If we are to intelligently discuss issues related to secularism it is imperative that we first define the term. Secularism is the divorcing of religious belief, religious ritual, or a sense of community based on religious affiliation from the moral life of society. Secularism has manifested itself historically in both a subjective and an objective sense. Subjectively, or at the level of individual experience, secularism involves the disappearance of religious thought, feeling and imagery from the understanding of worldly things. At this level of experience, many people who may appear outwardly extremely religious, may in fact be thoroughly secularized as their thought processes, sentiments, and worldview are void of any truly religious referents.
At the objective level secularism involves the exclusion of religious offices, institutions, and ceremonies from public life. All modern states are thoroughly secularized. This reality also includes the states of the Muslim world as our countries are ruled by elites who have adopted the secular institutional and bureaucratic structure of the Western Kafir state. Even those states, which have undergone some degree of Islamic reform, have done little to alter those structures.
The roots of secularism have been variously identified as emanating from Hellenic rationalism, the civil and communal values of Greco-Roman life, the Renaissance, the Reformation, Calvinism, and most prominently the moral and empirical philosophies spawned by the Enlightenment. Regardless of which of these developments we view as being pivotal in the development of secularism, we must return to one salient fact: Secularism constitutes open rebellion against Allah.
We are informed that the rationale for the creation of the human being is to worship Allah, and that the Islamic polity and the principles, which underlie it, are instituted to facilitate that worship. Hence, Islam is fundamentally anti-secular. Allah informs us in the Qur’an:
I have only created the Jinn and Humans that they worship Me.
He also informs us that the rejection of that worship involves grave consequences. He says:
Whoever turns away from My Remembrance will have a wretched life and
We shall resurrect him blind on the Day of Judgment.
Ta Ha: 124
Whoever rejects the Remembrance of his Lord, He [Allah] will lead him
into a severe, unbearable punishment.
Having thus defined secularism, we turn to the second theme introduced by the title of this lecture: secularism’s changing face. If we understand that secularism initially involved a struggle between its advocates and the European Church, we can see that it has indeed undergone significant changes. The first major change occurred during the latter 19th Century when the struggle between secularism and the church was replaced by a struggle between two competing versions of secularism: the Marxist/Socialist version and the liberal version. With the victory of the liberal version, a victory finalized by the falling of the “Iron Curtain” and the subsequent demise of the Soviet Union, a set of circumstances was created which led to the return of the debate between secularism and religion. Secularism was to indeed change faces, or more precisely to reveal a new manifestation of an old face.
In the new debate between secularism and religion, Islam emerged as the standard bearer of religion. The reason for this is that Islam is, as admitted by Ernest Gellner, Zbigniew Brezinski and other leading Western intellectuals, the last true, or normative religion. The current secularist assault against Islam is thus assuming the intensity that characterized the earlier attack on Christianity. It is our contention that the origin of this assault lies in the rebellion of Satan against Allah, and his subsequent declaration of war against the descendants of Adam. The Qur’an describes that declaration in the following words:
Because you have caused me to stray, I’m going to lie waiting to ambush them [humankind] along your Straight Path. I’m going to assault them from in front, from behind, from the right and from the left; and you won’t find most of them thankful [for you blessings].
It is interesting to note that the earliest Muslim commentators as producing all of the psychological and behavioural traits that characterize the contemporary secular individual have understood this assault of Satan. Ibn Kathir relates the following passage in his commentary on this verse:
‘Ali ibn Abi Talha relates from Ibn ‘Abbas (May be Pleased with them both) that Satan’s
assault from in front means he will cause them to doubt about the Hereafter. From behind
means he will make them excessive in their craving for the World. From the right means he will cause them confusion concerning their religion. From the left means he will make sin
appealing to them. (This quote is from memory thus there may be slight changes from the
When one views the damage which has been wrought by secularism in the Christian world, and the nature of the damage which is currently manifesting itself in the Muslim world, one can readily see the accuracy of Ibn ‘Abbas’ explanation. In the Muslim world, the reality of a life after death seems the furthest thing from many people’s mind. The obsession with the World, which drives Muslim participation in a new globalized consumer culture, is too clear to warrant further comment. Increasingly large numbers of Muslims feel deprived if growing arrays of labels and logos aren’t plastered over their clothing. The confusion in the Din is apparent in the expanding ranks of the religiously noncommitted, and the increasing pettiness of the issues being vehemently argued by the committed. The appeal of sin can be gauged by the ubiquitous nature of the satellite dishes which adorn the rooftops of houses throughout the Muslim world and the increased viewing of soft and hard pornography which those dishes facilitate.
The need for an Islamic response to an increasingly pervasive secularism is all too clear. The destructiveness of man’s effort to orchestrate the social, economic and political life of society has to be arrested if we are to conceive of a meaningful future for this planet. At the individual level, the insecurity, rootlessness, and anomie resulting from the elimination of religiously informed traditional institutions provides the conditions which encourage gangs, ethnically-based hate groups, and an oftentimes violence-prone religious fundamentalism. The legions of willing recruits for extreme Zionist groups, ultraconservative armed militias in the American Midwest, chauvinistic Hindu nationalism, and increasingly inflexible “Jihad” groups in the Muslim world are all the direct or indirect result of secularism.
At the family level, the disintegration of traditionally ascribed roles, rights, and responsibilities for men, women, and children is leading to stresses that many families cannot survive. In the Muslim community, the familial stability which made spouse and child abuse rare occurrences has given way to a volatile instability whose presence can be gauged by the rapidly escalating numbers of battered women, homeless children, and divorces.
Environmentally, secularist ideals have led to what Professor ‘Abd al-Hakim Murad has referred to as the “gang rape” of the planet. The toxic byproducts of an ill-conceived developmental model poison our land, air, and the seas. Untreated sewage chokes and defiles our rivers and streams. Whole communities in coastal areas are rendered economically unviable due to overfishing so severe that in some areas even the hardy, once abundant codfish has disappeared. Even in remote areas of the planet which are presented by the tourist industry as “island paradises” the destructiveness of man’s economic hubris is all too clear.
In Oahu, the most populous of the Hawaiian islands, a ceiling of smog hovers over the densely populated downtown area and the airport/American Air Force base during still summer days. Beaches are often closed due to sewage spills. The countryside is littered with garbage dumps and junkyards. Large areas of the island have been transformed into treeless wastelands, abandoned by the pineapple industry, which has moved on to greener pastures in the Philippines and elsewhere. What few forested areas remain rapidly disappearing as developers throw up acres of new “ticky tacky” condominiums. Keeping golf courses green uses up a disproportionate percentage of available fresh water, while pesticide residues from those same golf courses poisons scarce ground water.
The above-mentioned victory of the liberal version of secularism has meant the victory of what Francis Fukuyama, one of the leading advocates of that version, refers to as free market capitalism and liberal democracy. These twin forces have worked to ensure that the ethics of profit replace the ethics of the Prophets (Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon them). Corporate profits determine if potentially privatized schools will teach children to think or to mindlessly consume. Profits determine if our rivers and lakes are swimmable. Profit determines if genetically engineered food grown in warehouses will eliminate the small farmer throughout the “developing” world just as corporate greed and agribusiness giants have practically eliminated the family farm in America. Furthermore, the relentless pursuit of profit has been the primary impetus behind the oppressive provisions of the recent Uruguay Round of GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and the associated WTO (World Trade Organization). This will allow massive transnational corporations to dump cheaply produced junk food, junk products, and a junk culture on any nation of the world, with the right to declare any opposition to that process -no matter how principled that opposition- as an impediment to free trade.
In terms of liberal democracy, the corrupt implications of this arrangement are epitomized by one of its leading philosophical schools -deconstruction. This school elevates a form of literary criticism and linguistic analysis to inform social action. It posits that just as language is the product of a set of subjectively experienced “deep structures” which don’t admit the existence of any universal referents for meaningful objective knowledge, so too social and political reality is subjectively formed and experienced. Hence, there are no universal or objective referents for meaningful transcending social or political action. Whatever, social or political action does unfold in this intellectual climate, unfolds along fragmented ethnic, cultural or gender lines. The spiritual strength and philosophical principles necessary to challenge the destructive hegemony of transnational capitalism disappear before they are created leaving both pseudo-liberated woman and a growing array of multicuturalisms united by a single unchallengeable characteristic: consumerism.
This dangerous school of thought, of which the more fundamentalist wing of our current Islamic reform is in many ways an unwitting agent, eliminates the possibility of meaningful social and political action leaving a void in the human soul which is filled by consumerism. It is no accident that McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken, two symbols of the emerging global consumer culture, have appeared in Mecca, the Holiest place in Islam, under the auspices of the most fundamentalist of all Muslim governments. Taken to it logical end, this consumerism will destroy the Earth.
Islam obviously opposes this arrangement. Although deconstructionalists don’t admit the existence of universal principles such as tolerance or compassion, which make ethnic, cultural and gender politics possible, Islam contains no such internal contradiction. Let us consider one of numerous examples. Allah declares in His Noble Book:
What is wrong with you that you don’t fight in the way of Allah and the oppressed;
men, women, and children who say, “Our Lord deliver us from this town whose people are oppressors. And raise up for us from yourself one who will protect us, and raise up for us from yourself one who will help!”
Assisting the weak, working to eliminate oppression, and protecting the defenseless are higher principles the knowledge of which is made possible by the existence of an ultimate, objective reality from which all else derives its existence, and upon which all else depends for its continued existence -Allah. Hence, Islam admits an ultimate reality. It admits a higher purpose to life, the worship of Allah. It similarly presents a set of principles and ideals that serve as the basis for meaningful collective action.
