Thursday, January 03, 2008

Call to Prayer in Oxford

Cranmer commented almost two years ago on the gradual supplanting of Oxford’s dreaming spires with waking minarets, and now there has been a formal request to the City Council for a thrice-daily call to prayer (Adhan) to reverberate over Oxford East. This is simply a logical consequence of mosque construction and the emergence of ‘Muslim areas’ (the significance of which has been ably expounded by Paul Goodman MP) and one that will doubtless eventually be replicated in Blackburn, Bradford, Leicester, Luton, Oldham, Slough…

In the red corner are the residents, for whom the proposal to issue a prayer call is ‘very un-neighbourly’ (isn’t that putting nicely?); and in the blue corner is the Central Mosque, which asserts that because churches ring their bells, ‘Muslims also have the right to summon worshippers’.

The framing of this request in terms of ‘rights’ is significant, and will probably ultimately lead to the invocation of the EU Charter which Mr Blair incorporated into UK law. And this will be an interesting battle because Muslims are not being denied their right to worship since the Adhan does not constitute an act of worship. And then one must balance the asserted ‘right’ to summon worshippers with the right of residents to live in peace and quiet. It is also worth considering that while the request is for three calls to prayer, Muslims actually pray five times a day. It is not impossible that there would be an eventual request for all five to be announced via loudspeaker, meaning a 5.00am din for all the residents within earshot.

But amidst all the media coverage and widespread hot-air blog comment on this story, there has been absolutely no religious analysis at all. And it is in the religio-political realm that the analysis must be done for the fullest implications of the application to be uncovered.

Firstly, let us dismiss the notion of ‘equivalence’, for there is not the remotest equivalence of the peeling of church bells with the proclamation of the mosque’s adhan. The former is a British cultural manifestation with a thousand years of history and is theologically neutral; indeed, it is merely audible symbolism. But the latter belongs to quite a different culture: it is an unequivocally insensitive theological declaration with profoundly political implications, and is invasively ‘in-your-face’ and ‘down-your-throat’ (or whatever the audial equivalent be). It includes the words:

Allah u Akbar - Allah is the Greatest

Ash-hadu allā ilāha illallāh - I bear witness that there is no god except Allah

Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan rasūlullāh - I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah

These phrases are repeated three or four times, and the whole call goes on with rather more, but you get the drift.

The fact that it will be proclaimed in Arabic rather conceals the significance and mitigates the offence, for it were in English it would doubtless be considered an affront to many Oxonians. It is absurdly simplistic and utterly naïve to assert that the Adhan has no more significance than church bells; indeed, it would be more accurate to say it is equivalent to broadcasting the Lord’s Prayer three times a day via loudspeaker, or proclaiming the Trinity and the Lordship of Christ, or intoning John 1:1-5 three or four times. And yet even these do not have the terrestrial political significance of ‘Jesus is Lord and the Pope is his Vice-Regent on earth’. Or if Cranmer’s Roman Catholic communicants prefer, he offers an Ulster scenario in which the Free Presbyterian Church applies to Belfast City Council to broadcast via loudspeaker three-times-a-day the declaration: ‘Jesus is Lord and Her Majesty the Queen is the only supreme governor on earth of the Church in England and the English crown shall enjoy all honours, dignities, preeminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits, and commodities to the said dignity.’

Cranmer need not expand upon the potential consequences in Belfast of intoning that three times a day.

The public declaration of either of these statements – on the status of the Pope or the Queen - would not be politically acceptable, even though both may be deemed to affirm religio-political truths. While the first would have clear constitutional implications, the second would imperil the Queen’s peace and would not therefore be permissible. The Adhan is about theological dominance and political supremacy, originating, as it does, from a culture in which one religious system prevails, and none has the right to object. It is territorial, and will lead to Christians and others being driven out of the neighbourhood, more Muslims moving in, thus exacerbating the segregation which leads to 'ghettos'.

As ever, critics of both Islam and Islamism are quick to demand reciprocity – for the sound of church bells to reverberate over Jeddah, Islamabad, Karachi or Rhyad. But this is to miss the point, and rather moves us back three centuries with the inference that the UK should adopt the intolerance of the Islamic world.

