July 2, 2010 Faith Matters

Muslims tackle the ‘nutters’

The title of Christina Patterson’s piece “Moderate Islam must find its voice” (24 June) suggests that there are two forms of Islam, moderate and extreme, when in fact there is a set of beliefs that people can interpret, as do believers of other faiths when they read their scriptures. The article implies that religion produces blind adherence, as if we are all brainwashed and lose our rational logic. This is far from the truth.

The article goes on to suggest that moderation through humour is the way ahead, which I would wholeheartedly agree with, though Christina fails to have any idea of the real pressures that Muslim communities are under. Her solution of getting mosques to play Four Lions subtly reinforces an association of Islam with violence.

As an organisation that works with Muslim communities across the UK, we are aware that grinding poverty, poorly paid employment, a sense of vilification and a lack of a mainstream political voice are just some of the issues that hang heavy on Muslim communities. Yet, within that, the dignity and the resilience of these communities to tackle the “nutters” (of which all faiths have their share), continues to grow, and we experience this almost daily.

The secular ultra-liberal approach taken in the article does not take into account the rational and progressive debates and drives within Muslim communities.

There are comedy acts that place humour directly within the heart of Muslim communities. It is pretty risqué stuff, but many Muslims accept that humour plays an important part in the development of strong British Muslim communities. There has been a rich tradition of this within sub-continent communities, including British Muslims of Pakistani origin who make up the vast majority of Muslims in the UK.

Fiyaz Mughal, Founder and Director, Faith Matters, London, WC1

Editor Note: David Polllard was kind enough to write in after reading this article in the Independent newspaper, he says,

I read your letter in the Independent newspaper today. I thought the original article by Christina Patterson was very perceptive and very understanding of the situation of Muslims in England today, especially Muslim women. I also thought your letter was very balanced a well argued. I have applied to join the Faith Matters Facebook Group and look forward to reading any on-going discussion.

David Pollard, Blaby, Leicester