Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Another Three Months Gone ....

But at last the new City Journal is out.

The great Dalrymple has an opposite view of Islam to Niall Ferguson's. He believes it will wither away in the style of Christianity when exposed to the temptations and fleshpots of the West.

I'm not sure I agree - it's a strange argument for one who chronicles the moral and cultural collapse of the West to use - that the collapsing society (in shorthand sex, drugs and rock'n'roll) will in the long term prove irresistable to 'the religious'. And I think he's writing off Christianity prematurely.

But he's right about the secularisation, in the worst sense, of many Muslim youth. In my hedonistic Bradford youth, the drugs trade was in the hands of whites and Afro-Caribbeans, with the occasional middle-aged Asian businessman importing 'black' or Nepalese hashish. There were very few Asian 'retail' dealers. If, walking late at night in the city, you saw a gang of white kids on one side of the road and a gang of Asians on the other, you'd walk on the side with the Asian kids. They rarely meant trouble.

I spent a few months recently working on an IT project with a young Muslim analyst from a Bradford street near my old house, who told me many young Muslims were now dealing heroin, attracted by the instant wealth and status of a 'gangsta' lifestyle. There were. he said, a lot of guns about.

Dalrymple writes of Winson Green's Muslim prisoners :

"The young Muslim men in prison do not pray; they do not demand halal meat. They do not read the Qu’ran. They do not ask to see the visiting imam. They wear no visible signs of piety: their main badge of allegiance is a gold front tooth, which proclaims them members of the city’s criminal subculture—a badge (of honor, they think) that they share with young Jamaicans, though their relations with the Jamaicans are otherwise fraught with hostility. The young Muslim men want wives at home to cook and clean for them, concubines elsewhere, and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. As for Muslim proselytism in the prison—and Muslim literature has been insinuated into nooks and crannies there far more thoroughly than any Christian literature—it is directed mainly at the Jamaican prisoners. It answers their need for an excuse to go straight, while not at the same time surrendering to the morality of a society they believe has wronged them deeply. Indeed, conversion to Islam is their revenge upon that society, for they sense that their newfound religion is fundamentally opposed to it. By conversion, therefore, they kill two birds with one stone.

But Islam has no improving or inhibiting effect upon the behavior of my city’s young Muslim men, who, in astonishing numbers, have taken to heroin, a habit almost unknown among their Sikh and Hindu contemporaries. The young Muslims not only take heroin but deal in it, and have adopted all the criminality attendant on the trade."

But it's a long way from that observation to the theory that sex, smack and Sky will inevitably sap the strength of Islam. And I prefer a pious Muslim to a smackhead criminal any day.

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