Activism in crisis

For the second time in a week, those apparently stalwart defenders of British Islam — allegedly steadfast and unshakeable in their obedience to the way of the Prophet — have chosen to rehabilitate a man who last year went on French television admitting to extra-marital affairs and a predilection for practices they would normally vituperate.

Once more, he is invited to opine on satellite channels and activist podcasts on the decisive matters of the day, for he is articulate and astute — and without doubt, he is the most coherent of any of the assembled guests — affecting his sanguine audience, impressing them once more. Perhaps for the producers, it is enough that he confesses to be a man of contradictions, as we all are. Perhaps they too have forgiven him, as he has forgiven himself; if only that was an avenue afforded to the common woman.

Last year when pressed on a French television set as to whether he had lied to tens of millions of Muslims, the esteemed guest had responded: ‘No, I did not lie about my private life, because I did not make it public.’ He went on to say that the message of Islam, Christianity and Judaism is to forgive, and thus he forgave himself for the purportedly consensual affairs with many women, now made public. Asked whether he forgave his accusers for characterising those relationships as abusive or non-consensual, he replied: ‘I am capable of forgiving them once they have paid their debt to justice.’

Some of those who invite him to strut before British audiences know all this. Some choose not to. The audiences themselves: I only imagine that they willingly allow themselves to be hoodwinked by their masters, deferring to the inner verdicts of their esteemed guides, who have determined that the laws of God must be relaxed for the eloquent one. To these redoubtable champions of the religion, the alarming warnings attributed to their Prophet must be set aside. If he said, ‘The people before you were destroyed because they used to inflict legal punishments on the poor and forgive the rich,’ they would rather preach the Gospel of Paul.

So it is that these salafiesque media outlets normalise hypocrisy. If they were asked the same question as their guest, they too would reply: ‘No, we are not lying to our audience, because our guest did not make his private life public.’ Which I suppose is true in a British context, where the other version of events still stands: that he has been wrongly accused of rape, and of that charge he is innocent, and on all else we are silent.

Say, “My Lord has only forbidden immoralities — what is apparent of them and what is concealed — and sin, and unjust aggression, and that you associate with God that for which He has not sent down authority, and that you say about God that which you do not know.”

Quran 7:33

For each community there is an appointed term. When their time arrives, they can neither delay it for a moment, nor could they advance it. If our time should suddenly arrive, I would not be surprised in the slightest. British Muslim media may legitimately ask: “Is secularism is crisis?” — and have a panel of academics to discuss the question at length. But given our own antics, I would prefer they asked, “Is our own activism in crisis?” — and then do something about it.

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