By Imam Abdassamad Clarke
Ihsan Mosque, Norwich
Muslims have been misled by the failed agendas of multiculturalism into making Islam something intrinsically foreign.
Dress is one aspect. The point of dress, for both men and women, is modesty and to cover what ought not to be seen in public. Every race, nation and culture has found something from its indigenous culture that fitted these criteria. Many modern Muslims in the West, on the contrary, see the matter as a cultural one, and that Islam requires a certain cultural style of dress. The result is that in the present climate, in which the most downtrodden, disadvantaged and uneducated segments of our society are being led to believe that the Muslims are the source of all their problems, Muslim women, for example, must endure unremitting hostility as they go about their daily affairs because they have chosen to mark themselves out culturally as belonging to a foreign culture.
Mosque design is another. A mosque is a basically an open space dedicated to worship of Allah. If it is in a cold climate, it probably needs something to keep out the cold. If it is in a hot climate, it needs shady areas to keep out the sun. The old Arab mosques are stylistically and architecturally different from the Persian mosques, which differ from Chinese mosques, which are different from those of the sub-continent’s mosques or Ottoman mosques, which are all different from the great mosque of Jenné. However, in the West, people insist on importing alien styles of architecture that stick out, reinforcing the agenda of ‘multiculturalism’ that Islam is a culture and not a science of thought and how to live one’s life.
All of this has resulted in a heated and hostile response from the indigenous people towards Islam, which they perceive as being cultural, precisely because Muslims present Islam as a cultural matter, as something foreign. Apart from the hurt this causes a great many people, this undermines our fundamental duty which is to summon people to Allah and His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in a rational and meaningful way NOT to one of our many national cultures or a syncretic ‘Islamic’ culture.
As to the token of ‘British’ or ‘European’ Islam which is usually touted by the people least qualified to do so, that momentum is unstoppable, but it is not the issue. No one need design a ‘British’ form of Islam, but rather we must concern ourselves with our deen, and the cultural identity will speak for itself.