Bismillah Al Rahman Al Raheem.
(In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Kind).
One thing that’s been exposed in Manchester in the aftermath of the cowardly and horrific terror attacks, is the inconsistency in the stances of some of the city’s mullahs along with a number of others in our country, from a variety of denominations and sects. I don’t particularly want to drop names, which is why I’m discussing this from a general perspective.
While ALL have condemned terrorism and many have marched in the streets for peace and in condemnation of terrorism, a number of prominent mullahs in this country hold views, and have made public speeches that undermine their noble stance against terrorism.
How, for instance, can a mullah square the very welcome and universal stance that terrorism and murder are evil, with the idea that in an “ideal” Islamic state (whatever that is?), LGBTI people can be persecuted or even executed? Some even go so far as to discuss the ways gay people should be killed.
The only way I can square this, is that ALL such punishments are completely unacceptable in the modern world.
A person is of course free to disagree with homosexuality if they personally do not like it, but to go so far as to suggest gay people should be executed for something that they cannot help being, and which is in truth no one else’s business, is outside the pale of civilised behaviour, and just like slavery, should be absolutely and resolutely condemned by everyone in civilised society.
When we have imams and sheikhs who think it is perfectly acceptable for people to be executed for nothing more than their sexualities, we should not be surprised when groups of people protest outside our mosques demanding answers.
Muslims need to be consistent, especially in condemning the indefensible. If the mullahs aren’t, we must collectively hold them to account.
To ensure this in future, it’s absolutely vital we continue to develop generations of educated and empowered Muslims who don’t need to rely on a class (priesthood?) of mullahs. Islam shouldn’t have a priesthood anyway… Imams and sheikhs should be respected for their wisdom, taqwa (consciousness), knowledge, and good advice. If they are failing in these, they are failing us as imams and sheikhs.
Muslims should familiarise themselves with the deen. Develop a strongly humanitarian understanding of religion, and not be afraid of speaking out when necessary, against those who pervert Islam to further incompatible, inhumane, and uncivilised agendas.
Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
Co-Director, The Association of British Muslims