Published: 00:00 GMT Daylight Time - Tuesday 05 September 2006
The schools that divide the nation
The following article by Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, was published in the Evening Standard newspaper, London, 4 September 2006. (It has been slightly shortened.)
Once there were tens. Then there were hundreds. Now Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Branch, speaks of thousands of militant British Muslims, indoctrinated and radicalised in British mosques and madrassas.
This is not, primarily, because of the influence of a handful of a few "preachers of hate". Islamic extremism has spread in Britain thanks to a particular brand of multiculturalism encouraged by this Government. And until ministers tackle it - especially the influence of Muslim faith schools - all their new efforts to build cohesion will come to very little.
The context goes far beyond Britain. Contemporary Islam has burst out of its colonial restraints. Once colonialism removed power, jihad and territorial control from Islam, it was left a benign force focusing on prayer and good deeds. But contemporary Islam has reverted back to early Islam, with all its theological rage against the non-Muslim world. Issues like Iraq and Afghanistan have become valves for expressing this anger and hatred against Britain and the West.
Increasingly, it is the values and culture of Islam which define the identity of British Muslims. A senior British Muslim leader has defined Muslim identity as: creed, sharia and umma.
The Islamic creed is non-negotiable. Those who do not share this creed are despised as kafir (infidels). Hatred of non-Muslims is preached in many British mosques.
Meanwhile Islamic law, sharia, is deemed by the majority of Muslims unalterable. Its medieval formulations cannot be updated. Yet it is this discriminatory law which many British Muslims wish to see enforced.
Finally the umma, the worldwide community of Muslims, is the primary focus of loyalty. It represents the political as well as the religious. Muslims have a duty to defend each other. This defensive jihad is what leads Muslims to go and fight in places such as Iraq.