Let our scholars think freely!

8th March 2011

The Islamic Society of Britain commends the bravery and honesty of Sheikh Usama Hasan, a contemporary scholar with traditional Islamic training, and stands by his right to free, intellectual debate. We condemn the vicious, irresponsible and hate-driven campaign to turn people against him.

Sheikh Usama Hasan, a long-standing London Imam, represents an important struggle of Muslims today. How do we generate an understanding of Islam that is both relevant to modern times and sincere to scripture? And how do we evaluate traditions that have grown over the centuries? This requires a creative and dynamic endeavour that must have intellectual freedom to operate. What is crucial here is not an opinion Sheikh Hasan may hold as a thoroughly qualified expert in the Islamic sciences, but that he is allowed the space to debate his views on Islam.

Usama Hasan has devoted himself to learning, teaching and critical thought, and given his all to so many people that have sought his help over the years. Yet a campaign of bullying and smearing seeks to undermine all of that, and stifle debate in the process. To make matters worse, the campaign against him is a particularly aggressive kind of censorship that attempts to strip an individual of their basic right to call themself a Muslim. This phenomenon of trying to ‘excommunicate’ someone from the faith, called takfir, is very dangerous and must be resisted.

At a time when British Muslims, along with Muslims generally the world over, are looking for credible, intelligent and contextual scholarly voices, we must all stand behind Sheikh Usama Hasan by exposing the hate driven campaign against him for what it is.

 

Notes:
1. We support all free speech, so long as it does not advocate hatred or incite violence.
2. The Islamic Society of Britain (ISB) was established in 1990 to support an increasingly confident generation of Muslims growing up in the UK. It was one of the first organisations that sought to evolve a uniquely British flavour of Islam. In order for this to happen the ISB felt that Muslims would have to think seriously about understanding their faith in a British context.
3. For any further details contact: Islamic Society of Britain, PO Box 42598, London, E1 1WN, Email: [email protected], Tel: 020 7247 8088.