Taj Hargey defends Christians by attacking Muslims

What has Britain come to when it takes a Muslim like me to defend Christianity? | Mail Online

This article appeared in today’s Daily Mail, and is meant to be in defence of Shirley Chaplin, a nurse in Devon who took her healthcare trust to court to secure her right to wear her cross while caring for patients, as she had done for 30 years until the rules were changed a year or so ago. Nothing wrong with that, on the surface. However, Taj manages to get his agenda of attacking Muslims while pretending to represent “moderate” Islam into the article, as might have been expected, by attacking women who wear the so-called burqa and a new mosque planned in Camberley. (More: Engage.)

His opening claim, that “Christianity is under siege in this country”, on the basis that nurses cannot wear crosses in some NHS hospitals, is palpably ludicrous. However, the historical links between healthcare and Christian institutions are a fact; it’s why nurses’ uniforms have evolved from what looked like nuns’ habits and why they used to be called “sister” (of course, that was when they were all, or nearly all, female); the St John Ambulance organisation also has its roots in a monastic organisation. The excuse given is that patients might grab her necklace; the real reason is probably not even hostility to religion but just that it was another opportunity to make workers a bit more uniform and a bit less individual. (In the mental health sector, suppressing religious symbols might have some justification, since religious symbolism features heavily in some mental illnesses, but that surely isn’t so when treating normal, physical illnesses.)

Hargey claims that there is no conflict between Islam and Christianity, that we come from the same Abrahamic tradition, and uses what he calls the “key verse” in the Qur’an, “the people closest and dearest to Muslims are those who say: ‘We are Christians’”, as proof that Muslims have a duty to defend Christianity when it is under attack. The question should be asked whether these same Christians when they come under attack; would the nurse or the airline attendant suing for the right to wear a cross to work defend the right of a Muslim woman to wear the hijab if it came to it? Some would but, as has been seen in Europe and in some of the attempts to establish a Christian right in the UK, some definitely would not.

He then goes on about “shrill demands for the imposition of the burqa in the Muslim community”, a baseless accusation. Who is demanding the “imposition” of the burqa, or even the niqaab? All that is being asked is that women who choose to wear it, for whatever reason, not be harassed or prevented from going about their business. He claims, “I would not want to see it banned, for that might only heighten the sense of martyrdom and grievance among the zealots, but I certainly believe that mainstream Muslims have a duty to speak out against it”. The Muslims who wear and support niqaab are not “zealots”, and I’ve known plenty of them. While I don’t doubt that there are a few who wear it because people in their family insist, many wear it because they regard niqaab as the completion of hijaab and because the women who were closest among the Sahaba wore it. They are not, by any means, all or even mostly hardline “salafis” or even Deobandis.

He also alleges, “the same argument could be made against minarets, which unlike Ms Chaplin’s crucifix, could also be seen as inflammatory - and for which there is no religious requirement in Islam”. It is true that minarets are a cultural rather than strictly religious tradition, and that the earliest mosques originally did not have them, but the fact remains that when Muslims came to this country, they came from countries where mosques had minarets. Their value in this country, where the call to prayer cannot be given in most places because it would cause a disturbance, is mainly symbolic, but in many places, they have adjusted in size and design to reflect this (the clock-tower minaret at the mosque here in Kingston is one example). They are not “inflammatory”. People have decided to make an issue of them in other countries. That is all the controversy is about.

I agree that there is no real reason to stop this nurse wearing her cross. However, that point could have been made by any Muslim without taking side-swipes at Muslims. It appears that these side-swipes were the real purpose of Hargey’s whole article: to show himself and his small clique in Oxford as representing “real Islam”, as if what is practised by a million and a half Muslims in this country is not. The fact is that Taj Hargey is regarded by any Muslims in this country who have heard of him as a disloyal, unrepresentative nobody who gets airtime because he tells the media what they want to hear.

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  • noora

    I have to agree with you I totally dislike that small clique that is around him . They do not represent mainstream moderate islam. Some I doubt would even be considered as being muslims especically those from The Ismailis . I consider them as the enemy within.Yes I belieive that nurse should be allowed to wear the cross as long as it does not effect her work.

