LAST week Neil Basu, the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terror chief, said that the nature of the threat the UK faced has shifted, warning that the main danger came from extremists “in our midst”.

He added that isolated communities and illegal Islamic schools are a “breeding ground” for terrorism, and warned that the security services are investigating 600 extremist plots.

In December last year, Dame Louise Casey, an expert in social welfare, said segregation was at worrying levels. She accused public bodies of ignoring or condoning divisive or harmful religious practices for fear of being called racist.

Loading article content

It seems that Islam and Muslims are in the news almost on a daily basis, and not always in the best light.

Dame Louise is right when she says that some communities are involved in harmful religious practices — but what kind of doctrine is it that leads men and women to behave in this way? What Muslims do and say affects people in every corner of the world. Therefore is it not time to understand the true nature of Islam?

Mamadou Bobouc, an Islamic scholar, was reported in the Times earlier this summer as saying that “a radical and new interpretation” of the Quran is required to confront extremism.

There is no doubt that, at best, some traditional translations of the Quran are misleading and perpetuated by imams because few Muslims actually understand sufficient Arabic to challenge these interpretations. Even progressive scholars propagate traditional views because they passionately want to keep their jobs and their heads.

I saw the anomalies many years ago when in 1988 I started researching and writing, and was some years later issued with a fatwa to dissuade me from probing further. I continued my research which culminated with an eye-opening exposition of the Quran.

Eye-opening, because I found that what people believe to be in the Quran and what it actually says are two different things.

My book, published late last year, The Quran: God’s Message to Mankind, is an exposition of the Quran that is unrestrained by traditional bias or cultural influence.

Firstly it is a deconstruction of Islam as we know it. Secondly it is the reconstruction of Islam in the way it was originally intended. This process has truly shown Islam to be a socio-economic system and not the religion it is generally perceived to be.

It should be emphasised that the Quran has no rites or rituals. What it has are core principles, known as Permanent Values, that are universal and enduring in their nature — unchanging principles for changing times. The very values that diverse groups of people need to bring them together.

Segregated communities breed suspicion and fear. This is why the Quran decrees tolerance, forgiveness and forbids believers from berating other beliefs. But it also forbids blind obedience.

There is no gratuitous violence in the Quran, except for believers to crush treachery and insurrection, simply because peace at any price is no peace at all. The Quran also decrees law and order and condemns aggression; only a disciplined individual is really totally free.

The principles and values that the Quran presents are there to harmonise communities. Scotland has a long history of welcoming people from all over the world. This is why sincere and conscientious people should recognise the universal values in the Quran. They should be welcomed by everyone who wants peace and security.

Unless and until people live by common values, fear and turmoil will persist in communities. My exposition of the Quran eliminates internal and external conflicts, because Quranic values have meaning not only for the individual, but also a far richer meaning for each person as a member of the global village.

In troubled times, the Quran instead speaks of the compelling values of hope, peace, equality and inclusion, the kinds of values that Islam is sometimes not associated with, but which we need more than ever in the diverse community of many religions and ethnic backgrounds that make up modern Scotland.

Paigham Mustafa has been researching and studying the Quran since 1988 and spent over two years writing his book, The Quran: God’s message to Mankind, published in 2016, and which is available from Amazon. For more information please visit www.signat.co.uk