ii) Who are the Islamists?
iii) The Islamists Against the Neo-Cons
iv) Most Muslims are For the Islamists
v) Bunglawala on Wahhabism
vi) Conclusion: Keep Silent About the Islamists!
The following is a commentary on Inayat Bunglawala’s extremely critical review of Ed Husain’s popular book, The Islamist. Bunglawala is currently the main media spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain.
Ed Husain helps run the Quilliam Foundation (which was set up - and then funded - by the Government to help ‘counteract Islamic extremism’) with the Swiss academic, Tariq Ramadan.
My reading of Bunglawala’s review of The Islamist led me to conclude that Bunglawala is not very keen on ‘counteracting Islamic extremism’, especially if it is fellow Muslims (or ‘Muslims’) who are doing the counteracting. Perhaps he sees them as traitors. He does indeed accuse Ed Husain of ‘washing his dirty linen in public’.
Who are the Islamists?
Bunglawala (ironically) notes Husain’s position on Islamism thus:
‘political Islam’ = ‘extremism’ = ‘Islamists’
Thus Bunglawala, on the other hand, believes that
Political Islam is not extreme. Therefore Islamists are not extreme.
Why else would he (ironically) note Husain’s position on Islamism if he didn’t believe the opposite? However, even though in one breath he appears to defend Islamism, he then goes on to question Husain’s inclusion of Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Islamic Forum Europe, the Muslim Association of Britain, and Bunglawala’s own Muslim Council of Britain, as examples of Islamist organisations. Thus, to Inayat, none of these groups are either Islamist or extreme. This is strange.
Bunglawala goes on to say that Hizb ut-Tahrir has changed. Honest. They’ve really changed. That’s funny. It was only yesterday that they carried out acts of violence against the Islamophile tyrant-lover, George Galloway. They threatened to hang him in the gallows for pretending to be a new prophet – ‘a false prophet’. Now if this is Hizb ut-Tahrir’s new-found moderation, I would hate to know what they used to be like. Perhaps back then they would have crucified Galloway instead.
Bunglawala then defends Hizb ut-Tahrir some more. Again, he disagrees with Husain’s analysis. So what does Bunglawala disagree with? That
‘HT as being not actual terrorists themselves, then at the very least they are a conveyor belt for graduation to terrorist activities.’
The funny thing is that Bunglawala doesn’t say why this analysis is wrong. All he can do is tar Husain with the brush that is Daniel Pipes. That is, Bunglawala thinks that Husain is wrong quite simply because he ‘appears here to have adopted the Daniel Pipes theory of HT’. My guess is that Husain didn’t need to adopt, borrow or plagiarise Daniel Pipes’ theory at all. After all, Husain spent quite some time with HT. If that was indeed the case, then he wouldn’t have needed Daniel Pipes or anyone else to infect his thinking about the Hizb ut-Tahrir. He knows what he needs to know about this lovely group. And what he knows he doesn’t like. What Bunglawala knows about the Hizb, on the other hand, Bunglawala does appear to like. Each to his own.
It is no surprise, then, that Bunglawala thinks that it was a good thing that ‘New Labour fail[ed] to carry out their threat to ban HT’. Of course Bunglawala was against the ban because he believes, very strongly, in the freedom of speech… for extreme Muslim groups, but not for Danish cartoonists, Anglo-Indian novelists and Dutch politicians.
What about the Islamic Forum Europe? The following occurred not yesterday (as with the Galloway/HT tête-à-tête), but only the other week. This organisation was found to be trying to intimidate voters and influence various MPs and councillors. It was also accused of entry-ism in various non-Muslim organisations. So Bunglawala thinks that the Islamic Forum Europe is moderate and not Islamist?
Now what about the ‘non-Islamist’ Muslim Association of Britain? Non-Islamist? Really? The MAB is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is also a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Azzam Tamimi is the main spokesman for the MAB. He has also held many talks with Hamas and has frequently defended both suicide bombings and terrorism generally. If the MAB is not Islamist to Bunglawala, then who the hell is?
Now what about Bunglawala's very own Muslim Council of Britain? That too is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. It too defends terrorists and suicide bombers. However, it has a slightly more media-friendly image that the MAB.
The Islamists Versus the Neo-Cons: Guilt by Association
The logic is simple for Islamists like Bunglawala (as well as far leftists). If one does not subscribe to the Islamist (or far leftist) position on X, then one is, by definition, a ‘neo-con’ or a ‘neo-liberal’. Thus we have a simple binary opposition:
Islamism (or far leftism) ↔ neo-conservatism
Take the example of Ed Husain in this respect. Because Husain did not have the same position on Saddam Hussein and the Iraq War as Inayat and the far left did, then Husain simply must have ‘embraced the neo-con narrative’. Bunglawala is saying that
you are either for us, or you are a neo-con.
The thought of other possibilities, neither Islamist nor neo-con, simply don’t enter Bunglawala’s mind. Hussain is a neo-con, to Bunglawala, simply because he had a negative and critical view of Saddam Hussain and thus was in favour of the invasion of Iraq.