  • slms it is so much harder to fight oppression within our people- for it is not one battle but two- against those who do not know their islam, and against those nonmuslims who want our islam to be the more streamlined version spread by the modernists. ultimately, an edited islam will lead to- dare i say it?- the usual edited religions of preference. looks at the people of the forsaken books

    i find it incomprehensible that anyone reading the Quraan can doubt its meaning with regard to the covering of women. But as Allah promised, for those who do not search for the truth, there will always be a veil over their eyes.

    the modern muslims arent looking for truth. they are on a quest for convenience and easy assimilation.

    as for the nurse wanting to wear her cross- as a tolerant muslim-i hope she wins her case. .-= pserean´s last blog ..Spectator Support… Who’s got the remote control? =-.

  • mohammad

    Aslamaulaikum, Got a question for ya, In your article here after talking bit about the “zealots” you state concerning the niqab wearing sister: “They are not, by any means, all or even mostly hardline “salafis” or even Deobandis.” Are you saying the “zealots” are either salafi or Deobandi or most of the “zealots” are of either of these two sects? Please clarify. Shukraan

  • Thersites

    In the mental health sector, suppressing religious symbols might have some justification, since religious symbolism features heavily in some mental illnesses, but that surely isn’t so when treating normal, physical illnesses.
    Actually, it may well have some effect in treating “normal”- an interesting choice of words- illnesses too. Ill people are often strongly affected by their surroundings- whether their illness is “normal” or not- and religious symbolism could revive childhood memories- for good as well as bad, though. It’s a matter which is probably best dealt with ad hoc; presumably even religious people can refrain from exercising their rights if it helps them carry out their professional duties. The problem might come with people who wear niqabs or other varieties of religiously-imposed costumes. They are more ostentatious and less easily removed or concealed than crosses and being unfamiliar to many patients may be more alarming, aside from the other psychological effects often cited. However, strict religious believers may have problems with doing jobs which could involve close and even intimate contact with men, which may restrict the likelihood of such problems arising.

  • Salaam Mohammed, I didn’t mean “salafis” and Deobandis were zealots; I meant very simply that not all women in niqaab belonged to these groups, contrary to popular misconception.

  • LeedsLad

    lol, don’t I like the “Assa Muslem” brigade.

  • those are moslems. get the difference! .-= pserean´s last blog ..Spectator Support… Who’s got the remote control? =-.

  • LeedsLad

    Muslems, Moslems, whatever! As they say: “Birds of a feather flock together”

    This nurse cares more about delusional fake Avatar character called Jesus than her patients. And then a guy with more delusions comes running to her defence; “Assa a Moslem”.

    I hope he reads comments left by DM readers because they are more interested in little girls and Mohamed more than anything else.

  • leeds lad…

    i’m not defending the man. if you actually read my comment, you’d know that. you’d also see that i wrote’ As a tolerant muslim…’ i like those words because it makes me want to be better than i am. because if i had to just go with instinct, id be more inclined to think -‘yes, serve you right, unknown lady. better yank off that cross even though you don’t want to…might as well get a taste of what i go through…’

    do i agree with the way that man who defended her? absolutely not. but i Do agree that she has a right to wear it. just like how i agree that a muslim woman with slightly suspect morals has the right to wear her hijaab as well. (and i also admit that whereas her cross is simply religious preference, our hijab is injunction. yes. a whole new can of worms….) none of us, save God, can see where sincerity-or an attempt thereof- stops and hypocrisy begins. and if we only support a right because a muslim is laying claim to it….then we reduce ourselves to bickering people where ego and retaliation are the only rules. and that has never worked- not for long, anyways. .-= pserean´s last blog ..Spectator Support… Who’s got the remote control? =-.

  • Sas

    I wouldn’t trust anything the daily mail says, trust me I have a relative that worked there. The nurse shouldn’t wear her cross on a chain in case a patient grabs it she was encouraged to keep it in her pocket instead or on a lanyard. But if it’s true that Muslims don’t have to have bare elbows to scrub up for surgery that’s stupid. Most White British people feel able to criticise Christians but not Muslims, which is why Christians complain. Also I think they are scared of the number of ex-Christians but there are ex-Muslims too . I think we should be brave enough to criticise all without being rude. The patients rights come before the nurses religion.

  • Sas

    ”- what do men wear when they have “slightly suspect morals” by the way? Just so I can spot them ….

  • knowing many female muslim medics- i can assure you that they adhere to that rigid code of sterilisation and infection control…many simply scrub up in privacy and when they put on their sterile overgowns, theyre completely covered. Some even havee detachable sleeves that can easily be sterilised and used. And for others, in theatre, the patients health needs overcome their natural modesty

    (men …wear a smile, i suppose. i know what youre thinking. those slightly suspect morals are widespread! g) .-= pserean´s last blog ..Thank You for the Exchange =-.