Pending the outcome of the continuing review of our current operations, all Muslim Faculty of Advanced Studies programmes are suspended until further notice. In the interim, we have made the lectures freely available here on this site.

Reflections on Recent Events – Abdassamad Clarke – Birmingham 13/6/2013

To assume that dramatic events themselves are the result of conspiracy is a step too far. But according to Naomi Klein in her Shock Doctrine, dramatically violent events are used by certain people to put into effect what could not ordinarily be achieved. Thus, we need to step back from the drama of the event and see what use has been made of them and consider seriously our behaviour in the light of that.

Our meeting’s title calls for reflection, an activity somewhat different from thinking, which is important in its own right. Reflection is an activity of stilling the heart, intellect, desires and appetites until the meanings of things appear directly and not through a process of thought because the reality of existence is that things are meanings in forms. So perhaps we can use this discussion to move to a point where the meanings become clear to us, at which point the actions we should take will also become clear bi idhni’llah.

Event number one, the Woolwich murder, has already receded from our immediate concerns except for in the case of those communities where a mosque or madrasa was burned and people insulted and attacked. As Chesterton remarked, the media is a mechanism for making us forget what happened yesterday. It has been made use of by a plethora of interests, most dramatically the EDL. They do not respond to the event, but rather they make use of it within the framework they already have in place for interpreting things: immigration, particularly that of Muslims. Their doing so lures the unwary into defending and thus conceding and affirming this grid which they apply to events. What we must do is to apply our own grid and encapsulate events within our own framework: the dīn of Islam. That requires a prior step back from the economic imperatives that in many cases brought Muslims to these lands and that we assume our proper roles as heirs of the Messenger of Allah a. The dialectic without the behaviour and right intention is hypocrisy.

Event number two is further away from our immediate parochial concerns: the exposure by Edward Snowden of the PRISM programme of global surveillance of Internet activity. This has echoes of an earlier surveillance programme known as ECHELON. The controversy represents only the tip of an iceberg. The issue of secrecy is at the core of it. Once the state has admitted the need for secret intelligence institutions, there is a relentless dynamic for those institutions to move outside of the law and, in some cases such as MOSSAD, arguably to become states within states, world players with their own agendas. The logic, if we can call it that, of their position must lead to them lying to and deceiving even the elected representatives to whom they are supposedly responsible.

In fact, all popular culture has carefully prepared us for this scenario and for other abuses such as torture and summary execution even by ordinary police forces. We would have to characterise this as a descent into total nihilism, the complete breakdown of any idea of law and order, the excuse being exigencies, exceptional circumstances such as terrorism. Thus, Europe and the West moved from a primary phase of law based on the Christian religion and Roman civic legislation through the Enlightenment era of Reason and Logic to the point where reason and logic themselves have brought us to the completely illogical state our societies are in today. Rather than calling for the sharī‘ah something that is doomed to set in motion a whole anxiety and dialectic, we Muslims have to become embodiments of law in ourselves and in our communities. As embodiments of law and justice, actions will speak louder than words. It is a time for more action and less words.

Event number three is the recent riots and disturbances in Turkey. Here we are exposed to the inherent illogicality of the age. A prime minister who has won every democratic mandate it is possible to win, is portrayed as an anti-democratic tyrant while his opponents, representatives of the old secular regime that was maintained by military junta in the face of democracy, take to violence on the streets. There is of course much more to this than reaches the BBC. The same orchestrators are at work as in all the other ‘popular’ movements such as the ‘colour revolutions’ and the Arab Spring. What is extraordinary is that the groups involved and the funders are all known and work openly, and yet the media feed us a constant diet of supposedly spontaneous popular demonstrations. But although the actors are state-entities, the current destabilisation of regimes across the Middle East and North Africa has other goals: the extension of the commercial interests of usury capitalism including banks, stock exchanges, corporations and supermarkets to ever new markets because the dynamics of the exponential growth of usury debt require expansion into ever bigger markets and thus the re-orientation of ever more millions and billions of people. It is a change of qibla on a massive scale. But we have already seen this happen at the qibla itself as the governing class have turned the Sacred City of Makka into a hymn of adoration to the idol Mammon.

Now, Allah’s creation is perfect and in complete order. Makka can only have turned into a pagan centre of idolatry devoted to the idol of consumerism if it accurately reflects the condition of the umma. If the Muslims as a body steadfastly reject it, it could not possibly continue. So this is an issue that comes right home to us here. And that is good, because we can do something about things which we admit responsibility for.