Thus Husain’s position on Saddam Hussein and the war was not wrong because it was, well, wrong. It was wrong because it was the same as the ‘neo-con narrative’ on Saddam Hussein and the war. This is a case of guilt by association if ever I saw one.
And just as Bunglawala dismisses Husain’s position because it is allegedly the same as Daniel Pipes’, so the Islamophile par excellence, Madeline Bunting (also quoted by Inayat), rejects Husain because his points and opinions have been taken up by people with a ‘rightwing and anti-Islamic sentiment’. Is this another case of guilt by association? Can Husain be held responsible for the many and varied people who will read and perhaps then quote his book? Perhaps a few serial killers will also read and then quote his book. Who knows? Unless Bunting is really claiming that Husain is actually encouraging ‘right-wingers’ to ‘feast on his testimony’. Should Husain therefore hide the truth because the truth may get into the wrong hands? Who will then decide whose the right and wrong hands are? Will it be Madeline Bunting or will it be Inayat himself?
Most Muslims are For the Islamists
Bunglawala makes a confession. (Or is it actually a slip of the tongue?) I’ll explain.
Muslim ‘moderates’ are always telling us that ‘not all Muslims are Islamists or extremists’. Indeed Bunglawala himself has often said this. However, he also says that Ed Husain
‘tries hard in the book to portray himself, and not the dreaded “Islamists”, as being in tune with the majority of Muslim
opinion in the UK.’
Clearly Bunglawala thinks that Husain is wrong about this. Thus Bunglawala must believe that
The Islamists, and not ‘moderates’ like Ed Husain, are really the ones who are in tune with the majority of Muslim opinion in the UK.
This is just what many non-Muslim sceptics have always thought. Thanks, Bunglawala, for confirming our suspicion about the so-called ‘moderate majority’ of Muslims. It’s nice to hear it from the horse’s mouth. In addition, if Bunglawala used the phrase ‘the dreaded Islamists’ to take the piss out of Husain, one can only conclude that Inayat does not think the Islamists should be feared. Again, this is just what we sceptics always thought the ever-so slippery Bunglawala really believed.
And just as Bunglawala has just said that ‘the majority of Muslim opinion in the UK’ will prefer the ‘dreaded Islamists’ to the equally dreaded Ed Husain, so he then puts the ‘Muslim majority’ further in the shit, in my view, by saying that Husain’s moderate book about Islamist extremism ‘will not find much favour among many British Muslims’. Why is that, Inayat? Won’t they like his moderate position on Islam? Or perhaps they won’t like his exposé of extreme Islamism because they are actually fairly sympathetic to Islamism themselves. That must be the only conclusion to draw from Bunglawala’s words and his many criticisms of Ed Husain. Not only will it not appeal to the ‘Muslim majority opinion’ of pro-Islamists, it will appeal to ‘the warmongering sections of the present government’. What the hell did Bunglawala mean by ‘the warmongering sections of the present government’? And even if such a thing existed, what direct relevance did they have to Ed Husain’s book about Islamism and the Islamists? Bunglawala simply does not say. Like his arch-Taqiyya rival, Tariq ‘two faces’ Ramadan (another Muslim who is too moderate for Bunglawala), Bunglawala hints at things quite a lot, but rarely states anything in full.
Bunglawalah on Wahhabism
Forget Bunglawala’s defence of Hizb ut-Tahrir, what about his support for Wahhabism? He is annoyed by the fact that many people use the word ‘Wahhabis’ as a ‘derogatory term’. He must either believe that it is not a derogatory term or that it is misused. In any case, if there is one thing which can prove to non-Muslims whether or not a Muslim is truly moderate, it is his or her position on Wahhabite Islam. And it seems that Bunglawala has positive feelings towards Wahhabism in this review. Not only that, I have also heard him eloquently defend the Saudi Wahhabite regime on YouTube. These disclosures, more than anything else about Bunglawala, show us where he is really coming from. We must always keep an eye on a Muslim who is at one and at peace with ‘the path of the salaf’.
Bunglawala even goes so far as to defend Wahhabism in strictly theological terms. He thinks that it is a good thing that Wahhabites are ‘careful to ensure that [their love for the Prophet] enhances and does not in any way detract from the sole worship due to the One God’.
In addition, does Bunglawala think that that Husain’s statement that the ‘Wahhabis are a deeply literalist sect’ is false? He certainly seems to be at odds with it.
Conclusion: Keep Silent About the Islamists!
It is clear that Bunglawala thinks that Ed Husain should never have written or published his book. He probably would have liked to have had it banned. But not so quick! Bunglawala knows that he must watch his words - just in case anyone comes to the outlandish conclusion that he too is, well, an extreme Islamist in Government-friendly sheep’s (i.e., MCB’s) clothing. What does he say instead of ‘ban it’? He says that Ed Husain shouldn’t have ‘washed [his] dirty linen in public’. So the doings and sayings of Hizb ut-Tahrir, and other Islamic extremists, are dirty linen to Bunglawala? That is, they are Muslim - or Islamic - dirty linen that should be kept between Muslims and not exposed to the ‘dreaded’ kafir.