Did Britain and France carve up the Middle East into spheres of influence by drawing arbitrary lines on a map? Yes – yes, they did. But is it the root cause of Daesh and the wars that have ravaged the region in recent years? Well, yes and no.
Daesh and their echoes in the West push a narrative that has western foreign policy as the sole cause of today’s war and bloodshed in the region. They characterise this as a one hundred year mistake that began with the 1916 Sykes-Picot pact carving up the crumbling Turkish empire between the western powers. The end of the Ottomans, they say, destroyed a united Muslim caliphate that stretched from Istanbul to Mecca and Baghdad.
Reality is always a little more complex. There were secret colonial deals that did indeed betray the hopes of the Arab world. But there were also decades of local misrule and the emergence of movements that distorted past history to promote a romanticised idea of a mythical khilafah.
Daesh, for example, ignores the religious pluralism of the Ottomans and their abolition of barbaric punishments. They’ve stoned more people to death in two years than the Ottomans did in four centuries. Experiments in pan-Arab states foundered in the 20th century because, well, Egyptians and Jordanians, Iraqis and Syrians were actually very proud of their identity. This is why Daesh spends so much time and effort demolishing the ancient glories of Iraq and Syria – an attempt to erase those very identities.
Sykes and Picot were colonialists of their own time. What they did was reprehensible given the promises made to Arab allies at the end of the First World War. But the actions of Daesh are not rooted so much in past foreign policy as in an ideology that rejects values we all share: human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and gender equality. The ambition is not to right the wrongs of Sykes-Picot but to subjugate millions of Syrians, Iraqis, Jordanians, Emiratis, Bahrainis, Kuwaitis, Afghans, Qataris, Kurds, Egyptians, Turks, Libyans, Pakistanis, Nigerians, Somalis, Saudis and other Muslim nations under the iron heel of a self-proclaimed and phony khalifah.
The fact a full century has passed since the Sykes-Picot agreement highlights how long ago this was… Are we all powerless victims of historical world affairs, with no control over any aspect of our lives? People like Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, and Sadiq Khan have shown this is certainly not the case! In the face of immense challenges, the best of human nature is awakened.
We should condemn Sykes and Picot – but we can’t blame them for today’s horror show.
St George, Patron Saint of England and Muslims
By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
Saint George, patron Saint of England. A figure deceptively familiar to us, St George is everywhere, in children’s story books, cartoons, religious iconography, place names. George is even a popular name given to children, including Prince George, bless him, son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
One thing is for sure, there’s no greater symbol of England and Englishness than that dragon slayer, St George! Well now, hang on a minute… Let’s not get too carried away yet. Sure, it’s true, St George is the patron saint of England. But ask anyone where he was born? Where did he live? We invariably get blank looks, people googling, or asking Siri. Suddenly we realise, we don’t know as much about St George as we thought… Who was this guy, the man who became our patron saint?
Put your Trust in Allah
“A person cannot honour Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, through committing crimes he would have hated.”
~ Shaykh Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
Happy Mother’s Day to all the past, present and future mothers!
Murderer Most Definitely No Saint!
Paul Salahuddin Armstrong, Co-Director, AoBM
Horrified… I honestly don’t know where to begin… In the Holy Qur’an it is written, “…if anyone slays a human being – unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth – it shall be as though he had slain all mankind…” (Qur’an 5:32). So how therefore, can a murderer be a lover of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to whom these words were revealed?
Or the words of Abel (Habil) related in the Qur’an, “Even if you stretch your hands to kill me, I will not stretch out my hands to kill you, for I fear Allah, the Lord of the worlds.” (Qur’an 5:28).
I’m disappointed that there are any Muslims celebrating the murderer Mumtaz Qadri as a martyr, but I was both shocked and appalled to find Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif among them! I am a mureed (student) of Shaykh Sufi Muhammad Abdullah Khan, who passed away last year, under whose guidance the mosque was founded back in 1992.
I have been with Sufi Abdullah for the past 15 years, the Shaykh was a veteran of WW2, honourable man and wise teacher. I’m sure the Shaykh would be horrified to see a convicted murderer celebrated as an Ashiq Al Rasul (lover of the Prophet), and especially by the very people he left to run the mosque he founded in his absence… To drag the memory and tariqat of Sufi Abdullah into this farce is especially insulting to our dearly departed Shaykh, a man I grew to respect and love, and whose wise guidance I live by to this day.
