Coffee House The Spectator Podcasts

Podcast: Reforming Islam, Ed Miliband on the rocks and teaching French

27 March 2014

9:12 AM

27 March 2014

9:12 AM

Can Islam ever be reformed and reclaimed from the fanatics? On this week’s View from 22 podcast, the Quilliam Foundation’s founder Maajid Nawaz argues it most certainly can. Discussing this week’s cover feature with Freddy Gray, Maajid questions why the British media thinks there is only one strain of thought in Islam. How does seeking out a singular ‘Muslim opinion’ lead to a spiral towards regressive conservatism? How can the vocal reformers make a difference when they are frequently outnumbered?

James Forsyth and Isabel Hardman also discuss whether Ed Miliband’s luck has run out. Labour’s lacklustre response to the budget appears to have put Miliband on the back foot, but will this harm his electoral chances in 2015? Like the Conservative Party, are Labour about to enter an internal and messy war over the future of the party?


Plus, Liam Mullone and Freddy Gray debate whether it’s now pointless to teach children French. Is there any entrepreneurial, business or cultural reasons to learn the language?

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Show comments
  • crosscop

    I will believe in the possibility of Islam being reformed when I hear one Muslim admit that the cruel and barbaric punishments ( such as lopping off hands and feet, flogging and crucifixion) which Allah himself advocates in the Koran are just that – cruel and barbaric; and that Mohammad’s massacre of the Banu Qurayza was a war crime.
    I have argued for years on these points and found that not one Muslim will say that anything that Allah instructs in the Koran (however horrific) is wrong or admit that anything their “Perfect Man” did ( however horrific) was wrong.
    We can only be grateful that so few of the Muslims who live amongst us actually do what the Koran tells them to do – and don’t emulate their murderous “prophet.”
    But there will unfortunately always be some of them who are devout enough to do so.
    In the future there will be more Michael Adebalajos, of course – and more Lee Rigbys, too. Many, many, more as the years go by – unless we deport them all, that is. Allowing them to settle here in the first place was a huge mistake – a mistake that needs to be and eventually must be corrected.

    • Shoe On Head

      speaking as an atheist (and part time ‘radical-agnostic’) i’ve never thought any religion dealt in ‘instruction’, including islam.

      • crosscop

        “i’ve never thought any religion dealt in ‘instruction’, including islam.”

        All religions deal in instructions. The Koran is full of instructions – such as that to beat women who step out of line. Don’t you class this as an instruction? –

        “As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them.”

        or this –

        “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land.”

        And what are the Ten Commandments if not instructions?

        • Shoe On Head

          “all religions deal in instruction”
          no they don’t. who said it did? i didn’t read as instruction.

          who said religion is literalism?

          • KingGreen

            what planet are you from?

            • Shoe On Head

              is religion literalism?

              • KingGreen

                religion doesn’t impose sets of rules to their followers, as an instruction of how to live according to the book??

                you know that religious texts aren’t NOVELS, right?

  • Bonkim

    Islam – leave it to those who believe and their own media, ignore it. For the vast majority who don’t give a damn, don’t give it the oxygen of publicity. Who cares if it is reformed or sinks to the bottom.

    • cartimandua

      Unreformed it poses all kinds of risks as does every other literalist version of religion.

      • Bonkim

        By definition man cannot tamper with the word of God – conversely if you reform Islam or any other religion, you are accepting that man is able to change God’s word and inference God does not exist but a figment of man’s imagination.

        • cartimandua

          Islam at one point was at the forefront of innovation and science. Christianity has also been a source of progress and innovation.
          It all depends on ones view of what God is. So does one back people needing certainty because they are dim or does one back people capable of abstract concepts and principles?

