Islamic Tarbiyah Academy response to Sky news report
We thank the press for their keen interest in our school and in particular Sky News’ coverage.
Islamic Tarbiyah Academy (ITA) has a wide range of publications which include topics on denouncing terrorism, crime and drug abuse as well as living in peaceful co-existence with others. Many of these publications have not been published recently but have been on our website for a number of years now.
ITA has strived to educate the community with good morals and discipline which includes the rights and wellbeing of all, irrespective of their colour, creed or religion. Many of our publications reflect this too as well as many in the neighbourhood who have seen the positive impact ITA has had for community relations. ITA fully believes in the importance and need for integration whilst allowing Muslims to able to practice their faith. ITA is committed to promoting teachings of Islam and is just as committed to comply with the law of the land.
We would like to take this opportunity to respond to the numerous allegations in the Sky News report;
Sky News Report:
“In one leaflet Mr Dudha quotes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an early 20th Century anti-Semitic forgery, which claims to prove Jewish people are engaged in a global conspiracy.”
It is unfortunate that this material has been quoted in the context of spiritual training of the soul and we apologise for the offence this may have caused. The quote itself is not anti-Semitic in anyway and focuses on the point about distractions which affect the spiritual. Muslims have always honoured and respected the Bani Israel, Jewish Tradition. The material does not advocate the demonization of the Jewish people, which is categorically forbidden in Islam.
Sky News Report:
“He claims that colourful pictures, films, magazines and sporting celebrities are part of the conspiracy to “poison the thinking and minds” of young Muslim people.”
We do believe that there are harmful effects from certain aspects of the media. “Colourful pictures” is a reference to obscene images and the exploitation of women portrayed through all the above mentioned mediums. They entail fame for fame’s sake which we believe is spiritually destructive for the soul. Study after study has demonstrated how social media and celebrity culture is adversely affecting the viewpoints of the young. According to one survey (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/fame-the-career-choice-for-half-of-16-year-olds-1902338.html), half of teenagers do not want a career – they just want to be famous. Research has also indicated to the destructive consequences of such culture. According to one research study, a contributory factor in the high rate of shootings in the US is to do with the “obsession with fame” (http://www.livescience.com/51991-why-america-is-prone-to-mass-shootings.html).
The Sky News report also highlights a series of orthodox Islamic positions such as the separation of the sexes, refraining from immorality and the viewing of explicit content plus encouraging modesty in action and dress for both men and women. This is part our faith and we stand firmly with our religious expression. Certainly our practices are shared with other religions such as Orthodox Judaism and Christianity.
Sky News Report:
“In a section on jihad he tells Muslims they should be prepared to “expend … even life” to create a world organised “according to Allah’s just order”.
The literature articulates a holistic understanding of Jihad, which includes reformation of the self. The Just order of Allah is described literally a sentence before this cherry-picked quote: “that injustice, oppression and contumacy are annihilated”. We believe that most of society will agree that injustice and oppression should be removed.
The reference to Westernization and its evil effects is a reference specifically to the harmful effects resulting from excessive individualism, unfettered capitalism and materialism. Some of these harmful effects are increasingly visible across society and have already been highlighted above and are indeed alien to traditional Islamic culture. This however cannot be construed as being “anti-Western” and we reject such an interpretation of the literature and maintain that we as Muslims are not and should not be anti-Western. A difference in viewpoints on what is good for society does not mean that there is something ominous afoot.
Keith Vaz and Extremism
The report references comments made by Keith Vaz.
We believe that Mr Vaz has recklessly conflated traditional, orthodox Islamic viewpoints with “extremism”. Disagreement with the Islamic way of life is one thing but to conflate it as “extremism” sets a dangerous precedent of securitising Islam.
To make such a connection in the context of radicalisation is also spurious. As a leading expert in the field of radicalisation has stated, “The evidence isn’t there to say ideology is the prime reason why people are becoming terrorists, and yet ideology is the foundation on which the counterterrorism effort is built on.”
As regards to religious practice, a report by the MI5 behavioural science unit states that there is evidence that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation.
The labelling of orthodox viewpoints as “extreme” based upon subjective viewpoints is dangerous and can potentially lead to the demonization of minority groups who hold conservative beliefs to the rest of society.
Rather than condoning extreme views, ITA has and will continue to work within the community, along with others, including the local authorities and police, to try and counter extremism.
Islamic Tarbiyah Academy was established in 1998 as a private traditional Islamic seminary and registered place of worship. ITA’s ethos is of development in spiritual, moral, mental and physical discipline. ITA offers a range of activities to the community including religious instruction, sports and counselling. ITA presently has 150 students and also offers courses to adults in traditional Islamic scholarship.
Please direct all media enquiries to Saghir Hussain at firstname.lastname@example.org