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Simon Newman

Ben Rogers:
"But I don't believe one can just dismiss such things as 'psychological' or the result of 'anxiety'"

Maybe not - one night I dreamed my cat Otis (who I was very fond of) had been killed, and appeared to me in a dream to say goodbye. I told my wife about the dream - nothing like that had happened before - and dismissed it as an axiety dream, but it turned out that my cat had indeed been killed, run over by a car. Maybe a coincidence, maybe not.

Anyway, whether your vision was from an internal or external cause seems irrelevant to the substance of the book review.

Walaa Idris

Born and raised a Muslim. I was lucky, because while growing up Sudan was a melting pot where being a Muslim was no different to being a Jew a Christian or an Atheist. It was simply a way of life. We were all Sudanese and the only measuring stick was ones’ deeds and conduct. But that quickly changed by the introduction of Sharia Laws in 1983.

In my opinion religion is something private, personal and beautiful, but when badly managed it is divisive, destructive and ugly.

Reading through your review, (by the way half way through I had to stop and order a copy) all I could think off is finally someone courageous and brave enough to show the world how dangerous the Islamist movement really is. How organised and well funded they are. But most of all how one track minded and none forgiving a movement it is. Plus they are not here today gone tomorrow either.

Your review clearly shows what some of us knew all along, that Multicultural Ghettoism, Political Correctness and tip toeing around issues could only damage our society. Britain is a tolerant and caring country and the indigenous inhabitants of this beautiful island don’t owe anyone anything. I think it is high time that we act accordingly.

Ben Rogers

Walaa Idris, thank you very much indeed for your very gracious and insightful contribution here.

Just to reassure anyone else reading here, I work with a number of Muslim groups in my human rights work - in particular, the Rohingya people. So this is absolutely not an anti-Muslim thing - indeed, Ed Husain remains a Muslim - it is about, as Walaa Idris says, uncovering the "dangerous" Islamist movement.

Stephen Tolkinghorne

"Ed Husain demonstrates in his book that it is very possible to find a moderate, peaceful, spiritual, tolerant form of Islam in Sufi-ism."

It's just a shame that the followers of Sufi-ism consist of one man and his dog, i.e. virtually no-one, except for a few who are seen by other muslims, i.e. 99.9% of them, as dreamers and as deluded fools.

There is no significant difference between Islam and Islamism. They just differ in their methods of reaching the same goal: world domination ! The advocates of Islamism are wrong, as they believe that the only way they'll achieve ascendancy is to fight now. The truth is that time is on their side, and all they'll have to do is to wait for the silly, trivial and Godless westerners to drive themselves and their way of life into extinction by continually pursuing leftist Marxist dogma.

Claire Palmer

I too have just finished reading this, and found it an excellent and informative read opening up a world that I knew sadly little about before. A hugely courageous effort must have gone into writing this book, and I thoroguhly recommend it to anyone.

RB

This is a fantastic review. The causes of terrorism is an issue which we should all learn more about - and if people don't get a chance to read this book, then Ben's sensible, moderate review is a fine substitute.

Glenda Trowbridge

Sorry, Ben. I agree with your basic thesis on Islamism and I respect your sincerity but this is one of the daftest things I've ever read from a Tory.

Let me quote you:

"Just before the last election, when I was standing as Conservative Party Parliamentary Candidate for the City of Durham, I had a very very strange vision. I have never shared this publicly before but I feel now is the time to do so. I am not normally given to pictures and dreams. I am not mad. But I was with my friend James Mawdsley one evening, and we went to a Catholic Mass in Lancashire. In the middle of the Mass, I closed my eyes to pray. To my astonishment, I saw very clearly a picture of what Husain describes as “the green, serene English countryside”. A man was sleeping peacefully in a field in the sunshine. Suddenly, the picture filled with darkness. A figure clad all in black came walking across the fields towards the sleeping man. The fields became red with blood. I had a feeling that it was still not too late, and that if he awoke in time he could rescue the situation – but that if he stayed in his slumber, he would face unimaginable danger and destruction. I was filled with a sense that the figure represented extremist Islamism, and the sleeping man was Britain."

Oh dear. We all have dreams but (a) we usually do so while we're asleep not as part of some quasi-religious experience (b) we tend to realise pretty quickly that they reflect our inner psychological state rather than external political realities and (c) while we might tell our husband/wife or best mate we wouldn't write them up for public consumption.

You've inserted an account of your 'vision' into the middle of a review of a book on current affairs, as if it had some evidential significance. If you think that, you need help. And if you think it was politically wise to give this hostage to fortune to the Labour Party, you REALLY need help.

Have you got no idea how this looks to most people? Blurting your mystical visions out in public isn't a matter of daring to be a Daniel - it's fundamentally unserious and grossly counterproductive.

