April 3, 2015

Patriotic British Muslims

A response to Dan Hodges

by Atif Rashid

Dan Hodges was right when he started his ill-informed article Too many of Britain’s Muslims are failing to integrate. We need to find out why (Daily Telegraph 1 September 2014), by saying ‘We can’t carry on like this. We just can’t.’ Indeed, we simply can’t carry on blaming Muslims for what aren’t even Muslim issues.

Hodges tried ever so forcefully to make the point that Muslims have failed to integrate into the British society. He refers to ‘ISIL’ as a ‘Muslim terror threat’, he labels the Rotherham rapists as ‘Muslim sex gangs’ and claims that secular Birmingham schools were actually ‘Muslim schools’. Doesn’t he realise that ‘ISIL’ is a terrorist state only posing as an Islamic state and the Rotherham Rapists are just that – rapists? And that the Birmingham schools were just normal secular schools, which were infiltrated by some perverse and extremist minded individuals?

These issues have nothing to do with Islam or Muslims. Terrorists and terrorist states have existed in history regardless of religious misuse and influence. Rapists existed in England long before any so called Muslim was accused of the crime. And perverse minded people and extremists have also existed long before now. Such people and such issues exist in England and other parts of the world in some form or another regardless of religion. To single out Muslims and assert that we therefore have to inquire as to why Muslims haven’t integrated is sheer folly.

Muslims have integrated into British society and take part actively in many British values and traditions. If a small number of them act deviously and disregard the basic elements of their faith while claiming to follow it, then many others who don’t claim to be Muslim do so as well. The fact that Muslims have committed some crimes doesn’t make this a Muslim problem. It makes it a social issue like any other, which needs to be addressed by both the British society and the Muslim community together.

Furthermore, it’s no use labeling such criminals as ‘Muslim terrorists’ or ‘Muslim rapists’. A rapist is a rapist and a terrorist is a terrorist regardless of what he may or may not claim to believe in and follow.

The question therefore is why we, Britain, have as a nation failed to address the issues in our society regardless of which group or community commits them? And furthermore, why have some British Muslims not acted in accordance with their faith and lived as peaceful, law-abiding and contributive citizens as their faith requires them to do so? The question isn’t as Hodges puts it, ‘why have Muslims failed to integrate into British society’. It’s as if he blames non-integration as the cause of all social ills! Even well integrated individuals sometimes cause problems in society. Were the 2011 London riots due to non-integration and was that Christian problem?

Mr. Hodges paints such a dark and frightening picture of British Muslims as if there is not even a single patriotic or loyal British Muslim citizen alive in the UK. I have to greatly differ on both his assertion and conclusion.

For over a century now the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK has pledged loyalty to Britain and actively involved itself in all good British values.

Just last summer, when only a handful of young Muslims travelled to join ‘ISIL’, thousands of Ahmadi British Muslims travelled to join their fellow brothers in an effort to promote, peace, brotherhood, unity and accord amongst one another. 5000 British Muslim youth from across the nation gathered in Farnham, Surrey to pledge loyalty to the country and firmly commit to sacrifice their wealth, lives, time and honor for not only their faith but also their nation. This is a regular event that will be held again this June.

Furthermore, during the International Annual Convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, guests are pleasantly surprised to see the Union Jack flying high with the Ahmadiyya Muslim flag. If there was ever a better expression of loyalty and love for one’s nation by British Muslims we’d like to see it.

More recently the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association held its national football tournament in Scotland. Ahmadi Muslim youth from across the England and Wales travelled to Glasgow to participate. Through the nine hour long journey, the minibus carrying the boys was filled with melodies of the national anthem as Muslim British boys passionately sang ‘God save our gracious Queen’. This was recorded if anyone wishes to hear, although I must warn that the tune was perhaps not pitch perfect! Now tell me that Muslims haven’t integrated into British society.

Let’s be clear here, the actions of some so-called Muslims are abhorrent, despicable and totally against the true teachings of Islam. But this must not be confused with Islam and certainly it must not overshadow the positive work Muslims have contributed so much to in Britain – from serving in its armed forces to collecting to the war veterans. Yet Dan Hodges and so many others unfortunately miss this gem in the British society. So I share the sentiment – we can’t carry on like this, we simply can’t.