A defence of Inspire

Posted on November 18, 2015

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“Watch from 15:29 onwards so you can realise *exactly* why organisations like “Inspire” and folks like Sara Khan have zero impact and zero results on counter extremism.”

These are the words of Abu Eesa after watching Inspire’s appearance at the House of Commons select committee on countering extremism yesterday. I’ll address Abu Eesa’s claim that Inspire have had zero impact with their counter extremism work later on. First, ‘extremism’.

Abu Eesa’s definition of extremism in this context means ‘terrorism’. For Inspire, and the majority of the British public, extremism isn’t limited to acts of terrorism. The BNP are considered to be extreme because of their views on race. We do not have to wait until BNP representatives blow up Afro-Carribean community centres for them to be labelled ‘extreme’.

Views that the majority of the British public would consider to be extreme are considered to be merely ‘conservative’ in the circles Abu Eesa mixes in. As pointed out in Offensive jihad, Slavery and the Islamic state (a report written by secular Muslims and non-Muslims on the ideology shared by some ‘conservative’ Islamic scholars in the UK), ‘conservative’ just does not cut it:

“Some critics of Islamic extremism may use terms such as ‘conservative’ or ‘orthodox’. But these are problematic. All religions have some followers with ‘conservative’ views about issues such as gay marriage, sexual morality and gender roles. However while these views will be uncongenial to many, here we are concerned with speakers whose ideas are much more extreme.”

Abu Eesa is an instructor at AlMagrib Institute. If you’re unaware of some of the nastier statements made by AlMagrib instructorsclick on the names below where you can listen to some of their lectures.

Muhammad Alshareef (Founder and President of AlMaghrib)

Yasir Qadhi

Abdullah Hakim Quick

Kamal-El-Mekki

Said Rageah

Yahya Ibrahim

Between them they have advocated the execution of those found guilty of insulting the prophet Muhammad or renouncing Islam, made derogatory remarks about non-Muslims, condoned beheading, called Jews and Christians the ‘enemies’, made offensive comments about homosexuals and condoned the death penalty for gay sex, advocated the destruction of non-Islamic statues and the removal of certain rights for non-Muslims in a (future, not past) Islamic state, and, setting off Inspire’s alarm bells, said that women should not come out of the house unless it is a neccessity. None of these statements have been retracted, and the old excuse ‘taken out of context’ does not work here.

I haven’t heard* Abu Eesa come out with any of these kind of statements himself, but these views are not ‘conservative’ by any stretch of the imagination. Inspire are aware of this, Abu Eesa isn’t:

“As each year goes by in Prevent and Theresa May/Cameron’s obsession with the demonising of social conservative Islam, the risk of terror increases.”

Inspire’s remit has never been solely to challenge views that may lead to acts of terrorism. Confronting the ‘conservative Islam’ that Abu Eesa talks about has been there from the off.

The first part of this paragraph is a most peculiar assertion by Eesa:

“The irony of organisations like Inspire is that they try to teach Muslims about the reality of Hijrah for example, but have to use the teachings of the same “Islamists” to learn for *themselves* what to say (because they are ignorant of the religion as well as politics) and what to teach their mothers and kids…”

Here’s the kind of opinions on hijrah you can come across from well-known ‘conservative’ scholars, often bringing out bigotry towards non-Muslims,

Abdurraheem Green in London:

“We’re surrounded by the kuffar, don’t criticise this one (Muslim) for this mistake and this one for that mistake. Subhanallah. What are we doing in this country anyway? If you want to criticise Muslims go to Muslim land, hijra, leave. Go and reform the Muslims there. Here we need to concentrate on our immediate problem and that is kuffar, we’re surrounded by them. We shouldn’t, in fact many ulama they said that it’s not permissible to live in this land, it is not allowed to be in the land of the kuffar.”

