Don’t trust any imam over 30. That’ll fix it, right?
Once again, a theory that attempts to explain away the obvious nexus between Islamic teachings and violence in the name of Islam simply puts a spotlight on the elephant in the room: The matter of where all these “extremists” keep coming from, and how resilient their “misunderstanding” of the Religion of Peace continues to be. “Young Muslims at the mercy of extremists because of out-of-touch Imams,” by Duncan Gardham for the Telegraph, February 24:
Mosques dominated by elderly foreign clerics are leaving young Muslims at the mercy of extremists, a study has found.
The Quilliam Foundation, an Islamic think tank, has found that 97 per cent of imams in Britain’s mosques are from overseas, although the majority of Muslims in Britain were born in the UK.
The study also found that forty-four per cent of mosques do not hold their sermons at the main Friday prayers in English.
Nearly half of Britain’s mosques do not have facilities for women, “depriving half the community of access to public spaces,” the study said.
It added: “Foreign imams, poorly paid and with limited proficiency in English, are ill-equipped to navigate Britain’s complex, liberal and multi-faith society.
And from that, we’re to infer that the social ills of Muslim communities can all be attributed to “cultural” issues, and not anything contained in Islamic teachings.
“They have neither the freedom, being at the mercy of mosque management committees dominated by first generation elders, nor the capacity to promote a British Islam informed by British values.
“By failing to reach out to young British Muslims, radical Islamists have the upper-hand. Britain’s young Muslims, without a voice in mosques, are looking elsewhere for religious guidance and will continue to be drawn in by young, articulate extremists who offer an alternative narrative, cause and social space.”
Quilliam’s director, Maajid Nawaz said: “These findings are deeply disturbing. Our first line of defence against terrorism is the ability, commitment, and confidence of mosques and Muslim communities to root out extremism. Currently, we are failing.
“With foreign imams who are physically in Britain, but psychologically in Pakistan or Bangladesh, mosques lack the requisite resilience to challenge Islamist extremists. We cannot continue to ignore the malaise in our mosques.”
The report’s author, Anya Hart Dyke, a senior research fellow at Quilliam, said mosques needed to include women and young people in running mosques, make use of government support from funds aimed at preventing violent extremism, and take advantage of training opportunities as well as sharing their space with community organisations and schools, and opening their doors to non-Muslims.
She said the mosques could learn from some local initiatives introduced in some mosques as well as the way churches and synagogues operate.
Why, exactly! That must be why you don’t see their youth carrying menacing placards and calling for the overthrow of governments. Not to mention the dearth of bombings.
“There are signs of hope. I have found some locally-led initiatives in mosques across the country, but this needs to become the norm amongst our mosques,” she added.
Quilliam attempted to contact over 1,000 mosques by using researchers who spoke Urdu or Bengali during Ramadan in late 2008, a busy period in mosques.
Due to lack of resources at most mosques and after repeated phone calls they successfully polled 512 mosques, although not all mosques responded to every question posed.
As usual, there’s not really a problem, except when there kind of is, even though there really isn’t. It’s complicated:
Seyyed Ferjani, chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, admitted there was a problem in mosques but said it was not on the scale suggested in the report.
“The imam in the mosque only leads prayers,” he said. “We have a problem in our mosques that most, the bulk of our youth, they don’t seek advice from imams, they seek advice elsewhere.”
Referring to the July 7 bombers, he added: “The problem that we’ve got, like the people who are in Leeds and elsewhere, they are outside of mosques, who are grooming them.”
An increasing trend. Where jihadists organize doesn’t answer questions about their ideology.