Why Did The Mayor of Rotterdam Tell Them to Eff Off?

It is not often that a mainstream politician does this on live TV. The Mayor of Rotterdam in Netherlands, Mr Ahmed Aboutaleb, has told Muslims who have turned their backs to freedom to ‘pack their bags and eff off’. You can feel the anger and frustration in his words. As a Muslim, I share his sentiment and I think that I can guess why he felt the need to use such strong language.

Muslims are immigrants on this continent of Europe. While we may have been present for hundreds of years, actual communities only took root in the post WW2 era. When one is new to a particular place, one has to work hard to win trust of the wider community. That’s only natural. People time to build trust. What more if the immigrants spoke different languages, generally don’t participate in local culture (like drinking and eating bacon), generally don’t like to inter-marry (not even if the local converts to Islam sometimes) and practises a religion with a long history of opposing the locals’ own (remember the Crusades)?

No, acceptance has not been easy. I arrived in this country long after the adjustment period was over. Even so, I could see how the Muslim community had a different set of factors when it came to integration. Building community trust is hard work. It is like accumulating savings in the bank. Years and years you work at it. Then your child comes along and spends it all up in one go! Not on something useful but on a destructive spending spree!

That’s exactly what Islamic terrorism is. A spit in the face to all the hardworking , decent immigrants. Not just Muslim immigrants but anyone from that ethnic penumbra. Asians, Afro-Carribeans and even Europeans (who look like they could be from Bosnia, Albania etc) are and will be viewed with suspicion. Violent reprisals would be directed at us while the terrorists themselves have taken the cowards way out.

That’s why Ahmed Aboutaleb is enraged. But it’s not enough to be enraged. We need to actually be vigilant. These Jihadis are among us.

Ahmed Merabet – Hero Of Islam

Living in a very Muslim part of East London, I am often privy to some interesting conversations on public transport. It’s always good to hear opinion on the ground even though we must never take these opinions as representative of the Muslims as a whole. Muslims are like any other cultural group – they have an infinite variety of opinions.

I sat behind some lads who were discussing if Ahmed Merabet should be buried in a Muslim cemetary! I was not only taken aback but absolutely aghast that they would contemplate such a question. Apparently, Mr Merabet was a ‘traitor’ of Islam because he tried to stop ‘jihad for the sake of Allah’. These lads were not unanimous in this conclusion though. At least, half of them disagreed, saying Islam is peace and so Mr Merabet was fighting for Islam. Thank heavens for that. That was the only thing stopping me from dropping in own tuppence worth.

There is only one way one can consider Mr Merabet to be a traitor of islam – that is if that person sees islam as a tribe of sorts. A multi-racial, global tribe but a tribe nonetheless. Any attempt to oppose what tribal members do ostensibly for the sake of the tribe is seen as betrayal. So Islam is like a football team to these people. The team can perform very badly yet their loyalty remains unwavered. This is not the islam I subscribe to at all as I do not see any such thing in the Quran.

Rather to me, the term ‘islam’ in itself has a meaning – acquirement of peace or pertaining to peace. It comes from the word ‘salam’ which is to be peaceful, free from harm, sound. Taking this meaning into account, the Charlie Hebdo terrorists therefore were not acting for lslam at all. They only claimed (implicitly through their ‘We have avenged the Prophet’ and ‘Allahu Akbar’ yelling) to be acting in its name. Even so, the vast majority of Muslims disagree with them.

Ahmed Merabet acted for actual islam – he gave his life for to stop those who would take away peace. He is therefore a hero of Islam. It is these terrorists and their ‘moderate’ enablers who are the traitors of Islam despite their claims. Substance will always triumph over form.

Charlie Hebdo Massacre – 2015’s Early Signal To Reform Islam

It was not enough that 2014 ended with a tragedy – that of the Peshawar massacre. 145 people including 132 children were murdered by the Pakistani Taliban. Today, not even a week into the new year, another massacre has just taken place in Paris.

