Ancients

It’s okay, a contemporary of William Wallace has declared all that the wicked ones do halal, so do not listen to these modernists who, eight hundred years later, feel queasy as they read the rulings of the scholars of scholars. Of course, it is only modern man that is afflicted by his context, swayed by the culture and politics of his age, and knocked off course by political violence. Of course, only modern man is compromised by these unceasing forces intent on undermining true religion. Ah, but not ancient man, of course, who for a thousand years lived pure faith, unbuffeted by the currents of his own age. So embrace all that they declare good and true without question, adopt it wholesale in your own life. And when the modernist heretics come to you protesting of injustice and oppression, vanquish them, responding with unwavering certainty, declaring all that they object to not just halal, but commendable. For the scholars of old are giants, and modern men mere ants. Let injustice, immorality and oppression rule, for it is written on ancient parchment. You have no agency to affect change in the world around you, in your own time and context. Watch Kirsty Wark interview Thomas Aquinas on Newsnight. Listen as Eddy Mair interrogates Moses ben Nahman on drivetime. Let Fiona Bruce grill Roger Bacon and Ghengis Khan on Question Time. There are no new answers to the new question of the day, so embrace the pontifications of the ancients now and forever more.

Dear fallen idol

I don’t know if anyone really cares about your latest heart-to-heart; your apology, if you can call it that. For whatever it is worth, it is not me — nor your brothers and sisters in humanity at large — to whom you owe words of penitence or remorse. These are just words of desperation; the clamour of the ego, seeking to be loved once more. If the common folk have turned their backs on you, no matter; rejoice in those that still run to your aid, embracing you, indifferent to all that has come to pass. There is no need to say sorry before all the world in a video meant to go viral. Just make amends with those you wronged. Continue reading “Dear fallen idol”

The replacement theory

The number of Muslims in the Great Britain is around three million. The population of Great Britain as a whole is heading towards sixty-seven million people. Around five percent of the population is Muslim, therefore. The converts amongst them number no more than 0.15 percent of the population.

Over fifty percent of the population self-identify as Christian, while forty percent claim to be non-religious. In the slither between these two groups sit the minority religions: Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism and assorted others. The number of people that self-identify as Jewish in Britain is just 300,000!

Going on numbers alone, it should be self-evident that the Great Replacement narrative so popular across the rightwing of UK politics nowadays is a complete myth. It has absolutely no basis in fact whatsoever, and yet nobody seems willing to challenge assumptions that it is based on some sort of reality.

We need a replacement theory to account for what is happening here. The obvious theory is that tiny minorities — be they Muslims, Jews or others — are being scapegoated for the woes of society. The left-behind need someone to blame for the predicament they find themselves in, and it is easier to blame other disenfranchised and powerless groups than to seek redress from those who actually have the power to help them.

The wrong place

Every Friday for the past month, a growing army of volunteers representing the major political parties has gathered outside the mosque to canvas worshippers leaving the Friday mosque. The first week I suggested to a friend that we should do as Jesus is reported to have done in the Christian gospels, when he turned the money lenders out of the temple. The following week I grumpily barked, “No!” at a Conservative volunteer when he tried to thrust a leaflet into my hands, but somehow ended up with one from the Liberal Democrats, who for this demographic have decided to focus on a solution for Kashmir, rather than bang on too much about repealing Article 50.

I find their canvassing in this manner distasteful. On my return from Friday prayer today, I messaged my Christian relatives to ask them: do you have armies of party volunteers gathering outside church on Sunday mornings, petitioning the leaving worshippers to vote for them? One responded with humour: the Church of England is known as the Conservative Party at prayer, so everyone knows how they will vote! Amusing, but I am almost certain that the political parties do not wait outside our local Roman Catholic, Methodist and Baptist churches on Sunday morning to remind the faithful to vote this coming Thursday. If they did, they’d probably be bopped on the nose with a scone.

Am I wrong for wanting to drive these canvassers away every Friday, when they approach me with big grins on their faces, saying, “We can count on your vote, can’t we?” This time around, they can’t count on me for anything.

All or nothing

It is not all or nothing. There doesn’t need to be a simple binary of love or hate. The men and women that teach you don’t deserve your undivided loyalty. Take the good from them and leave the rest. Don’t let your respect for a teacher turn into idolatry. Don’t worship your sages and scholars. Don’t become a fanatic who defends another even when he does wrong, or is unjust, or becomes an oppressor.

Take the good of the good men and women do, but leave the rest. Sit with them while it is mutually beneficial, but recognise that times change, that yesterday and today are not alike, and tomorrow too. Revel in their wisdom and insight, but realise that there are limits to the knowledge of all men and women. Beware of what they do not know. If you expect more from your companions, know that you are doing it all wrong. Do not be a ring in the hand of another. Do not let a man or woman be the object of your devotion.

Take what is beneficial from the mufti and leave the rest. Recognise that sometimes he speaks with wisdom and penetrating insight founded on knowledge, and sometimes he simply makes things up or regurgitates what others have said without checking. Recognise that sometimes the sheikh is a fount of knowledge, passing on all that he has learned from his teachers over many years, but that sometimes he veers off into unknown realms and speaks in ignorance. Recognise that sometimes those you trust tell the truth, and sometimes they lie outright. Recognise that sometimes people are good and sometimes they are bad.

Humans are complicated. Do not worship them. Never let it be all or nothing.

Bog off

And the topic of today’s sermon is… you guessed it… about raising money to pay for the new toilets… Not that we needed new toilets… they just needed a regular good clean.

Perhaps we do need some investment in activities for youngsters though, to stop them gravitating towards gangs, street fights and drugs. But that’s a difficult sermon to deliver.

Next time, maybe…

Unbalanced

It is rare that you encounter people who have balance in their lives. I can only think of a few people in my own sphere that I think are balanced. To know such folk is a blessing and a mercy, for most people I know exhibit almost schizophrenic behaviour as their lived faith clashes with their intellectual faith. Continue reading “Unbalanced”

Community standards

Dear poor oppressed demagogue, sobbing that Facebook censored your latest diatribe yet again: Facebook’s moderators are people, paid low wages for long shifts in poor working conditions to sift through the detritus published on the platform by people like you, on the Left and Right, Conservative and Liberal, religious and atheist, nationalist and globalist.

Continue reading “Community standards”

#YouToo

So it has come to this. Women and their children attend a mosque gathering to celebrate the birth and life of their Prophet, peace be upon him. In their ephemeral wisdom, the learned ones — these so-called students of knowledge — decide to use the occasion to tell their congregation that most of the followers of the fabled Dajjal will be women, which is apparently an important prelude to the declaration that follows: that we do not support the #MeToo Movement. If that seems crass and idiotic, it’s because it is. Continue reading “#YouToo”