Dominic Lawson: We should all adopt an Islamic lifestyle

I would happily see the entire male youth convert en masse to Islam, and wear their hair upside down

Share
Related Topics

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, the newly elected leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, has the potential to become a national treasure. He took up his office on the day of the Forest Gate raid, in which an apparently innocent Muslim was "accidentally" shot by one of 250 armed policemen. Dr Bari must have been tempted to make a dramatic impact in his new job by calling on British Muslims to demonstrate their anger, but instead he has discouraged such a response with his own painstakingly reasonable reaction - one which has been followed by the two brothers whose east London home was legally wrecked.

Dr Bari has, however, attracted criticism from some quarters after an interview he gave to mark his arrival as chief spokesman for Britain's Muslims. Unlike his somewhat opaque predecessor, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Dr Bari, as befits a former RAF man, was straightforward in stating his objectives. Britain's non-Muslim population, he said, had much to gain from the Islamic way: arranged marriages, for a start, which, he said, was "a wonderful system".

Gambling had become a terrible British habit, he went on: "All physical and mental energy should go into actually earning money, working for it." And above all, Britain would be better off without alcohol, which "is worse than other drugs; it destroys families".

I think that's a pretty good manifesto for Britain. Let's go through each of Dr Bari's propositions in turn. Don't all parents secretly want to be able to choose the people who marry our sons and daughters - or at the very least have a power of veto over unsuitable prospective sons and daughters in law? Our children, of course, would deeply resent such interference, but that doesn't actually mean that they would be right and we would be wrong. Such practices have long been abandoned among the non-Muslim British, although among Orthodox Jews it still exists, at least in a form sufficient to rule out dangerous fraternisation with Gentiles.

Although my own family's Jewishness was completely secular, I vividly remember a telephone call of over 25 years ago from what can only be described as the Kosher Nostra, attempting to fix me up with the right sort of girl. The theatre tickets had been bought and the dinner afterwards would be "taken care of". I suspected the hand of my maternal grandmother, who, while entirely irreligious, was still perturbed by my interest in non-Jewish women. I turned down the offered date, which must have been a great relief to the poor girl on the other side of the suggested transaction. But I understood my grandmother's intervention to be entirely well-meaning.

Dr Bari's strictures against gambling are less old-fashioned - indeed they are probably in line with the view of many secular social commentators. He is surely right to say that the modern British obsession with getting rich through gambling rather than hard work is a deeply depressing phenomenon. And although it has tended to be politicians of the left who are the most critical, Margaret Thatcher, with her strong Methodist background, was appalled by the decision of her successor, John Major, to reintroduce a National Lottery: not only was it gambling, but it was state-sponsored gambling.

A friend of mine claims to have witnessed Margaret Thatcher haranguing a woman in a newsagent who was attempting to buy a Lottery ticket. "You must save your money, dear, and then it really will grow," he recalls the former prime minister telling a very startled would-be lottery millionaire.

On the matter of alcohol, Dr Bari's strictures against British decadence are entirely welcome. At the time of the Commons' vote to outlaw smoking in pubs and clubs, I wrote here that "it would be better to ban drinking in smoking clubs than the other way around". That remains my view, notwithstanding some very cross letters from the anti-smoking fanatics. While it is completely unproven that "passive smoking" leads to lung cancer - indeed there is compelling evidence to suggest that it can't - it seems generally agreed that something approaching three quarters of all violent crimes are associated with the consumption of alcohol.

Of course, we can't know how many of those crimes would not have been committed if drink was excluded from the social equation, but it's clear that this is a drug with extraordinary powers of disinhibition. In other words, it strips away the self-restraint that we associate with civilised patterns of behaviour.

The World Cup is already providing us with wearily familiar glimpses of the function of alcohol in modern Britain: plans by authorities in London and Liverpool to show England games on giant screens in public have been abandoned after one game, after drunken rioting took place. So far, the travelling supporters appear to have behaved themselves in Germany - by which is meant that while they have kept the locals awake all night with their chanting, they haven't actually started throwing objects around.

Football is not the cause of the drinking: obviously the game itself can not be entirely blamed for the social evils that surround it. A friend of mine, for whom football is a meaningless void, chose instead to spend last Saturday attending a concert by The Who in London. She told me that the drunkenness there spoiled the entire experience for her - and doubtless for many others. She was struck three times on the head by bottles thrown randomly through the night air, and her companion was hit by a plastic bottle full of urine, which, disgustingly, burst open when it hit him.

Prohibition is not the answer: the American experiment in the 1930s proved how that merely added to crime, while scarcely reducing alcohol consumption. But I would happily see the entire male youth of Britain convert en masse to Islam, and wear their hair upside-down, if that had the effect of making the centres of our towns and cities peaceful places after dusk. Such a mass conversion of notional Christians ought not to be necessary - the Church of England played a tremendous role in the temperance movement of the 19th century. But the established Church seems too much involved in internal existential squabbles to be able to mount such a national campaign again.

I'm not sure that Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari will welcome my endorsement: a couple of years ago, he publicly called upon the owners of The Sunday Telegraph to sack me as editor, because I had published articles by an employee of the British Council which were violently critical of Islam. But I never took Dr Bari's attack personally, so - as it is perhaps not written in the Koran -let bygones be bygones.

d.lawson@independent.co.uk

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Comms / Digital Marketing Specialist

Not Specified: Recruitment Genius: An exciting and rewarding role exists for a...

Search Engine Optimisation/ SEO Executive

£25000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Excellent opportun...

Electronics Design Engineer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: My client are l...

Programme Planner

£30000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Backbencher Ben Gummer is seeking to rename National Insurance  

So much for the Seven Principles that MPs are supposed to abide by

Andy McSmith
 

Is Ed Sheeran the most important British man in black music?

Lee Pinkerton Lee Pinkerton
Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor