07 Sep 2007
British Muslims Reject Trial by Media of the Deobandi Movement.
The MCB is appalled at the calculated attempt made in today’s edition of the Times to besmirch and discredit the Deobandi movement.
`The Deobandi movement has been at the forefront of inter faith work in this country to build bridges with other faiths. It is a matter of deep regret that today’s sensationalist reporting in the Times obscure this fact. Of course, if individual preachers make unlawful comments then they should be properly charged and brought before a court of law. There can be no justification in Islam for making bigoted comments about people of others faiths. What we would not accept, however, is this ongoing trial by media of mainstream British Muslim organisations and Movements. The Deobandi movement is not a sect, as the Times ignorantly described them today. They are a well established and respected educational movement’, said Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, the Secretary General of The Muslim Council of Britain.
It would have served The Times well if it had consulted the leading academic expert on the subject, Prof. Barbara Metcalf, who notes, `none of the Deobandi movements has a theoretical stance in relation to political life’. She adds that the Taliban consolidated their position by `engaging with the emerging ethnic polarities in the country and seeking allies wherever they could find them’. There was a time when The Times could be relied on for balance. Alas no more.
1. The Muslim Council of Britain is an umbrella British Muslim organisation with over 500 mosques and charities affiliated to it. Its membership is broad-based, reflecting the many rich traditions of Islam. The MCB recognises the validity of Islam’s different theological branches and legal schools.
2. Prof Barbara Metcalf is an American expert on South Asia. The quotes are from her book ‘Islamic Revival in British India Deoband’.