It is absurd to be baffled by those who leave Britain for Iraq and Syria, argues renowned academic John Casey. Healing the divisions of Islam and forming a single state under God’s law is a dream that stands at the heart of all Muslim traditions
“…Last week the Today programme asked some British Muslims why so many of their community are going to Syria to fight. The usual answers came – they are brainwashed, or groomed, or they have no real understanding of Islam. One old man said simply that he could not imagine why three mothers could abandon their husbands and take their nine children to a war zone. Other explanations have been offered – these young men go for sex, for money, for sadism. There have even been bizarre attempts to blame the British police for radicalising some of them.
The bafflement strikes me as absurd. What is the mystery? When my lame attempt at humour in Al Azhar fell flat I realised that certain ideas had never died. For the Caliphate had existed as long as Islam itself. That Muslims throughout the world form a single community – an Umma – is not the conviction of a few cranks. It is inherent in all Muslim traditions. Even if the divisions within the Arab world make a Caliphate seem impossible to achieve, very many Muslims – perhaps the majority throughout the world – respond to it instinctively as an ideal.”