Reflecting on the state of the world, one cannot help but be struck by the penetrating words of Allah in His Glorious Book:
Corruption has appeared in the land and sea because of what the hands of men have wrought [by their sinful recklessness] This is so that We may give them a taste of what they have done, in order that they may return [to the way of Divine Guidance].
If man is to return to the way of the Divine, it will be the Muslims who will lead that return. Islam presents a viable critique of contemporary atheistic thought and it is also the only major socio-religious force with a viable ecological philosophy. The thoughtless abuse and waste which characterizes our contemporary secular world is roundly condemned by the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Allah declares in the Qur’an:
Eat and drink from the provision of Allah and don’t go through the Earth working
Son of Adam! Adorn yourselves at every place of prayer; eat, and drink, but don’t
waste. Surely, He [Allah] doesn’t love those who are wasteful.
Allah says concerning the mercy which His Messenger (Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) exemplified:
We have only sent you as a mercy to all the Worlds.
It is interesting to note that in the opening chapter of the Qur’an, Al-Fatiha, after mentioning his Lordship over all creation, Allah immediately mentions the vastness of His Mercy. He says, “Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabb al-‘Alamin, Al-Rahman Al-Rahim (All Praise is for Allah the Lord of All the Worlds, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful). Allah similarly reminds humanity that all living creatures comprise organized communities which have many of the basic rights possessed by humans. He says:
There is no creature on the Earth, nor any bird flying upon its wings, except that it
comprises communities like yourselves.
Muslims must honor the rights of those creatures as part of our custodianship over the Earth. However, petty little Islamic groups cannot exercise that custodianship. If Muslims are to provide badly needed direction for humanity we will have to transcend the divisions, which in many cases are the byproducts of the ill-conceived schemes of small men. In his insightful book, Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the Twenty-First Century, Zbigniew Brzenski clearly implies that Islam can potentially offer a viable socio-political alternative for humanity. However, that Islamic alternative is generally unknown because unlike the failed communist alternative it hasn’t been articulated at the state level. Such an articulation must occur before Islam can respond seriously to the challenge of secularism.
In order for Islam to be a viable international actor, state or nonstate, Muslims will have to move beyond the petty political divisions which have afflicted the Ummah for much of the past century. In the West, we will have to prevent the emerging “Traditionalist-Salafi” division from becoming a fundamental, irreconcilable split. One way to do this is to define Ahli al-Sunnah w’al-Jama’ah as broadly and as inclusively as possible, instead of the narrow, exclusive definitions, which dominate current discourse. One such definition is provided by Tahir al-Bagdadi (d. 429 AH) in his book, al-Farq bayn al-Firaq (The Difference Between the Sects). He mentions Ahl al-Sunnah w’al-Jama’ah as being comprised of eight basic groups. These groups accommodate all of the orientations, which serve as the basis for the thought of informed Traditionalists and Salafis. He then mentions an objective standard (Dabit) which distinguishes these eight groups from the adherents of the sects such as the Khawarij, M’utazilah, and others. Adopting such a broad view, which represents the best of a rich academic tradition, is essential if we are to move forward as a unified community.
I have chosen to close by emphasizing the need for Muslim unity because the tremendous challenges confronting humanity and our Ummah require our collective action. Secularism, doesn’t have to be the enduring socio-political legacy of humanity. Islam, as we have tried to show, offers something a lot better to humanity, to a ravaged Earth, and her creatures. It is up to us Muslims to demonstrate to humanity through our unity, our love, our spiritual elevation, our sacrifice, our living, and our dying that Islam is truly the “solution.” If we can understand and take up the challenges of the day humanity will be able to see the first rays of a new dawn after a long, dark, and difficult night.
Our silence in the face of evil differs from that of secular people. For traditional theists, the sense of loss which evil conveys, of the fearful presence of a void, comes with a personal face: that of the devil. But the devil, being, in the Qur’an’s language, weak at plotting, carries in himself the seeds of his own downfall. The very fact that we can name him is consoling, since understanding is itself a consolation. The cruellest aspect of secularity is that its refusal to name the devil elevates him to something more than a mere personalised absence. The solace of religion, no less consoling for being painful, is that it insists that when we find no words to communicate our sense that evil has come and triumphed, our silence is one of bewilderment, not despair; of hope, not of finality.
The world is at present in the grip of fear. We fear an unknown absence that hides behind the mundanity of our experience; perhaps ubiquitous and confident, perhaps broken and at an end. Symbols of human communication such as the internet and the airlines have suddenly acquired a double meaning as the scene for a radical failure of communication. Above all, the fear is that of the unprecedented, as the world enters an age drastically unlike its predecessors, an age in which the religions are fragmenting into countless islands of opinion at a time when their members – and the world – are most insistently in need of their serene and consistent guidance.
At a time such as the present, a furqan, a discernment, between true and false religion breaks surface. Despite the endless, often superbly fruitful, differences between the great world religions, the pressure of secularity has threatened each religion with a comparable confiscation of timeless certainties, and their replacement by the single certainty of change. Many now feel that they are not living in a culture, but in a kind of process, as abiding canons of beauty are replaced with styles and idioms the only expectation we can have of which is that they will briefly gratify our own sense of stylishness, then to be replaced by something no less brilliantly shallow. Postmodernity, anticipated here by Warhol, is occasionalistic, a series of ruptured images, hostile to nothing but the claim that we have inherited the past and that language is truly meaningful.
In such conditions, the timeless certainties of religious faith must work hard to preserve not only their consistent sense of self, but the very vocabularies with which they express their claims. The American philosopher Richard Rorty offers this account of the secularisation process:
Europe did not decide to accept the idiom of Romantic poetry, or of socialist politics, or of Galilean mechanics. That sort of shift was no more an act of will than it was a result of argument. Rather, Europe gradually lost the habit of using certain words and gradually acquired the habit of using certain others. 
What has happened over the past century, in a steadily accelerating fashion, is that the series of mutations in values, often grounded in popular perceptions of scientific paradigm shifts, has placed the traditional vocabularies of religion under unprecedented stress. Against this background, we can see three large possibilities amidst the diversity of the world faiths. Firstly, the ‘time-capsule’ option, often embedded in local ethnic particularities, which seeks to preserve the lexicon of faith from any redefinition which might subvert the tradition’s essence. The risk of anachronism or irrelevance is seen as worth running in order to preserve ancient verities for later generations that might, in some hoped-for time of penitence, return to them. Secondly, there are movements, usually called ‘liberal’, which adopt the secular world’s reductionist vocabulary for the understanding of religion, whether this be psychological, philosophical, or sociological, and try to show how faith, or part of it, might be recoverable even if we use these terms. In the Christian context this is an established move, and has become secure enough to be popularised by such writers as John Robinson and Don Cupitt. In Islam, the marginality of Muhammad Shahrur and Farid Esack shows that for the present a thoroughgoing theological liberalism remains a friendless elite option, despite the de facto popularity of attenuated and sentimental forms of Muslimness.
The third possibility is to redefine the language of religion to allow it to support identity politics. Religion has, of course, always had the marking of collective and individual identity as one of its functions. However, in reaction against the threat of late modernity and postmodernity to identity, and in tacit acknowledgement of the associated problematizing of metaphysics and morality, this dimension has in all the world religions been allowed to expand beyond its natural scope and limits. Increasingly, religionists seem to define themselves sociologically, rather than theologically. The Durkheimian maxim that ‘the idea of society is the soul of religion’  is not so far from the preoccupations of activists who are more eager to establish institutes for Islamic social sciences than to build seminaries.
The result has often been a magnification of traditional polarities between the self and the other, enabled by the steady draining-away of religiously-inspired assumptions concerning the universality of notions of honour and decency. Examples are many and diverse. Who could have thought that Buddhism, apparently the most pacific of religions, could have provided space for a movement such as Aum Shinrikyo, thousands of whose acolytes have been interrogated in connection with terrorist outrages against innocent civilians? Central to the cult’s appeal, it seems, has been a redefinition of Buddhism as a movement for the preservation of East Asian identity. 
In India, a vegetarian creed such as Hinduism, in Gandhi’s province of Gujarat, has now generated religious identity movements which, to the horror of more traditional practitioners, appear to recommend the expulsion, forced conversion, or massacre, of non-Hindu minorities. The process of the ‘saffronising’ of India , descending on the Ayodhya flashpoint, is seemingly well-advanced, and the prospects for regional peace and conviviality have seldom seemed less hopeful. 
In the universe of Islam, the same transposition of the vocabulary of faith into the vocabulary of identity is well underway. What would Averroes have made of the common modern practice of defining the Hajj as the ‘annual conference of the Muslims’? Why do social scientists increasingly interpret the phenomenon of veiling in terms of the affirmation of identity? Why does congregational prayer sometimes suggest a political gesture to what is behind the worshippers, rather than to what lies beyond the qibla wall?
The instrumentality of religion has changed, in important segments of the world faiths. God is not denied by the sloganeers of identity; rather He is enlisted as a party member. No such revivalist can entertain the suggestion that the new liberation being recommended is a group liberation in the world that marginalises the more fundamental project of an individual liberation from the world; but his vocabulary nonetheless steadily betrays him. In the Qur’an, the word iman (usually translated as ‘faith’) appears twenty times as frequently as the word islam. In the sermons of the identity merchants, the ratio usually seems to be reversed.
