The British Prime Minister declared that we are involved in a war of ideas, but has as good as admitted early defeat by announcing a ban upon a peaceful Islamic political party: Hizb ut-Tahrir.This surprised us. For fifty years we persevered in non-violent political and intellectual struggle with many crude and despotic regimes that did not hold back from arresting, torturing and killing our members throughout the Muslim world.We had not thought that a British prime minister could on the one hand avow freedom of speech as a principle worth sending armies around the world for, only to end up fighting our ideas, not with ideas of his own, but with physical repression.
Blair had warned Britain of a fight, not only against terror, but against the ideology of terror. Should not those who call for terror be opposed physically, even if the “mongers of hate” do not actually carry out the terrorist acts themselves? We, as Muslims and citizens of Britain, do accept the logic of this argument and we denounced the terror attacks on innocent Londoners on the same day they occurred.We also denounced the previous attacks upon the citizens of Madrid and New York, but we never differentiated between terrorism perpetrated by individuals or groups and terrorism perpetrated by states. If not directly, are we guilty of indirectly inciting terrorism by radicalising the Muslim youth of Britain through our call for the return of the Caliphate system of ruling?
This is an important question and it is very strange that the media, and even the British Prime Minister – siding with the populist papers such as the Sun and the Daily Mail rather than the advice of the Home Office, accepted the link with so little scrutiny. Some Muslim groups had called for an independent enquiry into the London bombings, but the Prime Minister demonstrated his understanding of democracy by ignoring the advice of Muslims, other political parties and senior civil servants. In addition he has openly challenged the legal profession. Notwithstanding the lack of consultation, the matter of motivation for home grown terrorism is surely so important to the fabric of British society that it deserves to be tackled correctly, after thorough study rather than upon the absolutist whim of a disgruntled Mr Blair.
We perceive that it is the bloody reality of colonial interference, brought into Muslim homes by the media, which created anger amongst Muslims. So is colonialism the indirect cause of terrorism, or is it media reporting? Will Mr Blair next ban the media from reporting Muslim casualty figures or showing images of the victims of cluster bombing in Iraq or Afghanistan on the grounds that this will make Muslims angry? Will he step down from office because he himself has angered Muslims by, amongst other things, lying about Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction? What distinguishes Hizb ut Tahrir is that it offers a positive solution to the problem of colonialism. We are confident that our peaceful political and intellectual work towards political and intellectual goals will very soon bear fruit in the Muslim world, with or without a ban in Britain. If the British Prime Minister has the resolve to persecute members of Hizb ut tahrir to the same extent as his allies in Uzbekistan and Egypt then let him know that as our members continued with unswerving dedication to the path of peaceful Islamic politics in those countries so too will they persevere, in ever growing numbers, here in Britain.
Facts about Hizb ut-Tahrir: Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Aim
In the Muslim world our political aim is the re-establishment of the Islamic Caliphate. Our vision of the Islamic Caliphate is as an independent state having an elected and accountable ruler, an independent judiciary, political parties, the rule of law and equal rights for minority groups. Citizens of the Caliphate have every right to be involved in politics and accounting the ruler in which the role of the ruler (Khalif) is to be a servant of the masses governing them with justice.
Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Method of Work
Hizb ut-Tahrir was established in 1953 as a non-violent Islamic political party with the objective of establishing Islam in state and society in the Muslim world underpinned by the support of the masses. This work was not welcomed by the unelected dictators and despots who rule the Muslim world without tolerating dissent. As a result our members have been silenced, imprisoned, tortured and even killed for their beliefs. Throughout all of this and up until the current day our members have never resorted to armed struggle or violence as a way of bringing about political change. Resilience in the face of intense oppression comes from the passionate belief of our members that societies do not change through coercion or violence, but through intellectual advancement, debate and dialogue.
Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Position on Recent Events
Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Work in the UK
Although our primary political aim is the re-establishment of the Caliphate, we are not working to establish such a state in the UK. In the UK our work with the Muslim community is focused on directing Muslims to make a positive contribution to society whilst preserving their Islamic identity.Our members are the embodiment of this
We also work to direct the sentiments of Muslims about events in the Muslim world into non-violent politics – this channels the anger and frustration with events in the Muslim world into positive political work. Our activities including public protests, petitions, conferences, seminars and roundtable discussions have been attended by
In recent times we have held panel discussions with non-Muslim politicians, thinkers and personalities. These events have helped to break the seemingly inevitable cycle of intellectual entrenchment.
