Our tribes

For a people that allegedly stands firm against idolatry, the pervasive cult of celebrity witnessed in our communities is certainly perturbing. Could fame be the worst thing to happen to any of us? Continue reading “Our tribes”

Be witnesses to truth

When conversation runs dry in a meeting with a stranger or long-lost friend, one question inevitably follows: “Did you watch the football?” or “What team do you support?” Continue reading “Be witnesses to truth”

To be just

If you’re a humanitarian aid organisations claiming to be unbiased, non-partisan and apolitical, your social media feed really should reflect it. I understand that emotions are running high, as we’re moved by the intense suffering of innocents — but aid organisations claiming to support all humanity irregardless of their beliefs should be scrupulous in maintaining that stance.

In Syria there are thousands of innocent victims across all ethnic and sectarian divides. There are civilians held under siege in both rebel and pro-government towns and villages. Militants on all sides have committed atrocities, holding civilians hostage, forcibly conscripting fighters, killing their opponents and causing a mass exodus of people into neighbouring states.

No doubt someone has to apportion blame and hold aggressors to account. But humanitarian organisations claiming to help all? If they are to discharge their obligations justly, their job is to support the vulnerable and needy, no matter who they are.

Chosen people

Quoting a contemporary of William Wallace and applying it to the present day would normally be considered plain odd. People would say, look, they were different battles in different times with different proponents — and even then his views were considered controversial. But, no, the words of sheikh ul-islam in his battle with Muslims declared apostates in medieval Syria are regurgitated daily and passed on as if a directive from revelation. For in the legends of today, the people of sham are a chosen people — though, of course, not the rulers of sham and their army. But the people, yes, and the foreigners who have flooded in from outside to support them. Though not the foreigners aiding the rulers. No, only the chosen people of the chosen people. And this is the madness that unfolds.

I don’t know

A decade ago we listened to former Commander of NATO, General Wesley Clark, recounting his story of how the politicians around George W. Bush Jr. in 2001 planned to destroy the governments in seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. Continue reading “I don’t know”

Shock and awe

I don’t know what is happening on the ground. It is impossible for me to verify anything that is reported to me. I don’t know who is right and who is wrong, who is good and who is bad. I do not know if the narrative that has reached me is a representation of reality, or mere propaganda.

I have heard claims and counter-claims. I have read differing accounts of the same incidents. I have followed dubious and suspect social media feeds. I have seen footage of war, repurposed from a music video — and aid workers playing the mannequin challenge. And, yet the harrowing accounts of presumed-to-be honest aid workers and relief organisations too.

What is the truth? What is the reality on the ground? Are civilians being targeted by that awful regime, or are they being liberated from four-years held hostage by terrorist groups? Are civilians being targeted by the conquering rebel groups, or are the rebels the saviours of the people, defending them when no one else would?

I honestly have no idea. It is impossible to verify most of what I hear. Yes, the reverse image search is always there, enabling us to separate old news from new. Yes, here and there you can divine the truth. But by and large, there are just great big questions, exaggerated all the more by the media’s sudden concern for people it usually despises.

Truth is the first casualty of shock and awe. Sympathy for the victims, whoever they are, the second. Objectivity the third. Compassion the fourth. Somewhere in this list are lessons for us all.

Presumed knowledge

The trouble about ignorance is that it’s easy to be impressed by presumed knowledge. There are so many times I have been “blown away” by the incredible knowledge of a scholar who sounds so erudite, intellectual and wise – because it is a field alien to me. But when they have opened the mouths on matters I am familiar with, they have come across as shallow, unreliable and confused. The danger of speaking outside you area of expertise, perhaps. Or simply the folly of leading the unlearned.

New world order

Not to worry, “The Political Establishment” will push him under a train soon enough to give the conspiracy nuts who voted for him something else to be enraged about, and then a UFO laden with NWO physicians will land to force vaccinate everyone and take away their guns, at which point the Illuminati will inverse the Golden Ratio, making Rio de Janeiro the new centre of the earth and enslave mankind under the yoke of political correctness and force everyone to wear cardigans.