But perhaps the most important question is where permitting the Adhan to reverberate over Oxford’s spires would ultimately lead. Should the shofar be heard throughout the land? Should the Shema be declared over loudspeakers in Golders Green? And if not, why not? And then the Sikhs can come up with something, and the Hindus and Buddhists, and then the Jedi Knights, and every hour of every day can be filled with a cacophony of bells and calls to prayer, meditation, chanting, and intoning of ‘May the Force be with you’.

But Cranmer must remind himself that he now lives in a postmodern, relativist, politically-correct era, in which, ultimately, the wishes of the minarety outweigh those of the majority. (sorry)

27 Comments:

Anonymous Pastafarian Priest said...

Your Grace,

We who worship the great flying spaghetti monster see no need for public calls to attend on his noodly appendage. And in East Oxford are needs are well met by La Capannina Italian Restaurant.

3 January 2008 at 10:42  
Blogger shergar said...

As a practicing Jedi, I find his grace's lack of faith disturbing.

3 January 2008 at 11:02  
Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

Is there a post-modern argument against arbitrary demarcation (AD)? I suspect not.

So, AD works for me then. Church bells, only, and then absolutely no fakes, only real bells bashed manually.

There is no reason why the faithful of all stripes shouldn't wear pagers, of course. In silent mode, one would hope.

The essential issue here is a clash of tradition. The newcomers can yield (pagers) and so they must.

3 January 2008 at 11:04  
Anonymous mickey said...

Your Grace,

This would seem to be another example of the 'don't ask and you don't get' negotiating stance, which leads inexorably to an escalation of demands over time.

Impertinence, such as this, is now endemic in our country.

Insofar as there is a solution it is to insist that all aspects of the situation are considered or, in the vernacular, 'put on the table' when the request is considered.

I do not doubt, for one minute, that there are many illegal Muslim immigrants in Oxford and, also, various planning issues relating to the existing places of worship. Unless these matters are resolved there should be no further dispensations (and, obviously, they are not going to be resolved!).

In my view, if someone makes an unreasonable demand one should not consider the matter finalised until the negotiation concludes with that person receiving less than they possessed when the negotiation began. I like to think this is the way our Victorian forefathers dealt with such situations, but maybe I have just been too influenced by Dickens!

3 January 2008 at 11:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is depressing beyond my ability to bear. Aside from all the religio political reasons which are expertly covered by Cranmer and for which I can add nothing of value, but from a purely practical point of view, having lived and spent time in Moslem countries myself, the 5 times a day call to prayer is almost as noisy and intrusive as living under the Heathrow Flight Path. I find this incredible..... but I wager my bottom dollar we will very soon be hearing the Moslem call to prayer very loudly in our local neighbourhoods. My blood is now steam !!!!!!!!!!

3 January 2008 at 11:45  
Blogger Laban said...

I like the next bit of the morning call, which should be entertaining at 5 am.

"Prayer is better than sleep"

Back in the Seventies someone (Bill Tidy ? Larry ?) had a cartoon in Private Eye of a mullah intoning prayers over a Northern town, while a flat-capped local comments 'I think I preferred the old factory hooter'.

3 January 2008 at 12:27  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

Interesting post Your Grace. Church bells make an objectively beautiful sound and the Adhan can only sound beautiful to Muslims.

However, if Britain claims to be a multicultural society, which embraces other cultures, then at what point should one prevent other cultures from doing what they do?

Presumably one should say 'enough' at the point when harm is caused to others. And as you rightly point out, the harm isn't just in the noise, it is in the political and religious implications.

And while the Muslims demand our understanding of their sensitivity when it comes to cartoons and teddy bears, it would seem that they are not reciprocal. In the same way that a Muslim man would never ask an old woman to stand on a bus so that he could sit, the Muslims should know better.

They lack respect and a sense of decency. It is shameful that the request was made in the first place and I am certain Allah would be most displeased.

3 January 2008 at 12:31  
Anonymous WannabeAnglican said...

Your Grace, the thought of that awful whiney cacophony being broadcast over the site of your martyrdom sickens me.

My prayers will ascend.

3 January 2008 at 13:26  
Anonymous oiznop said...

Why does it have to be so public?

