Leadsom Implying British Muslims Are ‘Foreign’ Shows Why Education on Islam is Needed
The Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom MP has been condemned for implying that Muslims in Britain are ‘foreign’.
Labour MP Naz Shaz raised a question in The House of Commons asking for a debate so as to establish an official definition of Islamophobia. This comes at the same time that the Conservative Party has been branded “institutionally Islamophobic” by one of their own Peers, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi.
Responding the question, Leadsom the MP for South Northamptonshire started by saying;
2You will be pleased to see that the Conservative Party has taken very strong action in any cases that we identify of Islamophobia. We have been extremely robust and urgent in our response to that”
Leadsom’s claim about her party’s swift response has however now been thrown into doubt following a report by the Guardian stating that the Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis MP, has been repeatedly ignoring complaints of islamophobia and racism.
It was Commons Leader’s next comments that have sparked outrage. Leadsom went on to say;
“She raises a very important point about whether we should seek a definition of Islamophobia and I would encourage her to perhaps seek an adjournment debate in the first instance so she can discuss with Foreign Office officials,”
The insinuation that Islamophobia in Britain is a ‘foreign office’ issue is extremely damaging. This gives the impression that Muslims like myself are not British.
Baroness Warsi was quick to respond on Twitter and, as can be seen, she is clearly frustrated at Ms Leadsom’s comments.
At a time when Conservatives are under the spotlight for their lack of worry about how party members are treating Muslims in the UK, you’d think senior officials would be more careful in their wording.
Only this week were the Tories forced to suspend 14 members after racist and Islamophobic comments surfaced on a pro Jacob Rees Mogg Facebook group. This was initially uncovered by Independent Journalist Lucy Wood from the Morning Star before being picked up by the mainstream press.
The issue of adopting a definition of Islamophobia is becoming more and more relevant in the UK. With UKIP becoming the party of anti Islam and an increase in attacks on UK Muslims, never has it been so important.
Education needed to tackle
However, a definition doesn’t solve much. It’s education that will do the most to improve things.
Often, a lack of education in Islam is what leads to some misconceptions that those on the Far-right like to spread.
Firstly, Muslims do not want to impose Sharia Law across the country. More importantly, Sharia isn’t “law” in the sense we in the UK would describe it. Sharia is a set of guidelines for Muslims use to lead a more Islamic life. This guidance never overrules the civil and criminal laws of the country you reside in.
Something called Fiqh is used when interpreting religious matters in Islam.
Fiqh means “understanding”. There are different schools of thought in Islam that illustrate that Islamic scholars who decided on Fiqh, knew they didn’t speak for God.
Fiqh is not designed to help governments police morality in the way Saudi Arabia does today. It’s for each Muslim to use themselves. Most of it’s common sense too. Don’t kill, rape or steal. Be respectful to everyone and don’t damage the environment are just a few things Sharia call for.
There’s no big book of Sharia anywhere.
Examples of Misconceptions of Islam
Nowhere does it say, invade a country and suppress its citizens. Nor does it say kill people and you’ll get 71 virgins or whatever. That really annoys me that one because it is just a blatant lie.
Jihad despite popular belief, does not mean “Holy War,” it means “Inner Struggle.” This is to do with resisting temptation to do things you shouldn’t. It’s more complex yes but basically, it doesn’t say go out and kill people. It says the opposite. Supporting your parents is classed as Jihad as is helping those less fortunate.
References of killing in the Qur’an, like the Bible, are in to do with the times they lived in. Battles and wars were often fought and police forces didn’t exist. Killing was usually related to crime or protection of the lands they lived in. While it may be seen as wrong now, we can’t change the past.
Do we start banging on about how our country used to hang draw and quarter people? Of course not, that was the law of those times. Right or wrong we can’t change that.
The Qur’an is also very clear that religion cannot be compelled on ANYONE. People can believe whatever they want as long as it brings no harm.
Those citing Saudi Arabia as an example of Sharia Law need to understand this;
The law in Saudi Arabia was and is designed by the government. It is not in line with the norms of Islam and equally, the country does not speak for all Muslims. Just because they call it Sharia doesn’t mean it is.
These are only basic examples of a much wider discussion that’s required to inform people about Islam.
A definition is all well and good but. unless people understand why, it’s pointless.