Don’t demonise Deobandis

“The Times reports today on the activities of one of the Deobandi imams, Riyadh ul-Haq, the former imam of Birmingham Central Mosque. It accuses him of preaching hate. If the Times has evidence that he is guilty of such a crime, I hope they will present it to the appropriate authorities and let him be tried fairly and openly by our legal system. But equally, the Times should be careful not to preach hate in the name of exposing those who preach hate.

“I believe that the Deobandi imam training curriculum needs an overhaul; their teaching methods needs radical change and modernisation and their world view – especially about Islam and politics – requires serious reform. But in its exposure of Riyadh ul-Haq, the Times should not to tarnish all Deobandis as Britain-hating, bloodthirsty and sword-waging Talibans.

“I can name you many Deobandi imams who are fantastic ambassadors for interfaith dialogue and community cohesion. Many graduates of the Deobandi seminaries work in our civil services as active members of British society and provide brilliant expertise. I can name you great institutions that have been established by some of the graduates of the Deobandi seminaries here in the UK. They are providing world class education for many young people of the community. This report fails to balance its message by not highlighting any of the positive work undertaken by many graduates from the same institution.”

Ajmal Masroor replies to the scaremongering articles “Hardline takeover of British mosques” and “The homegrown cleric who loathes the British” in today’s Times.

Comment is Free, 7 September 2007

See also MCB statement, 7 September 2007

Plus Inayat Bunglawala at Comment is Free, 7 September 2007
and Yusuf Smith at Indigo Jo Blogs, 8 September 2007

The Times “exposé” is welcomed by the far right. See BNP news report, 7 September 2007