Wot valuable lessons?
Boris Johnson said a fatuous thing.
“There are valuable lessons people of all backgrounds can learn from Islam, such as the importance of community spirit, family ties, compassion and helping those less fortunate, all of which lie at the heart of the teachings of Ramadan.”
Obviously meant to be a very kind inclusive generous outreachy thing, but fatuous nevertheless, because if that were true, wouldn’t it show up somewhere? Wouldn’t there be at least one country run according to ‘Islamic principles’ or just plain sharia that was unusually good at compassion and helping those less fortunate? A city on a hill, a beacon to the rest of the world? Or at least a well-known and much-discussed example of compassionate and egalitarian governance? And as far as I know there isn’t. Do correct me if I’m wrong. Sudan? No. Pakistan? No. Afghanistan? Don’t make tasteless jokes. Malaysia? No. Northern Nigeria? No. Saudi Arabia? Please.
So the question becomes, what exactly are the ‘valuable lessons’ that ‘people of all backgrounds can learn from Islam’ about compassion and helping those less fortunate? I don’t dispute that there are words about compassion and helping those less fortunate in Islamic sources, but one, do they say anything unique to Islam? And two, have they made any difference to ‘Islam’ as it actually plays out in the world?
As far as I know the answer is no and no. Do correct me if I’m wrong. In the meantime I will go on wishing political figures would stop sucking up to religion in this way. Be kind and inclusive and generous and outreachy to people, by all means, but skip the religion-flattering.