Neither does the instrumentality of identity advocate a return to the indigenous and the particular. Were it to do so, it would necessarily require a respectful engagement with the art, spirituality, and intellectuality of the religion’s cultural provinces. And it is a shared feature of all identity politicking in world religions today that whereas religious revivals in the great ages of faith invariably generated artistic and literary florescence, the revivalists seem to produce only impoverishment. Beauty must wait; because da‘wa, the Mission, is more urgent; an odd logic to premodern believers, who assumed that every summons to the Real must be beautiful, and that nothing transforms a society or an individual soul more deeply than a great work of art, a building, a poem, or the serenity of a saint.
Perhaps we could even invoke this as the nearest approximation we will find to an objective yardstick against which to judge the spiritual authenticity (asala ruhiyya) of religious revivals. Truth, as Plato taught, ineluctably produces beauty. The illuminated soul shines, and cannot confine the light within its own self. Whatever is done, or made, or said, or written, by such a soul, is great art, and this is part of our caliphal participation and responsibility in creation. As Abd al-Rahman Jami puts it:
Every beauty and perfection manifested in the theatre of the diverse grades of beings is a ray of His perfect beauty reflected therein. It is from these rays that exalted souls have received their impress of beauty and their quality of perfection. 
If we apply this measure, how much authenticity may we really attribute to the soi-disant Islamic revivalism of today? ‘Say: who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He hath brought forth for His bondmen?’ (7:32) Who indeed?
The modern Muslim instrumentality of identity, then, does not seem to be about the affirmation of a culturally embedded self. The young radical activist does not really want to be a Pakistani, or an Algerian, or an American. Such a person requires what one might call a negative identity. He or she desperately desires not to be someone. The medievals knew God by listing all the things that God could not be; this is the strategy known as negative theology, richly deployed in both Muslim and Christian metaphysics. The moderns, it seems, being more interested in religion than in God, define religion by listing all the things that it cannot be. Hence Islam, we are loudly told, is a list of prohibitions. Everywhere we turn there is something we must not believe, and certainly must not do. The list of ideas entailing shirk or bid‘a grows ever-longer; and no-one any longer takes pleasure and joy even in the diminishing list of things which are still allowed.
Islam, then, is about not being and doing things. What is left is one’s identity. Because the list of prohibitions is so desperately extended, and embraces most if not all the beloved practices of the village or the urban district, one is no longer allowably Sylheti, or Sarajevin. This is a questing for identity that denies real, embedded identity. As such, it often betrays its twentieth-century tributaries:
The type and forms of cultural valuations employed by the new fundamentalist movements cannot be explained by an analysis of the tradition of Islamic religion and history; it has to be seen as an effect of inter-cultural exchange, which is fundamentally based on a Western understanding of Islam as the culture of the Other. 
Long ago, the ever-insightful Hourani was no less frank in noticing the Western etiology of ‘movement Islam’:
Much has been written in recent years about modern movements in Islam, and the origins and direction of some of them are by now well-known: a new emphasis on virtuous activity, justified in terms of certain traditional sayings, but derived in fact from the European ‘scientific’ thought of the 19th century, and tending sometimes towards a revolutionary nihilism. 
Other, more psychological tributaries might also be cited. The shift to a culturally disembedded radicalism is often malignantly driven by a desire to wreak revenge on one’s traditionalist parents or one’s community for frustrations suffered at their hands. Again, it appears as a Western social phenomenon, rather than as traditional tawba. Often, too, it is perversely responsive to a global discourse that may despise those countries or their diaspora ethnicities. It is, in short, a way of legitimising self-hatred; a religio-legal justification of an inferiority complex.
What, then, remains? Once the son of Pakistani migrants has stripped himself of his shalvar, his pir, his qawwalis, his gulab jamon, his entire sense of living as the product of a great civilisation that produced the Taj Mahal and the ghazals of Ghalib, what does he have left? Again, the negative theology option will define his identity as what-is-left-over; a religion of the gaps, a kind of void. That void he understands as the Sunna. The Sunna, that is, as figured negatively, as a list of denials, of wrenchings from disturbing memories, as a justification for the abandonment of techniques of spirituality that obstruct rather than reassure the ego.
Is this, then, a failure of religion? Is the young zealot so overwhelmed by his alienation, his humiliation, and sense of rootlessness, that the Sunna which is what-is-left-over cannot restore his spirit? Surely the scriptures insist that a turn to the Sunna must heal him, and help him to come to terms with his history and the trials of his life?
Actions, however, are by intentions. According to tradition, people tend to have the rulers they deserve, and the forces that rule the human soul are also in every case the appropriate ones for that person. The Sunna is a model of sacred humanity. That is to say, humanity bathed in sakina, the peaceable ‘habitation’ of God’s presence. ‘He is the one who sent down the sakina upon the believers’ hearts, that they might grow in faith.’ (48:4) This is in Sura al-Fath, which unveils to the believing community the nature of the test that they have just passed through, and which endured for several long years. The triumph at Mecca came about not through anger, anxiety, fear, and rage at the difficult, sometimes desperate situation of the Muslims, a small island of monotheists in a pagan sea. It came about through their serenity, their sakina, which, Ibn Juzayy tells us, means stillness (sukun), contentment (tuma’nina), and also mercy (rahma).  These are the gifts of reliance on Allah’s promise amidst apparent misfortune. The alternative is to be of those who are described as az-zannina bi’Llahi zanna’s-saw’: ‘Those who think ill thoughts of Allah’, which, the commentators explain, means the suspicion that He will let the believers down.
The monotheistic God, of course, does not let the believers down. ‘Weaken not; nor grieve. You are the uppermost, if you have iman’ (3:139): the verse revealed in the aftermath of the shock of Uhud.
So the young zealot, driven half out of his mind by his sense of alienation and despair, reads the Sunna with the wrong dictionary. His view of the history of his community is one of khidhlan – that God has effectively abandoned it. Only a tiny, almost infinitesimal fraction of the scholars of historic Islam were even believers. The Ottomans, the Moguls, the Uzbek khanates, the Seljuks, the Malay states, the Hausa princedoms; all of these were lands of pure shirk and innovation; deserts with no oases of faith. And this conviction has to make him one of az-zannina bi’Llah zanna’s-saw – those who think ill thoughts of Allah. Their contention is that Islamic civilisation has been an atrocious, monumental, desperate failure; and the consequences of this conviction, for their religious faith, and for their ability to feel sakina, are no less disastrous. A God that has allowed the final religion to go astray so calamitously cannot, ultimately, be trusted. His policy seems usually to have been one of khidhlan, of the betrayal of the believers. Religion itself becomes, in Durkheim’s language, entirely ‘piacular’, it is an attempt at cathartic, ritualised breast-beating, a rite of atonement and mourning, that seeks to channel one’s fear of the uncontrollable and apparently blind forces which punish and threaten one’s tribe. A cathartic component of religion has here become co-extensive with faith itself.
What it feels like to worship such a God is hard to imagine. But today, in Islam, as at the fringes of other religions, there are indeed people who worship him. No peace can come of such worship, only a growing sense of being trapped inside a logic that leads only to fear and despair, unrelieved by anything more than the faintest glimmer of hope. Perhaps, the activist feels, worshipping his God, if we are pure enough, and angry enough, God will relent towards us; and we can anticipate the Second Coming by defying time itself, and creating a utopia for the pure somewhere on this earth. The piacular thus accumulates into an apocalypse.
Long ago, Toynbee saw that such projects invariably end in misery. In the end, even Herod serves the oppressed community better than does Bar Kochva. Toynbee wrote of
‘Zealotism’: a psychological state – as unmistakeably pathological as it is unmistakeably exaggerated – which is one of the two possible alternative reactions of the passive party in a collision between two civilizations. 
The zealot, Toynbee’s ‘barbarian saviour-archaist’, cannot imagine that faith might require the wisdom to recognise the capacities of individual human beings in different ages. Invoking a ferocious definition of amr bi’l-ma‘ruf, ‘Commanding the Good’, at a time when most people are weak and struggle even to honour the basic demands of religion, betrays an abject and disastrous lack of common sense.  ‘Forcing religion down people’s throats’ will induce many of them to vomit it up again; such is the resilience or perversity of human nature. States which impose severe moral codes in public will find that they cannot deal with the proliferation of private vice, which almost masquerades as virtue in a political context where religion has identified itself with a piacular rite of repression. States which behave in such a way as to be excluded from global trade will languish in poverty, further fostering disenchantment and exporting streams of refugees.
The sunna, brandished as a weapon of revenge against the sources of one’s humiliation, will not allow itself to be used in this way. The sunna, as pure form, as a structure of life, cannot be itself if the inward reality of sakina is absent. The Law is merciful when interpreted and applied by those who believe that God’s practice towards His people has been merciful. In the hands of the zealot, it may become the most persuasive of all arguments against religion.
Actions, then, are by intentions, and the interpretation of scripture is the proof of this. Scripture is a holy place; and we need to calm ourselves before entering it. If we march in, hearts blazing with fury, viewing the world with suspiciousness about the divine intention, then we violate that holy place. In earlier times, only the pure of heart, and those with decades of humbling scholarship behind them, were allowed to cross the threshhold into that space. Now the doors have been kicked open, and a crowd of furious, hungry, desperate men, stands quarrelling around the text.
