I would advise extreme caution. However, not all the eventualities I am about to suggest will necessarily come to pass if such a meeting were to take place. Despite that, it’s still best to be forewarned about what very well may happen at such an event. Who knows, perhaps I am too sceptical - or even too cynical - about such matters. Perhaps EDL members will persuade some of these Muslims to abandon all their calls for sharia law or persuade them to openly denounce every Islamist/Muslim state throughout the world. Who knows?
It must be realised that through this invitation to members of the EDL these Muslims are simply carrying what all Muslims should do. That is, Muslims are told to spread the faith - to proselytise on behalf of their religion. Or, in Islamic terms, Muslims are expected to carry Islamic da’wah to all non-Muslims.
In a sense, this invitation has the same purpose, for Muslims, as InterFaith meetings and events.
Here again Muslims use such things to carry out da’wah on/to non-Muslims. This isn’t how the largely Methodist and Anglican organisers see InterFaith, of course. Then again, it can be said that that may be because their faith is not as strong, and their religion not as absolute and demanding, as Islam is for Muslims.
Thus is it really simply a cynical interpretation to argue that InterFaith tends to only work in one direction -
from Muslims to non-Muslims, rather than from non-Muslims to Muslims?
The primary task of InterFaith for Muslims, if not for Anglicans and Methodists, is to advance Islam; not to learn about other people’s religions. From what I know and from what I’ve read, InterFaith’s primary purpose seems to be to teach Islam primarily to Christians. It is not to teach Christianity, or any other religion, to Muslims. This is not such a cynical interpretation to make once you realise what it is which makes Islam so different from the other monotheistic faiths; and what makes Muslims so different from the majority of Christians.
After all, Islam, or the Koran, warns Muslims about infidels thus:
‘Believers, do not choose the infidels rather than the faithful for your friends.’
‘Believers, take neither the Jews nor the Christians for your friends... Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their number.’ (Koran, ‘The Table’, 5:51)
The temptation of - or from - other faiths, as it were, must be constantly resisted by Muslims and certainly shouldn’t be nourished by things like two-directional InterFaith meetings.
The same will happen if members of the EDL do indeed take up this invitation to debate or discuss things with Muslims at the UKIM Islamic Centre and Khadijah Mosque in Peterborough. Here again the session will no doubt be in one direction. Or, I should say, that this is how the Muslims involved will see it. That is, instead of open-minded (or gullible) Methodists and Anglicans being the subject of Islamic da’wah, members of the EDL will receive the same treatment instead from Muslims. It won’t be a case of Muslims learning about the problems EDL members have with Islam and the behaviour of particular Muslims. It will be an opportunity for Muslims to spread the faith, through dawah, to non-Muslims from the EDL.
It certainly won’t be case of Muslims sincerely wanting to learn about the problems of implementing sharia law - even if just in ‘civil cases’, or wearing the jilbab and burqa - in a Western secular society. Again, once you understand the nature of Islam, and, by derivation, the behaviour and attitudes of Muslims, this rather cynical use of InterFaith, or meetings with EDL members, by Muslims shouldn't be a surprise.
Islam is an absolutist faith which demands absolute loyalty from every Muslim. And, as I said earlier, there are many Koranic injunctions not to go where there will be ‘temptations’ from other religions or from infidel lifestyles. The temptations which come from other faiths and non-Muslims lifestyles is a constant refrain throughout Islam and the history of Muslim behaviour.
For example, some commentators have argued that it was never hegemonic imperial power of the United States which really disturbed and worried the late Ayatollah Khomeini, but the temptations it advertised just by being what it is (just by being) - a democratic capitalist and relatively free society, with many virtues as well as many vices. As Bernard Lewis writes:
‘.... it is the seductive appeal of American culture, far more than any possible hostile acts by American government, that [‘Islamic ideologists’] see as offering the greatest menace to the true faith and the right path as they define them. By denouncing America as the Great Satan, the late Ayatollah Khomeini was paying an unconscious tribute to that seductive appeal.’ (396)
As usual, the Muslims at this mosque will not be capable of even comprehending even the possibility that people may have negative or critical notions of Islam or the behaviour of Muslims as Muslims. They will say that everything critical is a ‘myth’ or just downright ‘false’.
