Saturday, June 9, 2007

Is the Future of London Islamic? asks Time Out

As one of Time Out's interviewees, Arwa Haider, answered, "This is an incredibly bizarre question." The Time Out journalists were hoping for a more enthusiastic response because in their opinion, 'London needs Islam'. Michael Hodges argues simplistically that a religion that is based on noble traditions and compassionate principles would make London a 'less cruel' place. In a great act of cowardice, and journalistic amateurism, Hodges disregards half of the story - what Islam has had to say about the place and role of women: in terms of 'blood money' a woman's life is worth half that of a man, see Yemen; for women needing to ask their husband's permission to travel, see Saudi Arabia; and of punishment for say, adultery - stoning for women for those of you who don't follow the news in Iran.
Rather Hodges blithely suggests that as alcohol is haram in Islam, and if alcohol is forbidden throughout this country, you'd avoid many of the 22,000 alcohol-related deaths each year. On race relations, Hodges has found an absolute treasure of an ideal: "Under Islam all ethnicities are equal. Once you have submitted to Allah you are a Muslim - it doesn't matter what colour you are. End of story"
It seems to me that many people who live in 'Muslim countries' would also like to see evidence of these compassionate principles at work.
It is an ideal, Hodges, just like any religion and what you describe is no more than a utopia, in which case you could equally have recourse to the teachings of Christianity and Buddhism, disregarding the centuries of too-mortal and too-male interpretations of 'noble' traditions.
This cover and feature is clearly designed to polarise people and dumb down the debate further, as if on one side are those who uphold and practise a noble religion, and on the other are bigoted Islamaphobes. Several Arab friends are horrified by the feature and the prospect of an Islamic London where, not only in the name of God, but in that of fitness and public health - according to Hodges - citizens of this Islamic republic or Caliphate of London, will be exhorted to pray 5 times a day.
And what then of the Muslims who question many of the interpretations of Islam as they stand - are they denying its 'noble' traditions, and must they be grouped with the Islamaphobes too?
Imagine the furore from Londoners, if the cover had declared: Is the future of London Greek Orthodox Christianity?
Utter imbecility

1 comment:

Persephone said...

It seems to me that Londoners (and people everywhere) would be better served by scrapping religion altogether and replacing it with wild sex parties like they do in Doha.

But if London prefers Greek Orthodoxy, please note that having sex on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays means spending all of eternity hanging by your nipples in hell. That's what my Greek grandmother said, anyway.