Inayat Bunglawala’s recent article is summarised like this: “Blaming terrorism on some unspecified evil within the Muslim community may please warmongers, but it won’t help us defeat the violent extremists.”
Some of the problems with analyses like this include the following.
- The ‘evil within the Muslim community’ isn’t at all unspecified: it consists of the belief that violent jihad is justifiable, and the putting of that belief into practice in undertaking acts which are intended to harm and destroy other human beings.
- The so-called Muslim community consists in fact of several Muslim communities. Only some of them are so radically politicised as to justify mass murder and violence. And the more that non-Muslims allow themselves to treat the various strands of Islam as if they were all of a piece (and the more that Muslims themselves allow the idea of this fictional unitary ‘community’ to be entrenched), the more it legitimises the radical elements in their imposition of their own brand of extreme Islam or Islamism on all the other groups and traditions within Islam.
- It’s a mistake to think that everyone who blames Islamist ideology rather than US and British foreign policy for acts of terrorism is a warmongerer. It’s perfectly possible to believe that British foreign policy is often wrong and sometimes illegal and in many cases adds to whatever sense of grievance people may feel, and to believe that that is no justification for resorting to violence. It’s an ideology, after all, that legitimises the violence as a response to the perceived oppression of American and British foreign policy.
You might not wish to go any further into Bunglawala’s article than the tagline I’ve quoted above. But there are no less than three recent articles by writers who take the opposing view: Ed Husain in the Times and Asim Siddiqui and Hassan Butt in the Guardian, and this time the link isn’t just there for sourcing purposes – they are worth the read.
‘The tone of British Muslim communal discourse in relation to national security and terrorism is worrying. Among young Muslims, there is a widespread Islamism-influenced belief in a bipolar world: a lethal them-and-us mentality. The police and intelligence services belong firmly to the “them” side of the divide. As do clubbers, Jews, gay people, Christians, atheists and even moderate Muslims who reject the extremists’ war call.’ (Husain)
‘No, it’s not foreign policy that’s the main driver in combating the terrorists; it is their mindset. The radical Islamist ideology needs to be exposed to young Muslims for what it really is. A tool for the introduction of a medieval form of governance that describes itself as an “Islamic state” that is violent, retrogressive, discriminatory, a perversion of the sacred texts and a totalitarian dictatorship.’ (Siddiqui)
‘If our country is going to take on radicals and violent extremists, Muslim scholars must go back to the books and come forward with a refashioned set of rules and a revised understanding of the rights and responsibilities of Muslims whose homes and souls are firmly planted in what I’d like to term the Land of Co-existence. And when this new theological territory is opened up, Western Muslims will be able to liberate themselves from defunct models of the world, rewrite the rules of interaction and perhaps we will discover that the concept of killing in the name of Islam is no more than an anachronism.’ (Butt)