* * *
I would like to move on now. Much of what I have said has been dismal; but religion is surely about facing reality. Too many of us today live amid delusions, no doubt because we find the reality of our times too disturbing to contemplate. Conspiracy theories, paranoia, fantasies about the past or the future; these abound in religious conferences; not just among Muslims, but among religionists everywhere. Religion, however, invites us to ‘get real’ – to use a very Muslim Americanism. Because we believe in God and an afterlife, and in the ultimate restitution for injustice, we should have souls great enough to look reality in the face without flinching.
My experience of the world of faith which we all inherit is, despite all that I have said about the sickness of identity mania, a positive one. I mentioned at the beginning of this lecture that there are three religious paths commonly taken today: the time-capsule, the liberal, and that of identity politics dressed up as scripturalism. The liberal option, despite the shallow purchase of its theology, is in practice widely followed among Muslims: these are the millions of individuals who may cherish the memory of a pious aunt, or perhaps a moment of religious insight earlier in their lives, or some vague sense of belonging to an inherited religious culture, but who seldom attend the mosque.
For most religiously-active Muslims, the conservative option, with a variety of variations, is the most commonly pursued. Almost all senior ulema in Sunni countries adhere to some form of conservatism, entailing adherence to one of the four Sunni madhhabs and to either the Ash‘ari or the Maturidi theology. Often, too, they will be actively involved in Sufism. This is a reality of which the West is largely unaware, given that it constructs its images of Muslim action from media images which inevitably focus on the frantic and the dangerous. 
What is needed, then, is for mainstream Islam to reassert its possession of tafsir. It remains in a strong position to do this. The zealots are everywhere a very small percentage of the total of believers. The masses are either too traditional or too religiously weak to want to follow them. Never will extremism triumph for long, simply because normal people do not want it. Already we find a growing sense around the Muslim world that zealotry damages only Islam, and serves its rivals. ‘That which does not kill me makes me stronger’, as Nietszche observes.
A further reason why extremism has an uncertain future is that human beings are naturally religious. Secularisation theories are now everywhere in confusion; and religion prospers mightily in most countries of the world. Belief in the transcendent is, it seems, hard-wired into our species, and what most human beings crave is not a megaphone for their frustrations, but a voice for justice which also serves as a source of peace and serenity in a stressful world. Any religion that fails to supply this will soon be replaced by something else. There has never been an exception to this in human history. Christianity succeeded because pagan Roman religion failed to provide a sense of spiritual upliftment. Islam succeeded because the Eastern churches were spiritually debilitated by centuries of bitter polemic. New religious movements in the West succeed by offering techniques of meditation and alternative therapies which seem absent from established religions as they are presently formulated. Islam, wherever it degenerates into a primal scream of panic about one’s situation in the world, will certainly be replaced by any other religion that offers sakina.
The mainstream, then, must reclaim the initiative, and expel the zealots from the sacred place. It should not find it difficult to do this. It has, after all, a great civilisation behind it, which extremism cannot claim. It has, too, a rich tradition of spirituality, still vibrant in many countries, which, where made available to Westerners, can seem hard to resist. This was recently made plain to me by the director of the Swedish Islamic Academy. He told me that consistently, during his quarter-century as a Muslim in Stockholm, whenever he mentions that he is a Sufi, people lean forward to learn more. When he mentions Islam, they lean back, alarmed. Is this merely the expression of prejudice? Perhaps. But Muslims should also consider the possibility that educated Western people may be sincerely, rather than cynically, horrified by expressions of Islamic identity politics; and may be sincerely, rather than superficially, impressed by the literature and practice of traditional spiritual Islam. No-one who wishes to practice da‘wa in the West, or among Westernised Muslims, can afford to bypass that reality.
Once the sakina has been found again, once religion becomes a matter of the love of God rather than the hatred of our political and social situation, we can begin to extract our communities from the hole which we have dug for ourselves. Let us take, as a topical example, the question of suicide bombing. Historians might well wonder how this form of warfare could take root in any of the Abrahamic religions. One thinks of the kamikaze pilots of Shinto Japan, whose religious rituals, coupled with a final message read before a camera, provoked such horror and alienation in 1940s America . One thinks, too, of the self-immolation of Buddhist monks during the Vietnam war. The religious motivation behind many Tamil terrorists, rooted in a Buddhist South Asian culture, also springs to mind. Such a mentality is possible only for those who do not fully believe in a personal God, and hence have no notion of the human body as made, in some sense in God’s image. For Sunni Islam, however, in which even tattooing is a forbidden practice, such an activity is historically without precedent. Coupled with the policy of targeting the enemy’s civilians virtually at random, it is clearly the symptom of a deep-rooted sickness. It recalls the collectivist ethos (‘asabiyya) of the pre-Islamic Arabs, whose code of revenge (tha’r) authorised the taking of any life from a rival tribe to compensate for the loss of one of one’s own, a system decisively abrogated by the Qur’an’s ‘no soul shall bear the burden of another’ (6:164).  It is also, we may speculate, connected with the phenomenon of radical religion as a form of self-hatred of which I spoke earlier. The piacular believer is so alienated from his self that he can contemplate its physical destruction, thus replicating, in Toynbee’s words, ‘the melodramatic suicide of the Zealots who faced hopeless military odds’. 
This desperation is unworthy of the umma of Islam. Entirely traditional scholars speak out against it in the strongest terms, as a bid‘a in the most necessary sense of the term. But we need also to re-engage with the principle of rahma, of mercy, which flows from sakina. Why exactly do the hadith suggest that Muslims must not ‘destroy anyone with fire’?  Why are believers commanded so strongly to avoid taking the lives of civilians? One reason is because if we do this, we damage the lives of others whom we will probably never even meet. ‘Whosoever kills a human being for other than murder or corruption in the earth, it will be as if he had killed all mankind.’ (5:32) Many suffer when one is killed. Orphans, widows, relations, friends, neighbours; all these are the victims of the single crime. Crime is never against an individual; it never has a single victim. War in the valid shari‘a sense targets only combatants, whose relatives recognise that such was their status. The targeting of civilians, however, is part of the barbarism of modern Western, Clausewitzian conflict, inflicting a deeper sense of loss and alienation; and it is entirely foreign to our heritage.
During the Second World War, my grandfather worked as a firefighter in the London Blitz. After the war, his behaviour grew erratic, and his marriage ended painfully, inflicting shock-waves on children and a wider world of relatives. Years afterwards the reason for it became clear. One night, after an air-raid, he had pulled from the rubble of a building the body of a small girl who looked exactly like his own daughter. The trauma of that moment never left him until he died, fifty years later. That trauma lives on, subtly, in the lives of all his descendants.
Those who take the lives of women and children, indiscriminately, and simply because they live on the other side of a frontier, should remember that they are inflicting wounds on other lives as well that can never properly be healed.
What is required, then, is an act of repentance, tawba. Our communities need to turn away from the utilitarian ethic that justifies even the worst and most inhuman barbarities as expedient means, and turn back to the authentic religious teaching that it is better to pray patiently than to descend into a tit-for-tat moral relativism that recalls the worst practices of the Jahiliyya. Religious patience, moreover, never runs out, because it knows that it will one day be crowned with glory. ‘True patience’, the Muslim proverb runs, ‘is never exhausted.’ And in the Qur’an: ‘the patient shall be given their full reward without reckoning.’ (39:10) The phrasing is superb. Yuwaffa suggests that they will be given a full, fair, proportionate reckoning; and then the phrase bi-ghayri hisab – it is to be without any reckoning at all. Patience, one of the supreme Qur’anic virtues, which led to the success of the peaceful entry into Mecca, is rewarded also in the next life, infinitely.
Here, then, is another possible yardstick against which to measure the authenticity of our Islam. Impatience is impiety, it is the way of the zannina bi’Llahi zanna’s-saw’. And those who cannot restrain themselves will be smacked down. Worse, they will bring misfortunes upon their communities. ‘Beware of a tribulation which will certainly not afflict only the wrongdoers amongst you,’ the Qur’an warns us. (8:25) To act impatiently on grounds of ‘asabiyya, and to defy fundamental religious teachings about the sanctity of life, and to harbour ill thoughts about God’s providence – all these sins must lead, in the traditional Muslim understanding, to divine punishment. Those who regard them as a shortcut to a world in which their self-image will be healed are likely to be disappointed.
That disappointment is now palpable in the world of Islamic identity-politics. It is time that the great majority stopped being a silent majority, and raised its voice courageously. The sunna must be reclaimed as a via positiva. This is not, I believe, a heroic option; it is a fundamental religious duty. To uphold the honour of Islam, as a great world religion, and to defy the voices that would turn it into little more than a resentful sect, is a fard ‘ayn – an individual obligation.
We need institutions and faces that can believably do this. A few of our mosques and Islamic centres are in the grip of a small minority of worshippers who care nothing for peaceful coexistence with their fellow citizens, and whose hearts and minds are overseas. Most Muslims here, however, wish to be accepted as full and respected partners in the project of building a just and prosperous society, and do not wish their places of worship to be directed by the representatives of other governments or zealot political movements. Neither are they at ease with the reinvention of religion as a ritual of distress. This majority must now speak out. Sullenness, jealousy, lack of tawakkul, lack of optimism, all these are vices which must be transcended. And that transcending can only take place where religion is once again centred on the love and fear of God, not on attempts to heal a wounded pride.
I am very optimistic that this will take place. As I have already indicated, the extremists remain numerically and intellectually on the extremes. Islam is, despite the headlines, a success story. Most Muslims prefer the spiritual to the frantic; patience to the primal scream. We must now make it clear to our institutions of learning, and to those who would help us from abroad, that the principle of shura demands that the extremes be excluded, and that the voice of majoritarian Islam be allowed its natural place.
