My plea to fellow Muslims: you must renounce terror

From today's Guardian

Hassan Butt, who was once a member of radical group Al-Muhajiroun, raising funds for extremists and calling for attacks on British citizens, explains why he was wrong -

When I was still a member of what is probably best termed the British Jihadi Network, a series of semi-autonomous British Muslim terrorist groups linked by a single ideology, I remember how we used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy.

By blaming the government for our actions, those who pushed the 'Blair's bombs' line did our propaganda work for us. More important, they also helped to draw away any critical examination from the real engine of our violence: Islamic theology. with previous terror attacks, people are again articulating the line that violence carried out by Muslims is all to do with foreign policy. For example, yesterday on Radio 4's Today programme, the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said: 'What all our intelligence shows about the opinions of disaffected young Muslims is the main driving force is not Afghanistan, it is mainly Iraq.'

He then refused to acknowledge the role of Islamist ideology in terrorism and said that the Muslim Brotherhood and those who give a religious mandate to suicide bombings in Palestine were genuinely representative of Islam.

I left the BJN in February 2006, but if I were still fighting for their cause, I'd be laughing once again. Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the 7 July bombings, and I were both part of the BJN - I met him on two occasions - and though many British extremists are angered by the deaths of fellow Muslim across the world, what drove me and many of my peers to plot acts of extreme terror within Britain, our own homeland and abroad, was a sense that we were fighting for the creation of a revolutionary state that would eventually bring Islamic justice to the world.

How did this continuing violence come to be the means of promoting this (flawed) utopian goal? How do Islamic radicals justify such terror in the name of their religion? There isn't enough room to outline everything here, but the foundation of extremist reasoning rests upon a dualistic model of the world. Many Muslims may or may not agree with secularism but at the moment, formal Islamic theology, unlike Christian theology, does not allow for the separation of state and religion. There is no 'rendering unto Caesar' in Islamic theology because state and religion are considered to be one and the same. The centuries-old reasoning of Islamic jurists also extends to the world stage where the rules of interaction between Dar ul-Islam (the Land of Islam) and Dar ul-Kufr (the Land of Unbelief) have been set down to cover almost every matter of trade, peace and war.

What radicals and extremists do is to take these premises two steps further. Their first step has been to reason that since there is no Islamic state in existence, the whole world must be Dar ul-Kufr. Step two: since Islam must declare war on unbelief, they have declared war upon the whole world. Many of my former peers, myself included, were taught by Pakistani and British radical preachers that this reclassification of the globe as a Land of War (Dar ul-Harb) allows any Muslim to destroy the sanctity of the five rights that every human is granted under Islam: life, wealth, land, mind and belief. In Dar ul-Harb, anything goes, including the treachery and cowardice of attacking civilians.

This understanding of the global battlefield has been a source of friction for Muslims living in Britain. For decades, radicals have been exploiting these tensions between Islamic theology and the modern secular state for their benefit, typically by starting debate with the question: 'Are you British or Muslim?' But the main reason why radicals have managed to increase their following is because most Islamic institutions in Britain just don't want to talk about theology. They refuse to broach the difficult and often complex topic of violence within Islam and instead repeat the mantra that Islam is peace, focus on Islam as personal, and hope that all of this debate will go away.

This has left the territory of ideas open for radicals to claim as their own. I should know because, as a former extremist recruiter, every time mosque authorities banned us from their grounds, it felt like a moral and religious victory.

Outside Britain, there are those who try to reverse this two-step revisionism. A handful of scholars from the Middle East has tried to put radicalism back in the box by saying that the rules of war devised by Islamic jurists were always conceived with the existence of an Islamic state in mind, a state which would supposedly regulate jihad in a responsible Islamic fashion. In other words, individual Muslims don't have the authority to go around declaring global war in the name of Islam.

But there is a more fundamental reasoning that has struck me and a number of other people who have recently left radical Islamic networks as a far more potent argument because it involves stepping out of this dogmatic paradigm and recognising the reality of the world: Muslims don't actually live in the bipolar world of the Middle Ages any more.

The fact is that Muslims in Britain are citizens of this country. We are no longer migrants in a Land of Unbelief. For my generation, we were born here, raised here, schooled here, we work here and we'll stay here. But more than that, on a historically unprecedented scale, Muslims in Britain have been allowed to assert their religious identity through clothing, the construction of mosques, the building of cemeteries and equal rights in law.

However, it isn't enough for Muslims to say that because they feel at home in Britain they can simply ignore those passages of the Koran which instruct on killing unbelievers. By refusing to challenge centuries-old theological arguments, the tensions between Islamic theology and the modern world grow larger every day. It may be difficult to swallow but the reason why Abu Qatada - the Islamic scholar whom Palestinian militants recently called to be released in exchange for the kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston - has a following is because he is extremely learned and his religious rulings are well argued. His opinions, though I now thoroughly disagree with them, have validity within the broad canon of Islam.

