The British Government has a current policy to manufacture a new religion. They call it ‘British Islam’. Former Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly talked about a ‘British Version of Islam’. A paper by the Department of Communities and Local Government titled “The Role of Muslim
Identity Politics in Radicalisation” mentions how the government would like to use “British Islam as a response to radical Islam”. In July 2008 the Foreign Office boasted how it was sending a delegation on a ‘tabligh’ trip to Egypt to propagate this ‘British Islam’.
This project is consistent with international plans to advance a western form of Islamaround the Muslim world, as outlined by reports from the RAND Corporation (who call it ‘Civil Democratic Islam’) the Nixon centre in the USA, and Civitas in the UK. Civitas, in their report ‘The West Islam and Islamism’ said:
“It is not enough for the vast majority of decent, peaceful, law-abiding Muslims to renounce terror in principle, including September 11 and similar events. …If they choose to live in Western liberal democratic societies, they must accept the values of liberal democracy—as Jews, Sikhs, Hindus and others have done for many years.”
Ultimately, this is ‘British Islam’: The acceptance of the values of liberal democracy. Ironically, the Church of England, which went through its reformation hundreds of years ago is still struggling to unite around the values of liberal democracy.
There have been several policies announced to further this aim. The most recent last July was a new Imam’s board and a policy that Madrassahs should teach ‘citizenship’. This board of Imams is sponsored by the British from its Preventing Violent Extremism fund but under the auspices of Oxford and Cambridge Universities. It is said it will pronounce on ‘areas such as wearing the hijab and the treatment of wives’ and ‘rule on interpretation of the Koran’. Doubtless, the government would expect an essential ‘Usuli’ principle of “British Islamic jurisprudence” to be consistency with the values of liberal democracy.
The details of the other policy of citizenship classes in Madrassahs are not known. Certainly, local councils are throwing PVE (“Preventing Violent Extremism”) money around, presumably in the hope of eventually attaching conditions to the funding. However, it is worth looking at some of the examples of citizenship teaching in schools and for immigrants looking to remain in the UK. This is one example from a school curriculum.
What are rights and responsibilities?
Rights and ages:
– Pubs can apply for a license to enable under 14 year olds to be accompanied by an adult to a bar. At 14 you can legally enter into a bar for soft drinks.
– At 16 or over you can buy beer, cider, or sherry to drink with a meal in the dining or restaurant area of a pub.
– A girl must be 16 before she can legally have sex with a boy
– It is illegal for two people of the same sex to have sex together if either is under 16
– Tobacco should not be sold to anyone who appears to be under 16 years of age
– At 18 you can buy alcohol in a bar or a licensed shop
In December 2004, when citizenship was launched for immigrants in the ‘life in the UK handbook’ they mentioned that the test questions would include ‘vital citizenship issues’ such as:
1. What is a round in a pub?
2. What is Guy Fawkes Day?
3. What is Remembrance Day?
4. How does Father Christmas dress?
5. Do you sign a Valentine’s Day card?
6. Where is the centre of politics?
We wait to see what type of citizenship they plan for Madrassahs. They tried one pilot project in Bradford that was roundly rejected by the local community. 90% of this curriculum seemed reasonable, but it was punctuated by examples that talked about Muslims buying fertiliser to make bombs! Far more likely to reinforce a feeling of suspicion and a negative self image than to build a confident and positive mindset amongst Muslim children.
The British government’s interference in matters of Islam is not new. Under their colonial occupation of India they sponsored certain religious brands to maintain hegemonic control and pacific resistance – the most famous being Ghulam Mirza Ahmed of Qadiyaan – who would pronounce in the name of his religion that resistance to the occupier was forbidden.
The government would like nothing more than to have credible figures pronounce that opposition to their foreign policy is tantamount to heretical extremism. Their problem hitherto has been to find credible figures to do their work. Those who do follow the line of the evolving established British Islamic clergy have little or no credibility, and so they are little closer in finding an Arch-Mufti of Canterbury.
Such projects of social and religious engineering never ultimately succeed. The texts of Islam are not open to the distortion that occurred in previous religions that were reformed, and it is ironic that politicians in Britain of all places are so convinced of their reformation policies. The present bitter struggle between liberal and traditional Anglicans that threatens to divide the Church of England illustrates that the reformation of the Christian church has been unable to
fully persuade its adherents despite centuries of effort. The experiments in Islamic reformation stand precious little chance of success.
However, they all have the potential for creating resentment amongst the Muslim community, heightening alienation as Muslims uniquely are singled out for state interference and reinforce the colonial image of a state that treats certain communities as lesser subjects and not as