Abdullah al-Andalusi debunks the propaganda peddled by Islamophobes in blaming Islam for “Asian” sexual grooming gangs.
In the UK, many newspapers and TV channels have drawn an inordinate amount of attention to the religion of criminals who engage in grooming young girls, they find on the street for sex, WHEN these criminals incidentally happen to be Muslim, or from a Muslim background. These gangs engage in drinking alcohol and getting girls drunk, feeding them drugs and passing them around for sex.
This curiously never happens when English non-Muslim men commit the same (if not worse or to a wider extent) crimes. This arises from Islamophobia (definition: not those who criticise Islam, but those who assert Muslims are a threat to non-Muslims, and prone to do evil to them, because ‘Islam’ apparently ‘commands’ Muslims to do evil to non-Muslims).
The Islamophobic organisation ‘Shariah Watch UK’ who enjoys media support and has some links to UK ministers, has been advocating that ‘child grooming sex gangs’ amongst the UK’s Asian are the result of the Shariah ‘permitting’ these gangs to molest and groom non-Muslim English girls.
Shariah Watch conveniently puts aside the cases where Asian Muslim girls from the same community have been groomed, molested and raped by these same gangs – I guess these facts just didn’t fit the picture they wanted.
What does the Shariah say about sexual grooming?
However, to make clear to anyone who has never heard of Islam before (for only those would need the following clarification) – there exist no interpretations of Islam that allow Muslims to have any sexual relations outside of any legally responsibility (e.g. marriage). And in order to obtain a marriage, the woman must consent, and her male guardian MUST be consulted (usually her father).
Additionally, a girl cannot be married against her will, nor can she be married until she reaches physical and mental maturity (which varies depending on social conditions – in the UK, I’d argue that these days, even 16 is too young for individuals to give full responsible mature consent – it can be observed that the culture in the West delays mental maturity – but the UK law allows it at that age).
These ‘grooming gangs’ not only break every single one of these fundamental Islamic principles – and therefore are criminals under Shariah, but they also imbibe alcohol and drugs or give to others to imbibe them – which only criminalises them further in the eyes of Islamic law. To say that Shariah condones or supports this, is not only the furthest one can be from the truth about Islamic law, but it is deliberately disingenuous and cooked up by hate-mongers engaging in the traditional European pastime of inciting fear and hatred against minorities who look different and have different cultures and customs.
The pornification of British culture
If any culture is to blame here, it is the culture followed by big celebrities like Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris, Gary Glitter, Chris Denning, MPs and politicians paedophile rings that appears to have been a long established phenomena in the UK (of whom the perpetrators are mainly NOT immigrants). If anything, the problem is that these ‘grooming gangs’ have integrated far too much – adopting the practices of the criminals in the countries they (or their parents) immigrated to! If immigrants adopt the law abiding practices of most people in the country they come to, wouldn’t we also expect that some would adopt the criminal practices of the host’s minority criminal element amongst the host country as well? It seems some people like to explain crime done by white non-Muslims as merely ‘a few bad apples’ yet if done in equal (or less) measure by Asian Muslims, then ‘it must be part of their Shariah’.
This is the very essence of Islamophobia, and no different to the SAME logic behind similar accusations that were made against Blacks, Irish, Jews and Catholics in ages past. I really hoped Europe would learn from its past mistakes – unfortunately, there is a lingering minority who like repeating history. It seems this is a recurring problem in the West due to tendencies within Secularism and Nationalism in countries with non-homogenous or immigrant populations.
The problem here is that the criminal ‘grooming gangs’ have their nominal (and therefore irrelevant) religion dragged to the fore and emphasised for Islamophobic purposes – despite being notably not from a wide variety of ethnic nationalities that constitute the Muslim community in the UK, but actually a very specific set of backgrounds. We don’t see Somalia grooming gangs, or Arab, Turkish or Persian grooming gangs – suggesting that the issue has NOTHING to do with Islam or the characteristic of being a Muslim.
In Asian culture (whether Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi) there is no justification or encouragement for child grooming for casual sex either, in fact, the problems of ‘Asian’ grooming gangs may well stem from the fact that Asian immigrant communities are the largest in the UK of all the other communities, and therefore large enough to actually maintain a closer-knit community that keeps a closer eye on their girls and boys – leaving the criminal element to have to go outside their own community to find girls and boys from comparatively not-so-close knit English communities to groom and attack. Their grooming of non-Asian girls is not for racial or religious reasons – but for opportunistic reasons. In cases where Asian girls are vulnerable, these gangs have no qualms against attacking them too.
It is the unfortunate modern Western culture (i.e. Individualism) of leaving young people to fend for themselves, or to roam around without sufficient parental or community supervision and protection, that has left them vulnerable to these predators. England has lost the traditions of its past, where an entire community raised and looked after each child. Now, selfishness and self-centredness has replaced old fashioned English values – values that Asian culture still possesses. What is Shariah Watch’s argument here? Would they prefer that Asian’s adopt a more Individualist approach to child grooming and engage in paedophile crimes as individuals (like most UK paedophiles do)? or perhaps Shariah Watch would be assuaged if Asian grooming gangs targeted more Asian Muslim girls to demonstrate their non-sectarian ‘goodwill’?
If anything I’d dare say Shariah could actually better deal with this very crime than has been done so far in the UK. Shariah would, for one, punish Muslims who drink alcohol, take drugs and go looking for casual sex with any women – let alone those who are underage.
Does the Shariah permit the taking of girls as “sex slaves”?
