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Friday, August 5, 2016

Thanks but no thanks Mr. Murray

Douglas Murray - Image from bbc website

In the aftermath of the horrendous and barbaric attacks in France in recent weeks, many Muslims turned out in their numbers to attend church services across France and Italy. This made headlines.

Muslims attending Mass in Rome. Image from Massimo Percossi—EPA

Not known for his impartiality or balanced opinion, Douglas Murray has issued what appears to be a deeply cynical take on these news stories.

He has a theory. A conspiracy theory.

He thinks that there is a media conspiracy to push a positive, feel-good story about Muslims soon after the horrors of the latest ISIS inspired episode have been covered on a 24/7 loop by all news channels. He also seems to imply that somehow Ahmadi Muslims, a small sect founded in 19th century India and rejected by the mainstream Muslims are in on this conspiracy.

I don’t exactly know what compels news outlets to crave for a 'positive Muslim story'.

In this Orwellian dystopia, as Murray imagines it to be, is it for the sake of the sanity of a society at the brink of mental breakdown? Or is it the ratings? Keeping the hit counts growing and message boards and phone lines busy with anguished contributors trying to make sense of things in line with their personal worldviews? It could be a deliberate attempt to engineer public opinion – to keep it just left of the fascist scale, but enough to keep the white working-class scared with a slight tinge of hope to keep them going with their daily lives?
These are mainstream Sunni Muslims.

But Murray's conspiracy theory is more fantastic than that. He thinks that the media and the marginalized Ahmadiyya Muslims are in-fact masquerading these feel-good stories to keep the public dis-informed about the irredeemable evils of the Islamic religion; to hoodwink them into believing in the so-called ‘religion or peace’ narrative so that they can sleep walk into a Europe ruled by Sharia law with mosques at every street corner.

Murray's latest post is a masterpiece of shameless obfuscation of plain facts. French and Italian Muslims attending Mass to show solidarity with Christians was not an engineered story. It was plain to see from the news coverage that Muslims belonging to various groups, sects and organizations were represented at many churches, including the Ahmadiyya Muslims who appear to have attended a church event with their famous banner stating Love for All, Hatred for None.  

Ahmadi Muslims pay their respects outside a Church. Image courtesy JACKY NAEGELENREUTERS

Murray doesn’t want to believe that mainstream Islam has any redeeming features and in his recent posts has highlighted that only the marginalized, persecuted and rejected Ahmadiyya sect is the only source of positive news stories about Islam.

As an Ahmadi Muslim, I couldn’t disagree more.  It is true that Ahmadi Muslims have been at the forefront of this battle against bigotry of extremist Islamophobes as well as the militant Islamists. But there are Muslim groups in the western world, representing the mainstream Sunni and Shia sects who do respond to such tragedies with gestures of solidarity and goodwill. They may be small in numbers now, but this is a good sign of things to come.

For example, in France, the call to solidarity was led by CFCM, the French equivalent of the MCB. The BBC news story, of which Murray is so critical, shows a number of photographs with Imams belonging to mainly Sunni sects clearly.

I know the garbs, headdresses and other distinctive features of Sunni Imams, something of which Murray may not be cognizant. If I was commenting on various Islamic sects and there validity in the public discourse, I would take care to find out more about their distinctive features. White round hats, conical Qaraqul caps, long gowns, long beards, short beards, black turbans; you can distinguish between various denominations if you know what you are looking at. And if you see all of these turbans, gowns and beards in a news story, from across the European continent, it is not a media conspiracy, but a true show of humanity and solidarity.

Ahmadi Muslims are only a tiny minority in France and it appears that they did attend a service. They would have attended regardless of CFCM appeal, but that is beside the point.

Murray says that Ahmadiyya efforts in reaching out to the wider European community are meaningless as they are shunned and dismissed by the rest. Nothing could be further from the truth.

They say that mimicry is the best form of flattery. You can see that mainstream Muslim sects are adopting the Ahmadiyya ways of dialogue and social intercourse which has been missing in the past.

In Britain, more and more progressive Imams are visible in the media and are challenging the orthodox positions on many subjects. It is also true that the traditionalists and literalists still hold sway in most communities, especially the ghettoized ones. But you can’t ignore the fact that Ahmadiyya Muslims have paved way to some reform in the Muslim communities across Europe.

Not long ago, hardly any cleric in any of the Sunni or Shia mosques in Europe would have dared to denounce the violent interpretation of Jihad. Ahmadis have been branded as ‘deniers of Jihad’ by the orthodoxy since their sect was founded in 1889.  It was because their interpretation of the Quranic verses differed from the misguided political definition of Jihad. To them Jihad is not an armed rebellion, but a struggle, a long and personal journey to find God.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V, Mirza Masroor Ahamd. A champion for peace and Caliph of the Ahmadiya Muslim Community.

I am happy to see that those clerics and Imams who traditionally reject the Ahmadiyya message of reform are accepting this very same definition. They may be hesitant to admit to it, but they are reforming themselves, very slowly.

Mr. Murray should be happy too. But unfortunately he has chosen to believe in a bigoted view of history. He sees Islam and the message of the Quran as the problem. While he praises the Ahmadiyya Muslims, he ignores the fact that Ahmadis do believe in the Quran as the literal word of God and they do believe that Muhammad, the Prophet was a perfect exemplar for all of mankind.

Mr. Murray, please don’t use Ahmadi shoulders to shoot your Islamophobic gun. We are doing fine without your support.

And if you so wish to find out what an Ahmadi Imam looks like, come visit us at the Jalsa Salana UK,  12-14th  August. It is our 50th annual convention in the UK with over 30,000 guests anticipated to attend for three days.  There will be many Ahmadi Imams in attendance from all around the world, including a contingent from France who will be happy to educate you about Islam and the Ahmadiyya reform efforts.
Over 30,000 Ahmadi Muslims attend #JalsaUK at Alton, Hampshire.












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