Delivering aid

The British Government is providing £100million in aid to Yemen, whilst simultaneously selling £3.7billion of weapons and military support to Saudi Arabia, whose actions have been causing massive suffering and damage there since March 2015 (almost 4000 civilians killed and 130 health facilities hit).

All aid agencies are going to struggle to get aid to those who need it most; Médecins Sans Frontières hospitals have been hit by Saudi bombs several times now, but continue to work there. We must trust that organisations such as Oxfam, Unicef, the Red Cross and Islamic Relief that explicitly ask us to support their work in Yemen have the means to reach those in need.

Yet it does all seems tragically futile when our own government has such an intimate and compromising relationship with arms dealers, who help fuel conflicts like this in the first place.

The little people have their good intentions, as they spend of their wealth on the poor and the needy, but they have no influence. Only governments can decide how they will behave in the world: to take a moral stance, or just focus on economic growth, whatever it takes.

Playground stories

The racialisation of religious identity on school playgrounds is deeply troubling.

“Muslim” has become shorthand for anyone with brown skin, regardless of their background. The acceptable face of racism. “Christian” means a white person.

Our own children come home with such ideas. Despite us having non-white friends and family members they know to be Christian, these ideas emphasised by friends at school are all persuasive.

All brown people are Muslim, even if they claim to be Christian. All white people are Christian even if they claim to be Muslim. And there is no more complexity to the world.

Do adults reinforce these ideas at home, or is this purely playground mythology, passed on from child to child? We find it utterly bizarre, listening to the claims of our children, which are so at odds with their lived experience.

The power of the playground in full force.


Do not be rude in speech (3:159)

Restrain your anger (3:134)

Be good to others (4:36)

Do not be arrogant (7:13)

Forgive others for their mistakes (7:199)

Speak to people mildly (20:44)

Lower your voice (31:19)

Do not ridicule others (49:11)

Be dutiful to parents(17:23)

Write down what you owe in debt (2:282)

Do not follow anyone blindly (2:170)

Grant more time to repay if the debtor is in hard times (2:280)

Don’t consume interest (2:275)

Do not engage in bribery (2:188)

Do not break your promises (2:177)

Keep your trusts (2:283)

Do not mix the truth with falsehood (2:42)

Judge with justice between people (4:58)

Stand out firmly for justice (4:135)

Do not devour the property of orphans (4:10)

Protect orphans (2:220)

Do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly (4:29)

Try to make settlements between people (49:9)

Avoid suspicion (49:12)

Do not spy or backbite (49:12)

Spend wealth in charity (57:7)

Encourage feeding poor (107:3)

Do not spend money extravagantly (17:29)

Do not invalidate charity with reminders (2:264)

Honour your guests (51:26)

Order righteousness to people only after practising it yourself(2:44)

Do not commit abuse on the earth (2:60)

Fight only with those who fight you (2:190)

There is no compulsion in religion (2:256)

Do not burden a person beyond his scope (2:286)

Do not become divided (3:103)

Think deeply about the wonders and creation of this universe (3:191)

Do not be miserly (4:37)

Shun envy (4:54)

Do not kill each other (4:92)

Do not be an advocate for deceit (4:105)

Do not cooperate in sin and aggression (5:2)

Cooperate in righteousness (5:2)

Be just (5:8)

Don’t reduce weight or measure to cheat people (6:152)

Eat and Drink, But Be Not Excessive (7:31)

Protect and help those who seek protection (9:6)

Never give up hope of God’s Mercy (12:87)

Invite to God with wisdom and good instruction (16:125)

Walk on the earth in humility (25:63)

Repel evil with good (41:34)

Decide on affairs by consultation (42:38)

Save yourself from covetousness (64:16)

Seek forgiveness from God. He is Forgiving and Merciful (73:20)

Avert your eyes

Is this progress? That I’ve begun to resist the urge to challenge every unfounded claim, every piece of propaganda and the pseudo-scientific nonsense that passes before my eyes on my news feed each day?

