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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 August 2005, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Sponsoring British Islam

Have British Muslim organisations been too dependent on foreign money, vested interests, and ideologies?

If you wish to add your view to the debate please use the form on the right of the page. The Panorama team will try to publish as many as possible but they may not be able to publish every comment.

Irfan Chishti

Irfan Chishti, Imam and RE teacher, Greater Manchester

Yes. Some mosques and organisations have clearly been in receipt of foreign funds. In the name of religious dawah (invitation to the religion) certain countries have endeavoured to infiltrate British Islam with their ideologies and theological understandings by giving funds.

Gleaming new domes and minarets suddenly took over what were for many years converted and dilapidated buildings. The new mortar did not come without a price. There were often conditions laid down as to Eid timings and even content of sermons.

Mona Siddiqui

Mona Siddiqui, Head of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Glasgow

It is difficult to distinguish the ideologies of many of the British Muslim organizations as the common denominator in their beliefs seems to be the establishment of a worldwide Islamic state. Some of the organisations do look abroad for both inspiration and funding which colours the way they present themselves.

The real question is why do we need so many organisations and why do the majority of them always appear to be on the defensive? What is needed is not more political ideologies but sensible and clear voices that help the young to live more productive and engaged lives

Dilwar Hussein

Dilwar Hussein, Researcher, Islamic Foundation, Leicester

There is a growing realisation that British institutions should be more economically self-reliant. Investment of foreign resources was a natural consequence of a relatively poor community settling in Britain and money has come from a variety of sources across the Muslim world. It is na´ve to assume that this always brought an automatic ideological tie however.

For example, many Saudi-funded groups refused to support the Saudi line during the Gulf war in the 90s. As the British Muslim community slowly grows in prosperity and enhances its local fundraising skills, it will naturally develop a stronger local financial base.

Masud Ahmed Khan

Masud Ahmed Khan, traditional Muslim webmaster, Home Counties

The Salafi movement (known as Wahhabism in Muslim circles) in the UK has had serious petro-dollars injected into it and this is most telling with the abundance of free and subsidised literature that is available in support of this ideology.

Islamic centers and training of British Muslims in places like Umm al-Qurra and Madina University in Saudi Arabia have served to propagate this ideology especially on university campuses. The "graduates" of this ideology reject established Islamic legal authorities and have an attitude that tells them that most other Muslims are misguided.

They reject outright the science of Sufism and Islamic spirituality except in the most literal of ways. In short this brand of Islam is very intolerant not only of non-Muslims but of Muslims as well.

Hasan As-Sumaalee, Salafi Muslim teacher, Cardiff

There have been, no doubt, foreign influences upon many Muslims in the UK. These would not be so bad if those influences were based on Quranic texts and Prophetic traditions. The true belief and methodology of Islam is a unifying factor that would prevent much of the terrorism and extremism in the world. Muslims are commanded to stand up for justice and speak against evils so this should prevent any extreme and corrupt influence.

Sadly, the approach of the Muslim Brotherhood has failed society and British Muslims because they tolerate individuals or groups who are involved in, or glorify terror. Why doesn't the Muslim Brotherhood condemn Yusuf Qaradawi's fatwa where he allows the killing of civilians in certain parts of the world?

Asim Siddiqui

Asim Siddiqui, Chair, The City Circle, London

Many observers cannot comprehend the Muslim inability to celebrate Eid (Muslim festival) on the same day! This one event [symbolises and] epitomises the external funding and political influence exerted by overseas regimes on UK Muslim groups.

British Muslims need to set their own British agenda showing Islam's compatibility with the British way of life and contributing to the ongoing discussion on what exactly 'Britishness' means.

Salma Yaqoob

Salma Yaqoob, Political activist, Birmingham

Funding is always an issue and it has been tempting for groups to take up offers of foreign sponsorship. Invariably, money which comes from foreign governments, for example despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia, comes with strings attached (eg not to engage in criticism or politics).

There is a danger that interpretations that are not only reactionary in themselves, but not relevant to a British context, stunt the development of a British Muslim identity which is confident in its spiritual roots and application in a Western context.


