University Islamic Societies have been described as 'conveyor belts' for extremism and terrorism. There may be some truth in this. After all, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, better known to you and I as the underwear bomber, who tried to make a martyr of himself by attempting to detonate a bomb in an airplane en route to the US was the president of UCL Islamic Society. Amazingly, Malcolm Grant, the vice-chancellor of the University, tried to later claim that campus extremism is 'made up'.
The 'conveyor belt' theory follows the line that young Muslims enrol into university as liberal-minded, impressionable students only to be indoctrinated by extremist Islam and turned into insular, backward-thinking, extremely conservative Muslims. In turn, the mindset of these students can then be used by terrorist recruiters to mould them into potential bombers. The rationale is convincing as this is precisely what is thought to have happened to Abdulmutallab.
All too often we see the end product of the conveyor belt. We see the Abdulmutallabs and extremists of this world when it's too late. Ever seen what goes on in the middle? Have you ever wanted to know how well intentioned young Muslims turn into their community's worst nightmare? I can give you a sneak peak.
The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), the umbrella organisation that represents most Islamic Societies, likes to make-believe that it has no part to play in turning young Muslims into extremists.
If that is the case, why is FOSIS hosting an event with a vicious hate preacher to an audience described as "exclusively for the leaders of London Islamic Societies"?
A concerned Muslim student provided us with a link (in case it is shut, have a look at /www.huffingtonpost.com/theblog/archive/FOSISLondonHatePreacherInvitation.html" onclick="window.open('http://www.huffingtonpost.com/theblog/archive/FOSISLondonHatePreacherInvitation.html','popup','width=738,height=523,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0'); return false">this screenshot) inviting that person to a religious gathering. The concerned student had reason to be worried for Haitham al-Haddad would be speaking at that event.
Haitham al-Haddad is an extremist. Let's have a look at what this man believes in:
The Arab-Israeli conflict is one of our generation's biggest challenges. To solve the conflict, it will take time, nuance and a lot of patience. But, that's not how al-Haddad it. Like other extremists, he takes the far-right view that the conflict is one against Muslims and Jews (ignoring the fact that Israel's population is one-fifth Arab).
In a video on YouTube, al-Haddad's advice to Muslims is to "be ready to pay the price for this victory from our blood". You read that correctly. Whilst NGOs and governments across the world try to bring both sides together in peace, Mr al-Haddad has told Muslims to be ready to die. Indeed, al-Haddad's opinion on the Gaza conflict is to tell Muslims, "to prepare themselves for jihad, all over the world."
Furthermore, Haitham al-Haddad runs such a Sharia court. Sharia law brings untold, and often unheard, misery to moderate Muslims in the United Kingdom (just have a look at the brilliant work of One Law for All). There are many stories of women being denied justice because they are forced by their families or communities to go through the unfair and unjust sharia court system in the UK.
Al-Haddad's tribunal has issued a number of judgements (otherwise known as fatwas). In a question asked to him on why sharia law considers two women the equivalent of one man, he answers with the following, "The text (Surah Al-Baqara 2:282) which requires two female witnesses in place of one male witness, gives a clear reason for it i.e. "if one of them forgets, the other reminds her." Is this derogatory to the status of the women or is it a revealed secret about the nature of the women?". The misogyny and extremism is laid bare.
In another judgement, al-Haddad was asked if stoning and hand lopping should be discontinued as a barbaric practice. al-Haddad's answer was, "As a Muslim we should know that our religion is perfect without any imperfection as Allah says, 'this day, I have perfected your religion for you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion'. Therefore, belittling them or calling them as out-of-date constitutes disbelief as Allah says."
A final example of the sick mind of Haitham al-Haddad comes in a fatwa asked of him what to do if a woman refuses to sleep with her husband due to a history of childhood sexual abuse. His answer is that should that woman refuse to sleep with her husband, "angels will curse" her.
So, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies London is inviting someone whose views would render him a sociopath in a decent-thinking person's judgement. This is what young Muslims in Islamic Societies across the country are taught, they are taught to hate the very society that has brought them up. Just don't be surprised when the next Abdulmutallab decides come off the conveyor belt and into the news headlines.
I challenge Nabil Ahmed, the president of FOSIS, and FOSIS London to explain why they are inviting such a nightmarish individual to their 'religious gathering'? What good can this man do to the minds of young Muslims?