend policies, believing that the state should intervene aggressively in the economy – all matters which Islam forbids. Corbyn believes in democracy to his core, irrationally thinking that following the majority is always the right thing to do. Socialism is not Islam and Socialist solutions are not compatible with Islamic solutions. To believe that Socialist solutions are right for mankind is a falsehood and may Allah (swt) protect us from that.
5. Both Corbyn’s re-election and the Brexit vote show that people are looking for something different. Muslims should be offering that, because we carry an alternative viewpoint, rather than embracing a failed and false Socialism. We should not feel cowered by the neo-liberal agenda – nor jump on the bandwagon in the drive for Socialism among some quarters, just because it opposes aspects of the status quo. Instead Muslims should surge forward and engage in discussion and debate with those that are unsettled by the situation and present Islam in terms of its values, beliefs and solutions.
ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَن ضَلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ
“Call to the way of your Lord, with wisdom and beautiful exhortation, and debate with them in the best manner”. (TMQ – 16:125)