Yes, even when a friend could do themselves serious harm were they to follow the advice given in the article they shared? Yes, even when others could be caused serious harms as a result of unfounded claims.

So yes, I very nearly responded to the latest misleading and downright dangerous article to whiz before my eyes. I penned a diplomatic response, wording it carefully so as not to cause upset or offence. But in the end, I deleted it and moved on.

For in the end, minds are already made up, and we all believe what we want to believe. We all have our own truths, that we’ll cling to be what may. “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” is never a good enough retort. “I’ll look into it” or “I’ll investigate” or “I’ll do some research” — none of these cut the mustard.

“Verify it” is the first lesson we learn and the last we apply. We claim to seek truth, but in reality we only seek contingent truths: our truths, convenient truths, partisan truths. Verification does not come into it.

So move on, be quiet, stay out of it. Avert your eyes.


The message that the government and media have been sending out for a few years now is that it is a crime to be concerned about injustices in the world.

And sure enough, many of us have become passive and acquiescent, terrified that we will be labeled radicals or worse. Forgetting, of course, that most of today’s celebrated sages and heroes were absolutely radicals in their time.

Who remembers that radical preacher from Nazareth?

Muslamic marketting

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Oh dear, they’re running on Muslim time. Note, not “Islamic time” because that would imply punctuality, respect, good manners. Nope, but these modern sunnahs of Muslims, where you arrive an hour and a half after you said you would, because you don’t value your friends’ needs or wishes.

Spurious chains

Would you believe that in 2016, with so many means to verify the facts, people are still spreading spurious messages about E-numbers and western industrial conspiracies to smother everyone in pig fat, attributed to a Pakistani Doctor nobody is sure really exists, on behalf of a medical organisation nobody is sure really exists? It would take you approximately five seconds to determine that E100 is a food colouring derived from Tumeric. But, oh no, caring is sharing, and apparently a religious duty. Oddly enough, correcting yourself after the fact is never made a religious duty. We’ll just sit on that one, which is why this still circulates online, even a decade after it was first declared a hoax.


Dear Grumpy,

I note your concern about the minoritification of the British food industry by supine executives pandering to the whim of consumers, oblivious as they are to the threat songs about baked beans pose to our very survival in the apocalyptic clash of civilisation which consumes us daily. Now is not the time to be finger-drumming along merrily.

Yes, good, but, well, I think it’s safe to say that Heinz Beans with Pork Sausages and with Spicy Meatballs are not halal. So no pandering to vegetarians, I mean Jews, I mean Muslamics there. Of course if they choose to put the halal symbol on their vegetarian products to increase their share of the market, that’s entirely up to them.

Anyhow surely Muslims eating baked beans is a definite sign of successful integration and a cause for celebration. In fact I know that Muslim men enjoy jokes about flatulence as much the next man; oh what joy.

“Halal” purely means “permissible”. So rest assured that your loaf of Kingsmill has not been slaughtered prior to being sliced for your breakfast table. Spill the beans on top safe in the knowledge that they are, quite simply, legumes.

Yours etc.

Pious graffiti 

Why do people feel compelled to scribble out the photo of the woman on the health and safety notice in the mosque? The last one had her covered in black permanent marker. Now she’s wearing a red Biro niqab. Surely it’s time to put a beard, handlebar moustache, monocle and top hat on the gentleman pictured too.


From my earliest days as a Muslim, my companions and mentors always steered me away from groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir and Al-Muhajiroun. I am perplexed, therefore, that today so many seem to hang upon every word of HT-inspired media outlets and advocacy groups. Either they are genuinely unaware of the background of these loose organisations which now dominate our public discourse, or there has been a tectonic shift of opinion in our midst.


You’ve surely noticed this pattern too. A terrorist atrocity occurs. We condemn it. There is a counter-reaction which targets people who had nothing to do with the terrorist atrocity. We condemn that too. There is a further counter-reaction which posits that those who condemn the unrelated reaction have sympathy or support the initial act of violence. And so the cycle goes on, with everyone swept up in hysteria, except for those who perpetuated the atrocity in the first place.