Abu Taubah speaking at Green Lane Masjid:

“We’ve become soft. We’d rather live closer to the water than further away, along with devil worshippers, homosexuals and all types of, you know, deviant peoples because the water is closer. And we’re not man enough to go and find someplace else. The technological world in the West is run by immigrants, so if we took that technology and went someplace else, in ten years that place would be the strongest country in the world, but there has to be some people that plan it out, go and make those steps. But there is a hadith that tells us that we shouldn’t live with the kuffar and it deals with bara. The Prophet (SAW) said ‘I’m free from everybody who dies in these lands’ and that we shouldn’t see each other’s fires. So, either we going to take that as wajib or we are going to take that as mustahabb, I guess that’s an argument that could be clarified. I don’t necessarily know how 3 some people take it. But it’s a high encouragement for us to look for another way to establish our lives and not be willing to give up our children to the kuffar just like that.

Now there’s a reason to come to the land of the kuffar: if you need something. And as soon as your need is finished you should save yourself and your children.”

Abu Usamah At-Thahabi, also at Green Lane Masjid:

“Dawah is one of the reasons that a person is allowed to live with the kuffar. But living with the kuffar is a major sin ikhwan and it closes the door for a lot of (?) in our lives. As we sit here ikhwan we have to hate it in our hearts, living with these kuffar. And whether you realise it or not, it is impacting upon us.”

(More quotes on Hijrah can be found here)

You get the jist. Why Abu Eesa believes that Inspire form their opinions on hijrah based upon knowledge gathered from ‘Islamists’ I have absolutely no idea. Sara and Kalsoom’s view on hijrah is shared by the likes of UK scholar, Michael Mumisa, not Abdurraheem Green.

Abu Eesa claims Inspire’s school campaigns are a “complete waste of time and did nothing or either turn those same people completely away from their Deen. What a success!”

I’d like to see any evidence of Inspire turning people away from their deen.

Kalsoom Bashir:

“A great deal of our work is about challenging Islamophobia. We go into schools that have no Muslims, or a minority that have suffered from racism from other pupils, to put the record straight and the students have thanked us for presenting Islam in such a positive way. One Muslim teacher last week in London said she felt that she should have been sitting in a mosque because what I was saying was so beautiful she wished her son could have heard it and wished we could go to mosques. One mosque rep sat in on a talk and made copious notes and said he wanted me to talk to the women in his mosque because what I was saying was so relevant. It was deconstructing the Isis narrative. A lot of the Muslims in the audience did not know how to counter it.

We give support to mothers that have called us worrying about members of their family thinking about joining Isis, and give them the information they need to challenge their children when they make statements that are worrying.”

I first came across Inspire in 2009 when they organised the Muslim Women: Pioneering Change in 21st Century Britain conference at the London Muslim Centre. Muslim acquaintances of mine raved about Usama Hasan’s lecture at the event.

Since then, I’ve seen support for Inspire grow, especially amongst Muslim women. I’m not claiming that Inspire are ready to play at the O2, and they are well aware that the battle for Islam in Britain is going to be a hard slog, and that conservative, no, extreme Islam can count on good size support in this country, but Abu Eesa’s claim that they have had zero impact is simply not true.

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Inspire kicked off their Making A Stand campaign towards the end of last year:

“We launched this campaign in 2014 because we wanted to stop the damage caused by extremists poisoning young minds in our communities. As mothers we were losing our children as they turned their backs on us, choosing instead to join the murderous so-called Islamic state having been radicalised online by hate preachers pushing their messages of a false Islam.”

“In our #MakingAStand roadshow, we came across hundreds of women, who want to make a stand and take the lead. Their passion has shone through and should be an inspiration to us all.”

You can see and listen to the support from Muslim women around the country here.

Abu Eesa:

…operators like Inspire and Quilliam, cannot possibly be more despised and less trusted – and I don’t mean by terrorists but by the normal practising Muslims…

Those women supporting Inspire in the link above look like normal, practising Muslims to me.

Abu Eesa has taken a pop at Inspire a few times before, they usually ignore it. Here’s the one time Sara Khan thought enough was enough:

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10153166340851183&id=612821182

Inspire are just TWO Muslim women. The stink they can kick up in some circles is quite astonishing.

*Abu Eesa Niamatullah’s statements on homosexuality, non-Muslims, women and blasphemy can be found here.

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