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Radical Middle Way Transcripts

Dr. Kamal Helbawy on: “Why Europe needs Islām”

17th January 2008, London
[Opening du’ā’]

Dear brothers and sisters, I hope you will enjoy your stay with us, and will have an
enlightening time with open hearts and minds as well.

The question raised is a very spacious issue to be discussed, not in twenty minutes or
twenty days. It reminds me of a very weak person who we’ve asked to defeat Tyson
which will be misleading and deceiving. Even Muslims who are born in the West are
attributed and associated to their origins; places where we find the most autocratic
and oppressive regimes. None of them are Islāmic states, none of them represent
Islām and this is the reason why people will not believe, or will find it difficult to
believe, the title of this lecture.

The second point is the work of Orientalists, and the many years of conflict, clash and
underdevelopment of the Muslim countries, although they have some of the best
known resources in the World.

But we’re talking about Islām, we’re not talking about the Muslims. So we’re talking
about this weak man and this issue.

I have five points to raise; the first one is the saturation of the West, the second is
what Muslims have offered so far, the third is what Muslims or Islām can offer, the
fourth is the idea of clash or conflict, and the fifth and final point discusses examples
of what Islām can offer the West.

Although I say that Islam is represented by underdeveloped countries and autocratic

regimes, this is not Islām; this is the situation of Muslims. Regarding the first point –
saturation of the West- some thinkers like Francis Fukuyama believe that this is what
is happening, and that this is the end of history. And that the rest has already
achieved that which had not preceded before, and this achievement asks all of
humanity to listen to it, and to believe in it, and to perhaps even not use their minds
because this is the end of it. We have reached the best solution to all your problems,
and unfortunately we can see it in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and Kenya as well as
other places as well. This is a wrong belief. Even Samuel Huntington in his book,
‘Clash of Civilisations’ said clearly in pages 181-182, that there are two West’s, not
one. One is controlling a strong, powerful, progressive movement, and the other, as
he called it, is in decline. This is because of crime, disintegration, and especially
social disintegration. You can see what Samuel Huntington wrote, what Paul
Kennedy wrote, what Robert and Nesbitt wrote – there are many writings on this
topic. With any civilisation in history that was at its peak has been saturated. There
are many things to give and many things to take.

Secondly, what Muslims have offered so far; they built nice mosques and centres,
they built prayer rooms in universities, they established very good halāl restaurants,
they have made successful Islāmic investment banks. They’ve even built very nice
graveyards as well [Audience laugh]. But everything about these Muslims so far, is
them doing it for themselves; it’s not for the society. They’re working for themselves
in closed circuits. This is why the society does not feel the presence of Islām and
Muslims. They might be able to feel it, but that wasn’t the required mission – to just
say it or talk about it. I’ll give you only one verse from the Qur’ān, in Sūrat Al-Imrān.
Inna fī khalqi Al-Samawāti wa Al-Ard wa ikhtilāf Al-layli wa Al-Nahār li ayāti uli
Al-bab allathīna yathkaruna Allah qiyāman wa qa’udan wa ‘alā janūbihim wa
yatafakirūna fī Al-Samāwati wa Al-Ard
Allah is saying to us, ‘In the creation of the skies and Earth, and rotation of the day
and night, you see people can pray and do ‘ibada, but there is another mission that
we are supposed to do that Muslim’s don’t do: yatafakirūna fī Al-samāwati wa Al-
ard - ‘thinking and pondering on the creation of the skies and the Earth’. And this is
what Muslims do not do; we do not even have Islamic centres to do that. For a long
time now, the West has created for us hundreds of names: ‘Political Islām,
Reactionary Islām, Radical Islam, Fundamental Islām’; hundreds of names. I have
tried to count them once, but then I failed. It’s the ignorance of the West when they
talk about Salafi’ism and they don’t themselves know about Salafi’ism. They do not
understand jihad or fundamentalism when they talk about jihad or fundamentalism.
You can listen to my speech in many places, each of them going through my points
one by one. So I’m sure that Islam has a lot to offer, and the Qur’an in specific and
the Sunnah, each have a lot. Even if the West does not believe in Muslims, but Islam
is not only for Muslims or people in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, or one
geographical area; Islam is a message for humanity.

Once I was giving a lecture in North Wales and I asked for someone whose great,
great, great, grandfather is Welsh, or English. An officer stood up and I said to him,
‘If you don’t believe in homosexuality, and you don’t believe in football – you’re not a
Manchester United fan, or Arsenal fan- and you have a settled life and a good
respectful family and you don’t go to the pub, you don’t drink and you believe in the
10 Commandments of Jesus Christ, how would the society consider you? Integrated
or disintegrated?’ and his great, great, great grandfather was English or Welsh. So if
Muslims don’t do that, why are they considered aliens? Or non-integrated elements
in society?

In any case, if Muslims had done what the Qur’an had said, which was to think and
ponder on the creation of the skies and the Earth, then they would have preceded
America in creating NASA. We must also remind ourselves that Mr.Faruk Abbas of
NASA, who was originially Egyptian, trained the first pioneers and they went into
space, they said that it was as though Mr. Abbas had preceded us to the Moon. He’s
an Egyptian born in Egypt. Others like him, had they been in Egypt, would be
primary or secondary school teachers, or would be in prison or in front of military
courts. But now they’ve found the environment and that’s why I’m saying, if you
followed the idea of Islam and understood it properly, then it will increase efforts,
research, money for more research; you would be starting from something solid, and
not from scratch.