Since leaving the BJN, many Muslims have accused me of being a traitor. If I knew of any impending attack, then I would have no hesitation in going to the police, but I have not gone to the authorities, as some reports have suggested, and become an informer.

I believe that the issue of terrorism can be easily demystified if Muslims and non-Muslims start openly to discuss the ideas that fuel terrorism. (The Muslim community in Britain must slap itself awake from this state of denial and realise there is no shame in admitting the extremism within our families, communities and worldwide co-religionists.) However, demystification will not be achieved if the only bridges of engagement that are formed are between the BJN and the security services.

If our country is going to take on radicals and violent extremists, Muslim scholars must go back to the books and come forward with a refashioned set of rules and a revised understanding of the rights and responsibilities of Muslims whose homes and souls are firmly planted in what I'd like to term the Land of Co-existence. And when this new theological territory is opened up, Western Muslims will be able to liberate themselves from defunct models of the world, rewrite the rules of interaction and perhaps we will discover that the concept of killing in the name of Islam is no more than an anachronism.
In full,,2115832,00.html
Well the guy makes some salient points, especially about communities facing up to extremism in their midsts and reconciling old Islamic dogma with a 21st century 'revised' perspective. Given that he used to be in an extremist group he's able to provider keener insight into the machinations of this vile and hideous blemish. He can give us a better insight and understanding than many.
titsinatophat said:
Well if if I could be arsed reading all that I would make a very constructive and useful comment but as I cant I think I'll just go crawl back under me rock.
Cheers for that. Trying to get your post count up?
They could do worse than to study how European Jews just before, during and after the Enlightenment formulated strategies to intergrate more fully with the Christian communities in their respect states. Ideas that were eventually put into practice included serving in the armed forces of one's country when called upon to do so, even if such service meant the possibility of fighting other Jews and, where possible, reconciling modes of dress, language etc with those of their Christian neighbours.

This, remember, was after centuries of brutal oppression the likes of which the Muslim communities in Europe have never suffered and never will. European Jewry (with the exception of a few rejectionist and isolantionist sects) chose, in basic terms, that they would have better lives if they worked with their nations, rather than against them*. I hope the Muslims torn between moderation and Islamism make the same choice

(*Up until the Shoah, Israel etc of course. Not exactly normal jogging though).
Oh so formal Islamic theology doesn't allow a separation between religion and the state - therefore they are justified in killing innocent people. To think there are people who were born in the uk, who benefited from its state support, education and health system; and can believe this shite. I believe in freedom of religion as long as its a religion of freedom.
petite_butsweet said:
Well woopy ficking doo - aint hind sight great!
Yes it is, and roll on the rest of those he associated with coming to that same level of vision.

The formulation of an acceptable marriage between secular state and law and the Islamic religion is by no means a guarantee that there would be an end to those who believe a war on all infidels is the only way to bring paradise to the world.

There will always be those believe that the law, as given by the prophet, is the only way, and that those who reinterpretation it to modern understanding are sell outs and, rather than be followed, they should be added to the list, thus making the country that gives them shelter and protection an even more dangerous place to be.
Zulu_w said:
Stop blowing themselves up in public places. That would be a start.
Start blowing themselves up privately, wholesale en-masse might be better.
8) 8) 8)
This has left the territory of ideas open for radicals to claim as their own. I should know because, as a former extremist recruiter, every time mosque authorities banned us from their grounds, it felt like a moral and religious victory.

Now theres a surprise, however it does give a bit of hope that some do stand up to them.

Well if if I could be arsed reading all that I would make a very constructive and useful comment but as I cant I think I'll just go crawl back under me rock.

Why bother coming into the topic then, if you cant be botherd to read what its about!
I wouldn't place too much credence on Hassan Butt's ramblings. The man is a fantasist who spent his time after 9/11 trying to convince journos that he was involved in terrorist recruitment and fundraising - claimed he was imposing a 20% tax on drug dealers, had recruited dozens of suicide bombers etc. The fact is - he was arrested briefly in 2002 and later released without charge. If he'd been up to any of what he claimed, he'd still be in Belmarsh.
I would agree with the statement that moderate Muslims need to renounce terror and the extremists in their midst, failure to do so can only lead to further attrocities on our streets and the inevitable backlash that by its very nature will be somewhat indiscriminate and will affect the moderate Muslim community more than the extremists who will have crawled back under the stones they inhabit.
Hassan Butt presumably "changed his mind" when he noticed the unmarked Mondeo parked outside and the microphone thingy in the downstairs loo? ;)

I will be impressed if he changes somebody else's mind and not just because he is the "tame Islamic terrorist du jour" of the Guardianistas.
36thulster said:

Well if if I could be arsed reading all that I would make a very constructive and useful comment but as I cant I think I'll just go crawl back under me rock.

Why bother coming into the topic then, if you cant be botherd to read what its about!
Because I was looking for something a little easier on the eye at that time of night to get me teeth stuck into

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