By: Hamza Yusuf
Given the choice, I would rather read a book than listen to a lecture. Books are wonderful companions: they offer their opinions, and if you disagree, they don’t seem to mind. I can reread when I find difficulty with what is written, and the book doesn’t think I’m stupid or get annoyed that I’m asking it to repeat itself, sometimes again and again. From a great author, I can acquire in a few hours what took him or her a lifetime of reflection and insight to realize. Despite that, on occasion, I have heard lectures that have moved me deeply. Recently, someone sent me a lecture insisting that I watch it. It was by an American convert to Islam (I don’t like the word “revert,” as we don’t revert to Islam; we convert – unless one was a Muslim, left it, and then returned), Dr. Jeffrey Lang, about the purpose of life. I found this lecture to be the most powerful I have ever heard from an American Muslim.
By: Mehdi Hasan
Dear liberal pundit,
You and I didn’t like George W Bush. Remember his puerile declaration after 9/11 that “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”? Yet now, in the wake of another horrific terrorist attack, you appear to have updated Dubya’s slogan: either you are with free speech… or you are against it. Either vous êtes Charlie Hebdo… or you’re a freedom-hating fanatic.
I’m writing to you to make a simple request: please stop. You think you’re defying the terrorists when, in reality, you’re playing into their bloodstained hands by dividing and demonising. Us and them. The enlightened and liberal west v the backward, barbaric Muslims. The massacre in Paris on 7 January was, you keep telling us, an attack on free speech. The conservative former French president Nicolas Sarkozy agrees, calling it “a war declared on civilisation”. So, too, does the liberal-left pin-up Jon Snow, who crassly tweeted about a “clash of civilisations” and referred to “Europe’s belief in freedom of expression”.
Has the integration of British Muslims failed?
This week, radical and extremist Islam has been at the heart of the news agenda, as a video circulated showing the beheading of an American journalist by an IS fighter who appeared to be of British extraction. Clearly, radical Islam exists in Britain but its roots, and the solutions to it, remain obscure.
It’s time for action
We have a huge problem with integration, and it’s being grossly underplayed. If about 500 British muslims have gone to fight in Iraq and Syria, assuming it’s mostly young Sunni males that’s one in every 800. It’s been three years since David Cameron pointed to the link between extremism and terrorist attacks in his speech in Munich, and the Department for Communities and Local Government, which was responsible for rolling out the counter-extremism strategy, has done nothing. Both the government and Muslim communities need to work together to resolve this. We’ve seen huge improvements in our lifetimes with racism and homophobia. If we can do it with them, we can do it with Islamist extremism, which is also a form of bigotry.
Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of counter-extremism think tank Quilliam