Haram or halal?

A terrible moment in Shiv Malik’s Prospect article on Siddique Khan. He’s talking to Khan’s brother, as he has several times before.

For some reason, I translated my usual question of whether he thought what his brother had done was “good” or “bad”—he had said that it was a terrible thing several times—and instead asked him whether he thought 7/7 was halal (permitted) or haram (forbidden) in Islam. Only when a look of stunned surprise come over Gultasab’s face did I realise that I must have been asking him an entirely different question. After a brief pause, he replied. “No comment.”

Here, it seemed, was the perfect example of the division between two worldviews—secular ethics and an embattled Islamic faith. How long had Gultasab managed to function with these two conflicting positions fighting within him? Everyday morality told him that his brother had committed a cold-blooded act of terror, while his own Islamic theology told him that there was no clear answer and maybe his brother was a hero. How many thousands of young British Muslims are similarly conflicted?

How’s that for a crystal-clear illustration of why secularism is essential? On the one hand, everyday morality: murdering a lot of random people and injuring a lot of others is a bad thing to do; on the other hand, Islamic theology: hmmmmmmmaybe not so bad. That other hand won’t do. That other hand has got to go. If Islamic theology says maybe maybe maybe mass murder is halal – then Islamic theology is dead wrong and must not be obeyed. It’s only if everyone accepts secularism – believers as well as non-believers, theists as well as atheists – that that principle can hold. If people reject secularism, then ‘theology’ can be permitted to trump both law and morality – and welcome to hell on earth.

There’s a choice bit in Siddique Khan’s horrible video that is another crystal-clear illustration.

Part two, which makes up three quarters of Khan’s speech, is addressed to Muslims in Britain. Here is an excerpt: “Our so-called scholars today are content with their Toyotas and semi-detached houses. They seem to think that their responsibilities lie in pleasing the kufr instead of Allah. So they tell us ludicrous things, like you must obey the law of the land. Praise be God! How did we ever conquer lands in the past if we were to obey this law?”

There’s another unpleasant example from Stop Honour Killings:

A man who raped a Muslim woman because she showed an interest in Christianity has been jailed for at least five years by a Sydney court…Al-Shawany’s trial was told that he visited the woman, an acquaintance, at Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre with another man. The woman had been reading the Bible and Al-Shawany noted her contact with Christians. The men told her they were “infidel people” and if she went with them, her killing “would be halal” – meaning her killer would go to heaven.

Oh yes, and where would she go?

Not a good way to think. Stupid, of course, but also dangerous, ruthless, murderous, immoral – just no good. A kufr thing to say, but there you go.

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