The always interesting British TV station Channel 4 has recently started a 3-part documentary called Extremely British Muslims. I will let you finish rolling your collective eyes at the thought of yet another documentary trying to understand what us Muslims in the west are really all about, but this one is interesting to say the least.

Forget the non-controversy about Channel 4 using on-screen subtitles when people with strong Birmingham accents were talking. Forget also the first episode that focused on some rather strange and awkward opinions on matrimonial matters. Instead focus on the second episode which concentrated on young Muslim men growing up in Birmingham.

It was this episode that made the incisive point that our fathers came to this country and tried to integrate as much as possible, despite the high level of resistance shown by many locals, whereas their children (first born generation Muslims like myself) on the whole are trying to separate, despite the high level of encouragement and desire from many locals who want us to integrate (although Trump and the rise of the far right may see this trend well and truly bucked). The episode also had some very interesting quotes from Waz, someone who is now practicing his faith but most definitely was not in the past.

You will also find below quotes from and links to 3 articles that are well worth reading. As always, enjoy!

The best quotes from episode 2 of Extremely British Muslims

Waz on the role of mosques…

Narrator: Do you think the mosques are doing enough to get through to young Muslim men?
Waz: You’ve got to think, what is a mosque? It’s not a school, it’s not something that’s got funds, that’s got staff, that’s got people sitting there waiting to do something, and it’s their job to do something. It doesn’t work like that. If everybody is sitting around waiting for somebody else to do it, when we’re talking about “the mosque, the mosque,” we are the mosque, you know, we are part of the mosque. We are our local mosque. It represents us and we should represent it. So if the kids are being let down, in terms of what they can and can’t do at a mosque, that’s our shortcoming. – from the Channel 4 program Extremely British Muslims, Episode 2, Mar 2017

Waz on the link between stereotyping and segregation…

If you keep telling them that they are a certain thing and you get that stereotype around you, you know these kids yeah, they start to believe it. If you make these kids feel victimised then you’re going to make them feel different. And if they feel different then they’re going to separate themselves from everybody else. And I know we’ve got to do more too. We can’t just withdraw. We’ve got to work harder to mix and my community needs to be more outward looking. If you call segregation, what’s going to happen is we’re not going to talk to each other, and if we won’t talk to each other and we don’t know each other, we’re not going to understand each other. It’s just going to make us grow even further apart. And we’re going to start to dislike each other. Forget getting on, we’re going to start dislike each other. – from the Channel 4 program Extremely British Muslims, Episode 2, Mar 2017

Waz on seeing the light…

For me it was like, it happened literally overnight, where I was in an apartment and you could, like, see a lot of Birmingham. And I remember that night, like, just breaking down into tears and thinking about my whole life. And I just wished that I could go back to all the people that I knew that weren’t here no more or that ended up in jail, and say to them that “You know what? It’s really not worth it.” So I thought where am I going to find happiness? And I just felt it in me, I just felt like it was right, like I need to turn back to Allah, I need to turn back to God. That’s the only way that I am going to be happy inside. – Waz, former bad boy, now practicing Muslim, from the Channel 4 program Extremely British Muslims, Episode 2, Mar 2017

Waz on the biggest gang in the world…

Narrator: Who, through your eyes, are the sort of people that might join ISIS?
Waz: You’ve got people that are sort of like ex-bad boys, that still have that gang mentality. You know what I’m saying? And if you want to be in a gang, what’s the biggest gang in the world right now? It’s ISIS. ISIS is the biggest, most baddest gang in the world right now. They think they can get an AK and get forgiven by God at the same time. And a lot of these guys, I’ll be honest with you, it’s because they don’t have friends or, you know, they must have a messed up childhood or something like that and they’re thinking “You know, finally I can be part of something. I can be part of something powerful. And I can be part of this gang, and yeah, brotherhood! And yeah, we’re together and nobody can mess with us. Yeah, and I’m going to go to Syria and Iraq.” And they’re just trying to get a sense of purpose in life. – from the Channel 4 program Extremely British Muslims, Episode 2, Mar 2017