Can't they summon them by text?

3 January 2008 at 13:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let it ring!

The sooner it does, maybe....just maybe the West (England) will wake up!

Timotheus

3 January 2008 at 14:13  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

An army of seventy million,with a battle group in every country of western europe,controlled through thier mosques and arabic newspapers from an islamic power center in the middle east,this oxford issue is an attempt to dominate our centers of learning by the continual awareness of an alien political form that will surround them,a five times a day demonstration of thier utter contempt for the indigenous population,and thier lack of courage to confront something that the muslims themselves know is something of a long shot,but is a magnificent opportunity to damage some more of our laws and way of life.let us hope that the intelligencia has more clout than us ordinary citizens have.

3 January 2008 at 14:29  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

Cranmers comments are erudite and prescient. They need to be completely ignored and denounced as racist and bigoted.

This government shits in your mouth and tells you to smile.

3 January 2008 at 15:08  
Anonymous Nathan Hale said...

I mourn that traditional England is dead; all we can hope for is that there's a group of men like this to make certain that the jihadists don't get away with any more murder and property destruction.

3 January 2008 at 15:40  
Anonymous mary tudor said...

There are far too many public announcements anyway. Mostly statements of the bleeding obvious. Wasn't like that in my day!

3 January 2008 at 15:57  
Anonymous Yokel said...

We English had the same problem with another religion that owed its allegiance abroad, until the matter was finally concluded through the Civil War and ending in the Act of Settlement.

If it isn't resolved soon, I fear that we may be forced into another Civil War against those loyal to a foreign power.

3 January 2008 at 16:30  
Blogger the doctor said...

Your Grace's comments caused me to perform a thought experiment . What would be the effect of a Jedi Knights C02 pulsed beam laser on a minaret , now that would be a clash of cultures .

3 January 2008 at 18:02  
Blogger Unsworth said...

Your Grace

Muslims pursuing their 'rights', eh?

Will they with equal vigour pursue their responsibilities. One comes to mind and that is not to antagonise members of other communities - such as the Christians, one might hazard.

Frankly I am appalled at the blatant and persistant moves to impose their will and religion upon whole indigenous communities. It's a crusade in reverse.

I recall when the Regent's Park Mosque was being built that the very able Project Manager told me that this was but the beginning. How right he was.

3 January 2008 at 19:15  
Blogger paul ilc said...

Your Grace's analysis cannot be surpassed for theological and general intellectual rigour.

There is, I think, no such thing as a "moderate Muslim": either they are on a journey to secularism, or they seek to convert us all to Islam by stealth. If they are 'fully' Muslim (however they interpret 'fully' and 'moderate'), their aim is to achieve a Muslim society by stealth! And PC is perceived as cultural weakness, which leads to further demands.

As for the language of "rights", 'rights' do not exist outside of a legal system. Why? Because our moral discourse cannot be reduced to quasi-legal rights-talk without great loss. And what is the loss? Above all, the language of virtue (Aristotle and Aquinas), but also utiltarianism (Bentham, who said that rights-talk was "nonsense on stilts".)

So what is to be done? As a High Tory communicant, Your Grace, I would recommend an absolute halt to further Muslim immigration to the UK. Those remaining should be offered generous incentives to return to their societies of orgin.

May I apologise in advance if my views results in any BNP or similar postings on this site.

PS Welcome to the wise (if economically illiterate - sorry LT) Laban Tall as a commenter. Even if he is a 'left-footer', he is someone deeply concerned to preserve Christian civilisation, or what's left of it. Visit his site:

http://www.ukcommentators.blogspot.com/

3 January 2008 at 20:52  
Blogger Dr.D said...

Isn't it obvious to all in England that the muzlims simply do not belong there? Was England in this big of a mess before they came? Have they done anything at all beneficial for England?

It was suggested earlier that they should all leave, and that is definitely the correct solution. But pay them? No, offer to let them live.

They must all be driven out of England if England is to survive, every last one of them. This includes any Englishmen that have gone over to their idiocy, because their bite if fatal. Once a muzlim, they can never be trusted again. Get rid of them ALL!!

