Charles Colson Cites Obscure Muslim Book as Evidence of Conspiracy
Richard Bartholomew printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 03:13:55 AM EST
On the anniversary of 9/11, Charles Colson uncovers a conspiracy:

...But as a Muslim convert to Christianity notes, we have more to worry about than violent attacks. We should be just as concerned about the quiet inroads Islam is making in Western societies.

Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, who was born into a Muslim family, is now an Anglican priest living in England.

...To Sookhdeo, the signs are not good. He notes that a book "published in 1980 by the Islamic Council of Europe gives instructions for how Muslim minorities are to work towards achieving domination of European countries through a policy of concentration in geographical areas."

In England and France, this has already begun.

Sookhdeo's claim about the 1980 book has been cited widely since 2005 as evidence of a "Protocols"-type conspiracy, and this has helped to fuel suspicion of, and resentment towards, Muslim communities. Actually checking the book for oneself, though, is difficult - it is long out-of-print and unavailable through either Amazon or Google Books. However, I managed to track down a copy to a public library in London, and having seen the text first-hand, it is clear that Colson is simply peddling the work of a scaremongering demagogue who has misrepresented the book for his own purposes and indulged in shameful quotemining.

Here's Sookhdeo himself, writing in 2005:

In 1980 the Islamic Council of Europe published a book called Muslim Communities in Non-Muslim States which clearly explained the Islamic agenda in Europe. When Muslims live as a minority they face theological problems, because classical Islamic teaching always presupposed a context of Islamic dominance; hence the need for guidance on how to live in non-Muslim states. The instructions given in the book told Muslims to get together and organise themselves with the aim of establishing a viable Muslim community based on Islamic principles. This is the duty of every individual Muslim living within a non-Muslim political entity. They should set up mosques, community centres and Islamic schools. At all costs they must avoid being assimilated by the majority. In order to resist assimilation, they must group themselves geographically, forming areas of high Muslim concentration within the population as a whole. Yet they must also interact with non-Muslims so as to share the message of Islam with them. Every Muslim individual is required to participate in the plan; it is not allowed for anyone simply to live as a "good Muslim" without assisting the overall strategy. The ultimate goal of this strategy is that the Muslims should become a majority and the entire nation be governed according to Islam. (M. Ali Kettani "The Problems of Muslim Minorities and their Solutions" in Muslim Communities in Non-Muslim States (London: Islamic Council of Europe, 1980) pp.96-105)

Not all Muslims would support this action plan. The more secularized are happy to become integrated within the majority is not hard to recognize the different stages of the Islamic Council of Europe's strategy being put into practice within today's Europe...Sweden's third largest city, Malmø, is effectively ruled by violent gangs of Muslims...

Numerous websites have picked up on this; a poster to one site presents the first paragraph above as being a direct quote from Kettani's essay, which it's not.

I had time only to browse the book as a whole, but I did manage to read the Kettani essay, which I noted that Sookhdeo refrained from quoting directly. Firstly, it should be noted that the book has a global context: as well as Muslim immigrants in the West, it deals with historic Muslim minorities in places like India, and with locations where Muslims have to deal with hostility - particularly the USSR. Some of the material in the book is arguable - there is a defence of Muslim Personal Law for Muslims in India, and the way the authors contrast Islam's universal values with the "ethnic religions" of Judaism and Hinduism is problematic. However, the essays do not speak with a monolithic voice, and, while the perspective is conservative, the tone, although slightly preachy, is moderate. Here's what Kettani (who was the Special Advisor on Muslim Minorities to the General Secretary of the Islamic Conference, Jeddah) actually writes:

Once a Muslim finds himself in a non-Muslim environment it becomes his Islamic duty to get organized with other Muslims...Islam is a 'social religion' in the sense that a person cannot become a Muslim unless he actively cares about his Muslim brothers...The organization should not be an elitist gathering consisting only of those who are the 'best' Muslims. (97-98)

To Sookhdeo, this becomes

Every Muslim individual is required to participate in the plan; it is not allowed for anyone simply to live as a "good Muslim" without assisting the overall strategy.

Is the Rev Sookhdeo also indifferent as to whether Christians ought to come to church, or to socialise together? And by adding "not allowed", of course, Sookhdeo hints at some kind of coercion - which is not suggested in the essay.

