Everyone should take some time out and read this. I’m sharing this not only because it very clearly demonstrates inconsistencies and inaccuracies from David Cameron’s speech in Birmingham about extremism, but goes further to show how ill informed he really is. Muslims have a lot to offer.
Here are some excerpts from the article (you can read the whole article by clicking on the link below):
Islam’s insistence on spiritual integrity, social justice and economic probity – surely qualities that underpin those much-vaunted British values that the Prime Minister holds so dear – has engendered great flowerings of human civilisation in many parts of the world. Its potential to do the same here and help to reinvigorate the amorphous, post-colonial, identity-seeking, multi-ethnic nation that is the reality of Britain in this early part of the 21st century is only just beginning to be felt. Islam is a force for good in the UK. It should be welcomed as such and not treated as some kind of unwelcome intruder.
We, as Muslims have so much to offer:
Down through the centuries there has been, within these islands, a constant history of spiritual renewal, both home-grown and from beyond our shores, though it is quite apparent that at the present time the spiritual life of our country is at a low ebb. Figures show that perhaps the major source of spiritual vigour in Britain at the moment in fact lies with the Muslims. Our mosques are full to overflowing and, as this gathering shows, people are, in spite of the negative publicity that floods in daily through every media outlet, entering Islam on a regular basis in ever greater numbers. It is definitely time for the Muslims to step up to the plate and play their part in the ongoing spiritual history of this land but I often feel that, for various reasons, Muslims fail to realise what a tremendous amount they have to offer their country.
The reality is that any failure of integration of British Muslims into mainstream British society is as much or more down to the non-muslim majority than it is to the Muslims themselves. A recent poll by Gallup found that 77% of Muslims say they “identified with the UK,” compared with only 50% of the public at large. That is despite 75% of British Muslims also identifying with their religion. This shows that their religious belief is no kind of barrier for the 82% of Muslims who say they are loyal to the UK. The barrier in fact seems to be coming from outside Muslim communities. The poll showed that only 36% of the general public would consider Muslims loyal to the country: in other words, a disturbing majority of the general British public, 67%, are suspicious of Muslims in general.
Integration cannot be a one-sided affair:
The writer and columnist, George Monbiot, wrote an article for the Guardian about the speech in which he quotes David Cameron’s words from it: “It cannot be right that people can grow up and go to school and hardly ever come into meaningful contact with people from other backgrounds and faiths.” He then says: “That’s true – and it applies as much to Eton as it does to faith schools in Birmingham. On social media, Cameron’s Bullingdon Club photograph is circulating, attached to another quote from his speech: ‘There are people born and raised in this country who don’t really identify with Britain – and who feel little or no attachment to other people here.’ There’s serious intent behind the joke.” Monbiot is right; it takes two to tango. Integration is not a one-sided affair. There must be an equal desire for integration, and serious efforts made to bring it about, on both sides of the divide, if we are to be successful in establishing the truly integrated society the Prime Minister and, indeed, all of us, wish to see.
The real enemy of Muslims of Britain:
The enemy the Muslims of Britain have to face is not the extremist ideology the Prime Minister imagines is so prevalent but rather the extreme exclusivity that keeps Muslims from different ethnic groups and different sectarian tendencies so definitively apart and prevents us from seeing ourselves as a genuine, homogeneous, indivisible British Muslim community.
My warmest thanks to Shaykh AbdalHaqq Bewley for sharing this excellent balanced analysis.