Ben Rogers

Glenda, it saddens me that this is the one thing you and a couple of others choose to pick up on in the review. I refer you to the remarks I made earlier in answer to ACT and Niallster. Perhaps I was unwise in being honest, but I am staggered that you and a couple of others have got so worked up about this, instead of making more valuable contributions to the much more important debate about what to do about Islamism. I would venture to suggest that it is people like you, devoting your remarks to my one paragraph about a personal experience/insight instead of the much more important wider issues, that are "unserious" and "grossly unproductive".

Niallster

Ben,

Maybe I'm flogging a dead horse on this but let me give you an example.

I will state a name and you can tell me the first thing that comes in to your head. Be honest now.

Theresa May.

Now Theresa is a smart woman and has a long career of achievement but admit it what came in to you head when I wrote her name was:

Nasty Party.

The world is a soundbite. As you will find out.

Glenda Trowbridge

Ben - you WERE being naive but now you are being pig-headed.

I've already said I agreed with the rest of your review. Can you still not accept that you have undermined your own case by proclaiming mystical revelations? You may take that kind of thing seriously. That's your right, but the considerable majority of people don't and look askance at those who do. If someone produced a magisterial 50,000 word essay on the case for intervention in Darfur which, plumb in the midddle, contained the assertion that he had been told to write it by a lizard in a spaceship how seriously do you think the arguments in the essay would be taken? And how delighted would the regime in Sudan and its apologists be to be given a ready tool to dismiss the entire thesis?

The issue of Islamism is, as you say, important. That's why your self-indulgence in giving our opponents a stick with which to beat you (and, by extension, the cause we believe in) has attracted such adverse comment. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link so, please, next time leave the visions in your head, where they belong.

Ben Rogers

My dear Glenda, I conceded that maybe - in hindsight - I was unwise. I regret that some people are not more broad minded, and that it has become the focus of so many comments on this blog. It has detracted from the important issue, and that I regret. But I rather think "pig-headedness" is a label that befits some of my critics. To compare what I wrote with someone writing something on Sudan and claiming a lizard in a spaceship told them to do so is absurd. You may be a disciple of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, and that's your right, but I do think you and others are taking this whole thing too far. To accuse my of pig-headedness after I conceded that maybe I had mis-judged my audience seems a bit peculiar.

Glenda Trowbridge

Thanks Ben. I think we may be moving closer. I'm not a militant a la Dawkins but nor am I a believer in divine revelations. I also think it's unfair that middle class Christians who do are regarded as peculiar while hordes of silly people who follow horoscopes are not. However, c'est la vie.

What is clear is that militant Islam, which has no concept of pluralism or toleration of difference, is a threat to believer and atheist alike. It's a form of totalitarianism that feeds on weakness and irresolution and we have no choice but to take it on if we want to survive.

David

I think a little more honesty and openness as displayed in your review - would greatly benefit us all and i found it profoundly refreshing!

Radomir Tylecote

An excellent review of what is clearly a very important book.

The rise of Islamism is one of the gravest internal security threats Britain has ever faced, and multiculturalism, growing ghetto-isation, unselective immigration policy and politically correct denial have helped its development tremendously. Having defeated fascism and communism, we are faced with a new totalitarianism, Islamofascism, and we should be under no illusions about its potentially devastating power. Crucially, Islamofascism attacks our society at its weak points: our over-developed political correctness and our irrational fear of being accused of racism or intolerance.

It is pleasing to see most people agree with the review, which highlights clearly the dangers we face. Given these dangers, I strongly suggest that Ben's 'vision' is not what matters here. This is a vision that was a) metaphorical and b) one he had with his eyes closed. As an agnostic, I find Ben’s vision perfectly reasonable. I’d also venture another vision for Islamism in Britain: the (very angry) elephant in the room.

Those who speak uncomfortable truths often find themselves derided, because many people would rather think about something else. In his poem 1919, Yeats remembered those who had been ridiculed before WWI for warning of the destruction that we risked if we did not come to our senses. 'Come let us mock', said Yeats, those ‘that had such burdens on the mind'.

The fact that Ben is being harangued as if he had said 'the Archangel Gabriel makes my tea' proves one of his main points: that instead of coming to terms with the reality upon us, many of us are still hiding behind trivia, finding ways to attack those prepared to take the Islamist bull by the horns. This is most imprudent. Yeats concluded: ‘Mock mockers after that, that would not lift a hand maybe’.

For having such burdens on the mind, Bravo Ben!

Dominic Llewellyn

An excellent review about an excellent book! With regards to matters spiritual; many men and women of faith have had a great influence on our society, I think of Shaftesbury, Barnardo, Elizabeth Fry and the man of the year himself, Mr William Wilberforce... Some publically claim to have visions, others don't. Ben is entitled to his supernatural beliefs as a Christian. "The Church stands for revealed truth and divine inspiration or it stands for nothing. Belief grounded in everyday experience alone is not belief. The attempt, sustained since the Reformation, to establish the truth of Christianity on the rock of human observation of our own natures and of the world around us runs right against what the Bible teaches from the moment Moses beheld a burning bush in the Egyptian desert to the point when Jesus rises from the dead in His sepulchre. Stripped of the supernatural, the Church is on a losing wicket." Matthew Parris 2003

Ziya

Some of the comments here really puzzle me...

