By: The Bristol Post
I AM Muslim. Not secular, progressive, liberal or any other of the fashionably contemporary labels that prefix Muslim. But, because I am not those, it does not mean that I am therefore a fundamentalist, extremist, fanatical or any of the other now wholly unfashionable labels that still prefix Muslim. I am just Muslim.
So, I despise the resurgence of an old term ‘Islamist’ – the latest in a series of attempts to slot Muslims into predefined boxes.
The term Islamism’s first run lasted from Voltaire to the First World War – an all-encompassing term to refer to Islam. It was considered an improvement to the previously used ‘Mohammedanism’. As knowledge improved, the orientalists of old became embarrassed to use it, eventually yielding to the term that Muslims applied for themselves: ‘Islam’. The orientalists of now have no such apprehensions using it.
To illustrate how absurd it is, the word ‘Islam’ means to ‘surrender (to the will of God)’. ‘Islamist’ literally translates as ‘surrenderist’! Cringe-worthy, isn’t it?
Probably the most outspoken proponent of using the term is the self-styled “world’s first counter-extremism think-tank”, Quilliam.
I believe they are controversial not because they “counter extremism” but because of their ideas on how to do it. For instance, they produced a ‘secret list’ of UK Muslim organizations they deemed extremist. It included a Scotland Yard unit.
Recently, Quilliam’s co-founder, Maajid Nawaaz, promoted a cartoon strip of the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus, which included depictions of them at a bar drinking alcohol and sharing a bed together considering the virtues of homosexuality.
Maajid also promotes the idea of “a conveyor belt” theory of radicalization.
When he was challenged about the total lack of evidence for his theory, he replied, “There is inconclusive evidence to the contrary”. I could be wrong, but I don’t think this is a credible basis for a counter-extremism policy.
Maajid claims to have the ear of the Prime Minister, and a very senior officer within counter-terrorism recently told me that Government believes “Quilliam is the way forward”. Really?
Quilliam, which defines ‘Islamism’ as basically any Muslim that supports the idea of an Islamic state, is itself named after a man who, by that very definition, was an ardent ‘Islamist’ – William Quilliam, a 19th-century British convert to Islam. He was an opponent of the British empire and a supporter of the Caliphate – the Islamic state – who even argued that Muslims should not fight Muslims on behalf of European powers.
Do I believe in universal human rights? Yes. Do I believe in equality of all before the law? Yes. Do I believe in the right of people to elect their own government? Yes. Do I encourage integration? Yes.
But, if after all that, I also support the idea of a United States of Islam, governed by the same principles, why then, according to the Quilliam world view, do I suddenly become an enemy of the state?
I do not impose my faith on others. Do not impose definitions of Islam on me.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of MuslimVillage.com.