Some Islamophobes, in their desperate attempt to portray the criminal acts by Asian grooming gangs as connected to the Shariah, go as far as to make the absurd claim that somehow child grooming for sex is condoned under the Islamic practice of slavery. The only reason they dared use this argument was only because they count on the ignorance of non-Muslims in the UK on what the Shariah says to get away with this false accusation. However, the first thing that should be immediately apparent is, these Islamophobes never cite any speech of an Islamic scholar anywhere in the world, nor any claim by any imprisoned criminal groomer that has ever defended their grooming that the girls in question were ‘their slaves’. It’s strange that Islamophobes come up with an argument about Shariah no Muslim has apparently heard, claimed or even thought of it!
Secondly, Islam does not encourage slavery, and it encourages Muslims to release slaves as an act of piety even. Islam brought rules to regulate the pre-Islamic practice of slavery, giving rights to slaves designed to phase out the practice, while making them protected and comfortable in the meantime – giving slaves rights to be given only reasonable amounts of work, fed and clothed equally with their owners, they could not beaten (if they were, they were entitled to receive instant freedom), they could not be insulted or humiliated, and they certainly could not be raped! Furthermore they could earn themselves out of slavery and buy back the cost the owners spent to purchase them – preventing the kinds of economic problems that could be caused by sudden abolition (as the U.S. encountered leaving the South economically hit for generations), not to mention the chaos of large numbers of former slaves being suddenly made homeless with their freedom, with no self-supporting resources. Suffice to say, Islam changed the practice of slavery to a form more resembling a legally-obligated live-in employee, who was part of the owners family, and therefore the Islamic regulation of ‘slavery’ does not bare any resemblance to the European ‘Enlightenment’ era concept which caused mass misery, nor the Ancient world’s concept.
Thirdly, in order to phase out slavery, Islam prohibited anyone (whether Muslim or non-Muslim) from making free people into slaves (i.e. people who didn’t start off as slaves when Islam came). The only exception to this rule were enemy soldiers captured only on the battlefield (who could be made to do work to repair the war damages they’ve caused) – but usually they were released after the war or exchanged or ransomed. Suffice to say, little girls (or grown women) in the UK ARE NOT soldiers, nor is the UK a battlefield!
To demonstrate what happens to Muslims who break this rule under Shariah (if Shariah was actually applied): Just after the Prophet Muhammed (saw) died, in an area a Muslim army had just conquered from a hostile enemy in the Arabian peninsula, a Muslim soldier forcefully took a non-Muslim woman as a slave and raped her. When Muhammad’s companion, Umar (ra), who was Caliph and leader of the Muslims at the time heard of this, he ordered the non-Muslim woman set free and the Muslim soldier to be executed! So if the Shariah 1,400 years ago ordered the execution of Muslims who take the non-Muslim women (i.e. non-combatants) from enemy tribes as slaves – how much more does the Shariah prohibit Muslims from taking non-Muslim girls and women as slaves while living as a peaceful minority amongst them!? You decide.
European history repeating itself?
The only reason the Islamophobes own invented ‘fatwa’ that ‘Shariah’ permits child grooming is bandied about, is because non-Muslims generally do not know what the Shariah actually says. However, amongst Muslims, no one has ever claimed they can take a free woman or girl off the street and groom them because they are now their ‘slaves’. This is not only a horribly false fabrication, but a dangerous one that puts Muslim lives in danger of attack by misinformed angry readers of Shariah Watch and newspapers.
Had Shariah Watch targeted Jews and made the same claims against them – that supposedly the Torah and Talmud allows Jews to sexually groom non-Jewish Children (which also isn’t true as it isn’t true of Shariah) – they would immediately and rightfully be banned for anti-Semitism.
In a sad twist of irony, this was one of the arguments the Nazis used against Jews in 30s Germany, claiming the Jewish Talmud allows Jews to rape Aryan women and children.
It seems Shariah Watch are continuing a well-established tradition.
The only real questions that should be asked here, are, when will Muslims get the same rights given to others in the UK? For how long will the injustices against Minorities in the past be allowed to repeat themselves in the West?
The worst groomers of children are…
If Shariah Watch and other Islamophobes were truly concerned about the grooming of children for sex, they should turn their attention to the worst culprits before cherry picking Asian grooming gangs – namely, the fashion industry and modern Secular Western culture. If child grooming means that a child is sexualised by the way its treated, or the behaviours that are being inculcated in it, then the fashion industry are the biggest groomers of them all – with children’s clothes increasingly having lewd labels on them, mini-skirts, high heels and even padded bikini tops for children as young as seven! The materialistic Secular culture in the West treats Children playing them with advertisement’s with sexualised overtones and getting them into alcohol(isn’t this what the grooming gangs were doing?) treating them as commodities and consumers. This horrific grooming by the fashion industry has led to an image among children who shouldn’t have to be experiencing this. The sexualisation of children has led to a commensurate rise in early sexual intercourse, between children as young as 11, and early teen pregnancy.
While all criminals who groom children should be hunted down and punished, this is a job for the police (with community help). However, hate mongering against all Muslims or some other vulnerable immigrant minority to be persecuted is not only unjust and wrong, but actually misses the biggest perpetrators. If they should be a nationwide awareness campaign launched, it should rather be at the paedophile MPs, celebrities and an entire fashion industry rather than scapegoating minorities – perhaps the Islamophobes should look a little more closer to their own Secular materialistic culture before attacking anyone else’s.
Do not look for the splinter in another’s eye, while missing the log in one’s own.
Abdullah al Andalusi is the founder of the Muslim Debate Initiative. He is an international lecturer, thinker, speaker and debater on Islamic and Muslim issues.