Mark Steel on how Islamophobia can be rather silly…

The temptation is to assume he can’t keep getting away with this, as he’s not playing by the rules. But he’s rewritten the rules. And politicians everywhere will want to copy him. – Mark Steel, 09 Mar 2017, from the article America Finally Has A Leader Who Doesn’t Rely On ‘Evidence’ To Back Up His ‘Claims’ –– How Refreshing

The way us Muslims pray daily is actually good for the joints…

The repetitive physical movements of Muslim prayer rituals can reduce chances of lower back pain if performed properly, according to new research. The study found that not only does quiet prayer eliminate physical anxiety, but that proper knee and back angles can be an effective clinical treatment…The kneeling posture, known as sujud, apparently increases the elasticity of joints…“Prayer can eliminate physical stress and anxiety, while there is also research that indicates prayer rituals can be considered an effective clinical treatment of neuro-musculoskeletal dysfunction.” – Peter Walker, 09 Mar 2017, from the article Islamic Prayer Ritual Reduces Back Pain And Increases Joint Elasticity, Study Finds

What Islam could teach Trump about democracy and freedom…


Trump and his administration could learn a thing or two about American values such as freedom and equality from the religion and people they so hate.
In Islam’s founding story, after Muhammad’s death, it was unclear who would lead the nascent Muslim community. Typically, succession disputes make for great drama. This one, however, was more C-SPAN than “Game of Thrones.” Rather than intrigue or bloodshed, the believers pursued democracy. Only by the people’s consent, they reckoned, could a ruler justly be named and a community freely governed. They chose Abu Bakr, one of Muhammad’s companions. His inauguration speech, according to one of Muhammad’s earliest biographers Ibn Ishaq, was brief (though we’re not sure how big the crowd was). It went something like this: “I’m no better than any of you. Only obey me if I do right. Otherwise, resist me. Loyalty means speaking truth. Flattery is treason. No human, but God alone is your lord.”
Abu Bakr sought to guard the people against domination by making himself accountable to them. The people obliged, securing their liberty. They could call him out at any time, and he had to listen. He even had to ask their permission for new clothes. His successor Umar carried the legacy forward. Publicly rebuked by a woman for overstepping the law, Umar responded: “That woman is right, and I am wrong! It seems that all people have deeper wisdom and insight than me.”
This spirit of accountability and liberty would become enshrined as a religious duty in Islam, though as with any tradition, these values are not always upheld. Nonetheless, every Muslim has the obligation to command right and forbid wrong, correcting and resisting any who betray justice, rulers included. That Abu Bakr and Umar are paradigms of good Islamic rule for well over 1 billion Sunni Muslims tells us something about this tradition’s love for freedom. – David Decosimo, 08 Mar 2017, from the article What Islam Could Teach Donald Trump About Democracy And Freedom

For Islam and the American founders alike, freedom is about protection from arbitrary power and rule by law, not the caprices of men. Theirs is a vision where citizens stand not in slavish deference to masters but on equal terms with all. This vision animates our whole system of governance…This vision is under threat in a way it rarely has been in our history. It is not under threat by Islam, but by Donald Trump and his administration. – David Decosimo, 08 Mar 2017, from the article What Islam Could Teach Donald Trump About Democracy And Freedom

Trump wants to return America to its former greatness. But when it comes to freedom, Ghazali and Abu Bakr have far more in common with Madison and Lincoln than with terrorists and tyrants who claim Islam’s mantle. For that matter, they have far more in common with this country’s great lovers of liberty than does the current president. So, instead of banning Muslims, Trump should listen to them: He might learn something about liberty and equality, two values he seems not to have learned to love from our own nation’s history or the Constitution he swore to uphold. – David Decosimo, 08 Mar 2017, from the article What Islam Could Teach Donald Trump About Democracy And Freedom

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