Fiaz Kauser, the spokesman for the Islamic Centre in Peterborough, says that he would like to ‘clear any misconceptions people have about Islam’. Which ‘misconceptions’ are they? That there aren’t over one hundred exhortations to violent jihad in the Koran? That suicide bombers really believe they are behaving as true Muslims and in line with Islam and the Koran? That sharia is often a brutal and misogynist set of laws?
Are all these arguments or positions, by definition, ‘myths’ or ‘misconceptions’ according to Muslims? Is every negative - or critical - view of Islam, or of the behaviour of Mohamed the prophet, a result of ‘media brainwashing’?
It probably won’t be the case that these Muslims concede outright all - or any! - of the EDL’s critical remarks about Islam. What they will attempt to do is interpret the negatives and make them seem more palatable and kuffar-friendly. That’s if critical takes on Islam aren’t rejected out of hand or subject to dexterous Islamic taqiyya.
The EDL 'styles itself...'
Have you ever noticed the slightly sarcastic, or at least critical, ways of describing the EDL in both regional and national newspapers? This article uses the phrase that the EDL ‘styles itself as being against Islamic extremism’. ‘Styles itself’? Journalists, and others, don’t write that the Conservative Party styles itself as an an upholder of parliamentary democracy or even that it is a party which styles itself as favouring lower taxes.
They also say that the EDL ‘see itself as being against Islamic militants’. ‘Sees itself’? Why not? - The EDL is against Islamic militants. Again, they don’t say that train-spotters see themselves as people who spot trains or that the Labour Party sees itself as a party which is in favour of the democratic system.
Another example would be that the EDL ‘claims to be against Islamic extremism’. So what do all these phrases actually mean? Does ‘the EDL styles itself...’ mean that the EDL alone styles itself but no one else does? Or that the EDL styles itself as being against Islamic extremism but it really isn’t? Or does the 'EDL sees itself as being against Islamic militancy’ really mean the EDL is really just against all Muslims. Full stop?
'Mosque Opens its doors to EDL Members', from the Ahlul Bayt News Agency. 8.8.2011
A Peterborough mosque and Islamic Centre issued an invitation to local EDL members for a meeting to discuss the misconceptions about Islam.
The EDL styles itself as being against Islamic extremism and Sharia Law, and the mosque's invite drew interest from national leader Stephen Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson.
But a spokesman for the Islamic Centre Fiaz Kauser made it clear that the invitation was for EDL members local to Peterborough, rather than members of the national group.
It follows information stalls the Islamic Centre put up in Peterborough city centre in recent weeks, which prompted debate between mosque members and members of the EDL who approached them, where the mosque sought to dispel some preconceptions people have about Islam.
Fiaz Kauser, spokesman for the centre : "We held the stall in Bridge Street at the weekend where we gave out information about Islam and the Qur'an on Saturday.
"We have put up the stall across the region on a number of occasions to clear any misconceptions people have of Islam.
"We also hope that people can challenge themselves to learn more.
"We always have a lot of interest because of what is happening elsewhere in the world and reports people hear about what the Qur'an says."
Mr Kauser said a member of the EDL actually stopped to talk with mosque members at the stall on Saturday.
He said: "A member of the EDL approached us and it actually was a very positive incident.
"He was asking questions and listening to the answers we were giving.
"We had a similar incident in Wisbech previously, where a member of the EDL approached us to talk about Sharia law - he did not know what it was, but had a number of misconceptions.
"We were able to explain what Sharia law was and answer all his questions.
"When he left he actually apologised for some of his previous views.
"He was more polite than some other people who approached us, who kept interrupting and not letting us finish.
"Following the day we decided to invite EDL members in Peterborough to come to the mosque for a question and answer session and to learn more about Islam.
"We would also like them to join us for a meal during Ramadan when we open our fast."
The EDL held a large march in Peterborough on Saturday, 11 December last year, with more than 1,000 protesters in attendance.
The protest group was set up two years ago by a group of football fans in Luton to oppose what they perceive as the rise of extreme Islam and Sharia Law.