Please stop talking of Eurosceptics as the media talk of Muslims
His Grace has long been irritated by the propensity of the mainstream media and many commentators to talk of the 'Muslim World' or the 'Islamic World', as though there were some unified and coherent cohabitation going on between the globally-dispersed followers of the professing prophet Mohammed. There simply isn’t.
There is no more social cohesion, unity of doctrine or meeting of minds among the disparate expressions of Islam as there are between the myriad of denominations, factions and cults which purport to constitute Christendom. There is Sunni, Shi'a, Sufi, of which everyone has heard. But there are the lesser-known sects like inter alia the Ahmadiyya, Ibadi, Quranists, Yazdânism, Karaite-Karaism and the Nation of Islam. The ‘Muslim world’ is simply a patronisingly convenient classification of 'the West' (which is another one) to lump them all together for terminological convenience. It is as sociologically simplistic and theologically ignorant as ‘Hindu’, which entered the theo-political vernacular and has become an enduring legacy of the British Empire.
The ‘Muslim world’ is meaningless because it implies a geographic entity unified by a monolithic faith – a caliphate. But the ‘Muslim world’ has no universal understanding of this, and so the concept of a ‘Muslim world’ is as meaningless to Muslims as it is to those of other faiths and none. Some Muslims, we know, want to worship and live peaceably with their neighbours; some want to wage 'Jihad' (another misunderstood and much-abused term) and blow us all to kingdom come; still others want to blow themselves to Jannah, in the hope of an eternity of wine and virgins. The term 'Muslim World' is as vacuous and meaningless as 'Sikh World' or 'atheist world': it is non-existent.
Which brings His Grace (in a roundabout kind of way) to 'Euroscpetics'. No, there isn't a faction of them threatening violence or murder or global revolution if they don't get their way on political European integration (yet..). But when the media refer to 'Eurosceptics', the term appears to embrace everyone on the Eurobarometer from David Cameron to Nick Griffin, with a very broad spectrum of belief ranging from incremental renegotiation and repatriation to 'Out'. As with Islam, trying to identify the 'true' or 'real' Eurosceptics is fraught with theological difficulty, for there is no unified central authority around which the professing denominations and divisions may cohere: there is no Sir James Goldsmith.
But even with a single professing prophet of salvation, the Muslims (like the Christians) still dispute and disagree, so perhaps a 'leader' would not solve the problems. Yet until Euroscepticism speaks with one voice - or at least unifies around a single immediate objective - it cannot lead us to the Promised Land. Not least because, for some, that land is Canaan, while for others it is Palestine, and still others prefer to call it Israel, each with its own historic narrative, unique theology and socio-political expression.
Some Eurosceptics are undoubtedly dangerous, but most are utterly benign. Some think strategically; others just seek the limelight. And His Grace has purposely not hyperlinked to examples (in his judgement) in either category, for to identify one as 'thinking' and another as 'posturing' is to cause further despair and division on a matter of the utmost political significance. The Eurosceptic 'movement' (if it be) is fundamentally a clash of gargantuan egos, none of whom will deign to cooperate or collaborate with their co-Eurosceptics, principally out of a lack of trust, belief or respect.
So, with a referendum on the next EU treaty looming - and, as sure as night follows day, it is coming - please don't expect political coherence or campaigning strategy from the Conservatives, UKIP, The Democracy Movement, The Campaign for United Kingdom Conservatism, Better off Out, Campaign for an Independent Britain, The Freedom Association, or The Liberty League. Frankly, you have more hope of persuading a Wahhabi Sunni to sup with an Ahmadiyyan and plant the cornerstone of a new mosque. If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand: the referendum may already be lost.