Let Muslims choose their own committee

Ziauddin Sardar“The government is to set up a board of Muslim theologians. Once established, it will steer the more radical elements of the Muslim community away from violent extremism and issue fatwas on controversial issues such as the position of women and loyalty to the UK.

“This is bonkers! And everyone should know it. Who in our diverse Muslim communities would actually listen to such a board? …

“There is a stench of social engineering and misguided and misbegotten patronage about the project. A steering committee of the government’s favourite Muslim advisers, people who themselves command little respect among Muslims, will be established. The committee will hand-pick ‘theologians’ and weed out extremists, undesirables, and those critical of the government and its foreign policy. Not surprisingly, the whole exercise has generated suspicion. It is doomed to failure….

“There is, however, a particularly Islamic way of rescuing the enterprise. Why not let Muslim communities themselves decide who should be on the board? In Islamic parlance, such an exercise would be shura, or consultation. Muslim communities could nominate their representatives.”

Ziauddin Sardar in the New Statesman, 7 August 2008

Update:  See also Yusuf Smith’s comments at Indigo Jo Blogs, 12 August 2008