British Islam – A Vision for the Future
British Islam – A Vision for the Future
Edited by Steven Greer and Taj Hargey
Chapter 4 by Declan Henry
Published by the Oxford Institute of British Islam (OIBI)
Defining British Islam
OIBI is an independent Muslim public policy think tank and research institute promoting fresh inquiry, bold rationalism, and creative solutions for contemporary British Muslims. As a research and educational charity, we seek to be in the forefront of pioneering study and relevant research for a very diverse British Muslim community.
British Islam represents full adherence to a progressive and pluralistic Muslim faith that is based on the exclusive sovereignty of the Holy Qur’an. British Islam is firmly rooted in, and relevant to, 21st century UK society, upholding universal human values and democratic virtues. It is neither beholden nor subject to medieval interpretations, patriarchal oppression, political authoritarianism, cultural baggage, tribal customs, and bygone practices from distant ancestral homelands.
Declan Henry wrote Chapter No 4 in this book which is entitled ‘Is Islam a Peaceful and Tolerant Religion?’ Here is the introduction to the chapter:
‘’The rift between Muslims in Britain and those worldwide remains tense, with no solution in sight after centuries of strife and killings. The conflict is often fuelled by old grievances and tribal and theological differences from Islam’s seventy-three sects coupled with the malicious misconstruing of the Qur’an and Hadith. Over the past decade or so, many race-hate preachers have been responsible for radicalising a generation of young Muslim men in Britain by spreading inflammatory rhetoric instructing them to retaliate against the West in the hope of one day turning Britain into a caliphate even if this means the cost is murder and mayhem. These hate preachers often target young people who are already confused and feeling out of sync with their culture, ethnicity, and religion.
Some Muslims in Britain have polarised views of Islam which clash with the beliefs of other Muslims. A minor difference in theological interpretation or social etiquette can result in chasms of distrust and conflict, escalating into long-standing disdain and separation. An example of such division is hardline Muslims who state that commemorating a non-Muslim is wrong and that Muslims should never join in singing the British national anthem because it contains a prayer imploring God to save the ruling monarch. Some claim it is forbidden for a Muslim to pray for a non-Muslim, while others disagree and state there are no rules prohibiting this. Many consider singing the national anthem a free choice because there isn’t any guidance in the Qur’an or Hadith that addresses such modern-day matters.
There is more unrest among Muslims in Islamic countries than ever before. In 2022, women in Iran burnt their headscarves in protest of the oppression of women in their country, following the death of 22-year-old Masha Amini, who was arrested for not covering her hair.  Iranian women demanded the right to be given a choice to wear traditional head coverings or not. However, it is feared protesters face a battle because Iran is obsessed with sexuality. It is often deemed as a country that loves to humiliate women and where sexual relations outside marriage results in either a prison sentence or 97 lashes. Everybody must lie to protect themselves, including men who lie about drinking alcohol and what types of literature they read. There is continuous pressure to deceive. However, young women and men in Iran have arrived at a point where they don’t want to hide any longer. The question remains; when will, rather than if, Muslims in other countries challenge similar sharia dictatorships about how they live their lives? Iran is far from being the only country with a history of human rights violations. Every Islamic country has issues with female discrimination and oppression, exploitation and acts of corruption. Very few Muslim-inhabited countries are bastions of integrity for the world to take notice of and admire. Most Islamic countries are fiercely homophobic, resulting in some imposing prison sentences or even the death penalty for those caught in same-sex relationships believing it does not comply with Islamic values under sharia law.
Currently, there is a lack of worldwide unity among Muslims and a growing ‘pick and mix’ as to when and how to practice the religion seems the norm. Young people are willing to sideline it in greater numbers than ever before. But Islamic scholars are not surprised by this because the Prophet Muhammad prophesied that Islam would become weaker in practice and society would arrive at a point where some people would be Muslim in name only: There will emerge from the East some people who will recite the Qur’an but it will not exceed their throats and who will go out to (renounce) the religion (Islam) as an arrow passes through the game and they will never come back to it unless the arrow comes back to the middle of the bow (by itself) (i.e., impossible).
British Islam – A Vision for the Future is a limited edition. If you would like a copy, please get in contact with Declan Henry (via the contact page on this site) or you can go directly to OIBI www.oibi.org.uk