          • Bonkim

            Islam didn’t do any such. Arab invaders/traders acquired the sciences and mathematics of India, and China and took it with them wherever they invaded. Arabs and Persians (not just Islamic but also pre-Islamic) were in contact with much of Asia – so it was not a feature of Islam – and Islam was not as rigid as the Taliban and Wahabis of today and were politically astute to have spread across much of Asia, the Mediterrannean and eastern Europe. The Central Asian Mongols were the superpower of the dark and middle ages. Most only paid lip service to Islam and used political Islam to expand their hold over the people – not unlike European expansion in the past two or three hundred years.

            • cartimandua

              So did the Romans. It doesn’t matter “why”. The useful meme is that Islam can work with creative thought.
              Not all Muslims are condemned to live in third world medieval hells.

  • bwims

    Any reforms to Islam worth speaking about would be as fundamental as reforming Christianity by saying that the virgin birth and resurrection was “symbolic” and that yes, Jesus was the Son of God, but we all are really, aren’t ? Sons and Daughters.

    • Bonkim

      or that we are living through the last days and Armageddon is just around the corner (some truth in it though even if you are not a believer).

  • Hexhamgeezer

    That mosque looks like it’s in the middle of a spin cycle.

  • swatnan

    If it doesn’t reform, then theres trouble ahead. I can see a backlash growing against Islam.

  • James Strong

    No, Islam cannot be reformed.
    There is a line in the Koran, more or less ‘Today I have perfected your religion for you.’ i.e. finished it and it’s perfect.
    There is an authentic Hadith, more or less ‘whoever suggests an innovation, his innovation shall not be accepted.’
    Face facts; mohammedanism is not a warm, fluffy, Kumbaya let’s be nice to everybody religion.
    It’s a system of control and oppression backed up by violence against outsiders and the ever-present threat of violence against those who might be thinking of leaving mohammedanism.
    The mohammedans you might meet at agreeable dinner parties where they sip a nice Chablis with the fish course are *not* what mohammedanism is about.
    Ditch your wishful thinking and face up to that.
    Then make every efforrt to spread the truth to others.

    • Bonkim

      No religion can be reformed – only present day self-defined Christians don’t believe in the Scriptures as did earlier generations. If you believe established Christian Churches are Christian you will believe anything.

  • William Haworth

    One problem is that journalists look at religion through the prism of RS lessons, rather than from direct personal experience. People who don’t understand faith are as useful for writing magazine articles about faith, as are people who’ve never studied science, writing about global warming.

    • Bonkim

      Spot on – sound logic in what you say. It is a faith or belief – not a scientific examination.

  • Ricky Strong

    Of course Islam can be reformed. But first you must accept that in order to do so things will, can and must be said that will offend muslims, i.e. publishing cartoons of Mo, mocking the religion for comedy purposes, scrutinising the Qur’an, accepting that science can discredit much of what their alleged god teaches. We must be allowed to criticise every single word of their holy book if you want to bring that religion/doctrine into the modern world.

    • Makroon

      As with Christianity, it would take a whole lot of very brave and distinguished people speaking up, and the decline of the Gulf tyrant regimes (the equivalent of Phillip II ‘s Spain).
      But I see no Islamic Martin Luther or Galileo.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Please. Watch your language. Notwithstanding issues of Islam how can a conservatism that seeks to preserve a constitutional system and rule of law (as well as other things) that are better for democracy and individual liberty in the long term than some of the “improving” short term reforms advocated for it by the left be called “regressive”?

    And on the other hand how can the negative if unintended consequences of so much of the march of the left be called “progressive” when there is quantifiable evidence of failure?

    This blanket appending of the leftist labels “regressive” and “progressive” to conservatism and the left respectively is a deception, a form of capitulation to shallow but clever partisan propaganda which ignores the realities and consequences of policies and reforms. It might be expected from the Guardian but from the Spectator? I’m tired of the dishonesty. Britain should be too.

  • Jez

    Reforming and reclaiming Islam.

    The fanatics you highly speak of will be debating the exact same question but from their perspective.

    But where it’s a business venture, the manipulating of a resource or the liberating of an essential strategic assett in the great game, to them it’s worth sacrificing their lives for.

    Good luck media bubble people.