Well done for the BBC in showing Panorama. It showed clearly the lack of leadership within the Muslim community on dealing with terror.

As a British Muslim I am against terror. These fanatics use Iraq, Kashmir, Afghanistan and Palestine as an excuse in killing innocent people all around the world.

Many Muslims cannot speak up in front of the camera and to say that suicide bombings are forbidden in Islam and that they know that killing of innocent people is against Islam.

I would like to see the Muslim Leaders replaced as they do not lack leadership for the Muslim Community. The Imam's also remain quiet, they hide behind closed doors.

Nobody is picking on Muslims or the Islamic faith but it is true that we need to stop fanatical muslims preaching on the streets of the UK.

Before the London bombings many Muslims accused the police of being heavy handed and said Muslims and Islam was being targeted. We then have the London bombings and the Police carried out searches in Muslim peoples home and made certain arrests. I say that as Muslims we live in a non-Muslim country - the UK - so as the Quran states that we still have to follow Islam but at the same time we need to respect and live alongside the non-Muslims in the UK. I fully support the police in carrying out searches in mosques and Muslim people's homes and making arrests where they deem that a person is a terror threat.

Muslims need to stick together and preach about the correct Islam which is peace and not preach about the wrong Islam which the fanatics scream about.

Problems arise when Muslims live together in places like Manchester and Birmingham and refuse to integrate with other faiths/communities. I live in a area where there are only a few Muslims and get on well with the people around me, also many Muslims get married to their partners from abroad and this causes problems as many of them bring back their way of living into the UK and do not understand how to adapt in living in a western society, examples are women being kept at home and not allowed to work and if they go out to the shops they do not communicate with the people around them. At the end of the day our elders who came into the UK in the 60s and 70s have bought with them the way of life from Pakistan, Bangaledesh or India.

It is sad to see this but now is the time for youg leaders from the Muslim community to take a role in helping the Muslim people to integrate and adapt to the western culture without losing their Islamic faith and also to silent these fantics by not supporting them.

I now we will win the War on Terror and hope that we do not see or hear about these fanatics again and, yes, I only hope our Imams can come out of hiding and speak up.
Ammad Ahmed, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

Islam that is practised and held as a faith in Britain is almost entirly imported from abroad. I feel this has to change. We cannot allow fanatical ideas and extreme interpretations that are unsuited to our British society. It is the responsibity of the government to help us Muslims to resist Arabs sheikhs and Pakistani mullahs influencing the young British Muslims. We cannot do it alone.
Z Hussain, Rochdale, UK

Muslim's help Muslim's in many things, like building a Masjid, feeding the poor, helping the needy and the like. So if Muslims in the Muslim Lands want to help Muslims in Britian, then this is alright and no one should get involved in this matter. I have yet to see any group, which has taken money for what you have describe, that has been too dependent on foreign money, vested interests,and idelolgies.
Adam, London

Yes of course Muslims have vested interests and ideologies, but then so do we and all most every other country in the world. The question should not even be asked.
P Burne, Newcastle

Mona Siddiqui has pointed out a very important issue of establishing a worldwide Islamic state. That is the main idea in the back of the mind of every Mulsim that makes him criticise everything other religions or non-Islimac countries do. I think the best way would be to start discussing the ways and means to establish International peace. That will help everyone to see things in the right percept.
Agha Ata, Houston, USA

why not accept foreign funds and their homely ideology? Surely their ideology is our right as they are directed from Isamic roots?
Idris Hafeji, Bradford

It seems that each and every aspect of Muslim life and Islam in Britain is under scrutiny and the entire Muslim Ummah has been put in the dock by powerful media. I find it extraordinary that such a debate is taking place at all.

Of course some British Muslim mosques and organisations have been dependent on monetary help from foreign country because of lack of funds. This is not unique. Muslims from Britain help poor Muslims and Islamic Mosques and organisations in India and Pakistan. Hindus from UK help their religious institutions and temples in India. Israel and Zionist organizations get enormous finacial support from American government and the public. Why pick on Muslims?

