My Lords, I begin by expressing my disquiet and resentment at the wording of the Question for this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Pearson, has referred to Islamist terrorism. I feel that to use “Islamic” or “Islamist” relating to any form of terrorism is completely wrong. Islam is a religion of peace and does not allow any form of suicide attack or terrorist activity. A terrorist should be referred to as a terrorist without reference to any religion. During the IRA activities, it was inappropriate to associate terrorism with a particular religion. It would be greatly appreciated if one were careful about using appropriate language in your Lordships’ House, otherwise, it may cause offense to the people of this country.
I received numerous complaints from Muslims when it became known that this debate had been tabled. Islam is indeed a religion of peace and I promote this fact in my coat of arms. Even when we greet somebody, we use the phrase As-sal?mu ‘alaykum, which means “peace be upon you”. I would like to emphasize that it is written in the Holy Koran that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has said: “Whoever kills a human being, it is as though he has killed all mankind, and whoever saves a human being, it is as though he has saved all mankind”. This is very similar to what is written in the Talmud. Islam and Judaism, like other religions, both value the sanctity of life.
There are more than 3 million Muslims in this country and nearly all of them are peace-loving people. They have been successful in every walk of life and have contributed to the advancement and well-being of this country. I appreciate and understand that a tiny minority have acted very badly and committed criminal offenses. What they have said and what they are doing is totally un-Islamic. Islam teaches us to celebrate the difference and diversity which God has purposefully created in our world.
The Question of this debate refers also to UK Muslim leaders. I consider myself to be one of the Muslim leaders. I am very active in combating extremism and radicalization among all communities, and I have attended and spoken at numerous meetings. I have been involved in initiatives and have taken positive action to deal with the issues of radicalization and extremism. To deal with them requires a holistic approach and we must all work together. It should involve the community, local authorities, schools, universities, prison authorities and the police. Mosques, Imams and Muslim centers also have a vital role to play. We must also take steps to combat radicalization through the use of the internet, notably through social media, and for this we must work with organizations that can do so effectively. Because of the shortage of time, I cannot enumerate the steps to be taken, although I have prepared an extended report on these issues.
I am also actively involved in promoting interfaith dialogue and I am a patron of five Muslim and non-Muslim organizations which are involved in these activities. In the Holy Koran, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has said: “O mankind! We have created you from male and female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another”. As Muslims, we should get to know one another and people from other communities, as commanded by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Radicalisation and extremism cannot be dealt with by looking at theological issues because we need to take positive steps. I am proud to be a practicing Muslim. I have studied the Holy Koran and the Sunnah. I doubt very much if the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, has made a deep study of Islam. I feel that a debate such as this, tabled by him, can create discord and lead to further problems.
In verse 106, Surah An-Nahl refers to the notion of Taqiyya—hiding one’s faith in life-threatening conditions—as only self-defense. Mainstream Islam does not accept the current situation anywhere in the West as threatening Muslims to an extent that they would need to hide their faith identity to survive. This question is therefore completely irrelevant. In regard to Al Hijra, in verse 97, Sura An-Nisa refers to Taqiyya in compelling cases where Muslims cannot practice their faith for fear of persecution and threat to their life. In such extreme circumstances, they are advised to leave the land of hostility for a safer place. Again, no such conditions exist in the West to compel Muslims to migrate away from the West. This is again totally irrelevant and taken out of context.
In Islamic terminology, abrogation means lifting a ruling indicated by a sharia text, on the basis of evidence from the Holy Koran or consensus of the Sunnah. In most cases, the abrogation was to make things easier for Muslims or increase the rewards. As a Muslim, I say that it is totally unnecessary to re-examine the three points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson. I want to emphasize that any act of terrorism is not in our name.
Finally, I urge everyone in the country to be united and stand together to combat any form of radicalization or extremism, in whatever form it comes.