* * *
This optimism must, however, be tempered with an awareness of the immediate tactical situation. Despite the alarmism of a few intransigent voices such as Daniel Pipes and Lamin Sanneh,  few if any of us respect the Middle Eastern mass-murderers who are currently inviting the world to regard Islam as the great political and moral failure of the new century. Nonetheless, we breathe the air that they have poisoned. And the poison exists here, as elsewhere, because of the aggression of a small minority of zealots.
Again, it is time to speak out in favour of normalcy. The message is a positive one: Islam is not intrinsically committed to violent reaction against the global consensus. Most scholars do not teach that globalisation obliges us to make hijra to a neighbouring planet. Of course we have our own distinctive assurances on moral matters, and a deep scepticism about the ability of a consumer society to increase human fulfilment and to protect the integrity of creation. But Muslims are not committed to jumping ship. In British India, a political context far less egalitarian than the one we inhabit here, there were few who chose the option of hijra to Afghanistan . The ulema overwhelmingly stayed in place, and were not prominent during the Mutiny. ‘Some scholars,’ as a historian of the period notes, ‘held that a country remained daru’l-Islam as long as a single provision of the Law was kept in force.  Once the bitterness of the Mutiny had subsided, the Muslims were a peaceful presence who contributed much to the deeply flawed but stable global enterprise that was the British Empire. Those Pathans who fought and died at Monte Cassino, the Hausas of the Nigeria Regiment who fought with the Chindits in Burma; the Bengali Lascars who died in the Battle of the Atlantic, were not conscripts, they were volunteers. Fighting against a common totalitarian enemy they were engaged, in the broad understanding of the term, in a jihad. One cannot deplore too strongly the attempt by a few Muslims, such as Ataullah Kopanski, to present Nazism as a potential ally for Islam.  Clearly, had National Socialism triumphed, its scientists would have aimed at the elimination or reduction to servile status of all the non-white races of the world, not excepting the followers of Islam. To fight for the Allies was unquestionably a jihad.
More recently, the struggle against communism effectively united Muslims and Christendom, a long alliance which both sides seem to have forgotten with astonishing speed and completeness.
English law, with its partial legal privileging of Anglican faith, is dimly theocratic, but does not make the totalising claims which the radicals make for their own various imams. Muslims in the United Kingdom are not being offered a choice between God’s law and man’s. God’s law, for the mainstream fuqaha’, is an ideal for whose realisation we cherish a firm and ultimate hope. But it also includes the duty to act, out of maslaha, within the framework of laws drafted by majoritarian non-Muslim legislatures. This is, no doubt, why the tale of the prophet Joseph was so popular in pre-modern Muslim minority contexts. Some of the greatest Muslim poetical works written in Spain after the reconquista were based on the story of the monotheist prophet who accepted a senior post in a non-believing political order. The story is no less popular in the villages of Tatarstan, of Muslim Siberia, and of China .
Islam, therefore, supplies arguments for loyalty. Not because it regards the present state of affairs as ideal (a view commended by no-one) but because it recognises that it is the point from which one needs to begin working towards the ideal, an ideal which will itself be reshaped by the powerful instruments of ijtihad. The fundamental objects, maqasid, of the Shari‘a are the right to life, mind, religion, lineage, and honour; and these are respected in the legal codes of the contemporary West. We may even venture to note that they appear to be better maintained here than in the hamfisted attempts at creating Shari‘a states that we see in several corners of the Muslim world. Muslims may be unhappy with the asylum laws here, but would one wish to claim asylum in any Muslim country that currently springs to mind? We may not approve of all the local rules of evidence, but if we are honest, we will surely hesitate to claim that a murder investigation is better pursued in, say, Iran or Saudi Arabia , than in English jurisdiction.
The radicals in our inner cities, of course, will at this point revert to their primal scream. They know full well that their movements have failed, and that despite decades of effort by them there is no Shari‘a order in the world. They intuit that they are engaged in acts of collective religious suicide. Yet they protest and rail against the established political order, because for them religion has become nothing but the piacular rite of protest. Shouting at rallies and denouncing the mainstream are for them the most satisfying acts of worship. Were they to be denied these practices, they would be forced back on their own spiritual resources, and they are well-aware of how much they will find there.
Loyalty, then, is to the balanced, middle way, the wasat, which is the Sunna. Islam is a wisdom tradition that has seldom if ever generated extremes that have had a permanent impact. The current wave of zealotry will, I make no doubt, pass away as rapidly as it came, perhaps after some climacteric Masada. Some souls will have been damaged by it; the name of the religion will have been damaged by it, and the historians will note, with a regretful curiosity, how Islam was for a few years associated with terrorism. But the extremism will disappear, because no-one who has a future really desires it.
Can we accelerate this healing process? We are, I think, obliged to try. We have the advantage of knowing how to speak, and to whom to speak. The radical has to shout for a long time before anyone outside the Muslim community notices him. But the traditionally-committed Muslim who is part of society at large already possesses the network. He can claim membership in one of the world’s great traditions of art and literature, one that has already attracted many cultivated people in the West. Although the central mosques in most Western capitals are controlled by Saudis with no affection for the society around them, and no ability to speak to it, Islam’s non-hierarchical nature means that such people can simply be circumvented. Their cultural maladroitness will always work to the mainstream’s advantage. Alternative mosques and institutions of learning need to be established as matrices for the proclamation of authentic, mainstream, spiritual, moral Islam. There are strong reasons why this must succeed. Firstly, because everyone who has an interest in social cohesion wants it to succeed. Secondly, because unlike the Islam of those who distrust the divine purposes in history, traditional Islam is optimistic and brings sakina to the human soul. And finally, and most momentously, because this version of faith happens to be true.
6. Mona Abaza and Georg Stauth, ‘Occidental Reason, Orientalism, Islamic fundamentalism: a critique’, in Martin Albrow and Elizabeth King (eds.), Globalization, Knowledge and Society (London etc., 1990), p.223. Carrell’s influence on Sayyid Qutb is frequently cited in this connection.
10. Here the question has been posed of the present-day appropriateness of Imam al-Ghazali’s strongly ‘jihadist’ stance. In his fiqh works, such as the Wasit, Ghazali suggests no more than a mainstream Shafi‘i understanding of the believer’s relationship to war and peace; but the Ihya’ shows that jihad is integrated into the very centre of his understanding of Prophetic emulation (see for instance Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din (Cairo, 1347; = K. Adab al-ma‘isha, bayan shuja‘atih), 338-9: ‘no-one was more vehement in war than him’, ‘he was always the first to exchange blows with the enemy’, etc. Reflecting on the Ihya’s ‘jihadist’ aspects, Michael Cook has shown that in comparison with the majority of ulema, Ghazali’s views on amr bi’l-ma‘ruf are ‘marked by a certain flirtation with radicalism … Ghazali is no accommodationist: he displays great enthusiasm for men who take their lives in their hands.’ (Michael Cook, Commanding the Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought (Cambridge, 2000), p.456.) Modern Arab activists, even of the mainstream ‘Islamist’ variety, have frequently been embarrassed by Ghazali’s emphatic ‘jihadism’; and Cook shows (p.527) how several modern summaries of the Ihya’ remove Ghazali’s remarks on changing evil ‘with the hand’. More radical writers, however, applaud Ghazali: the Algerian revolutionary Ali Belhajj ‘quotes Ghazali’s passage on armed bands with obvious relish’ (p.528). The response to such implicit accusations should surely be that Imam al-Ghazali adopted a stance within his own lifetime that he would not necessarily counsel for our own complex and fitna-ridden age and circumstances, in which the use of armed force against heavy odds is typically denounced by the ulema as an action against Muslim interests (masalih).
11. Blaming the West for this is sometimes, but not invariably fair; the newsmedia cannot be expected to focus on the pacific or the spiritual. Perhaps we need to be more frank in blaming our own Muslim communities for failing to engage in more successful and sophisticated public relations. My own encounters with television and newspaper journalists have confirmed that the mass media are only too happy to take articles from Muslims, or broadcast films made by Muslims; but that they cannot see where to find the contributions. In the United Kingdom , there is only one Muslim film production company, but several hundred cable and satellite TV channels. Major mosques and organisations have little or no public relations expertise. To accuse the West of misrepresentation is sometimes proper, but all too often reflects a hermeneutic of suspicion rooted in zealot attitudes to the Other.
12. For pre-Islamic Arab ‘pride’ suicide, see Mustafa Jawad, ‘Al-Muntahirun fi’l-Jahiliyya wa’l-Islam’, in Al-Hilal, 42 (1934), 475-9. For Islam’s understanding of suicide as an ‘Indian foolishness’ see Baydawi, Tafsir (Istanbul, 1329), 109 (to Qur’an, 4:29). It is presumably not without significance that the deaths of Saul and Samson do not figure in the Muslim scriptures.
15. Lamin Sanneh, ‘Sacred and Secular in Islam’, ISIM Newsletter 10 (July, 2002), 6, makes the following incendiary claim about the September 11 attacks: ‘The West […] has sought comfort in the convenient thought that it is only a renegade breakaway group of Muslim fundamentalists who have struck out in violence. Most Muslims do not share that view.’
Is American Islam inevitable? Until recently we scarcely asked the question. We assumed that the demography of the East, and the expanding economies of the West, made nothing so certain as continued Muslim immigration to the United States, and the progressive entrenchment of Muslim believers in the diverse American socio-economic reality.
