‘Islam or Christianity: which one provides a comprehensive solution for British society?’
About sixty people assembled in the auditorium of the East London Tabernacle, Mile End on Friday evening (16th October) to listen to this debate between Cllr Alan Craig and Adnam Rashid of the Hittin Institute.
Cllr Craig, of Newham Council (since 2002), and Leader of the Christian People’s Alliance, has already made a reputation for himself by leading public opposition to the building of the London Markaz (the ‘Megamosque’) on a site adjacent to the 2012 Olympics. He was also one of the candidates for the office of Mayor of London.
Less well known (at least to British people) is Adnan Rashid who works for the Hittin Institute and is currently studying History at London University. The institute is a Muslim ‘think tank’ which takes its name from the victory (in 1187) over the crusaders and the recapture of Jerusalem for Islam. The Mission Statement of the Hittin Institute is to ‘educate, activate and mobilise the Ummah’ (the community of faithful Muslims throughout the world).
Both Cllr Craig and Mr Rashid were agreed that Britain suffers from a decline in moral values and that this decline accounts for the spread of violent crime, rape, drug taking, family breakdown, etc. Cllr Craig believes that this breakdown can be stemmed and reversed by a return to the application of Christian principles in public life. He cites the example of John Wesley as a person who almost single-handedly transformed the moral outlook of the British people in the late eighteenth century. Mr Rashid is an advocate for the application of Sharia Law in all its fullness.
Cllr Craig made his case against Islam and Sharia Law by stating that society needs more than a moral code, it requires the example of people who exemplify the moral principles upon which that code is based. This is not an exact quotation, but I do not think I misrepresent his argument. Sharia Law is fundamentally unjust in that it institutionalises the inequality between individuals (the inequality between muslims and non-muslims, between men and women etc). Islam, which is so rigid in the application of its rules, lacks the capacity for repentance and forgiveness.
Mr Rashid countered this by saying that Cllr Craig had not addressed the terms of the motion: that he had failed to show how Christianity offers ‘a comprehensive solution for British society’. He went on to quote passages from the Old and New Testaments to show that the rules that had been set out in the Bible were flouted on a daily basis. The consequence of this was the prevalence of atheism, homosexuality, drug abuse, violent crime, rape etc. Sharia Law was the only system which was strong enough to tackle these issues: ‘Islam has a solution to every problem’.
As the argument developed, Cllr Craig pointed out that the Bible is not a book of rules, that Islam is unduly bloodthirsty and that British society retains many positive features, the National Health Service to quote one example. Mr Rashid replied by stating that Islam was based upon the direct word of Allah and was mandatory upon all of humanity (whether they wish to follow it or not) and that a system of free-medicine was instituted by one of the early Caliphs. This was the inspiration for the formation of a National Health Service in the UK centuries later.
After a short break, questions from the audience dealt mostly with the issues of rape. Mr Rashid came equipped with a vast array of statistics to show that rape was on the increase and that this was the consequence of allowing women to walk in the streets without suitable covering. I threw my own ‘googly’ at the speakers by inviting them to comment on the ethical system of the Confucians. Both sides of the debate seemed to assume that the only argument was between Christianity and Islam and that there were no alternatives to these. Yet Chinese civilisation has adhered to a system of values centred on family values, self-reliance, hard work and educational attainment. The result of this is that China is now emerging as a world power while many Islamic countries are failed states. This point was accepted by Cllr Craig but Mr Rashid confessed that he had no knowledge of Confucius and was not able to comment.
My best thoughts always come after these events. On the way home, it occurred to me to ask how a man with so many obvious moral flaws as Muhammad (instigator of highway robbery, instigator of mass murder, instigator of torture, rapist, paedophile etc. could seriously be considered as a promulgator of a code of legislation). So this question will have to wait for another time.