I have actually read all nine pages of Jake Bilardi’s now infamous post. (It was on WordPress, by the way.) See also Tim Mayfield’s Jake Bilardi: both perpetrator and victim and the excellent 7.30 segment ‘Jihadi’ Jake Bilardi – from Australian suburban schoolboy to Islamic State suicide bomber. Then on Saturday night SBS ran Mira Nair’s movie The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012) which I thought very good. (Margaret and David both rated it four stars.)
All this resonated with things I experienced ten years ago – and more. It so happens I chronicled some of that in March 2006, which I now offer as a prelude to some thoughts in the near future. Links do not open in new windows, and may lead nowhere now.
17 MAR 2006
In my own youth I was an Elder in a Presbyterian Church which took the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646, from what we might call England’s Taliban phase) very seriously indeed. You may peruse this classic Calvinist creed for yourselves. I should add that the current Anglican Archbishop of Sydney is very much a Calvinist, if not quite as hardline as the Westminster Confession, but his followers now, as we did then, admire The Banner of Truth Trust, for example.
From The Westminster Confession, which is vigorous at least, not mincing words:
…V. The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth to worship God according to His will.
VI. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.
VII. No man may vow to do any thing forbidden in the Word of God, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the performance whereof he has no promise of ability from God. In which respects, popish monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.
IV. And because the powers which God has ordained, and the liberty which Christ has purchased are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another, they who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God. And, for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity (whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation), or to the power of godliness; or, such erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ has established in the Church, they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against, by the censures of the Church, and by the power of the civil magistrate.
That, you may say, was then, and so say I; but there are those among us who still cherish such thoughts.
My father, when I was deeply into all this — I got Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (and a new stereo) for my 21st birthday — used to quote Omar Khayyam (see head link) to me:
Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
came out by the same door as in I went.
17 MAR 2006
This back link to last year is vital background to what follows. Naturally the links therein to Diary-X no longer work, but I will shortly post the relevant items on my Angelfire blog and reset the links.* The gist: the article above discusses the visit by some interesting people to my former place of work. See also another August 2005 entry, Indigo Jo Blogs Patrick Sookhdeo on moderate Islam.. I have been able to correct the links on that one.
I urge you to read those articles, and also not to jump to conclusions when you read what follows. I do not feel threatened, but I do feel concerned.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, the Islamic Students Society at The Mine has made some connection with clearly Islamist groups. I have just read a Wikipedia article, currently being considered for deletion, written by some of the students themselves.
In 2005 the ISSBH enjoyed its most productive year, with a range of activities undertaken by the society to promote its newly dubbed “Annual Forum and Presentation on Islam”. Leading up to the event, several information stalls were held in order to give people a taste of multicultural food and also to promote the event. The Forum was well attended at around 310 people, with the speakers on this occasion being the world famous Sheikh Khalid Yasin, and the Sydney-based Islamic media personality Wassim Doureihi, invited to speak because of recommendations of his eloquence and sound expression. Both speakers impressed the audience present, despite campaigns run by senior students in the school to question the validity of Islamic law as a useful means by which to guide mankind’s affairs. The ISSBH was on the ABC program “the 7.30 Report” and has since concentrated on internal efforts and discussion with students at the school on a personal basis.
I have added the links in that extract.
Wassim Doureihi is spokesman for the Sydney branch of the Muslim Hizb ut-Tahrir, a thorough but unfriendly account of which you may read here. According to Wikipedia, “The party is banned in many Arab countries, but not the more liberal Sharjah, or the UAE, Lebanon and Yemen; it is also banned throughout the former Soviet Union states of Central Asia, and in Germany. It operates legally in most Western nations, and survived a ban in Australia after clearance from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. On August 5, 2005, Tony Blair announced the British government’s intention to ban the group in the United Kingdom.” Note, then, the organisation is not illegal in Australia but is still “of interest”.
A recent article on khilafah.com says:
Hizb ut-Tahrir’s aim, as summarised in their publication, is ‘to resume the Islamic way of life and to convey the Islamic da’wah (invitation) to the world. This objective means bringing Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life in Dar al-Islam and in an Islamic society such that all of life’s affairs in society are administered according to the Shari’ah rules, and the viewpoint in it is the halal and the haram under the shade of the Islamic State, i.e. Khilafah State. That state is the one in which Muslims appoint a Khalifah and give him the bay’ah to listen and obey on condition that he rules according to the Book of Allah (swt) and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saw) and on condition that he conveys Islam as a message to the world through da’wah and jihad.’…
Though Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political party [in Bangladesh], they do not accept any conventional political process. Parliamentary democracy is not acceptable in their system. Though, election as a process is acceptable, elected lawmakers formulating laws to govern a country is not acceptable in the Hizb ut-Tahrir’s final stage: ‘establishing government’. Now the obvious question arises: how then do we establish government?
‘We do not believe in violence. We have condemned all terrorist activity in the country [Bangladesh in this case] and abroad. We are presently spreading the vision of Hizb ut-Tahrir among the public. We are also engaging in dialogue with society’s opinion-making figures as they can influence a greater number of people,’ explains Mohiuddin. On the issue of taking power, he replies: ‘That is the third stage. We believe that by the time we have substantial members and a critical mass of sympathisers who agree to our cause, there will be pressure on the state machinery to follow suit. In such a scenario, the culmination of populist support and key opinion-makers on our side, we shall be take power and form a Khilafah state.’
OK, the students involved, some of whom I know, are not threatening individuals, and are all very concerned and very intelligent; the appeal to people of their age is no doubt parallel to the appeal to others of fundamentalist Christianity, or extreme left politics. It is an expression of idealism, a reaction to a world that they in their fresh vision would like to put right. Such youth movements and motivation are not new.
But there is cause for concern, don’t you think, in the current state of the world, for the students’ own welfare as much as for anything else.
Since I am at work today, I dropped in at lunchtime on the Islamic Students’ Society. They have had the occasional bit of controversy around them, as you may see above. I was interested to see what they, as intelligent teenage Muslim boys, felt about Cronulla and all that.
The gangs like the one(s) that have been causing trouble for years in Cronulla they utterly reject. “Leb arseholes.” (They mean of course those indulging in antisocial behaviour in groups in public. None of these young Muslims I spoke to today could be accused of bad manners, inconsideration, insensitivity, racism or sexism. But then they are confident, intelligent, and genuinely religious.) “Some of them are really bad people.” (That from a boy who knows the Lakemba/Campsie/Punchbowl area well.) As much to do with Islam as the Hells’ Angels are to do with Christianity. Definitely not practitioners of Islam. “They worry us as much as they worry you.”…
* Unfortunately this is not possible, as the relevant entries are casualties of the Diary-X Crash of 2006! However, I have been able to rescue one: Retreat from the Global: 11 March 2004 which tells you about “Ali”, who “was born in Pakistan — in fact he told me in Year Seven that he still spoke and read Urdu (and one or two other languages) and could still recall a three storey red house he lived in in Islamabad as a small child.” He belonged to “one of the largest ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ movements in the world, and much bigger than Al Qaeda.” I learned quite a bit that day.