I know Ben in person and have the privilege of working with him. As a writer and a Human Rights activist focusing on the Middle East, I have tremendous respect for him for all he has done and the quality of his work.

Though one may think that the personal vision he shared here is not appropriate, and may be right at some levels to think so, to even suggest that this personal dimension takes away the credibility of the excellent review demonstrates a serious doze of hermeneutical shallowness if not a mental template held a priori.

The Islamist is an important voice to hear, but with a caution. None of us can disagree that there is a serious issue here, except those of us following John Lennon’s tunes and wish that problems disappear when we use a rainbow language. On the other hand, the same credibility the book has (a Muslim writer who has been there) is its greatest weakness. I am a Muslim apostate and when I see other apostates commenting on Islam, I can see a worrying pattern of subjectivity, emotional reaction and huge ideas inferred from limited personal experience.

Yet, my main concern is with the comments left by those like Hmmm, who thinks that Enoch Powell was right! No he was not! And will never be! This is where the Islamist becomes problematic. So what are we being asked to do here? More Guantanamo Bays? More colonial mistakes?

There is on more analysis that needs to be done, that is not only what is happening to Islam and Islamists, but also to England, especially to white southern England.

Please read the following article of mine Titled “ Getting Islamism and Terror Wrong” for a complimentary angle.

http://denizenscorner.blogspot.com/2007/08/getting-islamism-and-terror-wrong.html

Ben Rogers

Thanks Ziya. I agree entirely that we must approach this issue with great caution, wisdom, sensitivity and care ... but we must also not close our eyes to it. I just looked at Hizb-ut-Tahrir's site, which says that last Saturday "Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain during the month of Rajab held a momentous conference attended by thousands. A packed theatre heard speeches detailing the present situation in the Muslim world and how Khilafah is the only solution." Given that Hizb is banned in many countries, what are we doing allowing them to hold such gatherings? See www.hizb.org.uk

Juliet

Well done, Ben: a well written and well balanced review of a book and its subject - one that is complex, terrifying and which, I think, continues to be grossly misunderstood by many people.

Having worked alongside Muslim friends in Pakistan, I know personally of the concern felt by both moderate Muslims and Westerners alike about the rise of militant Islam and its threat to values that many hold universal. However, during my time in Pakistan, naturally interested in the subject of extremism I was surprised that people did not wish to talk about the problem; something that has really troubled me. The huge elephant constantly re-enters the room…

But Ben’s review whips off the metaphorical blinkers and forces us to see – a symbolic exercise encapsulated in the closing suggestion of the personal vision. No answers are given – but rather the review demands engagement and debate. I will most certainly be reading this book, and I very much hope discussions continue after other have done so.

One of the main concerns I have is that this subject be treated for what it is: a concern about extremism, and not a tirade against Islam. Ben, I think you have relayed these complexities with tact and care, but honestly – in a way which we should all be attempting to do. Sensitivity is a must – but so is confronting some harsh home truths…

Jason

What an excellent comment by Radomir Tylecote indeed (Aug 7, 8.44PM)

Radomir Tylecote alludes to war, and indeed we are engaged in war, both literally and metaphorically.

What can we do? We must organise and defeat the enemy within, and without.

I hope us Conservatives are all behind this fight.

Let's defeat Islamism and multiculturalism before its too late.

dogagas

A few criticisms of the article.
I think its important to understand the nature of Islamism. A lot of muslims, led by thinkers such as Sayyid Qutb and Mawdudi, beleive that it is the job of Muslims to establish God's law on Earth, as it is perfect, being it is from God. I am not well-informed of Qutb's work, but I have read a great deal of Mawdudi's and I know tha he never incites Muslims to do anything violent or criminal, he simply started a political party based on an Islamist philosophy. The philiosophy can of course be criticised, but it is not dangerous, and should definitely not be banned. The Islamist party should be treated like the Communist, Anarchist or even Nazi parties in Europe, they can be disagreed with, but they are in no way criminal. This extends to the Hizb ul Tahrir as well, they are a little more hard lined in thier Islamism, but they have never broken the law, or done anything wrong. And as most of them are British citizens, thay are free to believe as they will, and hold conferences and such to communicate thier beliefs.
Islamist philosophy as practiced by the Jamaat-e-Islami (Mawdudi's) or the Muslim Brotherhood, beleives in communicating its ideas to other people within a democracy, and then using the democratic process to gain power. This is what both parties do in Egypt and Pakistan. So Islamism should not be demonized as the enemy, it is simply a philosophy that should be discussed openly, and can be agreed and disagreed with.

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