Moderates Attack ‘Fundamentally Wrong’ Approach to Teaching Islam

September 7, 2007

Author: Andrew Norfolk

Source: The Times

Riyadh ul Haq, who has preached of the “evil influence” of the West, may be a faithful representative of the Deobandi school of Sunni Islam but he does not speak for all Islamic scholars, let alone all Muslims. No one knows that better than Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra.

Mr Mogra, the chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain’s interfaith relations committee, is a graduate of the same Deobandi seminary in Bury, Greater Manchester, that Mr ul Haq attended, but he does not like to call himself a Deobandi. His vision of a pluralistic, tolerant Islam is starkly at odds with mainstream Deobandi thinking, as is his belief that for British Muslims “our loyalty to Britain must be unquestionable”.

Mr Mogra’s desire to forge an understanding of Islam that incorporates “British traditions like tolerance and respect for others” is shared by Hamid Qureshi, the chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques. Mr Qureshi, who runs an interfaith organisation called Building Bridges in Burnley, is not a Deobandi. His concern is “to break the Muslim shell, the cocoon in which we surround ourselves”. “To suggest that mixing with non-Muslims is somehow a threat to Islam is fundamentally wrong. We need to reach out to people on human grounds. That’s what Islamic teaching is all about,” he said.