The rise of Al-Qa‘ida has now placed that assurance in question. An ever-increasing number of scholars and politicians in the West are voicing their doubts about the Muslim presence. Citing the Yale academic Lamin Sanneh, the right-wing English journalist Melanie Phillips suggests that the time has come to think again about Muslim immigration to the West.[i] Sanneh, whose views on Islam’s reluctance to adjust to the claims of citizenship in non-Muslim states seem very congenial to right-wing theorists, is here being used to reinforce the agenda that is increasingly recommended on the far right across Europe, with electrifying effects on the polls.
Cooler heads, such as John Esposito and James Morris, reject the alarmism of Sanneh and Phillips. Contrary to stereotypes, they insist, Islam has usually been good at accommodating itself to minority status. The story of Islam in traditional China, where it served the emperors so faithfully that it was recognised as one of the semi-official religions of the Chinese state, was the norm rather than the exception. Minority status is nothing new for Islam, and around the boundaries of the Islamic world, Muslims have consistently shown themselves to be good citizens in contexts a good deal less multiculturalist than our own.[ii] The Hanafi school of Islamic law is particularly insistent on the sacrosanct nature of the covenant of aman (safe-conduct) which Muslim minorities enter into with non-Muslim governments. It is forbidden, even in times of war, for Muslims living under those governments to commit crimes against non-Muslims, even when those powers are at war with Muslim states.[iii] The jurists note that Ja‘far, the Prophet’s cousin, had no objection to serving in the army of a Christian king.[iv]
The anti-Dreyfusard charge against the Muslim presence, knows nothing of this. In consequence, where a hundred years ago the cultivated Western public problematized Jews, it is now Muslims who are feeling the pressure. Antisemites once baited the Jews as an alien, Oriental intrusion into white, Christian lands, a Semitic people whose loyalty to its own Law would always render its loyalty to King and Country dubious. Christianity, on this Victorian view, recognised a due division between religion and state; while the Semitic Other could not. There was little wonder in this. The Christian, as heir to the Hellenic vision of St Paul, was free in the spirit. The Semitic Jew was bound to the Law. He could hence never progress or become reconciled to the value of Gentile compatriots. Ultimately, his aim was to subvert, dominate, and possess.[v]
Few in the West seem to have spotted this similarity. One of the great ironies of the present crisis is that many of the most outspoken defenders of the State of Israel are implicitly affirming antisemitic categories in the way they deny the value of Islam. Pim Fortuyn, the Dutch anti-immigration politician who proposed the closure of all of Holland’s mosques, published his book Against the Islamisation of our Culture to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of Israel. Yet his book is filled with characterisations of the new Muslim presence that fit perfectly the categories of antisemitism. The Muslim Other is irrational. He mistreats his women. He follows primitive dietary laws. He is driven by the Law, not the Spirit. He must, therefore, be always the same, a single phenomenon, incapable of reform. His intentions are not to enrich his country of adoption, but to overcome it for the sake of a transnational religious enterprise of domination and contempt. [vi]
We are, in a sense, the New Jews. An odd transposition has taken place, with one religious community ducking from beneath a Christian yoke, which then found Muslim shoulders to rest on.[vii] We have little time or inclination to contemplate the irony of this strange alteration, however; since we cannot forget the fate of the prejudice’s earlier victims, and its current prospects. The road from Auschwitz to Srebrenica was not such a crooked one; and the new rightist politicians in the West are surely positioned somewhere along that road.
Given that Al-Qa‘ida, or its surrogates, have massively reinforced this new chauvinism, it is depressing that its roots and possible entailments have yet to be assessed by most Muslim advocates in the West. But we need to look it in the eyes. We are hated by very many people; and cannot discount the possibility that this hatred will spill over into immigration filters, mosque closures, the prohibition of hijab in schools, and a generalised demonising of Muslims that makes the risk of rioting or state repression against us uncomfortably great. Liberalism, as the Weimar Republic discovered, can be a fragile ideology.
Nevertheless, the charge requires a frank response. Was our immigration purely economic? Or did we arrive to take tactical advantage of liberal press laws in order to launch a subversive internationalist agenda that will be profoundly damaging to our hosts? Are we Americans, or Canadians, or Britons, simply by virtue of holding a passport and finding employment? Or is this our emotional home?
Traditional Islam has been expert in adoption and adaptation. The new antisemitism makes not the slightest headway against it. It is also manifestly the case that moderate reformists have produced many American Muslim communities that are sincerely American, and speak frankly against extremism. Yet it needs also to be recognised that a growing number of scriptural-literalist community leaders, particularly those funded by Middle Eastern states where the language of sermons is violently anti-American, are sceptical of the kind of versatility offered by traditional Islam or by the reformers. For them, we will always be a kind of diaspora, with roots in an Arab elsewhere.
An inference needs to be squarely faced. Those whose belongingness to their adopted countries is only about economics cannot blame the host societies for regarding them with dislike and suspicion. For if we are suspicious of non-Muslims in Muslim majority countries who fail to acclimatise themselves to the ambient values and sense of collective purpose of their countries of citizenship, then it is unreasonable that we should demand that they behave differently when it is we who are the minority. A country that accepts migrants, however conspicuously economic their primary motives, has the right to expect that they engage in some form of cultural migration as well. No Muslim would deny that multiculturalism must always have some limits.
It is time to realise that if we are here purely to enhance our earning power, then our sojourn may prove short-lived. It is annoying that the new kind of sermonizers who are loudest in their demonizing of Western countries are often the slowest to grasp that those countries might turn out not to tolerate them after all. The greatest irony of our situation might just be that our radicals end up on the road to the airport, astonished at the discovery that their low opinion of the West turned out to be correct.
A major shift in our self-definition is therefore urgently required. This may be hard for the older generation, most of which is embedded either in regional folklorisms which have no clear future here, or in a Movement Islam of various hues. But we need some deep rethinking among the new generation, that minority which has survived assimilation in the schools, and knows enough of the virtues and vices of Western secular society to take stock of where we stand, and decide on the best course of action for our community. It is this new generation that is called upon to demonstrate Islam’s ability to extend its traditional capacities for courteous acculturation to the new context of the West, and to reject the radical Manichean agenda, supported by the extremists on both sides, which presents Muslim minorities as nothing more than resentful, scheming archipelagos of Middle Eastern difference.
Like all ‘hyphenated Americans’, US Muslims should be alert to the longstanding ambiguity of a country which used Ellis Island not only to welcome immigrants, but also to deport them when they proved ideologically unsuitable.[viii] Current Islamophobic hostilities are not so different from the popular American response to events as distant as the 1886 Haymarket bomb outrage,[ix] or the assassination of President McKinley by ‘a ragged, unwashed, long-haired, wild-eyed fiend’.[x] The resident alien, and the naturalised American with the foreign accent and appearance who was implicitly in solidarity with murky European comrades, furnished for much of American history the lightning-rod for a host of suspicions. Anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism, culminating in the Red Scare of 1919, quickly triggered a host of restrictive laws and inquisitorial procedures, including summary deportation of aliens and the denial of access to legal counsel until a very late stage of the judicial process. Two years after McKinley’s assassination, the 1903 Immigration Act applied ideological filters to immigration applicants for the first time. For their part, radicals such as the socialist leader William Haywood made matters worse by insisting that ‘no Socialist can be a law-abiding citizen’, and refusing to condemn violent action against governmental or plutocratic targets.[xi] In 1906, a new Naturalization Act obliged candidates to swear that they were not anarchists, while the Bureau of Naturalization pronounced that ‘As long as the advocates of these malignant and un-American doctrines remain aliens, they may be deported and their gospels may be overthrown at their inception, but once they succeed in obtaining their citizenship, this method of purging our country becomes more difficult, if not impossible.’[xii] The ‘treasonable ingrates’ defended themselves on habeas corpus grounds, only to be thwarted by the use of military rather than civil detention.[xiii] In 1917, over a thousand were rounded up and deported to a remote stockade in New Mexico.[xiv]
Anarcho-syndicalism lost its edge, but the underlying energies of American nativism were undiminished. The Ku Klux Klan continued to demand a white, Protestant normalcy in the Southern states, occasionally targeting Arabs as well as Jews, Catholics and African-Americans.[xv] And the same New Deal bureaucrats who had resolved many of the resentments of the labour movement were soon rounding up the Japanese-American population amid the confusion and xenophobia that followed Pearl Harbor. Long before the war, the mayor of San Francisco had announced that ‘the Chinese and Japanese are not bona fide citizens. They are not the stuff of which American citizens can be made […] They will not assimilate with us and their social life is different to ours.’[xvi] The bank accounts of American citizens of Japanese descent were frozen, and detention camps were set up, with anomalous legal procedures ensuring that appeals against the sentencing were held long after the incarceration began. Replying to liberal protests against the FBI’s draconian methods, Chief Justice Harlan Stone explained that ‘because racial discriminations are in most circumstances irrelevant and therefore prohibited, it by no means follows that, in dealing with the perils of war, Congress and the Executive are wholly prohibited from taking into account those facts […] which may in fact place citizens of one ancestry in a different category.’[xvii]
After the war, the nativist inquisition again exhausted itself, only to be revived by the anti-Communist mood of the 1950s. The Emergency Detention Act of 1950 was deliberately modeled on Roosevelt’s anti-Japanese measures, taking advantage of the fact that the Supreme Court had already ruled that these had not infringed the Constitution.[xviii] Again, the nation watched the establishment of detention camps, and the reactivation of the principle of holding hearings after, rather then prior to, incarceration.
