Madrassah’s elders deny allegations of extremism

Madrassah’s elders deny allegations of extremism

OFFICIALS at a madrassah in Dewsbury defended references to jihad – often regarded as meaning ‘holy war” – in its teachings.

Elders at the Islamic Tarbiyah Academy in Westtown claimed that media reports had taken the issue out of context.

The Boothroyd Lane madrassah now faces a government investigation into allegations of extremism.

Mufti Zubair Dudha, the centre’s founder and head, was reported to have referred to jihad in leaflets.

One said Muslims should be prepared to “expend ... even life” to create a world organised by “Allah’s just order”.

The madrassah, based at the old Gladstone Liberal Club, denied any implied link to terrorism.

Jihad can be interpreted in other ways, such as the encouragement of self-improvement.

A statement said: “The literature articulates a holistic understanding of jihad, which includes reformation of the self.

“The just order of Allah is described literally a sentence before (their) cherry-picked quote ‘that injustice, oppression and contumacy are annihilated’.

“We believe that most of society will agree that injustice and oppression should be removed.”

But the madrassah did apologise for referring in leaflets to a Jewish conspiracy.

“It is unfortunate that this material has been quoted in the context of spiritual training of the soul and we apologise for the offence this may have caused,” the statement said.

“The quote itself is not anti-Semitic in any way and focuses on the point about distractions which affect the spiritual.

“Muslims have always honoured and respected the Bani Israel, Jewish tradition.  The material does not advocate the demonisation of the Jewish people, which is categorically forbidden in Islam.”

But they stood by references to the effects of celebrity culture and modern lifestyles on the young. The statement said in part: “This however cannot be construed as being ‘anti-Western’.

“We reject such an interpretation of the literature and maintain that we as Muslims are not and should not be anti-Western.

“A difference in viewpoints on what is good for society does not mean that there is something ominous afoot.”

And they also backed teaching orthodox Islamic position on issues such as segregation of the sexes.

The statement said: “This is part of our faith and we stand firmly with our religious expression.

“Certainly our practices are shared with other religions such as Orthodox Judaism and Christianity.”

• The Islamic Tarbiyah Academy in Dewsbury, based in the former Gladstone Liberal Club, above, teaches 140 children after school and runs full-time classes for over-16s and adults.

Founder and head Mufti Zubair Dudha is a cleric from the orthodox Deobandi sect.

In leaflets distributed to some mosques it is claimed there are references to jihad.

Others are said to warn of a Jewish conspiracy, that mixed-sex institutions are evil and Muslims should not adopt British customs.

The madrassah insists the leaflets have been selectively quoted out of context.

But the Department for Education said: “These serious allegations are under investigation.

“While it would be inappropriate to comment on the specific investigations of these institutions, we are clear that extremism has no place in our society and we are determined to protect children from it.”

Dewsbury has had much-publicised links to terrorism, from 7/7 ringleader Mohammed Siddique Khan to Isis suicide bomber Talha Ismal.

Such connections have brought protests from far-right groups English Defence League and Britain First.

After news of the investigation broke last Thursday night, police parked outside the madrassah in case of a backlash. Fiyaz Mughal, director of community cohesion group Faith Matters, criticised the madrassah.

He said: “What we have seen in the Tarbiyah academy is not a mainstream view of Islam and we need to make that clear. It is one set of views and where references to anti-Semitic material have been made. This is unacceptable.”

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