Thursday, February 16, 2006

The West as cradle for political Islam

I realise that I am getting very repetitive, but Amir Taheri is invaluable.

Here he is on the reasons for the radical politisation of Islam in the West. He quotes Azam Tamimi, a pro-Hamas British Muslim scholar.

"We have no religious grievances in this country. Here we can practise our religion with more freedom than in any Muslim-ruled country. It is therefore natural that we should focus on political rather than religious issues."
Yes. Quite. We have more religious and political freedom here that in our countries of origin, therefore we try to undermine the very structure that gives us those freedoms. Life is so difficult to understand, don't you find?
Taheri gives three reasons for this politisation.
The first is that Muslims in the West come from a wide variety of ethnic, sectarian and cultural backgrounds. Many have long histories of sectarian feuds in their homelands. Since those feuds cannot be continued here they tend to minimise the religious aspects of Islam and emphasise the political themes that can unite them.
For example, no Sunni Muslims could ever agree with a Qaderi or a Jaafari Muslim on key theological issues. But all three hate gay marriages and can unite in a march against Israel.
If the Jews didn't exist, yah dee yah dee
The second reason is that the public expression of Islam is controlled by political groups and parties that are often banned in the Muslim world itself...There are more than 400 Islamic associations and societies in Britain operating through some 2,000 mosques. But scratch any one of them and you will find that it is, in fact, a cover for a political movement.
Then we get to the really funny bit. Islam and the Left.
Today political Islam and the British extreme left are in coalition in a number of organisations, including the anti-war alliance. Muslims provide the street muscle and the "poor masses" that the traditionally atheistic extreme left lacks. In exchange the extreme left puts its experience in militant politics at the service of political Islam. Hatred of "bourgeois democracy", anti-Americanism and opposition to Israel provide the unifying factors of this unnatural alliance.
Well, I suppose that's what happens when History's vanguard ends up eating History's dust.

One quibble. Taheri's call for Muslims to recognise the difference between religious and political concerns does seem a little disingenuous. Is not this the evolutionary stage that Islam has never passed through? Is is not true that Sharia recognises no possibility of an overarching secular law? And that political Islam is seen, and probably is, the only means to acquire power that most Muslims have since they produce nothing else of economic or cultural value? The separation of their religion and politics is devoutly to be wished, but it is hardly there for the asking. It is difficult to see how it can happen without substantial civil development. But like Winnie-the-Pooh, the more they (and we) look for it, the more it isn't there.

No comments: