Archive for February, 2011

Can Religious and Secular Values Complement each other in the Public Arena?

February 17, 2011

Bismillah. Received from the Christian-Muslim Forum.

*Can Religious and Secular Values Complement each other in the Public Arena?*

A Conversation between Julian Bond (Director, Christian Muslim Forum), Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra (MCB and President, Christian Muslim Forum), Peter Cave (Chair, Humanist Philosophers)

The evening began with a welcome from Marianne Zeck to the beautiful and atmospheric St Ethelburga’s Centre .

Each of the three panellists then set the scene, giving their own initial response to the question.

Julian Bond

As a Christian, Julian was optimistic that as both religious and secular communities have their share of visionary people and activists, they can work together to propose change. Concern for issues of justice and care for the marginalised is central to Jesus’ message, and his ‘manifesto’ issued at his sermon at Nazareth proclaiming the words of Isaiah ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor, ..liberty to the captives….sight to the blind’ is one which suggests that social justice ought to be at the heart of Christian action.

Read more here.

Peter Cave

Peter was next to speak, and picking up on the question of values asked ‘does the meta-value which enhances the quality of our society come from the secular humanist or the religious side?’ For Peter this was a rhetorical question. He asserted that we should have some values imposed on us (if we are not be at the mercy of rape, pillage, murder etc), and was keen to disassociate Humanism from any charge of relativism, subjectivism or nihilism. Peter went on to explore ‘What are religious values? What are secular values?’

Read more here.

Ibrahim Mogra

Ibrahim’s response was a strong assertion that he feels that as a Muslim he has a slight advantage in following the common universal human values we all share, as he is encouraged to put these into practice and encouraged that his Creator commands him to do this. Ibrahim argued that the belief in reward for doing this, is the push and some people might need this when tempted to overlook the needs of their fellow human beings.

Read more here.

Barbara Usher

Some Reflections

I am grateful to Barbara Usher (one of the Forum’s volunteers) for producing the above account which captures much of what was said. I am all too conscious that the conversation was only beginning and that we are not quite on a level playing field together, in fact sometimes we are trying to argue the other team off the pitch!

Read more here.

Julian Bond


Christian Muslim Forum



February 15, 2011

With the Name of God, All-Merciful, Most Merciful


My lecture on “Islam & Evolution” at Al-Tawhid Mosque in Leyton, London, Saturday 22nd January 2011, was disrupted by a small mob of fanatics who added weight to Darwin’s theory by behaving like a bunch of baboons.  They did not allow me to finish what I was saying, and one of them said openly and publicly that I should be killed.

I would like to reiterate the following for the umpteenth time, since many vicious lies and slanderous statements are circulating in some sections of society:

  1. As Allah revealed to us in the Qur’an, He created Adam, peace be upon him, the first human, from earth, or clay and water.  He created Him with His Two Hands, breathed His Spirit into him, taught him the Names of everything and asked the angels to bow down to him, thus confirming Adam’s pre-eminent status in creation.  All of humanity is honoured by being descendants of such a noble and dignified soul.  The creation of Adam, peace be upon him, was miraculous like that of ‘Isa b. Maryam (Jesus Christ), peace be upon him. There is a consensus of the Muslims on these matters.
  2. Science only deals with the “how” of creation, based on empirical evidence.  The theory of evolution, like any scientific theory, cannot be conclusively proved, but is open to falsification.  Scientists may adduce evidence in favour of one theory or the other.  Such issues remain a matter of debate amongst scientists.  It should be noted that, as asserted by Professor Jim al-Khalili in his newly-released book Pathfinders, the father of the scientific method is probably the great Muslim scientist al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham (known to Mediaeval Europe as Alhazen) rather than Roger Bacon who came centuries after him.  Muslims should be aware of the arguments about the scientific method and the philosopy of science that have continued ever since, including empiricism, positivism, Popper’s falsification test and Kuhn’s theory of paradigm shifts.
  3. Therefore, since any scientific theory must be debated on its own merits, the above disagreement is about interpretation or exegesis (tafsir) of the Qur’an, and not about fundamental matters of iman or ‘aqidah.  It is not a matter of iman or kufr, and people are free to accept or reject a particular scientific theory.  In particular, theologians who have no grounding in science, have no right to pronounce upon scientific subjects.  Any such fatwas about science from people ignorant of the subject matter are null and void.
  4. I have never rejected the Qur’anic concept of Hijab (Veiling), contrary to certain lies, and have always argued that men and women must dress decently and modestly in public.  I have devoted at least one Friday sermon at Al-Tawhid Mosque to the subject in recent years.  When the Foreign Secretary of the time Mr. Jack Straw made inflammatory remarks about the niqab (face-veil) some years ago, I penned (roughly, quoting from memory) the following tongue-in-cheek poem, touching on the issue of Hijab (Veiling) at many levels, that was published by The Muslim Weekly, based in London:

    I say to the minister with a brain of straw,
    Complicit in Iraq’s blood-bath:
    Already devoid of any moral law,
    Now you stray even more from the path.

    You wish the women to remove their veils?
    By God, this is really rather dim:
    For the problem is not that they’re veiled from you,
    The problem is that we’re all veiled from Him.

May Allah guide us all to The Truth, which is one of His Beautiful Names.  Let Allah be our Witness.

Usama Hasan

London, 15th February 2011