Rebuttal to Daily Spew and response to Harry’s Place
Thanks to Osama Saeed, a comprehensive rebuttal of the garbage on the front page of yesterday’s Daily Spew regarding the MCB’s report (PDF) about how British Muslim pupils might be better served by the schools paid for out of their parents’ taxes. As Osama notes, the BNP web site doesn’t even bother to comment when linking to the Spew’s article.
Also, Harry’s Place has its own response to the report, which raises supposed scholarly disagreement as to whether Muslim female modesty requires the wearing of a headscarf. He doesn’t mention any Muslim scholar who has said otherwise. Of course, there are Muslims who practise to various degrees, and there are those who believe, pray and do not eat pork but do not wear the headscarf because, in their village back home, they didn’t wear it. However, the headscarf, or coverings beyond this, are part of the culture in large parts of the Muslim world and the Islamic scholarly body overwhelmingly, if not unanimously, concurs that a head-covering is necessary for a woman. The MCB is not demanding that schools enforce this on women themselves, or tolerate anyone harrassing girls and women who do not wear it for one reason or another. As with the prescriptions on art, dancing and physical education, they merely state the needs of the strictly religious - which is a sizeable group, if a minority, within the body of those originating in the Muslim world. Any teacher working in an area where there is a large Muslim community is likely to come into contact with many such families.
Furthermore, David T considers Arabic to be a language of primarily religious importance, and of less value in the world than a European language or Mandarin. However, it is widely-known that the teaching of any foreign language is of value to someone, because knowing more than one language makes it easier to learn others (for example, it is how people normally learn grammar). It is also a language of classical literature and one of the world’s major languages, with more native speakers than French or German (possibly more than both combined), and is of considerable value to anyone who might end up doing business in Dubai. In terms of its value to Muslim children, I would say that it should be taught in preference to Urdu or Bengali if a British Muslim identity is to be fostered.
DT’s conclusion is a familiar one, namely that the MCB is “significantly a Mawdudist organisation” connected with the Islamic Foundation, which “was established by Khurshid Ahmad, a senior figure in the clerical fascist party, Jamaat-i-Islami” and whose bookshop “sells the work of the clerical fascists, Sayyid Qutb and ‘Imam Shahid’ Hassan al Banna who founded the Muslim Brotherhood, and also by their south asian counterpart, Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi”. The IF also runs the Markfield complex, which provides valued services to the Muslim community not only in Leicester but also across the country, including the New Muslims’ Project and the Markfield Institute of Higher Education, whose courses are accredited by the University of Loughborough. It is reasonable to assume that not everyone involved in either venture are Mawdudists or that anything coming from an organisation with a Mawdudist background can be dismissed for that reason. My observation is that those Muslims involved in the Islamic party-political movements (HT etc) are less strict about outward observances such as hijab than those who are strongly attached to purely religious tendencies such as the Tablighi Jama’at and the Bareilawi group (many of whose adherents are fervently anti-Mawdudist). If the MCB’s leadership had consisted of such people, its recommendations regarding education could barely have been different.
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