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My plea to fellow Muslims: you must renounce terror

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  • mohammad imran
    Comment My plea to fellow Muslims: you must renounce terror As the bombers return to Britain, Hassan Butt, who was once a member of radical group
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 30, 2007
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      My plea to fellow Muslims: you must renounce terror

      As the bombers return to Britain, Hassan Butt, who was once a member of
      radical group Al-Muhajiroun, raising funds for extremists and calling
      for attacks on British citizens, explains why he was wrong

      Sunday July 1, 2007
      The Observer

      When I was still a member of what is probably best termed the British
      Jihadi Network, a series of semi-autonomous British Muslim terrorist
      groups linked by a single ideology, I remember how we used to laugh in
      celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for
      Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was
      Western foreign policy.

      By blaming the government for our actions, those who pushed the
      'Blair's bombs' line did our propaganda work for us. More important,
      they also helped to draw away any critical examination from the real
      engine of our violence: Islamic theology.

      Article continues
      Friday's attempt to cause mass destruction in London with strategically
      placed car bombs is so reminiscent of other recent British Islamic
      extremist plots that it is likely to have been carried out by my former

      And as with previous terror attacks, people are again articulating the
      line that violence carried out by Muslims is all to do with foreign
      policy. For example, yesterday on Radio 4's Today programme, the mayor
      of London, Ken Livingstone, said: 'What all our intelligence shows
      about the opinions of disaffected young Muslims is the main driving
      force is not Afghanistan, it is mainly Iraq.'

      He then refused to acknowledge the role of Islamist ideology in
      terrorism and said that the Muslim Brotherhood and those who give a
      religious mandate to suicide bombings in Palestine were genuinely
      representative of Islam.

      I left the BJN in February 2006, but if I were still fighting for their
      cause, I'd be laughing once again. Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of
      the 7 July bombings, and I were both part of the BJN - I met him on two
      occasions - and though many British extremists are angered by the
      deaths of fellow Muslim across the world, what drove me and many of my
      peers to plot acts of extreme terror within Britain, our own homeland
      and abroad, was a sense that we were fighting for the creation of a
      revolutionary state that would eventually bring Islamic justice to the

      How did this continuing violence come to be the means of promoting this
      (flawed) utopian goal? How do Islamic radicals justify such terror in
      the name of their religion? There isn't enough room to outline
      everything here, but the foundation of extremist reasoning rests upon a
      dualistic model of the world. Many Muslims may or may not agree with
      secularism but at the moment, formal Islamic theology, unlike Christian
      theology, does not allow for the separation of state and religion.
      There is no 'rendering unto Caesar' in Islamic theology because state
      and religion are considered to be one and the same. The centuries-old
      reasoning of Islamic jurists also extends to the world stage where the
      rules of interaction between Dar ul-Islam (the Land of Islam) and Dar
      ul-Kufr (the Land of Unbelief) have been set down to cover almost every
      matter of trade, peace and war.

      What radicals and extremists do is to take these premises two steps
      further. Their first step has been to reason that since there is no
      Islamic state in existence, the whole world must be Dar ul-Kufr. Step
      two: since Islam must declare war on unbelief, they have declared war
      upon the whole world. Many of my former peers, myself included, were
      taught by Pakistani and British radical preachers that this
      reclassification of the globe as a Land of War (Dar ul-Harb) allows any
      Muslim to destroy the sanctity of the five rights that every human is
      granted under Islam: life, wealth, land, mind and belief. In Dar
      ul-Harb, anything goes, including the treachery and cowardice of
      attacking civilians.

      This understanding of the global battlefield has been a source of
      friction for Muslims living in Britain. For decades, radicals have been
      exploiting these tensions between Islamic theology and the modern
      secular state for their benefit, typically by starting debate with the
      question: 'Are you British or Muslim?' But the main reason why radicals
      have managed to increase their following is because most Islamic
      institutions in Britain just don't want to talk about theology. They
      refuse to broach the difficult and often complex topic of violence
      within Islam and instead repeat the mantra that Islam is peace, focus
      on Islam as personal, and hope that all of this debate will go away.

      This has left the territory of ideas open for radicals to claim as
      their own. I should know because, as a former extremist recruiter,
      every time mosque authorities banned us from their grounds, it felt
      like a moral and religious victory.

      Outside Britain, there are those who try to reverse this two-step
      revisionism. A handful of scholars from the Middle East has tried to
      put radicalism back in the box by saying that the rules of war devised
      by Islamic jurists were always conceived with the existence of an
      Islamic state in mind, a state which would supposedly regulate jihad in
      a responsible Islamic fashion. In other words, individual Muslims don't
      have the authority to go around declaring global war in the name of

      But there is a more fundamental reasoning that has struck me and a
      number of other people who have recently left radical Islamic networks
      as a far more potent argument because it involves stepping out of this
      dogmatic paradigm and recognising the reality of the world: Muslims
      don't actually live in the bipolar world of the Middle Ages any more.

      The fact is that Muslims in Britain are citizens of this country. We
      are no longer migrants in a Land of Unbelief. For my generation, we
      were born here, raised here, schooled here, we work here and we'll stay
      here. But more than that, on a historically unprecedented scale,
      Muslims in Britain have been allowed to assert their religious identity
      through clothing, the construction of mosques, the building of
      cemeteries and equal rights in law.

      However, it isn't enough for Muslims to say that because they feel at
      home in Britain they can simply ignore those passages of the Koran
      which instruct on killing unbelievers. By refusing to challenge
      centuries-old theological arguments, the tensions between Islamic
      theology and the modern world grow larger every day. It may be
      difficult to swallow but the reason why Abu Qatada - the Islamic
      scholar whom Palestinian militants recently called to be released in
      exchange for the kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston - has a
      following is because he is extremely learned and his religious rulings
      are well argued. His opinions, though I now thoroughly disagree with
      them, have validity within the broad canon of Islam.

      Since leaving the BJN, many Muslims have accused me of being a traitor.
      If I knew of any impending attack, then I would have no hesitation in
      going to the police, but I have not gone to the authorities, as some
      reports have suggested, and become an informer.

      I believe that the issue of terrorism can be easily demystified if
      Muslims and non-Muslims start openly to discuss the ideas that fuel
      terrorism. (The Muslim community in Britain must slap itself awake from
      this state of denial and realise there is no shame in admitting the
      extremism within our families, communities and worldwide
      co-religionists.) However, demystification will not be achieved if the
      only bridges of engagement that are formed are between the BJN and the
      security services.

      If our country is going to take on radicals and violent extremists,
      Muslim scholars must go back to the books and come forward with a
      refashioned set of rules and a revised understanding of the rights and
      responsibilities of Muslims whose homes and souls are firmly planted in
      what I'd like to term the Land of Co-existence. And when this new
      theological territory is opened up, Western Muslims will be able to
      liberate themselves from defunct models of the world, rewrite the rules
      of interaction and perhaps we will discover that the concept of killing
      in the name of Islam is no more than an anachronism.

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