Minority Report could be the sub-title of the piece 'My British Hijab', which is published in Critical Muslim's fifth issue entitled Love and Death. It is a warm and honest look at the position of the Muslim community in Britain some 20 years ago. Things have changed. In many ways for the better. When I see the children walking home from The Nottingham Academy I am impressed and encouraged by the way the knots in the caravan are made up of White, Afro Carribean and South Asian children in mixed groups. Racism in the UK is not dead but perhaps it will die.
The bad news is that a new form of intimidation is on the increase. People who truly believe in God are not shouted at in the street. The secular majority do not have to resort to anything so blatant and obvious. They have available the Media and the Education systems with which to mount a ruthless and sustained attack on those who believe the dominant force in their lives is not what music they listen to, what they wear, what kind of car they drive or what party is in power at Westminster. Islam and Christianity both teach that there is a soul and that it is entirely individual and that its ultimate destiny is to stand before the all- encompassing and account for itself. Nothing is more important than that; not nation, not colour and not even family.
The Education system teaches young people how to do as they are told. What they are told to do is to subordinate their personality in the interest of the growth of the British economy. Unless you study Religious Education you could spend five years of your life in a State School and neither hear nor read the name of God.
I'm not telling anybody anything new here. In the USA Fundamentalist Christians have responded by becoming a very potent force: the Christian right. In North Africa and the Middle East the Muslim Brotherhood, in one form or another, occupies the same ideological niche. Unfortunately emphasising the contrasts between any single religion and materialism also draws attention to the difference between one religion and another.
India and Turkey provide models of States which are consitutionally secular which neverthless recognise the importance of religion in the lives of individuals, family and society. I mention family becuase it seems to me that in the Muslim community the family provides a great deal of spritual support to its members. Interestingly in Anglo Saxon England families often organised themselves into religious communities and as late as 1637 Nicholas Farrar founded a family community in Little Gidding which features prominently in the poem by TS Eliot of the same name.
I suggest that there is a form of fundamentalism which is not harmful to the health of nations. I see no reason why a return to traditional religious values should be a herd activity. To have a desparate need for a community is to question the adequacy of the God in which you believe. Mohammed encountered God on his own. Jospeh survived and prospered in Egypt on his own and when Moses encountered the burning bush and was told "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground,” he was in no temple at the time but in the desert, alone.
I am not preaching isolationism. The Liitle Gidding community and the seminary founded by Boenhoffer at Finkenwald in Hitler's Germany both worked within the community. The important things is that theirs was a positive reaching out not a helpless grasping.
Ken Mafham is a Muslim Insitute Fellow and a Town Planning Consultant with 40 years experience. His work has taken him to Mauritius, Bauch State Nigeria , Merseyside and the East Midlands. He has also taught lessons to 30-40 individuals a week for the last fifteen years, from Year 1 to A level. This leaves little time for hobbies but he does like to play the violin and sing. Not both at the same time though.