Saturday, August 13, 2005

The MCB and Hizb ut-Tahrir

On 5 August 2005, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced his intention to ban a number of Islamist groups, amongst them Hizb ut-Tahrir (henceforth HT). The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) wasted no time issuing a press release, arguing that such a ban was undemocratic and claiming that HT were non-violent. On Channel 4 News on 8 August 2005, Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary-General of the MCB, were further and stated that:
Hizb ut-Tahrir have not engaged in incitement to hatred.
Rather than take Sacranie’s word for it, let us examine some of HT’s articles, published on their Khilafah.Com website. This will enable us to decide whether they are guilty of incitement to hatred or violence; once we have done that, we can then ask whether the MCB’s stance is legitimate.

(The Khilafah.com website is occasionally unreachable. When this occurs, you can use the links marked 'backup source' throughout this article to access a cache of the page in question at Google or MSN).

Who are Hizb ut-Tahrir?

HT are an organisation founded in Palestine in 1951 by Sheikh Taqi-ud-deen Al-Nabahani who believed that the poor state of Muslims worldwide (the Ummah) was due to the destruction of the Caliphate in 1924 (a trans-national Islamic state, ruled by Shariah law). Sheikh Nabahani set up groups throughout the Middle East that aimed to teach and call for the re-establishment of the Caliphate (or Khilafah). Through the 1960’s and 70’s, the group spread to all corners of the Muslim world, although many Muslim countries subsequently banned the organisation, believing it to be dangerous. In their statements to the media, HT members and spokespersons have always claimed the group believes in non-violence. However, when you actually read their literature, things look very different.

The purpose of an Islamic state

We can begin by examining the core aim of HT, namely the re-establishment of an Islamic state, the Caliphate, uniting all Muslims and governed by Islamic law. HT are clear that the aim of the Caliphate is not simply uniting Muslims, the ultimate aim is domination:
Islam demands that we are leaders in science; we will have to run an Islamic state which must lead the world, economically, militarily and politically.
[Source] | [Backup source]
All the world is to become Muslim, with those who are non-Muslims forced to pay the jizya poll tax as a sign of submission to the Caliphate as mandated by the Qur’an (Q. 9:29):
In short this meant that Rasool-Allah [Muhammad] was to carry Islam to them, and implement its laws over them until they acknowledged the authority of the public laws of Islam within the state. An outward manifestation of this acceptance was to be the concept of a nominal, token tax know as Jizya. This was to be levied on non-Muslim citizens of the Islamic state ... The reason I make a point of using the past tense is because it is a duty that we, as an Ummah, are not presently executing.
[Source] | [Backup source]
How is the Caliphate to be established?

This is critically important and lies at the heart of the question as to whether HT are non-violent lobbyists or dangerous Islamist radicals. Do HT envisage the Caliphate being set up by negotiation, politics and persuasion? The simple answer is no, for HT the answer is jihad, fighting in the way of Islam:
Jihaad is carried offensively to cleanse the earth from the kufr [unbelievers], with the implementation of Islam as a system thus liberating man from the rule of man.
[Source] | [Backup source]
The importance of jihad

Since jihad is so central a concept to the establishment of the Caliphate, HT are very concerned to correct what they see as wrong interpretations or understandings of the word. They are angry that people are trying to play down the violent aspects of jihad:
The West fears the meaning of Jihad for no reason other than the fact that this word is an explanation of what makes Islam a force in the world. So, it should not surprise anyone that the West will try its utmost to distort the meaning of Jihad from the minds of the Muslims ... The styles vary, whether it is from Tony Blair who says, “Islam is a religion of Peace”, or whether it comes from his followers in the Muslim Council of Britain who argue that “Jihad is only about struggling against our desires.”
[Source] | [Backup source]
Indeed, HT are clear that jihad is all about killing non-believers:
There are over 120 verses of the Qur’an that use the Shari’ meaning of Jihad to mean fighting and killing.
Not equal are those Believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons, Allah has granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight.” (Q.4:95)
... It has been agreed upon by the classical scholars that the Shari'ah meaning of Jihad is to fight and kill the kuffar [unbeliever].
[Source] | [Backup source]
Nor is jihad merely to be used in self-defense:
Moreover some will say that Jihad was only defensive; this is incorrect. A quick study of the Life of the Prophet (SalAllahu Alaihi Wasallam) shows us something different ... [historically, Muslims] instigated Jihad, through As-Sham, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and North Africa.
[Source] | [Backup source]
Jihad is not optional for Muslims but is fard (obligatory); notice, too, in the quote below, HT’s desire for Muslims to recapture Spain which was part of the Muslim empire established in the Islamic colonial period of 632-732.
O Muslims, O people of the Kanaana (quiver): You have to know that Allah (swt) has made Jihaad Fard on you to liberate the whole of Palestine from the filth of the Jews. Just as Islam has made it Fard on you and all the Muslims to liberate Andalus (Spain), Chechnya and the rest of the Muslim lands usurped by the Kuffar from the Muslims. This Jihaad will continue until the Day of Judgement.
[Source] | [Backup source]
Any Arab leader who tries to prevent jihad should also be overthrown:
So, it is to Jihaad that we call you O Muslims. Remove from your path any ruler who befriends the Kuffar, rules by Kufr and prevents Jihaad.
[Source] | [Backup source]
This kind of language perhaps goes some way towards explaining why countries like Egypt, for example, have banned HT.

