13 November evening held at Conway Hall hosted by HumanistUK

Written by David Walter LBA member

On the panel was Arzoo Ahmend, Andrew Copson, Dilwar Hussain, Aliyah Saleem Chair Samiera Ahmed

The debate was about trying to dissect the question of whether Islam and Atheism are compatible with each other. As the evening went on the key issues that came out of the debate were the issues of the nature of the changing Islamic identity in contemporary Britain within the context of the political upheavals in the Muslim World, the need for the modern British Muslim communities to conform to liberal British society, especially for young British Asian people, and how traditional Muslim values can reconcile with contemporary liberal values that protects the rights of women, minority groups such as LGBTQ or non-Muslims who live within some Conservative communities in Pan- Muslim society in or out of the UK.

It was agreed that there should be a new style of Islam that was British in style and value, in that there should be a British Secular Islam that would be part of a global Pan-Secular democratic Islam that would calm the anxieties of secular and social democracies everywhere around the world and eventually politically and Culturally dissolve the influence of extremist or conservative brands of political Islam, that has been around since the 1920s.  The impact of Islam on wider British society via Migration, has always been historically complex for hundreds of years, and is even more complex after the end of the Cold War with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the rise of populism, identity politics and far right groups around the world.

The everyday lives of Muslims in contemporary Britain, is one of traversing the needs of the British national state with their obligation to meet their own spiritual and cultural needs as Muslims. And these divisions have had some rather antagonistic connotations, for the stability of our communities within our society.

Considering the impact of religious conservatism and extremism on global events, the debate could have been spread further to invite different Muslim and secular speakers, not just speakers from the White middle class and Asian-Muslim communities, I felt that Humanist UK was still stuck in that tabloid cliché media environment of the so called ‘War on Terror’ where it is just about the clash of civilizations between the secular liberal west and Eastern Muslims. I do not think we should see the question of Islam and Atheism compatibility in that way, because what the question fundamentally needs is a well thought out historic-political, not a banal convenient religious explanation, because the nature title question itself, changes overtime through the process of the debate.

For the £14 admission ticket, the Q+A session, was less than satisfactory, as a lot more of the audience should’ve been involved in the debate. I’ve been to better debates with much better Q+As, and they’re much cheaper or they were free.

What I was impressed with, was Humanist UK’s attempt to have a proper dialogue with members of the Muslim community, without the wasteful angry and weak rhetoric, which serves no one.

There was a lot to process in the debate, which was great, but it was not worth £14.







Islam & Atheism: Irreconcilable Enemies?

 & Atheism: Irreconcilable Enemies?  Atheism: Irreconcilable Enemies?

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