The Muslim organizations which get financial assistance from Saudi may be influenced by their ideology but that ideology has absolutely nothing to do with terror around in the world. I hate to compliment the despotic regime of Saudi but they will be the last in the world to contemplate exporting and propagating terror ideology. They have far bigger problem of terror in their own country.

The present problem has little to do with Imams, Mosques or any of the British Muslim organisations' influence on the minds of young Muslims. I have been in UK for nearly 40 years. It is my observation that Imams and self-appointed Muslim leaders have little influence on the masses. Abu Hamza of Finsbury Ppark was an exception and for some obscure reason was allowed to continue his vitriolic sermons for a very long time. I find this debate as an unwarranted assault on Muslim institutions.
Dr Imteyaz Ahmed Khan, Wakefield , UK

We separated church and state in western culture for the freedom of association, but when welfare supports people of a particular religion who aren't allowed to earn an income because of there gender, then the foundation is missing for a stable future. Political correctness got us into this mess and now good old-fashioned reality has brought the crisis nearer to destructive conflict as we sadly gambled away are hard won stability.
B V Harris, Vancouver, Canada

When will the UK come to grips with its historical role in creating the very Salafi/Wahhabis threat that Mr Khan describes? Yes, the danger is real now and clear to see. Perhaps this should have been considered as a possibility following the British-assisted rebellion in Arabia at the end of WWI. Who then came to power in Arabia? A group of desert nomads espousing the most rigid and intolerant form of Islam in the world today. Enriched by oil wealth, they now spread their influence wide by funding preachers and publishing books that subscribe to their views. These are the consequences of promoting the bullies over the scholars in the Islamic world.
Dawud, Dallas, TX, USA

If you don't stand for somthing you will fall for anything.
Zakariyya Khan, Leicester

How much can they influence you with? They can only influence you with three things, the Quran, the Hadith and Fiqh, (jurisprudence). If you reject all three, then there is no influence. If you follow their narrative, then you may stumble into extremism and fanaticism, however the only strong argument is. The case of Jesus within Islam, this is the only focus point of the whole religion, but when you question the existence of Jesus, then that too becomes a fallacy.

I agree with P Burne. Islam, irrespective where it comes from, has a clear ideology from the texts. Trying to drown this by dividing the Muslims into British, Arab etc. will not hide this fact. Also I agree with Mona Siddiqui, in the fact that all organisations are working for revival. All agree that revival will be acheived by having an Islamic state. However, the methods to acheiving the goal may be different. We have to be honest with this fact and the wider society has to know this reality, rather than showing one face to the wider society and showing another to the Muslim community.
Asir Ayaz, Burton, England

It has been known for a long time that Saudi Arabia is bankrolling Mosques and madrasses in the UK to promote its own intolerant brand of Wahabi Islam and get wahabi Imams into the country. The government should stop it immediately.
Paul Bastier, England, UK

One of the conditions to becoming a citizen of Saudi Arabia is to be a Muslim. In view of their funding of Islamists in Britain and elsewhere, isn't that a one way street?
Eddie, Leicester

Are Muslims under more "foreign vested interests" than Seikhs, Catholics or our old friends the Zionists? Of course not. Again questions are asked of Muslims that aren't asked of other similar groups. Until they are, this discrimination will only hinder.
Omar, Sheffield, UK

The idea of a Mufti of Great Britain and a British Council of Ulema voted by Muslims and then appointed by Parliament may be anathema to some British Muslims and non-Muslims alike, but the benefits to both state and British Muslims would outweigh any objections. Funding transparency, monitoring of ideological strings, training and vetting of Imams, a greater emphasis on integration in diversity - just to name a few.
Naha Johari, London, UK

The issue is only a concern when the money is coming from countries like Saudi Arabia, who in turn are also promoting in their sponsored institutions a radical, militant version of Wahabi Islam. This version of Islam and all groups attached to it focus only on violence and ignore the peaceful and tolerance side of our great religion.
Tahir Choudry, Birmingham, UK

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