What Richard Freeland describes as ‘cycles of repression in American history’[xix] surfaced again at the end of the 1970s, with the rise of Islamic militancy in the Middle East and nervousness about naturalized and alien individuals of Middle Eastern origin within the United States. Although the Emergency Detention Act had been shamefacedly repealed in 1971, and official contrition for the Japanese-American detentions was now longstanding, the Carter administration considered interning Iranians as a result of the 1979 Tehran hostage crisis.[xx]
The events of 11 September placed Islamic alienation under a spotlight. Shortly before, one observer had predicted that ‘an event of catastrophic terrorism will bring with it the danger of precipitous action that is detrimental to other social values, such as civil liberties.’[xxi] The immediately resulting legislation, including the Patriot Act and the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, empowered by a remarkably broad definition of domestic terrorism which may be invoked by FBI investigators armed with new powers of search and surveillance, has been built on genuine fear of further ‘Islamic’ acts of terrorism. Not far away, however, are much older themes in American nativism, including biblically-based denunciations of ‘foreign’ creeds, racial insecurities, and polemics against the allegedly high birthrates of the suspect population. As a result, in the words of the Center for Constitutional Rights,
In the weeks after September 11th, hundreds or perhaps thousands of individuals were rounded up as suspected terrorists […] They were held without criminal charges, and often with no access to an attorney. […] The ordeal many endured was harrowing and counterproductive. There have been numerous reports of beatings, and many more of less serious mistreatment.[xxii]
Faced with this incipient inquisition, the community must face the realisation that the future of Islam in an instinctively nativist land will be a genuinely American future, if it is to happen at all. As the ‘war against terrorism’, with all its clumsy, pixellated violence, and cultural simplifications, gathers momentum, it is likely that there will be further events and atrocities which will render the current social and psychological marginality of the community still more precarious. Unless American Muslims can locate for themselves, and populate, a spiritual and cultural space which can meaningfully be called American, and develop theological and social tools for identifying and thwarting local extremism, they will be increasingly in the firing line. Only a few of the ultras in the mosques would welcome such a showdown; most would be appalled.
Regrettably – and this is one of its most telling failures – our community leadership has invested much energy in Islamic education, but has spent little time studying American culture to locate the multiple elements within it which are worthy of Muslim respect. Too many of the extremists activists dismiss their new compatriots as promiscuous drunkards, or as fundamentalist fanatics. Movement Islam, with its often vehement dislike of the West on grounds that often in practice seem more tribal than spiritual, and rooted in various utopian projects that seldom seem to work even on their own terms, often seems little better. All too frequently it provides ammunition to chauvinists allied to the stance of Daniel Pipes, for whom all ‘Islamists’ are a fifth column to be viewed with unblinking, baleful suspicion.
The new generation will be well-advised to take some courageous steps. Firstly, it needs to acknowledge that furiously anti-Western readings of Islam are unlikely to serve Muslims in the dangerous context of modern America. It is already clear to many that Mawdudi and Qutb were not writing for 21st century Muslim minorities in the West, but for a mid-twentieth century struggle against secular repression and corruption in majority Muslim lands. They themselves would probably be startled to learn that their books were being pressed on utterly different communities, fifty years on. Yet our tradition has been diverse in its response to the scriptures, and other, less ideological readings of our tradition are readily available. As Sachiko Murata notes:
The fact that so many interpretations of Islam have now been narrowed down to fit into ideological frameworks is simply a reflection of modern Muslims’ ignorance of the Islamic tradition and their sense of impotence in the face of the impersonal forces of modernity. It says nothing about the rich resources of the tradition itself.[xxiii]
As well as ‘de-ideologising’ Islam, we need to turn again to the founding story of Islam for guidance on the correct conduct of guests. An insulting guest will not be tolerated indefinitely even by the most courteous of hosts; and pulpit broadsides against Western culture have to be seen as at best discourteous. A measured, concerned critique of social dissolution, unacceptable beliefs, or destructive foreign policies will always be a required component of Muslim discourse, but wild denunciations of Great Satans or global Crusader Conspiracies are, for Muslims here, not only dangerous, but are also discourteous – scarcely a lesser sin. This must be made absolutely clear to organisations who visit communities with a view to offering funding from totalitarian states.
Imam al-Ghazali provides us with some precious lessons on the conduct of the courteous guest. He cites the saying that ‘part of humility before God is to be satisfied with an inferior sitting-place.’ The guest should greet those he is sitting beside, even if he should privately be uncomfortable with them. He should not dominate the conversation, or loudly criticise others at the feast, or allow himself to be untidy. Ghazali also tells us that he should not keep looking at the kitchen door, which would imply that he is primarily present for the food. It is hard to avoid thinking of this when one contemplates the loud demands of many Muslims, particularly in Europe, for financial payouts from the state. If we wish to be tolerated and respected, one of our first responsibilities is surely to seek employment, and avoid reliance on the charity of our hosts. Reliance on affirmative-action policies, or outright sloth, are likely to provoke a backlash.[xxiv]
Some hardline scholars of the Hanbali persuasion took a narrow view of the duty of guests. Imam Ahmad himself said that if a guest sees a kohl-stick with a silver handle, he should leave the house at once, on the grounds that it is a place of luxurious indulgence. Yet for Imam al-Ghazali, and for the great majority of scholars, one should always give one’s host the benefit of the doubt.[xxv] And in the West, our neighbours usually fall into the category of ahl al-kitab, for whom certain things are permissible that we would condemn among Muslims. Resentment, contempt, hypercriticism, all these vices are discourteous and inappropriate, particularly when used to disguise one’s dissatisfaction with oneself, or with one’s own community’s position in the world.
The refugee, or migrant, is therefore subject to the high standards that Islam, with its Arabian roots, demands of the guest. Discourtesy is dishonour. And nowhere in the Prophetic biography do we find this principle more nobly expressed than in the episode of the First Hijra. Here, the first Muslim asylum-seekers stand before the Emperor of Abyssinia to explain why they should be allowed to stay. Among them were Uthman and Ruqaiyya, and Ja‘far and Asma’, all young people famous for their physical beauty. Umm Salama, another eyewitness, narrates the respect with which the Muslims attended upon the Christian king. They would not compromise their faith, but they were reverent and respectful to the beliefs of an earlier dispensation. Their choice of the annunciation story from the Qur’an was inspired, showing the Christians present that the Muslim scripture itself is not utterly alien, but is beautiful, dignified, and contains much in common with Christian belief. Stressing what they held in common with their hosts, they made a hugely favourable impression, and their security in the land was assured.[xxvi]
Today, we seem less inclined to use the Chapter of Mary as the basis for our self-presentation to the host community. Instead, we create lobby groups that adopt provocatively loud criticisms of American policy, thereby closing the door to any possibility that they might be heard. Many of our sermons pay little attention to the positive qualities in our neighbours, but instead recite dire warnings of the consequences to our souls of becoming ‘like Americans’. Again, the danger is that the cumulative image given by angry American Muslims will result in our being treated as cuckoos in the nest, stripped of rights, and even ejected altogether. In the long term, the choice is between deportment, and deportation.
Faced with this new nativist inquisition, American Muslim communities need a new agenda. This need not be defined as an Islamic liberalism. Liberalism in religion has a habit of leading to the attenuation of faith. Instead, the surest option seems to be a return to the spirit of our tradition, and quarry it for resources that will enable us to regain the Companions’ capacity for courteous conviviality.
One step forward will be the realisation that Islamic civilisation was a providential success story. Salafist and modernist agendas which present medieval Islam either as obscurantism or as deviation from scripture will leave us orphaned from the evolving and magnificent story of Muslim civilisation. If we accept that classical Islam was a deviant reading of our scriptures, we surrender to the claims of a certain type of Christian evangelical Orientalism, which claims that the glories of Muslim civilisation arose despite, not because of, the Qur’an. We are called to be the continuation of a magnificent story, not a footnote to its first chapter.
A recovery of our sense of pride in Islam’s cultural achievements will allow us to reactivate a principle that has hardly been touched by most Muslim communities in the West, namely the obligation of witnessing. It is evident that da‘wa is our primary duty as a Muslim minority; indeed, al-Mawardi considered it a valid reason for taking up residence outside the House of Islam;[xxvii] and it is no less evident that this is impossible if we abandon tradition in order to insist on rigorist and narrow readings of the Shari‘a. Our neighbours will not heed our invitation unless we can show that there is some common ground, that we have something worth having, and, even more significantly, that we are worth joining. Radical and literalist Islamic agendas frequently seem to be advocated by unsmiling zealots, whose tension, arrogance and misery are all too legible on their faces. Few reasonable people will consider the religious claims made by individuals who seem to have been made miserable and desperate by those claims. More usually, they will be repelled, and retreat into negative chauvinism.
The believer’s greatest argument is his face. True religion lights up the face; false religion fills it with insecurity, rage and suspicion. This is perceptible not only to insiders, but to anyone who maintains some connection with unsullied primordial human nature in his heart. The early conversions to Islam often took place among populations that had no access to the language of the Muslims who now lived among them; but they were no less profound in consequence. Religion is ultimately a matter of personal transformation, and no amount of missionary work will persuade people – with the occasional exception of the disturbed and the desperate – unless our own transformation is complete enough to be able to transform others.[xxviii]
Rigorism, discourtesy and narrow-mindedness, the tedious recourse of the spiritually inadequate and the culturally outgunned, end up reinforcing the negative attitudes that they claim to repudiate. Conversely, a reactivation of the Prophetic virtue of rifq, of gentleness, which the hadith tells us ‘never enters a thing without adorning it’,[xxix] will make us welcome rather than suspected, loved and admired rather than despised as a community of resentful failures.