Furthermore,we believe the Muslim community with her Islamic values and culture can contribute a lot in solving many of the social problems affecting Western society such as racism, alcohol and drug abuse, family breakdown, sexual abuse and the decline in morality.
Does the Party Incite Others?
We reject the charge made by some that the party though non violent itself, incites others to commit violent acts. This pre-supposes that in its opposition to western foreign policy, the party does not provide a detailed methodology to channel the inevitable anger and frustration that is generated: it quite plainly does.To ban the
Proscribing Hizb ut-Tahrir Will Set a Dangerous Precedent
While it is undoubtedly the case that any nation must protect its security, we do not feel that holding an entire community responsible for the actions of a few will be productive.We tend to agree with Lord Hoffmann when he said, “The real threat to the life of the nation … comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these.”
By banning a non-violent Islamic political movement with a 50 year plus history of non-violence we are descending down a very slippery slope. It will lead many to question the talk of freedom of speech, tolerance, people power, human rights and democracy. If we descend down this slippery slope then it will not be the rules that will have changed, but society.
We do not expect you to agree with our ‘politics’, but having a different view evidences courage, a thought through position and an unwillingness to “go with the flow” which is all too prevalent in politics today.
Dialogue with Hizb ut-Tahrir
While the world is shrinking with the growing pace of communication, transport and trade, we cannot allow barriers between people to be raised and fortified. With this in mind, you are invited to meet with us to discuss these matters further.We are happy to answer your questions, allay your fears and accept your criticisms in the best tradition of political debate and discourse.
What others have said about Hizb ut-Tahrir
“Hizb ut-Tahrir is a completely non-violent organisation.”
“…it advocates the restoration of the Islamic caliphate. It differs from jihadi groups which share this objective in abstaining from violent activity.”
“Hizb ut-Tahrir [HT] is an independent political party that is active in many countries across the world. HT’s activities centre on intellectual reasoning, logic arguments and political lobbying. The party adheres to the Islamic Shariah law in all aspects of its work. It considers violence or armed struggle against the regime, as a method to re-establish the Islamic State, a violation of the Islamic Shariah.”
“Hizb ut-Tahrir – Lines to take if extensive coverage is given in the media: Freedom of thought and speech key element of our society. Our tradition that there is a place for those who disagree with the way we do things – unless they espouse violence as a way to achieve their ends.”
We have yet to see convincing evidence that Hizb ut-Tahrir as an organisation advocates violence or terrorism. Nor are we aware of any co- operation between it and Al Qaeda.”
“It will be impossible to see Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organisation. If Hizb ut-Tahrir resorts to violence then it can be described as a terrorist organisation. Further more Hizb ut-Tahrir, as it stands, cannot be proscribed as a terrorist organisation.”
“Hizb ut-Tahrir does not advocate a violent overthrow of Muslim regimes… Instead HT believes in winning over mass support, believing that one day these supporters will rise up in peaceful demonstrations and overthrow the regimes of Central Asia.”
“Hizb ut-Tahrir quite explicitly disavows violence as its means for achieving power.”
“Hizb ut-Tahrir has shown dissatisfaction on the policies of the [Pakistan] government which is the right of each and every citizen…I am unable to understand as to how distribution of these pamphlets in the general public was termed as terrorism or sectarianism.”
“Ata Abu Rushta, spokesperson for the Hizb ut-Tahrir, Liberation Party in Jordan, a party seeking to re-establish the Islamic Caliphate, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in February by the State Security Court for lesemajesty under Article 195(1) of the Penal Code in connection with an interview he had given to the newspaper al-Hiwar.The statements on which the charges were based did not advocate violence.”
What others have said about the proposed proscription of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain
I agree with the two Muslim MPs who oppose the banning of Hizb ut-Tahrir (Islamist clerics face treason charges, August 8). As a scholar who has some knowledge of their operations in the UK and abroad, I am convinced their modus operandi is through traditional political campaigning, not violence. Believing that nation states in the Middle East are artificial creations of western powers to divide Muslims and exploit oil resources, they seek social justice through the formation of a single Islamic state that serves the poor rather than corrupt clients of foreign powers. They argue that violence cannot be used to take control of the state, but the state can use the military to defend itself against other states.
As a political geographer and Christian socialist, I believe their historical analysis is correct and their conclusion wellreasoned. I cannot share their vision, for it ultimately maintains the Quranic commitment to just war theory that is as much part of the Middle East’s problems as the variants deployed by George Bush and Tony Blair. However, they are not terrorists and parliament must resist this unreasonable attack on freedom of speech.