3 January 2008 at 21:45  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

This is now a hate-site. That a terror plot that could have killed 15,000 people has just been foiled in the netherlands is a love crime.

Loce everybody, it's wjat

3 January 2008 at 23:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They *should* be asked to leave if they don't like the present arrangements. Uppity guests are shown the door, after all.

4 January 2008 at 03:47  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Hmmm...

His Grace does not agree, and finds Dr D's comment more than a little odious. This is a site for reasoned and reasonable discourse, not for absurd generalisations.

And His Grace would further point out that he is rather fond of Boris Johnson MP, who has a grandfather who was a Muslim as was his great-grandfather. Getting 'rid of them all' would simply have deprived the nation of Mr Johnson, and this would have been quite unacceptable.

4 January 2008 at 10:00  
Anonymous mickey said...

Your Grace,

My knowledge of Turkish history is not all that it could be, so profound apologies to Boris Johnson if this is not the case, but I understand that his great-grandfather (Ali Kemal, a regional governor) was executed by the Ataturk regime for war crimes, ie. the killing of Christian Armenians in very large numbers.

4 January 2008 at 10:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Your Grace 'now live' (in a postmodern, relativist, politically-correct ear)?

This sounds rather like an heretical claim for an additional resurrection...

4 January 2008 at 13:27  
Anonymous Gate said...

The argument is right on the money, but does it perhaps get a little undermined by the rhetorical flourish of suggesting that a Free Presbyterian in Northern Ireland would consider it worthwhile to announce in Northern Ireland a proposition about the nature of the establishment of the Church of England, in England? Quite apart from the unlikelihood of a Presbyterian anywhere in the world wanting to give vent to such Erastian notions....

5 January 2008 at 12:39  
Blogger Dr.D said...

Cranmer, you may find my comments "odious" as you say, but your reasoning is ridiculous. There are two aspects of Izlam that make it impossible to allow it to continue within Western society:

1. It has a religious mandate to conquer the world. This means in most cases to convert all people to Izlam, by force if they don't come willingly, although Christians and Jews are to be allowed to live a really miserable second class life under Izlam if they so choose.

2. It is a tenet of Izlam that they are required to lie whenever it is to the advantage of Izlam. This means that there is no way we can ever build any sort of trust relation with a muzlim. They may appear to be honest and trustworthy, but we know that they are required to lie when the time comes to strike out for Izlam and there is no way to know when that time will have come. This is what makes the so-called "moderate muzlim" an impossibility. They are all under religious obligation to dominate the world and to lie when required. There is no honor code under which we can deal with them.

Now you may find all of this quite "odious" and you may have many muzlim friends. That is all irrelevant. Izlam is a risk to the security of Western society, and the only way to solve the problem is to separate Izlam from the West. Tough problems call for difficult solutions, Cranmer.

5 January 2008 at 17:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for demolishing the equivalence argument. I have been thinking the same way since a similar contraversey here in the US.

Everything that you said is true. For all those non-Muslims in Oxford East, the sounds of this call will penetrate into their homes if they have their windows open or will reach them in their gardens or stoops. It won't be long before the area where it is heard will be empty of non-Muslims. It is not a beautiful sound to most people. I feel sorry for them because the prices of their houses will likley bottom out.


Church bells are pure sound and their message neutral and abstract. They signify celebration, joy, sadness, the time of day etc. They have never had anything to do with declaring supremacy.

And yet, as Muslims seem to forever do, they read equivalence onto Christian practice. If their broadcast sound is a declaration of faith and a summons to worshippers, then so also are Christian bells.

This is why Christian bells are banned from sounding in many Muslim dominated regions. They can't have anything but Islam declaring itself supreme.

Then there is the other nasty bit about this call. Wheresoever it sounds, that land is claimed for Islam for ever.

Finally, I have a solution that wont bother the neighbors at all and you Oxfordians would do well to suggest it. Radio. Broadcast the call to prayer over the radio or other device. If a Muslim wants to hear it, they tune in, in their cars, homes and businesses. No reason to ram it down anyone else's throats.

I also once knew a Muslim family that had a special clock set to their local time that would sound the call at appropriate times.

There are alternatives, but the people who requested this have other motives. Fight it, folks.

8 January 2008 at 04:08  

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