When I was in Paris years ago, I happened to drive along the Left Bank of the Seine, emerging at the underpass where Lady Diana, the Princess of Wales, had died in an accident. There I saw dozens of Muslims aligned in the prayer position, turning their backs to the traffic and perilously close to being run over. Islam prohibits worship of that kind, considering that it smacks of polytheism. All over Muslim Africa, for instance, there are tombs of marabouts, holy men and saints, where the pious come to pray, but Islamists under the impulse of strict Wahhabi doctrine attack them and destroy any monuments if they can.
Poor Lady Diana was going out with a Muslim, one Dodi Fayed, when she was killed. Conspiracy theories at once sprang up that the mother of the future King of England was pregnant, and malign forces therefore murdered her rather than have to tolerate her giving birth to a Muslim child. A Muslim group in England published a pamphlet about the death of Lady Diana, and I couldn’t resist writing off for it. It proved innocuous. But I was entered as Brother Jones on their mailing list.
The latest catalogue from this group has reached me. This astonishing document of 48 pages advertises a website and what must be several hundred books and several hundred DVDs and CDs covering every aspect of Islam. Scores of these items refer to the Prophet with the regulation Peace Be Upon Him attached to his name as PBUH. The authors are Arabs or Pakistanis, with only about three or four having English surnames. Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has a title, How to Protect Yourself from Jinn and Shaytaan, I see, and also Ma’roof and Munkar, Enjoining What Is Right and Forbidding What Is Wrong, and of course The Power of Israel in the United States. No guesses about the contents.
Here is a completely self-enclosed world, with instruction on how to think about everything from spiritual matters to the treatment of women and the education of children, banking, language, superstition, history, and 9/11 (no guesses about those contents either). A flyleaf enclosed with the catalogue publicizes, in large letters, “The Greatest Weapon of a Muslim is not the Sword, the Gun, or the Bombs but Dawah [which means outreach]. We must train people to present true and balance [sic] Islam and open up the doors of our Mosques for Non-Muslims.” But there is no sign of outreach to others. The appeal is strictly to the faithful. This operation must be quite expensive, and they claim to be relying on voluntary contributions. Perhaps some Wahhabi or Islamic benefactor is paying for the outreach, but I imagine them to be sincere, with real dedication to propagating Islam and therefore keeping Brother Jones on the mailing list. A quite distinct and separate culture is taking root in the country.