The BBC has a story about how young Muslims in Britain are turning away from the secularized Islam of their parents toward what is described as “pure Islam”: i.e., that of fanaticism and violence. It is precisely because imams like Abu Hamza, whom I profile in Onward Muslim Soldiers, are able successfully to characterize their version of the religion as “pure Islam” that they are able to win recruits. And they will continue to do so until self-professed moderate Muslims like Navid Akhtar, the author of this piece, are able to convince young Muslims that their non-violent Islam is in fact “pure Islam.”
Many young Muslims, confused about their identity, have turned to their faith to provide answers and stumbled upon what they call “pure Islam”.
Pure Islam is austere, intolerant, harsh, and very heavily influenced by the teachings of the dominant Saudi sect known as the Wahhabis.
When the Saudis were flush with money from oil revenues, their government exported the Wahhabi version of Islam.
Mosques were financed, books, videos and cassettes supplied, scholars and imams trained at theological universities.
Extremist adherents have propagated a message of violent Jihad.
Fareena Alam is the editor of British-based Muslim journal Q News.
He said: “I know that they are themselves not willing to give up their lives for a greater cause.
“If they really believe in fighting the West or fighting in Afghanistan they should go themselves but what they are doing is they step in, pretend to be leaders and they propagate this violent message to young people who start to believe in this us versus them discourse.”
Pure Islam has claimed the mantle of being the only real Islam as practised at the time of the Prophet Mohammed and his companions.
It regards the Islam that came from the Indian subcontinent as corrupted and polluted by “cultural” values such as music.
In particular, pure Islam rejects any new developments in Islamic thinking, and refuses to understand that Muslims living in the West face a unique set of challenges.
This has led to a split within the British Muslim community, creating a belief amongst many young people that there is no compromise between Islam and life in the West.
Privately some within the community acknowledge a failure of leadership.
However, moderate Muslims leaders have remained largely silent and have yet to provide a credible alternative. . . .
The failure of elders to connect with young Muslims and the impact the ideology of pure Islam has had run like a generational fault line through the British Muslim community.
Without effective leadership and guidance, young Muslims feel marginalised not just by lack of opportunity, or Islamaphobia, but a real sense of being let down by their elders.
In such a climate, pure Islam will continue to thrive, attracting young Muslims to a separatist ideology that rejects the values of a modern secular and democratic Britain.