This is a long topic to discuss, and I have a small research unit that started a few
years ago looking at what Islam can offer the West. Under the Global Civilisations
Centre, with great Professors, we talked about this matter in detail.

The issue of conflict and clash: in different countries, certain things are taught
differently. In America or Britain, they’re teaching the theory of conflict and clash.
Islam does not teach that. Islam needs proper context in order to understand it. We
teach peace. We teach people to be good citizens.
Go onto the internet and find the report called ‘The Search for Common Ground’ –
it’s by the Greater London Authority. It’s been introduced by Ken Livingston and it
says clearly that during one week in May, 90% of the Media articles in Britain were
against Islām and the Muslims. 5% are positive and 5% are neutral. What does this
mean? It means that either the society is ignorant about that, or it doesn’t care about
Islam and the Muslims, and this is not good for a society that wants to develop.

I hope Britain will be Great Britain again and I am ready to help in that; and I hope
that all Muslims are ready to help in that. But we don’t want our countries or our
states to be underdeveloped like Bahrain or Qtar or Dubai or other small areas. This
was Great Britain, and I hope it will continue to be Great Britain; not a satellite state
for Mr. Bush and his new colleagues.

Take two examples. The first one is the idea of content and satisfaction. I hope
someone will tell me when Mr. Bush and America will be content. When? It has
become a super power. It has become the ‘leading figure in the World; it is the father
of humanity, it’s the elder sister of humanity,’ as has been said by political scientists
in early 1992 and 1993. When will it be content? I’m not just talking about petrol or
raw material. When will it be content with its power? It is requiring other people to
obtain power. Islām can give it contentment. ‘What Allah has given you, you should
be happy with. Don’t look at what is in other people’s hands. There’s a joke moving
around America, that if you want oil, wander around a desert inhabited by Muslims.
It’s a joke, but it’s a true fact. Unfortunately.

The second example of what Islam can offer the West: the family system and family
status. The respect for the elderly, the respect for your father and mother and
teachers, in secondary schools and primary schools. I’m not saying that this is in
Islam alone, but I’m saying that the church has now separated from the state.
Someone who has studied Christianity should give me an example of how the religion
accepts homosexuality. Yes, I know that Parliament agreed to it, that’s its right to do
that. But it’s not their right to compel everyone to believe in that. Because even if you
believe in God or not, it’s your own choice. And that’s what Allah made clear in many
verses, ‘Are you Muhammad, going to enforce all people to believe in God?’
everyone has their own choice. So I hope Britain will understand, and that the West
will understand. Unfortunately we have seen the Policy Exchange Report which is
full of lies. Why? Why should a democratic country lie? I understand that Mubarak in
Egypt can lie because he wants more corruption; kings and rulers can do that. But
why do British people do that? Why would a democratic country do that? Why can
America, the superpower, do that? What made America come to power and be the
only superpower in the world? The Muslims – Muslims in Afghanistan – the Taliban,
and other people who are considered criminals and terrorists- are who made
America the superpower. And I say in forums and conferences, that if America was
asked to pay the Afghans during the war in the late 70’s and 80’s , they wouldn’t have
paid the 200billion dollars to defeat the Soviet Union, because unfortunately, the
price from the West or America isn’t fair.

Thank you for listening.

Al-salām ‘alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakātuhu.

About Dr Kemal Helbawy

Dr. Kamal El-Helbawy was born in the Governorate of Menoufia, Egypt in 1939 and
joined the Muslim Brotherhood at the age of twelve. He served as the official
spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West from 1995-1997.

Following graduation from Cairo University in 1960 and for 10 years after Helbawy
worked in the field of manpower planning and training with Central Training
Organization in Egypt. Dr. Helbawy studied Business administration; interpretation,
political science in AUC and in Pakistan and he is specialized in strategic studies.

While lecturing at Sokoto University he participated founding the first branch of

Muslim Educational Trust in Sokoto in 1971 in Nigeria. Dr. Helbawy traveled to
Saudi Arabia in the early 1970s where he was among the founders of the World
Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) and became their first executive director until
1982. He served as an advisor to the Arab Bureau of Education for Gulf States
(ABEGS) from 1982 - 1987. From 1988 to 1994 Dr. Helbawy was in charge of Muslim
Brotherhood affairs and activities in Afghanistan - During the same period he was
based as an advisor at the Institute of Policy Studies in Islamabad - Pakistan. He
served as the editor in chief of Arabic weekly - Qadaya Dowaliya - International
Issues published in Pakistan from 1988-1994

After settling in the United Kingdom in 1994 Dr. Helbawy helped create the Muslim
Council of Britain (MCB) and the Muslim Association of Britain(MAB) and he
became its first founding president. He continues to be among the Board of
counselors of MCB. He is currently the chairman of the Centre for the Study of
Terrorism (CFSOT) and an advisor to the Global Civilizations Study Centre (GCSC).
He is also a founding member of the recently launched 2008 Islamic Unity
Forum”IUF” which seeks to unite Muslims both Sunni and Shi’a communities.

Dr. Helbawy traveled extensively and lectured in many countries. He wrote and
translated more than twenty books and many articles especially on Afghanistan;
Islamic Movement and the Muslim world affairs.

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