Muslims and the Conservative Party
This tone of criticism from these organisations is proof positive that the Conservative Party is on the right track. The reality is that Conservatism and Islam could find much that unites them, not least because the essence of Conservatism coheres with all expressions of faith. The mistake (and unintended offence) is in trying to identify a Muslim community, for, like all religions and cults, it is riddled with dissent and division. The Muslim communities do cannot agree among themselves on virtually any matter, save the status of the Qur’an and a professed reverence for Mohammed. When it comes to global politics, the likes of the MCB and MPAC would have us believe that there is one Islamic answer to Israel/Palestine, one Islamic answer to terrorism, to Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Kashmir; indeed, one Islamic answer to just about everything, and every 'proper' Muslim ought to desire Shari'a law in the UK and be dedicated to ushering in the Caliphate.
But, in reality, the overwhelming majority of Muslims are as unconcerned with these macro-political issues as Christians are with 'Europe'. There is, instead, an overriding concern with domestic politics – mundane matters of everyday living in a liberal Western democracy – and the vast majority of Muslims are content to integrate and assimilate, desiring to live their lives privately, bring up their families respectfully, live side-by-side peaceably with respect for the rule of law and gratitude for the liberties they enjoy. These are recurrent Qur'anic themes of universal application. These liberal Muslims (which the media patronisingly term 'moderate') are innately conservative, and they are undoubtedly more Conservative than Liberal: they desire individual freedom, and prioritise personal and family responsibility. They want their children (male and female) to be well-educated, they want them to be successful, and they embrace the principles of the free market economy as they desire to make something better of themselves, unfettered by overbearing government.
When Mr Cameron went to live with a Muslim family, it at least constituted an attempt to reach out to an alienated group who feel that they have no fixed abode; it gave the impression of loving one’s neighbour. Unfortunately, a rather high profile Conservative Muslim has dismissed this as disingenous PR. In a scathing attack on Mr Cameron, Ali Miraj, a candidate in the last General Election, insists that ‘the Tories have still not realised that it takes more than picking an Asian candidate to reverse a scandalous neglect of engaging with people from ethnic minorities since the days of Enoch Powell’.
This is an uneducated and warped view of history, a misunderstanding of Conservative philosophy, and a gross misrepresentation of the views of Enoch Powell. If Conservatism is about anything, it is equality, and out of an understanding of the meaning of equality arises the principle of meritocracy. While the Socialists would seek to assist the advancement of Mr Miraj by placing him into a host of convenient pigeon-holes and labelling him black, Asian, or Muslim (or, for that matter, gay, straight, or Christian) and demanding that he tick all the right boxes in order to facilitate their programmes of social engineering, the Conservative Party views him as an individual. He is human and British (even English), but beyond that there is nothing with which Conservatism ought to concern itself.
Far from there having been a ‘scandalous neglect’ of ethnic minorities since the 1970s, there have been concerted efforts to listen, involve, and engage. And neither has this been a patronising Empire approach, but a dialogue of equals. Out of this has emerged Conservative groups for both Muslims and Sikhs, and the lack of a Hindu forum is probably only down to the fact that few understand what Ganesh and Krishna are all about. There is something monotheistic about Conservatism, but not monolithically and irredeemably so. It can adapt and mould to all cultures, and find expression in all faiths.
Just as the Apostle Paul praised the faith of Athenians at the Areopagus, it is time for the Conservative Party to proclaim the incomparability of its own creed, and boast of its life-giving liberty, respect for the family, the upholding of tradition, and universal edification. And then it might consider highlighting just how profoundly damaging a decade of Labour has been for all faiths in the United Kingdom, with the diminution of marriage, the restrictions on free speech, and the perpetual affront to matters of religious conscience.
Pace Ali Miraj, the ‘ethnic minorities’ will come flocking.