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Search for the Truth or Tooth?

The Muslim Sufi channel on Sky called Noor TV run by Pir Alauddin Siddqui from Birmingham features an interesting debate show on Sunday Evening called Search for the Truth. The format of the show consists of an incredibly biased individual who “chairs” the debate, along with a seemingly keen learner who is there to extrapolate convincing arguments from each debatee of which there are two.

The first of the debating panel is a sister of Salafi orientation with the typical characteristics of harshness, being dismissive and zealous. The other is our Sufi sister, probably a die hard Mureed of the Pir saab, with the typical Sufi persona. Together, they debate the most controversial issues ranging from Shirk, grave worshipping to kissing the feet of pious people. We have been watching this show for a while and the conclusion is almost always predictably in favour of the Sufis at the expense of the Salafi sister’s shortcomings and inability to formulate a convincing argument – at least not to her panelist, the channel or the audience mainly beause they are all sufis.

The show almost always typically ends with the Salafi sister left to say, ‘I will go back to my Shaykha and come back on this’ only they never continue with the same topic again, not that she would anyway. The arguments are convincing although surprisingly the notes of the presenter, the keen learner and the debater are all somehow synchorised and often gang up on the Salafi sister.

The last debate was on kissing the feet of the Pious, the sufi sister quoted a Hadith in favour of it which was denied by the Salafi sister as it did not exist in her version of Adab al-Mufrad of Imam Bukhari compiled by her Shaykh Al-Bani. The response which followed from all three Sufi panelists was not based on a discussion on strength of hadith neither the classfication, rather an attack was launched on Al-Bani, accusing him of tempering with the original texts – a debate the Salafi sister could not win. She failed to mention that Al-Bani was a Muhadith well qualified in sciences of Hadith possessing the necessary skills to scruitanise and reclassify hadith, a process of Renewal (tajdid) which is far from corrupting or tempering, but rather is a process of purification and preservation.

Anyway, week in week out they are debating complex issues using references which are literally read out from pieces of paper. There is lots of arguing and every effort is made to show the weakness in Salafi methodology in favour of an Islam which revolves around Shrines, Peers, kissing the hands and feet of the ‘pious’, Khatm, yarween sharif and such. Don’t get me wrong, I am not Salafi or anything but I certainly do not take any of these practices seriously.

As for the show, I think its a complete sham and a setup. If the Salafi sister was sincerely there to propogate the Salafi manhaj, she would do her “research” and present her arguments more convincingly and soundly rather than by ranting “and you should stop doing xyz, seriously-its bida’h” or “Memona can never break this argument, I say we finish the show here!” and expecting them to agree. The sufiesque sister on the other hand regularly goes off topic and begins to link random points to her arguments to make them seem more lofty, tolerant and inclusive, using the “impressionable keen learner” to acquiese with her point much to the chair’s satisfaction who often also sides with her and regularly joins the debate.

Makes for good Sunday night entertainment as long as you are not Salafi!

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March for Shariah

Sunday 31st October will see a series of marches and possibly counter protest marches taking place in Central London’s key locations: House of Commons, 10 Downing Street, and Trafalgar square. March for Shariah is what the uproar and furore is about, caused by Anjem Choudury’s  Islam4uk group  and Al-Muhajiroun formerly known as al-Ghurabaa, famous for protesting against British troops in Luton and their exiled controversial guide Omar Bakri.

In the minds of many the event is organised in retaliation to the recent EDL’s anti-Islam marches, though there is no hint of that in any of the advertisement by the organisers who claim the march is against the rather declining political, social and economic situation in the country. They have a vision like all other ideologues but with a difference. They believe Shariah to be a system superior to the current liberal democracy and wish to demonstrate and share with the British public their vision of a ‘better’ Britain.

Recent months have been particularly debilitating for the British population who have struggled to get by as basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter have become more cumbersome to obtain. The MPs’ expenses scandal that shocked the nation unfortunately also demonstrates the cruel indifference the British government has towards its citizens and moreover how they appear to be more concerned with wasting public money on personal frivolities than investing it for the betterment of society.

As a result of this perpetual malaise, Islam4UK with the help of sincere Muslims launched a series of Islamic Roadshow’s that provided a real answer to the problems faced by the British community; with over 16 different locations already hit including……

Islam4UK will also publish, as a run up to this special event, a fascinating insight into how Britain’s architecture, transport and culture will be revolutionised under the Shari’ah.

Source: Islam4uk website

Any such provocative political event with a religious twist will agitate the secular people of a secular liberal society as the very basis of their value system is being challenged and perhaps ridiculed. Naturally there will be opposition from the far right and supporters of liberalism and secular democracy including some Muslims. The hype from EDL’s recent anti-Islam marches has not completely died down so it seems Anjem’s timing is great to further fuel anti-Islam sentiments and anger far-right groups.  No doubt, such an event will generate the kind of reaction Anjem and his group intend on creating: to really push the limits and test the heights they can reach before a ban is splashed out or other Muslims become victim of the backlash.

By a basic definition Shari’ah are laws of Islam to do with everyday life which Muslims must adhere to. Laws concerning ritual acts, contracts, rights, interactions, eating and drinking and so on. One aspect of the Shari’ah is the penal code or the punishment system which is often paraded around the media out of context creating a barbaric and backward image in minds of the people. Although, when explained properly most victim of heinous crimes in Britain would welcome Shari’ah punishments with open arms.

However, there should be no confusion between what most Muslims want when they call for Shari’ah and what Anjem and his group are marching for. Most Muslims would like their Islamic marriages, Wills, right to wear hijab, Mosques, Charities to be recognised and not for the killing of homosexuals.

As Muslims we believe in the Shari’ah but the discussion here is not the Shariah as it has wrongly become so, rather the implementation of it. There is a disagreement between different Muslim groups and scholars about the implementation of Shari’ah in the Muslim world, its method, implementation and how the society would be shaped. How can this debate possibly extend to the non-muslim Western world where the majority of people are unaccepting of Islam and hostile towards its laws?  What we have here is hot air,  media hype, publicity stunts, and a provocation for whats to come and if not that then just wishful thinking.

British society should have nothing to fear, at least not from Islam and Muslims who have lived in Britain for decades and have contributed positively to society in many ways. The only people we all need to fear, reject and fight against are people destroying community cohesion, spreading hate, racism, fascism, drugs, anti social behaviour, binge drinking, in particular knife and gun crimes. Let’s all worry about real problems and work together to make our streets safer.