Strange Bedfellows: the MCB and a Racist Affiliate
Among its many roles, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) acts as an umbrella body for a wide range of other Muslim organisations, seeking by the weight of numbers to present a more powerful voice to the media and to government. The MCB are proud of their affiliate programme and the 2005 Secretary General’s Report boasts that “over 400 organisations have affiliated to the MCB so far.” Seeking to pull together the community in this way is a laudable aim but there is a problem, namely that among their affiliates are some organisations with some pretty unpleasant views.
Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith
Consider the example of Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, an educational charity with over 40 branches across the UK. Given their stated purpose of educating Muslim youth, one begins to worry when their aims and objectives speak of calling Muslims back to “the authentic traditions of the past times” and that “Islam is the basis of the civilisation and the politics of the state”. But where things really hot up is when you turn to their magazine, The Straight Path.
Blame the Jews for everything!
The Straight Path is a bi-monthly magazine and older issues can be viewed online; it is the May-June 2004 issue with which we are particularly interested today. (The website was down at the time of writing, but you can download the entire magazine here (3.2mb) or look at just the relevant pages here and here)
The editorial article on page 3 of the May-June 2004 issue of The Straight Path gets straight to the point and opens with a quote from Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, a former president of Malaysia, who says:
‘Today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them …’
The tendency of Islamists to blame the Jews for all the woes of Muslims, be they political, social, or religious is well documented. Its roots lie in the rejection of Muhammad by the Jewish tribes in Medina and can be traced from the Qur’an down through Muslim history. Indeed, The Straight Path magazine supports its anti-Jewish slant by helpfully quoting (on page 13) a saying of Muhammad in the hadith: “May Allah curse the Jews and the Christians …” (a tradition reported in the collections of both Bukhari and Muslim).
What if you’re not a Jew?
Now at this point those readers who are not Jewish may be breathing a sigh of relief and thinking to themselves “this is very nasty, I'm glad I’m not Jewish!” Alas, Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith’s resentment of all people who are not Muslim does not end there. If you move from their magazine to the articles section of their website, you will find an essay by Dr. Muhammad al-Jibaly entitled “Eid Celebrations - Differing from the Disbelievers” in which he sets out a number of reasons why it is important that Muslims make themselves distinct from disbelieving, non-Muslims. In particular he notes that:
The disbelievers are misguided, and their ways are based on sick or deviant views concerning their societies, the universe, and their very existence. Their actions frequently reflect their deviant opinions. Why then would anyone ever think of imitating them?(Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith pulled this article from their website after the BBC Panorama programme also drew attention to it on Sunday 21 August 2005. But thankfully you can still read it by visiting Google's cached version.)
Now this is pretty strong stuff. But the key question is this: given the undeniably unpleasant views of Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, why have the MCB allowed them to become (or remain) an affiliate?
The need to screen affiliates
Nowhere on the Affiliation Form on the MCB website is there any mention of a code of best practice to which affiliates are expected to subscribe, which means that the MCB either has a blind-spot when it comes to this issue, or simply does not care about the stance of the organisations it is in bed with.
This same issue came up recently when another affiliate organisation of the MCB openly declared support for suicide bombings against civilians in Israel. In a BBC Radio 4 interview, Inayat Bunglawala of the MCB was asked why the MCB could not simply cut off the organisation in question. Mr. Bunglawala consistently ducked the question, which would suggest that the MCB knows it has a problem with its affiliates, but is either unwilling or not brave enough to draw up a code of conduct.
Drawing up such a code would surely not be difficult. One could, for example, state that any affiliate found to be promoting hatred, violence or division would have their affiliation cancelled. Can it really be that hard? Is the real issue the MCB’s failure to grasp the nettle of Islamic radicalism? Or, most worryingly, do the MCB actually share the views of Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith?
The sorry fact is that Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith are not the only Islamist organisation affiliated to the MCB and their views are not uncommon. Amongst the MCB’s affiliates are organisations that espouse racist, radical, and terrorist views. Over the next few weeks, we will expose more of them.
If you want to take further action on this matter, please consider emailing Barclays Bank, with whom Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith have an account (account details here). You could ask them why they allow an organisation with such unpleasant views to hold an account with them and point out they have closed the accounts of racist organisations in the past. You might also consider writing to the Charity Commision for England and Wales and asking them to consider revoking Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith’s charitable status. (Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith are charity number 272001).