All I can think is the mosque has lost its way in the absence of Shaykh Sufi Abdullah, may Allah bless his soul…
Under no circumstances should anyone be celebrating the death of a convicted murderer as a saint. A murderer has committed the most heinous of crimes; against Allah for taking that which belongs to Allah alone before its time, against our Human Family for disregarding the innate Human Rights of the person they killed, and against the family whose family member they cruelly took away; a child from their parents, a parent from their children, a sibling, a cousin, everyone has a family…
What is the rational that motivates those who celebrate the life of a murderer? What kind of message are they giving to their children and our youth? What message are they giving to the wider society? Murder is evil, it is never to be excused, and certainly not celebrated or glorified! Beyond what should be obvious to any sane individual, this is grossly irresponsible and foolish, and only goes to demonstrate further that those who behave with such lack of thought or consideration are unsuited to the office they claim to represent.
I don’t celebrate the execution of a murderer, I’ve deep misgivings about capital punishment. I know this was used in more primitive times, but so were holes in fields instead of toilets; doesn’t mean it’s the best approach… But at the same time, I certainly don’t mourn the execution of a murderer. Mumtaz Qadri was no saint, and he paid the price in judicial system of Pakistan for the crime he committed.
Ethics – Islam The Way of Life – Ep 4
Poppies for Peace in Peshawar
On 16th December 2015, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and her family hosted a Poppies for Peace in Peshawar event in Birmingham to commemorate the 1st Anniversary of the deadly terrorist attack on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar, Pakistan.
FATWA ON THE SO-CALLED “ISLAMIC STATE” (FORMERLY “ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ & SYRIA”)
WITH THE NAME OF GOD, MOST GRACIOUS, MOST MERCIFUL
FATWA ON THE SO-CALLED “ISLAMIC STATE”
(FORMERLY “ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ & SYRIA”)
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessings be upon His final messenger Muhammad.
Due to recent events in the Middle East and their impact on some people in Britain, we as imams and scholars based in the UK, would like to issue the following clarifications in the form of a fatwa:
1. There is no doubt that President Assad’s regime in Syria is oppressive, unjust and brutal, and has committed numerous atrocities against its own people.
2. The same is true of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) or self-styled “Caliphate,” formerly known as “The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”: it is an oppressive and tyrannical group.
3. By murdering prisoners of war, journalists and civilians, including mosque imams who
refused to endorse their campaign, and by enslaving the women and children of their
opponents, ISIS has violated international agreements such as the Geneva Conventions and conventions on slavery that everyone, including Muslims, have signed up to. God says in the Qur’an, “Believers, fulfil your covenants!” (5:1)
4. The IS persecution and massacres of Shia Muslims, Christians and Yazidis is abhorrent and opposed to Islamic teachings and the Islamic tolerance displayed by great empires such as the Mughals and Ottomans.
5. Based on all of the above: IS is a heretical, extremist organisation and it is religiously prohibited (haram) to support or join it; furthermore, it is an obligation on British Muslims to actively oppose its poisonous ideology, especially when this is promoted within Britain.
6. British and other EU citizens are bound by their duties to their home countries according to Islamic theology and jurisprudence: it is therefore prohibited ( haram) to travel to fight with any side in Syria, including non-state actors, since this is forbidden by laws in EU countries.
7. It is a moral obligation upon British Muslims to help the Syrian and Iraqi people without betraying their own societies: “If they ask for your help in religion, you must help, except against a people with whom you have a treaty.” (Qur’an 8:72)
Sheikh Mohammad Shahid Raza OBE
Executive Secretary, Muslim Law (Shariah) Council of UK. Head Imam, Leicester Central Mosque.
Sheikh Qamaruzzaman Azmi
Secretary General, World Islamic Mission. Head Imam, Manchester Central Mosque.
Sheikh Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
Co-Director, The Association of British Muslims.
Sheikh Dr Qari Mohammad Asim MBE
Head Imam, Makkah Masjid, Leeds.
Sheikh Dr Usama Hasan
Author, ISIS Fatwa. Former Imam, Masjid Al-Tawhid Mosque, Leyton. Head Theologian, Quilliam Foundation.
Mufti Abu Layth
Founder, The Islamic Council, UK.
Islam and Life: Danger of Takfiri ideology for Islam
The rise of Takfiri movements has caused outrage all across traditionally majority Muslim regions of the world and elsewhere. Tariq Ramadan discusses this frightening phenomenon with Paul Salahuddin Armstrong, Co-Director of the Association of British Muslims.
The letter Khalifah Ali ibn Abi Talib wrote to Malik Ashtar
While it may have been written 14 centuries ago, the letter Khalifah Ali ibn Abi Talib wrote to Malik Ashtar is just as, if not even more relevant to us today.
May Allah SWT help us return to the noble wisdom of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and his loyal companions, may Allah bless them.