Dr Taj Hargey on the challenges facing Islam and Muslims in Britian today

The horrific killing of a British soldier in Woolwich last week is utterly reprehensible. This monstrous murder fills all thinking British Muslims with revulsion but re-energises forward-looking believers to redouble efforts to seize the agenda from ideological fanatics who besmirch Islam.

Even before the Woolwich atrocity, the British Muslim community was in the spotlight with the conviction of a Muslim paedophile gang in Oxford. Now, two misguided Muslims — significantly opportunistic converts to Islam — have heaped further opprobrium upon observant Muslims.

This terrible scourge of paedophilia and terrorism within certain sections of British Islam is sadly reflective of the broader incapacity of Muslims to fully integrate with the mainstream.

If UK Muslims were genuine stakeholders in British society, the ideological drivers that fuels immoral sexuality and bloody terrorism would be inhibited, if not eradicated altogether.

British Muslims must, as a prerequisite, cast off all variants of imported religious dogma that relentlessly advocates gender apartheid, women’s subordination, interfaith intolerance, intransigent militancy and other human rights violations. If they do not wean themselves from this toxic theology, far-right organisations will only exploit burgeoning social tensions. British Muslims are exposed to poisonous propaganda by three major institutions: the mullahs, the mosques and the madrasahs. The mullahs (clerics like Anjem Choudary, Omar Bakri Muhammad and even some other respected figures) preach a primitive dichotomy between Muslims going to heaven and unbelievers going to hell, a virulent ‘them and us’ mentality that extends to every walk of life.

The most egregious non-Qur’anic symbols of these twisted doctrines include face-masks, headscarves, beards, pyjama-like robes, etc.

This malignant message is funded by Saudi petrodollars and is drip-fed to unquestioning worshippers in mosques, and then upon impressionable young minds in the madrasahs, Muslim supplementary schools.

This warped Wahhabi/Salafi and Deobandi/Tablighi indoctrination is not derived from the Holy Qur’an. It stems from a trio of manufactured ecclesiastical sources: the reputed hadith sayings of the Prophet Muhammad compiled 300 years after his death; the archaic shari’ah — not God’s law, but a concoction of medieval clerical opinion; and priestly fatwahs — dodgy religious rulings from a wretched clergy.

With no effective counter-balancing narrative that Muslims should be integrated stakeholders in British society, this intemperate brainwashing furnishes the gateway theology for some deluded Muslims to become radicalised and/or disaffected, often turning to terrorism, paedophilia and other criminality. While the ‘popular’ theology that is peddled by Islamic institutions is directly responsible for religious belligerency, there are other unpalatable reasons behind the Woolwich barbarity. There is a definite correlation between Blair’s illegal invasion of Iraq and the advent of Muslim terrorism in the UK.

Before New Labour slavishly followed American foreign policy to embark upon non-UN sanctioned intervention in the Middle East, there was no Muslim violent extremism in Britain. This in no way excuses the despicable converts to Islamic fundamentalism (who, by the way, forlornly awaited religious martyrdom — the hadith states martyrs have the heavenly reward of 72 virgins).

But Labour leaders must be held accountable for dragging this country into needless US-inspired foreign adventures. They too have blood on their hands for giving Muslim radicals a pernicious ‘justification’ that unsurprisingly manifested itself on London’s streets.

It is high time that Britain honestly addresses the roots of Islamic terrorism instead of focusing just on its detestable results.

Rather than adopting a diversionary ‘Snoopers’ Charter’ to monitor everyone’s communications (which would not at any rate have prevented the Woolwich murderers), the Government needs to tackle the non-Qur’anic foundations and religious programming that underpins Islamic fanaticism and Muslim alienation.

Instead of funding groups that are in denial and those which champion divisive Saudi/Pakistani Islam in this country, taxpayer money should support enlightened Muslims advancing a British Islam that is rooted in and relevant to UK society.

For British Muslims to move forward, we need a wholesale root and branch reform of the faith so that it becomes naturalised to Britain, while remaining faithful to the authentic Qur’anic principles of cosmopolitan pluralism and peaceful co-existence.

  • Dr Taj Hargey is director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford and Imam of the Oxford Islamic Congregation