In short, this Islamist jihadi ideology lies behind HT’s call to all Muslims to take up arms and fight to bring about the Caliphate:
O Muslims! Hizb ut-Tahrir calls upon you to mobilise your forces and rally your ranks to help and support it in its work to establish the Khilafah state, by which you will restore your glory, attain the good pleasure of your lord and destroy your enemy … the enemies of Allah and His Messenger, namely America, Britain, Jews and their allies.
[Source] | [Backup source]
The Jews are to blame

Like most Islamist groups, HT have to deal with the realities of the fact that the Caliphate does not exist, nor does it look like it will sometime soon. Who is to blame for this? The answer, as it always is for Islamists, is the Jews. They are to blame for all the problems of the Muslims. The language used by HT to describe the Jews is quite extreme:
The Jews are clearly a cowardly people who hate death and fighting, whereas the Muslims love death and are eager to die fighting Jihad.
[Source] | [Backup source]
The Jews are sub-human, since they are:
… the brethren of monkeys and pigs …
[Source] | [Backup source]
Does HT believe in a two-state solution in Palestine? By now, you can probably guess the answer:
Muslims must not simply be content with not normalising relations with the Jews, or even with rejecting normalisation with them, rather they are obliged to fight the usurping Jews wherever they are found until they expel them from the land of the Muslims ... So that you may: kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. (Q. 2:191)
[Source] | [Backup source]

Truly, all military and non-military actions aimed at striking the usurping Jews in Palestine are legitimate. Allah (swt) has legitimised these actions in His glorious book. He (swt) says And kill them wherever you may find them and expel them from wherever they expelled you ... (Q. 2:191)
[Source] | [Backup source]
HT clearly have “martyrdom operations” in mind when they advocate an any-means-necessary approach to destroying Israel once and for all; elsewhere they explain the delights and rewards awaiting the successful martyr:
Rewards given to the shaheed are immense. They include:
  1. Their souls are in green birds dwelling in Jannah wherever they like.

  2. All their sins and faults are forgiven except debt.

  3. He can intercede for 70 of his family members.

  4. Be secure on the day of resurrection from the great terror.

  5. He will not feel the agonies and stress of death.

  6. He will not be horrified by the great gathering on the day (of accountability – Yawm al-Qiyamah).

  7. He does not feel the pain of his killing except like a pinch.
[Source] | [Backup source]
All in all, the Jews are entirely corrupt:
The Jews are a people of slander. They are a treacherous people who violate oaths and covenants. They lie and change words from their right places. They take the rights of people unjustly, and kill the Prophets and the innocent. They are the most severe in their hatred for those who believe.
[Source] | [Backup source]
(As an aside, the alleged quote by Ariel Sharon on this page, speaking of burning every Palestinian child, is a well-documented hoax. Are HT are ignorant of this, or have they simply decided to add slander to incitement?)
Where does this leave the MCB?

We have seen, then, that HT at a macro desire an Islamic state that is world encompassing, to which non-Muslims will be subjugated. HT call for violent jihad to bring about this state, a jihad in which all Muslims are obliged to fight. At the micro level, the Jews must be defeated, since they are sub-human wretches about whom there is nothing good. HT regularly cite Qur’an verses that they believe call for Jews to be fought and killed.

Where does all this leave Iqbal Sacranie’s claim that HT do not incite violence or hatred? In short, it looks as foolish as the MCB’s press release that described HT as non-violent. But are the MCB merely incompetent, or guilty of deliberate deceit? Much as I would like to be able to believe that the MCB naively knew nothing of HT’s writings, there are some other factors that raise our suspicions:
With several ‘independent’ Muslim states, Muslims are now even weaker, because their Muslim identity has been superseded by nationalistic or other divisive entities.
(p. 177)

[The Armenian] genocide was committed by the secularists who brought about an end to the Islamic Caliphate of the Ottoman Empire, and were thus not acting in the name of Islam.
(p228)

And what is the alternative civilization for the whole of humankind, a civilization that embraces everyone, a civilization that will oppose the present civilization? … That was the civilization that lit the skies more than 1400 years ago.
(p.110-11)
  • Furthermore, there are reports that Iqbal Sacranie and Inayat Bunglawala, the MCB's media spokesman, have both said that they admire Maulana Maududi (1903-79). Maududi argued for the recreation of the Caliphate and established the radical Jamaat-i-Islami party, which aimed to set-up an Islamic state in Pakistan.
Is it therefore possible that the MCB believe that a broad spectrum of Muslim groups are needed to bring about the Caliphate and other such goals? That their approach to HT is thus to publicly distance themselves from them, yet avoid condemning them because their aims are actually seen as perfectly reasonable?

A final thought on freedom of speech

The MCB appealed to democracy and, implicitly, freedom of speech when it cricitised Tony Blair’s suggestion of banning HT. Yet this is the same MCB that wants to see laws brought in against incitement to religious hatred. Is it only incitement to hatred when Muslims are on the receiving end, or are all peoples — even the Jews and the unbelievers — worthy of protection and the enjoyment of full human rights? The MCB are, as is so often the case, guilty of a tremendous double-standard.

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