Making a stand

Sara Khan wants an Islam that is about mercy and compassion rather than an Islam that is about murdering people who have mercy and compassion, such as Alan Henning. Sara is heartbroken about the murder of Alan Henning.

It is well documented that it was the plight of young Syrian children that moved him to take that dangerous journey back to the country. As his family, friends, colleagues and local community testify, he was a man of integrity and of humanity and yet, tragically, it was these virtues that led to his death. I cannot find the will or the heart to take part in Eid festivities as I know those same friends, and indeed the nation, will be mourning the gentle, spirited cabbie from Salford.

If you were to sit with Isis, what common language would you bring to the table to try and come to some resolution, when it is difficult to find a starting point? I have seen grown men, Muslim scholars and ordinary Muslim women cry at the news of Alan’s death. But their tears are also shed because they know that not even ultra-conservative preachers in the UK can influence the group. Isis appears only to follow one law, that of death and destruction, and our challenge is understanding how best to deal with this ever existential threat to humanity.

How do you talk people out of joining Isis and other groups that are only a little less terrible?

This is why, last week, we launched #makingastand. The campaign encourages women to take the lead in exerting influence in their communities and to root out extremists who are preying on their children. But it is also designed to provide an alternative narrative for young British Muslims: to pledge their allegiance to their country, to respect human rights and to be a peaceful, thoughtful member of British society.

And of global society – not the ummah, but the community of all human beings. Respecting human rights requires understanding that local loyalties must not be allowed to trump universal human rights.


  1. Jason Dick says

    I imagine if we stopped blowing their loved ones’ up, we’d have a much easier time convincing people to not be extremists.

  2. quixote says

    Jason, that’s true. It’s also true that nobody is off the hook when it comes to doing what’s right. So hats off to Sara Khan, and I hope many people listen to her.

  3. Folie Deuce says

    Sara writes: “My faith has been hijacked by extremists. I cannot state it any more simply. If the prophet Muhammad – a man who was sent as a “mercy to the world” – were alive today, what would he make of these followers?”

    Well, if we are talking about the Muhammad described in the Hadith, the Sira and other Islamic sources, he’d probably say something like: “Great job guys, keep up the good work. And be sure to try to capture enough sex slaves to around for everybody.”

  4. Folie Deuce says

    The idea that extremists are merely responding to foreign imperialism is a farce. Over half of ISIS fighters are foreigners and ISIS is itself is an imperialist endeavor (the imperialism of Hanbali Islam forced upon non-Hanbali subjects). Islamic extremism has little to do with the West. Look at extremist movements in places that were never occupied Nigeria, Mali, Pakistan to name a few.

  5. John Horstman says

    @Folie Deuce #3:

    The idea that extremists are merely responding to foreign imperialism is a farce.

    True, and if anyone in earshot/eyeshot was arguing that it was the ONLY reason as opposed to a contributing factor, that might not be a strawfigure you’re knocking over. Your suggestions of places to look at extremist movements unconnected to Western hegemony tells me you’re wholly unfamiliar with the colonial histories of Nigeria, Mali, and Pakistan, to name a few, as well as the present dynamics of international trade and media distribution.

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