"But the things which come out of the mouth come from the heart"
Touchy people, these New Statesman journalists.
Mr Hasan had made a speech at the The Islamic Unity Society, in which he implied it was correct to call “The kaffar, the disbelievers, the atheists who remain deaf and stubborn to the teachings of Islam, …. a people of no intelligence, … like ignorant cattle …”
Harry’s Place took him to task over this, which seemed a reasonable thing to do as he is a senior editor of a national magazine seeking to inform and influence its readership. One was therefore perfectly entitled to ask why he used those phrases and what he understood by them. A veritable blog war ensued between Harry’s Place and various supporters of Mr Hasan.
His supporters accused Harry’s Place of taking the words out of context; it was really the whole speech that he should be judged by.
So, what of the speech?
The greater part of it is an exhortation for Muslims to seek knowledge, especially from non-Muslims. Mr Hasan quotes instances of how Islam and Islamic teaching in the past have been a strong force for education and literacy. He explains how the Qur’an is full of encouragement for individuals to expand their knowledge even from non-Muslims, even from as far away as China. In fact, ‘knowledge’ is what Islam itself is really all about.
The offending words emanated from the Mr Hasan’s mouth and suited his rhetoric perfectly. And it was the style which some found disconcerting. It is a fiery sermon – the speaker’s voice is raised and one can picture him banging the podium and gesticulating. The audience cannot but participate, responding in unison with religious incantations to the speaker’s cues, as they are heard to do whenever Mohammed is mentioned by name.
He condemns the backwardness of the Islamic world in respect of science and he provides figures for how little Islamic countries spend on research and development compared to other countries. They spend far too much money on bombs, he says. He quotes the well-known statistic for Nobel prizes, with Muslims having a pathetic handful for all their 1.2 billion adherents worldwide.
In a brief anecdote to illustrate the ignorance of Muslims of the non-Muslim world he tells how he challenged a well-educated young woman at a conference on Palestine for saying that Fox News could not be trusted because it was controlled by Jews. He mocks the Taliban for calling themselves ‘students’.
Like many Muslims, he compensates for his stinging criticism of the Islamic world by referring to its past glories. He says Islam had a significant if not decisive influence on Western science. He names an Islamic scholar whom he describes as the father of modern chemistry and physics.
Such claims are dubious, to say the least.
But about 40 minutes into the speech, the style and rhetoric undergo a dramatic transformation.
The turning point is the speaker’s reference to the Imam Ali and how he is or represents a gateway to knowledge.
He goes on to a mouth-foaming rant about the trials and tribulations of Muslims and refers to specific cases. This continues for the remainder of the sermon – a further 20 minutes of fanatical hyperbole. He whips his audience up into an emotional frenzy – the whole room is crying or moaning.
Mr Hasan exhorts Muslims to go out and seek knowledge from others, non-Muslims, even to China. But a pre-requisite in the search for knowledge is an open mind: to be prepared to let new information and new knowledge change one’s understanding. Mr Hasan appears to display little of this quality.
He may not be an Islamist, he may not be an extremist, but he is undoubtedly vulnerable to accusations of being a Qur’an-thumping believer.
Cranmer would like to ask him:
(1) Does he believe that democracy with man-made laws is the best form of government?
(2) What is his position on Freedom of Speech? In particular, what is his view on the Salman Rushdie fatwa? Was it right or wrong? And what about those Danish cartoons?
(3) Is he in favour of integration or multiculturism? Is he in favour of the growing use of Shari’a courts to settle Muslim domestic affairs and business-related disputes?
(4) Given the British distaste for covering the face, what does he think of Muslim woman in this country who wear a burkah?
(5) Should women be treated as equal to men in all marriage, family, and legal matters such as divorce and inheritance?
(6) What, if any, does he believe should be the punishment for apostasy?
Perhaps the New Statesman might interview him, for his appointment as political editor raises more than a few concerns. This speech, available for all to hear, is no different from the Islam of Abu Hamza, Abu Qatada, Ayman al Zawahiri, Anjem Chaudary, or any of the other ‘moderate Muslims’ who believe that Islam must dominate by whatever means are at its disposal.
If, as the magazine avers, the Conservative Party is 'institutionally racist', is the New Statesman becoming occupationally Islamist?