State-sanctioned Islam?

“One of the current Prime Minister’s potential legacies is an Islamic studies curriculum in British universities which is shaped by his own personal vision (report, June 5). It is not clear how Mr Blair has acquired the ability to distinguish authentic from inauthentic Muslim belief. Most Muslim theologians, past and present, have sensibly accepted that such judgments can ultimately be known by Allah and no one else. However, armed with this ability to discern true faith, Mr Blair’s Government appears to want to refashion the teaching of Islamic studies in British higher education….

“It seems that Islamicists now have a responsibility to encourage a government-approved version of Islam, and discourage dangerous expressions of the faith. The report by Dr Ataullah Siddiqui, commissioned by the Department for Education, contains a number of interesting suggestions for improving Islamic studies in the UK, but Dr Siddiqui himself would surely be uneasy at the prospect of higher education being used for political ends.”

Letter from Professor Robert Gleave, Times, 12 June 2007