Kettani also has some negative things to say about assimilation, although it's clear from the context he means assimilation as complete dissolution into the majority way of life:

It is the "Organization" of the Muslim minority that can help it resist the different assimilative trends. In order to be able to do so, the community should have, geographically speaking, some area of concentration...Moreover, social interaction between Muslims should be kept as a maximum all the time, not only at the mosque, but also by exchange of visits by families [etc]... (103)

As a practice to maintain a minority identity, this is hardly sinister or even surprising. Of course Muslims don't want their children abandoning their heritage - and the same is true of members of most minority groups (particularly religious groups) anywhere. To paint this as some sort of covert "strategy" is unwarranted. Kettani also writes that:

Islamically, it will not harm the Muslim community to absorb the characteristics that are not contrary to Islamic principles. Some of these characteristics are: the learning of the language of the majority;...the wearing of its dress, if it does not violate the decency of dress advocated by Islam; and the absorption of minor social habits that are Islamically unobjectionable. (102-103)

Not exactly enthusiastic, but again unexceptionable. One statement Sookhdeo could have made something of follows:

Muslims should continue to believe that Islam is the only true religion and that all other religions, as stated in the Holy Qur'an, will be rejected by the Creator. (103)

But I suppose many Christians think the same thing about their religion, so Sookhdeo discretely passes this by. Instead, he fixes on the following:

However, Islamically, a Muslim community cannot be enclosed in a ghetto-like mentality. It should be capable of interacting with members of the non-Muslim community so as to fulfil its duty of da'wah...A Muslim community should try to move from a position of mere defensive concerns, and try to spread the message of Islam outside the community. If successful, such a community would grow constantly in influence and numbers as to become a majority community in course of time. (103-104)

The Christian Sookhdeo finds it a bad sign that Kettani believes his religion to be true and would like to see more people follow it. Kettani also argues that Muslims should seek official recognition as an "entity" - pointing out that various groups enjoy official status in particular countries, such as Jews and Roman Catholics in Sweden.

In all, Kettani's essay is somewhat limited in outlook - but it's far from being the kind of sinister and conspiratorial document which Sookhdeo would have us believe it to be. And as for this being "the Islamic Council of Europe's strategy", that is simply untrue if you look at the book as a whole. Another essay, by Syed Z. Abedu, is more progressive. He calls for:

A total reconstruction of our mental attitudes and social behaviour...There is nothing wrong in emphasising in what ways we are different, or what is unique about us. But we also need sometimes to focus on our common humanity. (25)

...[the Muslim minority's] destiny is, to a considerable extent, interwoven and interlocked with that of their countrymen. (26)

Abedu also takes a more liberal line on the validity of other religions (35). Sookhdeo, however, doesn't feel the need to include any of this in his "analysis", since that would undermine his scaremongering purpose.

Ismail R. Faruqi, meanwhile, suggests that just as non-Muslims in Muslim states have certain obligations, but also rights, the same should be true in the non-Muslim world:

The principle is that just as dhimmis have to submit to and support the Islamic state, of which they have covenanted to be members, the Muslim minority ought to submit to and support the alien state in which they have taken residence. (60-61)

Of course, from a modern secular perspective this again has limitations, but once more we can see that this is a long way from the false impression created by Sookhdeo, who has concocted a silly conspiracy theory designed to spread fear and resentment of Muslim communities based on an obscure and unremarkable book published nearly thirty years ago. For Sookhdeo's cheerleader Chuck Colson, the moral of the story is doubtless that Americans should be fearful of Europe and of immigrants, and should re-assert Christianity as the culture of the USA. However, he's not the only one to have been inspired by Sookhdeo's essay; the website of the far-right British National Party also tells its readers about the sinister book "published in 1980 by the Islamic Council of Europe." (1)

But even if Sookhdeo had managed to find a text truly preaching separatism and hostility toward the majority community (and doubtless such works exist somewhere), what exactly would that prove anyway? We know why minority communities usually tend to congregate together: to protect cultural and religious heritage, to maintain kinship links, and because such communities offer networks of support which make life easier. To see the existence of Muslim communities as some kind of "strategy" to "achieve dominion" (Colson's term) is both paranoid and sociologically illiterate.

The dangers of Islamic extremism are real, and valid concerns should not be dismissed as "Islamophobia". However, efforts to understand the growth and baneful influence of Islamism are not helped by disinformation and distortion such as that in which Sookhdeo and Colson indulge.


Propaganda about the alleged "conspiracy" has done tremendous damage to Christian-Muslim relations. This area needed to be addressed. Thank you. This falsification you've described - or variants of it - has been spread far and wide. Your debunking was sorely needed.

by Bruce Wilson on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 06:34:42 AM EST

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