The office of the Charlie Hebdo magazine has just been attacked by three masked gunmen who shot down in cold blood twelve people including cartoonists, editors and even policemen. Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine from a radical left wing perspective and regularly parodies religions. In 2011, they were firebombed for printing a cartoon of Prophet Mohamed. Apparently, today’s massacre was due to print a satirical cartoon of (wait for it!) ‘CALIPH’ ABU BAKR AL-BAGHDADI! Yes, the self-styled caliph of the so-called Islamic State in Syria! You can read about this tragic incident here.

To me, this is an early warning about how 2015 will turn out. Ever since the emergence of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (then known as ISIS), Muslims from all over the world have come out to show support for this nefarious organisation. From the UK alone, it is said that around five hundred Muslims have travelled to Syria through various channels to join them. With the Charlie Hebdo massacre, if these early reports prove to be true, we are looking at an active movement to defend the sanctity of the so-called Islamic State through violent means. This movement has now arrived at our doorstep in the West.

Who can we, the Muslims, blame for this violence? I am a firm believer in honesty and I firmly believe the lion’s share of the blame must go to the Muslims themselves. We have been a recalcitrant, negligent bunch who live in utter denial. Everything bad Muslims do is firmly blamed on someone else, most likely the Jews. This delusion will prove fatal to us in the near future.

Let us think about this – why has the recruitment call (you may find the videos on Youtube) found willing respondents? What magic does this movement and its pantomime villain of a Caliph have over the Muslim masses? The answer lies in our history and how our Traditional Islamic education glorifies that history.

Islamic history sees its political manifestation as something sacrosanct. Since Prophet Muhammad also held political leadership, the office bearing that leadership is seen in divine terms. These leaders were essentially just nationalist leaders but history sees them as the chosen upholders of the faith. History tells us that this institution in the form of the Ottoman caliphate was only dismantled in 1924 and Muslims lament this event most profoundly, blaming this event on the West.

However, we are not told that throughout the history of this institution save for the first twelve years, there have been strong internal political dissent. Even the noble companions of the Prophet themselves were not exempt from participating in internecine wars for the control of the government. Thousands were killed even during the time. The institution of the caliphate were almost always the result of the overthrowing of a previous caliphate based regime. Nor were these caliphs angels walking the earth either. They had huge harems of women, plotted against their own siblings to usurp the kingdom and looted foreign lands to fill their coffers. It is amusing to see that they did not emulate the Sunnah of the Prophet where austerity was concered. This was a human institution and even the current pretender to the throne is human, all too human.

Having taught religious studies to college students, I can’t help but notice that even in this day and age, Muslim youth are still clinging to these romantic ideas of the caliphate. They are still repeating these age old myths and worse still, they are hating the same old ‘villains’. It is amazing that in cosmopolitan London than Sunni Muslim youth consider their Shi’ite neighbours to be ‘infidels’. This is because even though socially they are cosmopolitan, mentally they are still parochial.

So with these seeds of hatred being sown, should we be surprised when three gunmen show up at the office of a satirical magazine and start shooting on sight? I for one am not surprised at all but deeply saddened. When you feed the youths the starry-eyed myths of caliphate, they will of course be fanatically devoted to it. Tell them the truth about it so they can be rational.

And this is what we need to do. Infuse the truth into our Traditional Islamic education. Stop telling these mythical tales of utopian kingdoms in the way the book ‘The Story of Islam’ does. Islamic civilisation was a gritty human civilisation with its ups and downs. We need to also impress upon our youth that their value as Muslims are directly relation to their contribution to humanity not to guarding the delusional purity of ancient monarchies. They do not need to defend some age old myth. We need this deep reform and we need it now.

All in all, a very tragic beginning to 2015 but we must never acquiesce to the demands of these terrorist evildoers. They seek to suppress the freedom of expression and as a Muslim, I vehemently oppose that attempted suppression. The freedom to express, however painful it is to bear, must be taken with the spirit of goodwill. For Muslims, it is Allah Himself who guarantees that freedom for all. Let us honour that freedom for all humanity.