Dr Nick Megoran
“Banning Hizb ut-Tahrir is certainly not the solution and may well prove to be counterproductive.We understand that Hizb ut-Tahrir in the United Kingdom are an avowedly non-violent group.”
Tony Blair has said that he wishes to ban ‘extremist’ Muslim organisations including Hizb ut-Tahrir, under new antiterrorism laws.While we do not necessarily agree with their politics, Middlesex University Students’ Union supports the right of Hizb ut-Tahrir to meet and operate on campus within our union and opposes this proposed ban.
Keith Shilson, President, Middlesex University Students’ Union
The government’s measures must not infringe upon the rights and freedoms of its citizens. Proscribing groups that are understood to be non-violent is certainly a step in the wrong direction. Hizb-ut-Tahrir is clearly understood to be a non-violent organisation with strong and vocal opinions which Muslim community may agree or disagree with.
This does not warrant a ban on this group as such actions will only be counterproductive.
Wakkas Khan – President
Commenting on the Prime Minister’s plans to deport foreign nationals and proscribe the Muslim political party, Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (HT), Mr Faradhi said “in a democracy people are tried and prosecuted through the due processes of the law, not exported to other countries, particularly those which torture there own people. In a democracy legitimate political dissent is allowed, non-violent groups are tolerated. HT in the UK, to my knowledge, is a non-violent political group and proscribing it will be counterproductive; it will give a green light to despotic leaders in the Muslim world to silence political dissenters.”
Musleh Faradhi, President of Islamic Forum Europe
MAB also extremely concerned by the decision of the Prime Minster to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir. Despite the fact that MAB has constantly had major disagreement with Hizb ut-Tahrir, banning HT will serve no cause and could prove counter productive.
The Muslim Association of Britain
Respect opposes the banning of the Hizb ut Tahrir organisation, despite the fact that Respect profoundly disagrees with this organisations politics.
Respect Party, 05/08/2005
The announcement by Tony Blair that he intends to ban the Islamic political group Hizb ut Tahrir should be of concern to all democrats.While we disagree with much of the politics of the group, it has publicly argued against the London bombings.There is no evidence whatever that it is committed to violence or terrorism.There can be no justification for such a ban.
Stop the War Coalition
Hizb ut-Tahrir is to be proscribed. If necessary, powers to proscribe terrorist organisations are to be extended – presumably into the realms of non-terrorist extreme political parties. I certainly have very little in common with this organisation. But it is anathema to democracy to ban non-violent political organisations, however extreme. Surely it is unwise to emulate the banning tendencies of Middle Eastern regimes that radicalised generations of dissenters by similar policies. In months and years to come, will we see the banning of extreme rightwing or leftwing political parties?
Hizb ut-Tahrir is Not a Conveyer Belt for Terrorism
The proposal to ban Hizb ut Tahrir rests upon the claim that Hizb ut Tahrir is a staging post or “conveyor belt” for terrorists. This claim was introduced by an article from Zeyno Baran, director for international-security and energy programs at the Nixon Centre (US): “The Road from Tashkent to the Taliban”. The full text of the reply from Hizb ut Tahrir Britain to the Nixon Center is republished below.
Dear Ms Baran,
I read your recent article, “The road from Tashkent to the Taliban,” with interest because it presented conclusions from a conference about Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Islamic political party of which I am a member, and was published by the Nixon Center from which perceptive analysis might be expected. Furthermore, your visit to London a few months ago, where we met and discussed at some length, was an opportunity to assist you in arriving at informed opinions regarding Hizb ut-Tahrir and the plight of thousands of our members in Uzbek torture camps.
I was soon disappointed, however, by the article’s conflations, and its opening conjectures, which effortlessly transformed, as the paragraphs slipped by, into accepted facts. Along the way surprising charges were made against us; hatred, racism and anti-Semitism. I suggest that future conferences about us would be better served by having someone from Hizb ut-Tahrir present. I for one would be happy to oblige. Meanwhile, as Tom Paine once wrote, “It is often better, to pass some things over” and so, in deference to his wisdom, I will limit my response to the central argument of your article – that Hizb ut-Tahrir is a conveyor belt for terrorists.
