In Britain there are probably around two million Muslims, and a poll shows that seven percent think suicide attacks on civilians can be justified — that means 140,000 potential sympathizers of terror. Yet at the same time, there is the example of Jabron Hashmi. He was born in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, a hotbed of political Islam, 45 minutes from the Afghan border. Aged twelve, he came to England with his parents, and apparently always hoped to join the army. Now he is the first British Muslim to be killed by the Taliban on active service in Afghanistan. An uncle called him “a hero of Islam” and one brother said, “he was fiercely proud of his Islamic background and he was equally proud of being British.” One individual step forward, then, against a rather collective step backwards.
Contrasts of the kind exist all over the Muslim world. Women are now preaching in mosques in Egypt, and proving popular. True, the congregations are all female, but the turbaned clerics of Al Azhar, Cairo’s Islamic university, haven’t condemned them to death. In Morocco, a group of 50 women have just graduated from a course qualifying them to preach and be experts in Islamic law. Professor Amina Wudud, having lead Friday prayers at a mosque in New York, is now out with a book called Inside The Gender Jihad on women and Islam. Yet in Nigeria, a 14-year-old girl walked into a mosque and allegedly left a letter insulting both the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus Christ. She was immediately arrested by vigilantes and handed to the police. When Muslim youths then stormed the station, the police fled, and the teenager was killed. But that’s more than a step backwards, it’s a total failure of the society.