A few years ago I took my daughters to a birthday party and there was a magician there. Not a particularly great one, but remember this was a 6 year olds birthday party, not a live performance at Wembley Arena. Now, magicians earn their money because they provide an illusion to cover up something which can’t in reality be true.
The recent Channel 4 programme presented by Trevor Phillips about Muslim attitudes reminds me of such illusions. The illusion is that the secular values that the west advocates are truly inclusive. The Channel 4 documentary contains many great lessons for all of us and has led to widespread debate and discussion which could be articulated as nausea. However I would like to share just a few observations.
Firstly contrary to the programmes objectives, the issues far from being with Muslims should have focussed on the inability of the western system to be inclusive. Sure Muslims need to be more proactive in articulating their core beliefs, a greater vision on how we solve our common problems and in stamping out non-Islamic practices such as honour killing, female circumcision or terrorism. But if the problem was just with Muslims we wouldn’t have seen the historic injustices against others whether they be Jews, Blacks, Catholics, native Indians, Aborigines, Communists, Trade unionists, suffragettes, you name it. The historical violence shown against these groups, the sheer barbarity and the mass discrimination we witness even today in our modern “inclusive” world demonstrates the problem squarely resides with western values, not with Islam’s values.
Proponents of western values claim to uphold human rights and say they call for non-discrimination amongst all people. Yet what we see often contradicts that. Whether it’s the assimilation at home of minorities, or an economic agenda that would sacrifice the disabled for the rich, or the principle of “might is right” to pursue colonial interests, the reality doesn’t match the rhetoric. Let us not forget that symbols like the Statue of Liberty does not represent a civilisation that has eternal roots in justice; a genocide against Native Indians, slavery, mass discrimination against black citizens and building wealth on the backs of colonising tens of millions, are just a few of the dark examples we have witnessed. All of this following the “Age of Enlightenment”, applying the doctrines of market capitalism to the core and pursuing the Darwinian principle of “survival of the fittest.”
Second, the debate should not be about which kind of integration approach works better. Every approach has spectacularly failed. Whether it’s the so called American Dream which has failed despite decades of civil rights struggles to stop discrimination against it’s black citizens. Or the muscular Laicite approach in France which has created a system where masses of immigrants live in ghettoes, or the failed wishy washy multiculturalism that we have seen in the UK now morphing into neo-McCarthyism under the Prevent Programme. It is the height of mis-direction to debate the efficacy of these different approaches, but not to debate the creed itself which is the real problem. Despite centuries having passed, the west’s system is still no closer to enabling people with differing values, cultures or religions to coexist successfully in a melting pot. Instead of singling out Muslims, the proponents of secular values should reflect on this epic historical civilisational failure.
It is no wonder the secular creed has failed, as it is rooted in self interest, materialism and a concept than human beings are individualistic. The historical separation between church and state has replaced a theocratic dictatorship with a dictatorship of the elite, a system completely out of control, where certain human beings have imposed themselves on others using race, colour or class. The system is designed to be exclusive, where the super elite keep their positions by denigrating everyone else. It seeks to protect that elitist status every 4 or 5 years by a sham democracy focussing on the majority and rigging the system to ensure the status quo is maintained. In fact as most populist politicians have figured out, the scapegoating of minorities on both sides of the Atlantic is a sure fire vote winner. The system only works when a group (currently Muslims) can be singled out as the latest target for Capitalist society’s equivalent of the Hunger Games.
Thirdly unlike secularism which seeks to impose its values down the throats of all its citizens, the Islamic political systems approach is much more powerful. It believes that true citizenship is bound in common laws, common rights and common responsibilities not in common values. Values cannot be imposed but need to be debated, the power of ideas is their rational underpinning articulated in an atmosphere of security and learning, not imposed on minorities through fear and condemnation.
We are told increasingly by western commentators, politicians and think tanks that there is nothing to argue about, that secular liberal ideals, values and institutions are universal. Yet they are wrong, people want politics that is fair not tainted, they want economics which prioritises ordinary folks, not the super wealthy, they want people to be given opportunities based on their hard work not the colour of their skin. The secular western model falls far short of these human aspirations.
To conclude, differences among people due to their origins, their colour, or their gender, is a natural reality and should not lead to disputes arising. That is because people do not choose these matters on their own will. It is therefore not permissible to criticise, attack or pass judgement on these factors. Regarding values that are chosen freely, like religious or political beliefs, these can be debated but should not be discriminated against. You may disagree with people’s beliefs and core values, but that does not give you Carte Blanche to assimilate people against their will.
Islam, the Divine Revelation, provides a complete way of life regulating the various aspects of social, economic and political life, as a divine message to mankind:
قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا
“Say: O Mankind verily I am the Messenger of Allah to you all” (TMQ Al-A’raf: 158)
Islam is a message for human beings regardless of their religion, race, or country. As such it is a universal message with a broad appeal to all of humanity, thus we read in the Holy Quran:
وَإِنَّا أَوْ إِيَّاكُمْ لَعَلَىٰ هُدًى أَوْ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ
“And verily, (either) we or you are rightly guided or in a plain error” (TMQ Saba’: 24)
لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ
“There is no compulsion in the religion” (TMQ Al-Baqarah: 256)
And in the Hadith of the Prophet Mohammad (saw):
«ومن كان على يهوديته أو نصرانيته فإنه لا يُفتن عنها»
“And whoever is upon his Judaism or his Christianity, he is not enticed away from that.”
There is no “minorities problem” within an Islamic system or rooted in Islamic legislation, because the Islamic state does not discriminate against citizens based upon their race, colour or spiritual belief. History bears testimony to this fact; had Islam incited the sensitivities of others, dozens of religions, races and cultures, across the world, would not have interacted with it or coexisted peacefully under Islam’s political governance. We see that various people accepted it, believed in its system and fought to keep it intact. The Muslim world under Islam’s divinely inspired system didn’t witness the genocide, inquisitions or gas chambers which have occurred in Europe and other parts of the world.
It is therefore apparent to any educated person that Trevor Phillips like any magician can only be successful if he can misdirect his audience. It’s not Muslim views that should be under the microscope from Channel 4, but those who are proponents of a civilisation which has such a terrible track record of integrating minorities. Understanding what they think would be a great trick.