First though, I must tell you that in one important respect I envy you your rare privilege.You are the director for international-security and energy programs within a centre that offers in depth thought and analysis, to a nation not only with the power to act, but more importantly with the moral conviction that its form of government, freely chosen, was built upon a set of declared thoughts; framed by Thomas Jefferson and approved by congress on the 4th July 1776. One year later John Jay expressed his sense of the blessing of a government based upon the choice of intellect; “The Americans are the first people whom Heaven has favoured with an opportunity of deliberating upon, and choosing, the forms of government under which they shall live.” Despite being labelled a terrorist, your first President fought, Jefferson’s eloquent preamble etched into his heart, to liberate Americans from the arbitrariness of despotic British colonial rule. For the Declaration of Independence Americans can thank
Were the production of terrorists our goal,we would find it hard to compete with American foreign policy, which Muslims perceive in the same way that Americans perceive the brutal tactics of the English during the War of Independence. A picture, it is said, tells a thousand words; and Muslims have many pictures of US foreign policy in action, from many theatres, over many years. I tend to agree with a recent headline from Robert Fisk, “What better recruiting sergeant could Bin Laden have than the President of the United States.”
While it is true that Hizb ut-Tahrir is opposed to American colonial interests and dares to espouse an alternative ideology, it would be trivial to content ourselves with stirring up anti-American feeling because there is no shortage of such feeling already in the world today. The effort that we put into changing peoples thinking is to convey them towards a stated objective.We hope that it will lead there inevitably as if by standing upon a conveyor belt, and certainly we are not relying upon chance.We desire to see the fruit of our hard work, and that is why Hizb ut-Tahrir’s ideology and its method of work has been meticulously thought out and published in many detailed books; including one on the subject of thinking itself.We have published a draft constitution for the coming Khilafah State, and this along with many of our books is available in the English language.We too are working, in one sense, as your forefathers did, upon establishing governance based upon the ideas that we hold dear.We share the confidence of your own forbears and we share their words when we say; “we have it in our power to begin the world over again.We are not insulting the world with our fleets and armies, nor ravaging the globe for plunder. Beneath the shade of our own vines are we attacked; in our own houses, and on our own lands, is the violence committed against us.” Tom Paine was referring to the suffering of Americans, but Muslims in Falluja, Baghdad, Najaf, Ramallah or Gaza city could be forgiven for thinking that he was writing about them. Muslims are victims of what they perceive to be State terror, and for resisting occupation, are themselves called terrorists. Even those who have chosen to address the root cause of Muslim weakness by working politically and intellectually to re-establish the Khilafah are assaulted with the charge of terrorism – and for doing less than Tom Paine’s followers. They fought on the battlefield with muskets and flintlocks – Hizb ut-Tahrir on the other hand has sought only to fight thought with thought.
Some in America argue that we might become frustrated and follow the example of your ancestors who resorted to changing their government by violence.While we appreciate their resistance to colonial exploitation, it must be understood that our reality is different to theirs in one very important respect, and that necessitates a different course of action – which we have been explaining for over fifty years.
The Muslim countries are indeed afflicted with despotic arbitrary rulers, and notwithstanding the West’s active support for most of them they themselves are not foreign – they are sadly from amongst us and are supported by Muslim elites from amongst us. Furthermore, the Muslims who are suffering this despotism lacked, initially, a clear ideological thought as to the system that should replace them. Many Muslims have hitherto adopted one of two approaches.
The first, which acknowledges and strengthens the authority of illegitimate rule, has been to seek gradual reform through efforts to achieve power sharing. Hizb ut-Tahrir is not alone in believing that “to expend millions for the sake of getting a few vile acts repealed, and routing the present ministry only, is unworthy the charge, and is using posterity with the utmost cruelty; because it is leaving them the great work to do, and a debt upon their books, from which they derive no advantage.”
The second approach is violent insurrection against our rulers in Uzbekistan and other Muslim countries.This also we reject. While, for example, any wise observer can conclude that the US will probably, in the face of adamant local resistance, leave Iraq, weakened by the experience; Muslims will still not have solved their own fundamental problem of stable progressive governance. Iraq, like all the other colonial creations was in a pitiful condition prior to the recent US invasion and faces the same prospect also after the removal of foreign occupation. Here is where our experience of despotism differs from yours, for we Muslims ourselves, notwithstanding foreign interference against us, have primarily to change our own society by changing the thought upon which society is built.
