Robin Yassin-Kassab

Statement of Belief

with 8 comments

kaabaI’m a Muslim in that I feel allegiance to the Muslims as a people. It’s not a blind patriotism. I don’t feel allegiance to any particular sect, doctrine or government. As a member of this cultural group (or groups), somebody who lives with and sympathises with and loves many believing Muslims and their overwhelmingly warm and humane culture, I recognise that the Qur’an is the source text that is crucial to us. We do with it what we can. The range of what we’ve done throughout history is astounding.

There is the Islam of the Sultan and the Islam of the Sufi. The Sultan’s rulebook religion, the god-idol that fits into the human mind. And the Sufi’s tradition of peaceful wandering, of poverty, of shrines and poetry, of Qawwali songs and intoxication. It is the latter that attracts me, the Sufi’s but not the Sultan’s Islam. The Islam of Hallaj, not of the authorities who mutilated and murdered him.

If you ask which Islam is inspired by the Qur’an, I must reply that both are.

I am Marxist enough to believe that religions are for the most part products of the material conditions from which they arise. Islam arose from a culture of Beduin raiding and enforced tribal consensus, and yet managed to move beyond this to something new, still pointing further to possibilities for future development. I believe it is possible, but by no means inevitable, for Muslims of the present and future to make an Islamic society better than the society made by the Prophet’s companions.

I love the implications of ‘la illaha illa allah’ – there is no god but God – an-noor, al-haqq, the Light, the Real. Nothing worthy of worship except the Real – not money nor nation, not race nor Sultan, not idol nor ideology.

I love the centrality to Islam of tawheed – the unity from which multiplicity arises – and I see evolution and Big Bang theory as expressions of the same principle.

I love ‘alhumdulillah’ – the praise of the Real and gratefulness to it for this mystery and our experience of it.

Sometimes I sense God and the divine patterning emanating from Him. And sometimes I don’t.

I hope without certainty for the afterlife.

The certainty of the static believer and the certainty of the atheist are equally distant from me.

My fundamental position is one of radical agnosis, not a wishy-washy refusal to make my mind up but a recognition that my mind matters little. This state of unknowing is the basis of mysticism and humility and is paradoxically described by some as knowledge. Dhu’ n-Noon said, “To ponder the essence of God is ignorance, and to point to Him is shirk (idolatrous association), and real gnosis is bewilderment.”

What I believe today is not necessarily what I’ll believe tomorrow. If I am unknowable to myself, how can I know God?

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

September 20, 2007 at 8:59 am

Posted in Islam

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8 Responses

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  1. “I’m a Muslim in that I feel allegiance to the Muslims as a people.”

    Good — If you feel allegiance to the Muslims as a people, stay out of non-Muslim countries!

    You can’t have it both ways!

    But I’m sure you think most countries should become Muslim, which absolves you of the above conundrum.

    If you want to practice your religion and customs in the West — that is OK, but don’t expect “islamophobia” not to become rampant within Europe if you continue with your attitude.


    September 23, 2007 at 7:51 am

  2. I publish any comment which makes a valid point. This one doesnt, but I’ll publish it anyway as an example of the grotesque Islamophobia now rampant in Europe, and especially Britain.

    Anonymous – A person can have more than one allegiance. I feel allegiances to my British friends, both Muslim and non-Muslim. Of course I can have it both ways. Being in a country or carrying a country’s passport does not require flagwaving patriotism for that country or exclusive unquestioning allegiance to an ethnic/ religious or political group considered to represent that country. I learnt that lesson from my English grandfather.

    No, I dont think most countries should become Muslim. Please give one piece of evidence from what I have written to back up your statement. All you have is prejudice.

    The Muslim country I live in at the moment is full of non-Muslims who practice their own religions and customs. This is not perceived to be a problem. The problem is when Western states send their armies to interfere. In that respect, it’s ‘you people’ who should keep out of ‘our’ countries.

    The fact that you respond like this to an expression of personal belief which is decidedly non-fundamentalist, non-traditional and non-nationalist shows us what you are. You are a venemous fool.


    September 23, 2007 at 8:24 am

  3. I have to comment a little more on this foul racist. So many supposedly reasonable people now think his point of view is ..reasonable. What sheep the Western ruling class has made of us, now that there’s no student movement and no workers movement. Take his (or her) last paragraph:

    “If you want to practice your religion and customs in the West — that is OK, but don’t expect “islamophobia” not to become rampant within Europe if you continue with your attitude.”

    and replace ‘Islamophobia’ with ‘antiSemitism.’ Remember to keep inverted commas around the word to suggest that the problem doesnt exist at all, it’s all hysterical Muslim (Jewish) whining.
    The 1930s doesnt look very far away.

    Seamus Milne on Islamophobia: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2172881,00.html


    September 23, 2007 at 8:43 am

  4. I want to quote your article in it’s entirety on my blog as a statement which I myself adhere to. I hope to meet you some day.


    September 23, 2007 at 4:24 pm

  5. Wassim – feel free to use this on your blog. Insh’allah we will meet.


    September 23, 2007 at 8:00 pm

  6. qunfuz: You’re making a serious mistake here. Islam is a set of beliefs and not a race, while jews are, which is why your analogy falls flat. Jews were not persecuted in nazi germany because of their religion, but because of their inheritance. You can’t accuse someone of being racist for insulting muslims. He might be a nationalist, in the sense that he demands loyality to the country you’re living in, but not a racist.

    But I agree with you, you can have it both ways, I for example have a lot of simpathy for the jewish people, even though I’m an atheist in an european country.


    December 3, 2007 at 4:32 pm

  7. But why, Henning, should being an atheist in a European country stop you sympathising with the Jews? I dont understand the ‘even though’ in your sentence.

    It is debatable whether the Jews are a race. There are Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. There are Falasha Jews. And so on. The Nazis certainly thought they were a race, and you’re right, it was for this reason, or at least in the name of ‘racial theory’ they were persecuted. It could be argued that both the long history of religious hatred for Jews and the perception that Jews were politically subversive (likely to be Communists) played a big role in Nazi scapegoating of Jews. The Muslims are certainly not a race, but they are a group, and can be victimised as such. (Of course, ultimately all of these group definitions are false, which doesnt stop anti-Semites or Islamophobes).

    8:41 AM


    December 3, 2007 at 4:52 pm

  8. Well, because if I were a nationalist (which I’m not), I could argue that my loyalities belong entirely to the country I’m living in, thus showing no interest in the needs for people of other nations, for example israeli jews, when their interests would conflict with the ones of my country. This is what I meant by “even though”.


    December 3, 2007 at 5:14 pm

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