Faisal Bodi of the Islamic Human Rights Commission says the singing of the national anthem by Muslims is a demeaning act of servility and surrender and should be condemned.
I’ve been reflecting on the sudden penchant among Muslims for paying their respects to the recently departed Queen by singing the national anthem.
In the Islamic spirit of Husn al-Dhann I have tried to find justifications for intoning what is essentially a prayer for the monarch. But try as I might I can only find strong reasons for Muslims NOT to sing the anthem.
Firstly, as head of state the monarch embodies all the cruel atrocities and plunder carried out under the British Empire. Granted, this particular queen wasn’t personally responsible for any of that but the institution itself has, at least indirectly, caused immeasurable historical suffering.
These days the monarchy’s role may be mainly ceremonial but there is no escaping the fact that it rests on ill-gotten and blood soaked gains.
Secondly, the national anthem is not a religiously neutral song. It is believed to have originated in 1745 with the Hanoverian supporters of King George against the Jacobite uprising led by Bonnie Prince Charlie. Incidentally, the line “God Save the King” comes from the Old Testament Book of Samuel and refers to King Saul.
The British monarch cannot be divorced from his/her role as the head of the Anglican Church. Since the 16th century they have been conferred with the title of “Defender of the Faith.” Their principal duty is to preserve the primacy of the Church of England. When the national anthem came into being it was this aspect of the monarch’s duty that his supporters were striving to uphold against the more absolutist monarchical ambitions of the Jacobites.
The anthem seems all the more problematic when you consider its fourth line and its second verse:
Send him victorious…
O Lord our God arise,
Scatter our enemies,
And make them fall!
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix,
God save us all!
Given that this anthem was and is sung as a patriotic ode when Britain has invaded Muslim countries or gone to war with them, it is grotesque to see Muslims belting it out particularly on masjid premises.
Prince Charles has made no secret of his desire to be the protector of all faiths and do everything he can to foster a climate in which other faiths can thrive. We should support him in this endeavour but we can do so without involving ourselves in any of the Christian trappings.
Finally, I view the current love-in with the monarchy to be a symptom of the faux grief manufactured by an establishment media with the aim of shoring up support for the ruling elites at a time of unprecedented danger to their survival.
The potential for huge social convulsions created by the so-called “cost of living crisis” risks imperiling the political status quo and the Queen’s death has provided a timely opportunity to distract from their failings and rally support around an establishment emblem.
For some Muslims who have been beaten into second class citizenship over the last two decades it is being seized on as a chance to affirm their loyalty to the state, which has always been a sine qua non for gaining mainstream acceptance.
It’s an embarrassingly demeaning act of servility and surrender and should rightly be condemned as such.
CORRECTION: This article originally said the line “God Save the King” comes from the Old Testament Book of Samuel and refers to Jesus. After a reader pointed out that the reference was actually to King Saul, we amended the article.