British readers will understand the distinction between government and society from the writings of John Locke. Americans will have found this concept expressed a century later by Tom Paine; “Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins.” Americans should not be blamed, however, for not knowing Hizb ut-Tahrir’s view of the distinction between society and government, and perhaps if they believe their president they would not expect Muslims even to hold a view about such things. They ought, however, to expect the experts from the Nixon Center to know Hizb ut-Tahrir’s political philosophy before they seek to guide American foreign policy further into the abyss.
Whoever studies our literature will know that we too distinguish between society and government, and, that while we seek a change of government, it is society that is the object of our work.This important distinction drives our equanimity towards submissive power sharing and violent insurrection, both of which we reject, as the one serves to strengthen the corrupt thoughts and emotions that define society while the other bypasses society in order to place seized power upon a foundation of mere sand. We seek to establish the Khilafah form of government upon a foundation of firm insightful acceptance by Muslim society.We also believe in the necessity of Khilafah for the protection of humanity, and that the world will nevertheless challenge this new State and will rightly expect Muslims to explain their ideology. No one at the Nixon Center should feel patronized if I quote, for the benefit of a wider audience, the first sentence from the first of many books that our members, from Britain, Uzbekistan or elsewhere, are obliged to study and live by if they wish to remain in our Party, “Man progresses as a result of his thoughts…”
Our members across the globe strive for the intellectual elevation of society, and one of our fundamental concepts is the adherence to the Islamic legislative texts in all areas of life. It was impossible to replace the tyrannical rulers in our countries when the society understood that the rituals of worship had to be carried out according to the Islamic texts but failed to grasp the importance of adhering to these same texts in political and economic matters. It would also make nonsense of our work to clarify to the society the details of Islam’s political system, while ignoring its own method for gaining political power.We defined this method in great detail, deriving its legitimacy from the peaceful efforts of the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to spread his ideology to all sectors of society and to pursue the acquisition of support and authority from the influential leaders of his day. How could we forsake our own ideology by ignoring the prophetic method for change? For this, he was abused and banished for a time by the society he sought to change. Some of his followers were tortured – beaten, burned, crushed and humiliated, others were killed – both men and women. Nevertheless, he refused to take up arms against the regime and that is a legislative proof for us. Those humble Muslims, those heroes, those brave hearts who by the thousand have joined our work in Uzbekistan, who suffered most terrible torture at the hands of America’s most cruel ally, seeking only the pleasure of their Lord, are the last ones on the face of the earth from whom we expect betrayal and abandonment of the principles for which Hizb ut-Tahrir stands by conspiring in any way to create explosions in Tashkent.
Your article called for naming the war correctly as, “a war of ideologies” and at last I do agree with you. Our only weapon in this war is thought, and there is no better weapon than this for those possessed of confidence in the intellectual strength of their ideology.You, on the other hand, wrote, “the ideology of democracy and capitalism has failed in most of the Muslim world.” You noted the need for U.S. allies to “pay attention to socio-economic equality and injustice in their societies so that people do not turn to radical ideologies in the first place.” By addressing this point it is implied that poverty and bad conditions, rather than intellectual disagreement, are the main factors promoting opposition to US allies, but please consider this – there is no moral equivalence between the food that buys submission and the lack of food that prompts resentment. The one is a measure of cowardice the other of intelligence.Tom Paine has expressed it better than I could, “Hath your house been burnt? Hath your property been destroyed before your face? Are your wife and children destitute of a bed to lie on, or bread to live on? Have you lost a parent or a child by their hands, and yourself the ruined and wretched survivor? …The more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture.The rich are in general slaves to fear, and submit to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a Spaniel.” Is it possible that the truths that Americans have held for three centuries to be self-evident are in some way flawed, or are they forgotten relics like the quaint language of Tom Paine? The Nixon Center could better advise American policy makers that a nation that rose from humbler beginnings to later sell its products all over the world ought not now to presume that the whole world can be bought over to accept its ideology by the filling of stomachs.
I hope you now understand the basis of Hizb ut-Tahrir’s confidence in its ability to effect enduring change in the Muslim world without the need for a single bullet.We should meet and discuss these issues. Perhaps the ideology of democracy and capitalism has failed because we didn’t understand it correctly, or perhaps it is just wrong. Either way, honest discussion could bear more enduring fruit than socio-economic and political cosmetic surgery.While our ideology is, of course, very different from the secular ideology of the Nixon Center, we should at least agree upon basing arguments on a high standard of reasoned thought – rather than a mosaic of hearsay, assumptions and orphaned facts. Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.