Although students are already heading home for the Christmas holiday, extremists are still appearing on campuses. This was very much the case in Birmingham. Between 15 and 17 December, the University of Birmingham Islamic Society hosted controversial American preacher Abdul Nasir Jangda.
According to the event description, Jangda gave a khutbah (sermon) as well as a series of lectures that were entitled ‘Firm Ground’. Audience members were asked to consider “whenever there is a Muslim controversy do you feel our responses are overused & weak?” and “’Islam means peace’ but what’s with the stoning and capital punishment and homosexuality …?”
Jangda is an instructor at the Al-Maghrib Institute which has a history of promoting speakers with extreme views. One of Jangda’s students has published detailed notes from the ‘Firm Ground’ course which reveal that he has reportedly defended the use of female sex slaves within Islam, stating that “slavery in Islam … is vastly different and superior morally and spiritually to the atrocious, obscene, and vile Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade”.
As has been noted by the Middle East Forum, he has also “reportedly advocated the killing of apostates and adulterers, and dismisses [sic] the concept of marital rape: “the thing to understand is that the husband has his set of divinely given rights one of which is the right to have his physical desires satisfied.””
On non-Muslims, Jangda has claimed that there will be “shackles around necks of disbelievers and blazing fire for them. Then they will be chained up with so many chains they will be walking around the fire pits of hell dragging these chains. And then they will be put inside the fire and burned to a crisp”. He has also said that disbelievers will be “led like animals to the fire in Hell in groups. And then they reach the gates of the fire of Hell. And then those gates will be opened … And they’ll be obediently following and they’ll be carrying a burden on their backs”.
Jangda has described Jews living in Arabia at the time of the Prophet Muhammad as “some really bad people” with “excessive, evil, and malicious” intent. He has argued that these Jews opposed Islam and “liked the trouble because they were able to pull the strings and maintain some type of advantage in the community through political manoeuvring. … They were very hateful, very spiteful”.
Jangda has also said of Jews: “Say to these people that disbelieve and continue to pick a fight with you that one day we’ll come, when you will be defeated. And that defeat will extend not only to this life but to the life of the hereafter. To where your defeat will take you to the fire of Hell”.
Jangda studied at Jamia Binoria, a madrassah (Islamic College) in Karachi, Pakistan that is associated with the hardline Deobandi school of Sunni Islam. According to the Middle East Forum, “In 2009, the BBC journalist John Humphreys reported that Jamia Binoria was “brainwashing” children into supporting terrorism. In 2015, Pakistani law enforcement authorities raided the seminary after including it on a list of madrassahs linked to terrorist organisations.”
Meanwhile, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) held their 2017 Winter Conference at Aston University with the local Islamic Society that same weekend. The conference was co-sponsored with Human Appeal, a charity that has previously been linked to Hamas. It also featured Majed Mahmoud, an instructor at the Al-Maghrib Institute, and Aman Ali, MEND’s London Regional Manager.
Majed Mahmoud has appeared alongside Yvonne Ridley, a Hamas supporter, at a conference in California. He has previously appeared alongside extremist preacher Yasir Qadhi. He has also worked on projects with the satellite channel Al-Huda TV, which has hosted extremists such as Bilal Philips and Zakir Naik.
MEND was previously known as iEngage and current staff members have a history of controversial views. MEND’s director of engagement, Azad Ali, has supported the killing of British troops, praisedHamas and said that “democracy … at the expense of not implementing the Sharia, of course no-one agrees with that”.
This high volume of Islamist speakers in one location over one weekend is unusual. Disturbingly, it suggests that these concerning individuals are able to preach to students unchallenged at both a local and a national level. This is especially the case in Birmingham, a city which saw recent controversies with Al-Hijrah School and the wider ‘Trojan Horse’ plot as well as numerous terrorism cases.
University campuses have long been a frontline in the struggle against extremism. We hope that Birmingham and Aston universities will ensure that these extremists are not given so much oxygen in future.