Again, the story of the Migration to Abyssinia provides the key. This was the plea of the first Muslim asylum-seekers to be faced with deportation:
[Our Prophet] commanded us to speak the truth, be faithful to our engagements, mindful of the ties of kinship and kindly hospitality, and to refrain from crimes and bloodshed. He forbade us to commit abominations and to speak lies, and to devour the property of orphans, to vilify chaste women. […] Thereupon our people attacked us, treated us harshly […] When they got the better of us, treated us unjustly and circumscribed our lives, and came between us and our religion, we came to your country, having chosen you above all others. Here we have been happy in your protection, and we hope that we shall not be treated unjustly while we are with you, O King.’ […] Then the Negus said: ‘Of a truth, this and what Jesus brought have come from the same niche. You two may go, for by God, I will never give them up to them, and they shall not be betrayed.’[xxx]
The early Muslims spoke well of the Christians of Abyssinia. More generally, we look in vain in the scriptures for a polemic against Christian life. While unimpressed by Byzantine rule, the Companions refused to demonise their citizenry. In one account, ‘Amr ibn al-As describes them as follows:
They have four qualities. They are the most forbearing of people during tribulations. They are the swiftest to recover after a disaster. They are the best at returning to the fray after having fled. And they are the best to paupers, orphans and the weak.[xxxi]
Such charity deserves to be emulated, to replace the self-indulgence of hatred and self-exculpation. It will not come easily until we reconnect with the religion’s history of spirituality. No other religious community in history has produced the number and calibre of saints generated by Islam. Jalal al-Din Rumi has now become America’s best-selling poet,[xxxii] an extraordinary victory for Islamic civilisation and the integrity of its spiritual life which our communities are scarcely aware of. Our spirituality is the crowning glory of our history, and the guarantor of the transformative power of our art, literature, and personal conduct. Once we have relearned the traditional Islamic science of the spirit, we can hope to produce, as great Muslim souls did in the past, enduring monuments of literature, art and architecture which will proclaim to our neighbours the quality of our souls, and our ability to enrich America.
The task may seem daunting; but the new generation produces more and more Muslims eager to reinvigorate Islam in a way that will make it the great religious success story of modern America, rather than the plaintive sick man of the religious milieu that it currently seems to be. Increasingly our young people want passionately to be Muslims and to celebrate their uniquely rich heritage, but in a way that does not link them to the desperate radical agendas now being marketed in a growing minority of the mosques. As those young people assume positions of leadership in their communities, and proclaim a form of Islam that is culturally rich and full of confidence in divine providence, Islam will surely take its place as a respected feature on America’s religious landscape, and begin the process of integration here that it has so successfully accomplished in countless other cultures throughout its history, and which is a condition for its continuing existence in a potentially hostile place.
[i] Melanie Phillips, ‘How the West was lost’, The Spectator, 11 May 2002. Speaking to an Anglican conference in New Zealand, Sanneh remarked: ‘It is only a thin secular wall that prevents the Islamic tide from sweeping over the west […] Islam might be called a religion that has almost no questions and no answers […] That revelation is externalised and fossilized. Islam is a set of immutable divine laws […] Islam is a religious imperialism […, but] God delights in our freedom and not in our enslavement.’ (www.latimer.org.nz, accessed on 3 April 2003.) The replication of traditional antisemitic language is striking, and it is unsurprising that it should find echoes in the thinking of the new Right. Modern studies of European Fascism increasingly identify classical readings of St Paul as one strand in its composition. For Nazi enthusiasm for Paul, see for instance Frank Thielman, From Plight to Solution: A Jewish Framework for Understanding Paul’s View of the Law in Galatians and Romans (Leiden, 1989), 6-7, 8-9. For the still inadequately addressed question of Lutheran theological support for Nazism, see Robert P. Ericksen, Theologians under Hitler: Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus and Emmanuel Hirsch (New Haven, 1985); p.67 for the Jews’ ‘rigid legalism’; p.68 for the universalism of Christianity as opposed to the text-based particularism of the Semite; p.163 for ‘Christianity as the only religion based upon a free, personal, individual relationship to God;’ p.165 for the separation of faith from politics; etc. Cf. also Robert P. Ericksen and Susannah Heschel (eds.), Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust (Minneapolis, 1999), for instance p.16, where the ‘religion of the heart’ is contrasted with ‘the religion of the Pharisees’ which ‘consisted almost exclusively in observances’. The work of Thielman, Longenecker, Parkes and others has done much to blunt this traditional polarisation; as yet, however, the old categorisations are still regularly applied to the ‘other Semites,’ with serious political consequences.
[ii] John Esposito, The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality? 3rd ed (New York, 1999), 233-40. ; ‘The Unique Opportunities & Challenges Facing American Muslims in the New Century,’ The American Muslim, vol. 12 (2002), 17-26. For Chinese Muslim integration see Sachiko Murata, Chinese Gleams of Sufi Light: Wai-Tai-yü’s Great Learning of the Pure and Real and Liu Chih’s Displaying the Concealment of the Real Realm (Albany, 2000); P.D. Buell, ‘Saiyid Ajall (1211-1279)’, in E. de Rachewiltz, Hok-lam Chan, Hsiao Ch’i-ch’ing, and P.W. Geier (eds), In the service of the Khan: eminent personalities of the early Mongol-Yüan period (1200-1300) (Wiesbaden, 1993), pp.466-79. For the theory see Tim Winter, ‘Some thoughts on the formation of British Muslim identity’, Encounters 8 (2002), 3-26; Khaled Abou el-Fadl, ‘Striking a Balance: Islamic Legal Discourses on Muslim Minorities’, in Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and John L. Esposito (eds.), Muslims on the Americanization Path? (Oxford, 2000).
[iii] Shams al-Din al-Sarakhsi, al-Mabsut (Cairo, 1324 AH), X, 88; cf. Abou el-Fadl, 59.
[iv] Sarakhsi, X, 98.
[v] Rosemary Ruether, Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism (London, 1975), 241 and passim; compare the views of Serbian nationalist scholars of Islam as ‘totalitarian’: Michael Sells, The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia (Berkeley and London, 1996), 202, to which Sells comments: ‘If the term “totalitarian” is to be applied to Islam because the religion is not restricted to private life, then it must also be applied to Halakhic Judaism’.
[vi] For Fortuyn, see Angus Roxburgh, Preachers of Hate: The Rise of the Far Right (London, 2002), 158-78; Andrew Osborn in The Guardian, 9 July 2002.
[vii] Cf. Nick Ryan, Homeland: Into a World of Hate (Edinburgh, 2003), 294: ‘“Is Islam a greater threat than international Judaism – especially after 11 September?” […] “The enemy is changing,” he says.’ (Interview with Christian Worch, German neo-Nazi leader.)
[viii] Preston, 190.
[ix] Malwyn A. Jones, The Limits of Liberty: American History 1607-1992 (Oxford and New York, second edition 1995), 323.
[x] William Preston Jr., Aliens and Dissenters: Federal Suppression of Radicals 1903-1933 (Cambridge MA, 1963), 26.
[xi] Preston, 49.
[xii] Preston, 64.
[xiii] 106. The restrictions against Communist immigration were not finally lifted until 1990 (Jones, 628).
[xv] See David M. Chalmers, Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan (Durham, 1987), 71, for the expulsions of Syrians and Lebanese from a town in Georgia in the 1920s.
[xvi] Roger Daniels, Prisoners without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II (New York, 1993), 9.
[xvii] Daniels, 60.
[xviii] Daniels, 110.
[xix] Richard M. Freeland, The Truman Doctrine and the Origins of McCarthyism: Foreign Policy, Domestic Politics, and Internal Security, 1946-1948 (New York, 1972), 4.
[xx] Daniels,. 112.
[xxi] Ashton B. Carter and William J. Perry, Preventive Defense: A New Security Strategy for America (Washington, 1999), 156.
[xxii] Center for Constitutional Rights Fact Sheet: Beyond September 11th: balancing security and liberty interests (New York, 2002).
[xxiii] Murata, 7.
[xxiv] The recent revival in KKK fortunes may be partly the consequence of affirmative action policies (Chalmers, 435).
[xxv] Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din (Cairo, 1347 AH), II, 11-15.
[xxvi] See e.g., Ibn Ishaq, Sira, tr. A. Guillaume as The Life of Muhammad (Oxford, 1955), 146-154; the annunciation is described in Qur’an, chapter 19.
[xxvii] Abou el-Fadl, 49.
[xxviii] For the continuity between classical and modern patterns of conversion to Islam, see my ‘Conversion as Nostalgia: Some Experiences of Islam,’ in Martyn Percy (ed.), Previous Convictions: Conversion in the Real World (London, 2000), 93-111.
[xxix] Muslim, Birr, 78; cf. Qur’an, 3:159: ‘Had you been harsh and hard of heart they would have scattered from around you.’
[xxx] Ibn Ishaq (Guillaume), 151-2.
[xxxi] Muslim, Fitan, 10.
[xxxii] Alexandra Marks, Christian Science Monitor, November 25, 1997.