An Islamic school in London is teaching that non-Muslims are akin to pigs and dogs, and it is doing so with subventions from the British taxpayer. More alarmingly, when notified of this problem, the British authorities indicate they intend to do nothing about it.
The Times (London) reported on April 20 in "Muslim students ‘being taught to despise unbelievers as ‘filth'," that the Hawza Ilmiyya, a Shi‘i institution, teaches from the writings of Muhaqqiq al-Hilli. This scholar lived from 1240 to 1326 and wrote the authoritative work on Shi‘i law (Shara'i‘ al-Islam). About non-believers, called kafirs, he taught:
The water left over in the container after any type of animal has drunk from it is considered clean and pure apart from the left over of a dog, a pig, and a disbeliever.
There are ten [sic] types of filth and impurities: urine, faeces, semen, carrion, blood of carrion, dogs, pigs, disbelievers.
When a dog, a pig, or a disbeliever touches or comes in contact with the clothes or body [of a Muslim] while he [the disbeliever] is wet, it becomes obligatory-compulsory upon him [the Muslim] to wash and clean that part which came in contact with the disbeliever.
In addition, a chapter on jihad specifies conditions under which Muslims should fight Jews and Christians.
Although Hilli's attitudes were standard for a pre-modern Shi‘i, they are shocking for 2006 London. Indeed, several students in the Hawza Ilmiyya found them "disturbing" and "very worrying." Their spokesman told the Times that students "are being exposed to very literalist interpretations of the Koran. These are interpretations that would not be recognised by 80 or 90 per cent of Muslims, but they are being taught in this school. A lot of people in the Muslim community are very concerned about this." The spokesman concluded with an appeal urgently to re-examine "the kind of material that is being taught here and in other [Islamic] colleges in Britain."
The Tehran regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sponsors the Hawza Ilmiyya; for example, three of the eight years in the curriculum are spent at institutions in the Iranian city of Qom. Indeed, the school's 1996 founding memorandum states that "At all times at least one of the trustees shall be a representative of the Supreme Spiritual Leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
The institution that funds this school, the Irshad Trust, is a "registered charity" at the Charity Commission (see the trust's page at the commission website), a privilege that qualifies it for various tax concessions; in other words, the British taxpayer is effectively subsidizing the school. In particular, the school benefits from a program called "Gift Aid," under which the government refunds the income tax paid by the donor. Gifts made to registered charities can claim and receive a 28 percent tax refund. A gift of £100 to the Irshad Trust, for example, earns it £128.
A correspondent of mine, on reading the Times article, immediately complained to the Charity Commission and asked it to take steps concerning the Irshad Trust. He got a quick reply:
Subject: RE: "non-Muslims are ‘filth'"
From: Monaghan-Smith Tracey [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006
Dear Mr XX,
Thank you for your e-mail, the contents of which are noted. However, as per booklet CC47, the Commission will not become involved in this particular matter. You may wish to peruse the booklet in further detail, as this outlines our role quite clearly in this respect. The Commission will not look into this particular complaint. I hope this clarifies the position.
Mrs Tracey Monaghan-Smith
Booklet CC47, titled "Complaints about Charities," provides guidelines about commission procedures. The key phrase: "Complaints that the Commission will take up as regulator are, generally speaking, ones where there is a serious risk of significant harm or abuse to the charity, its assets, beneficiaries or reputation; where the use of our powers of intervention is necessary to protect them; and where this represents a proportionate response to the issues in the case." Mrs Tracey Monaghan-Smith and her superiors have clearly concluded that the Hawza Ilmiyya is not causing "significant harm."
(1) Ironically, even as some Muslim students attending the Hawza Ilmiyya find its teachings "disturbing" and "very worrying," mandarins at the Charity Commission deem them not causing "significant harm."
(2) The unbridled radicalism of the Hawza Ilmiyya fits a larger pattern of Islamic schools in the West teaching hostility to Jews and Christians or having links to terrorism. I document this pattern at "What Are Islamic Schools Teaching?" and "Troubles at Islamic Schools in the West."
(3) One can only assume that the Hawza Ilmiyya will go on its merry way, undeterred by the pleas for help by its students, the exposure of its practices, questions raised in parliament, and the complaints of citizens, and it will also continue to enjoy its 28 percent Gift Aid. Thus does the enemy's infrastructure build in our midst.
May 5, 2006 update: Readers wrote and the Charity Commission indicates it might respond. Here is a letter to a reader, forwarded on to me:
From: Edwards Louise [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, May 05, 2006
Subject: Irshard Trust amd the Islamic Centre of England
Thank you for your email of 28 April.
The Commission is aware of the article by Sean O'Neill published on 20 April inf the Times newspaper - Muslim Students "being taught to despise unbelievers as filth" - and Daniel Pipes' article Subsidizing the Enemy. Subsequent to concerns initially being raised with us about the allegations made in this article, the Commission has received additional correspondence from individuals concerned about the contents of this article. We have reviewed the information available to us and determined that an assessment should be made of the allegations raised in the article. We are therefore contacting the trustees of the charities mentioned - the Irshad Trust and the Islamic Centre of England - to explore these allegations. Subject to the outcome of our enquiries we will assess whether any issues of concern are present and determine what action, if any, is appropriate.
The Commission is the statutory authority responsible for the regulation of the charitable sector in England and Wales. Our general function as set out in section 1(3) of the Charities Act 1993 is "promoting the effective use of charitable resources by encouraging the development of better methods of administration, by giving charity trustees information or advice on any matter affecting the charity and by investigating and checking abuses". As part of fulfilling this function we assess complaints about charities to ascertain if issues of regulatory concern are present and if action by us is required.
When assessing concerns we apply the principles of fairness, consistency and proportionality. We will seek to act with impartiality, fairness, independence and honesty; we will make sure that the decisions or actions we take in any particular case are accurate and consistent with the law, with our published policies, and with other decisions; and we will aim to ensure that the actions we take are proportionate to the risk of harm involved in a particular case. Our assessment of harm will be based on an objective and thorough analysis of the evidence we gather. The Commission places considerable emphasis on our enforcement role, ensuring that charities comply with their legal requirements and that if there is evidence of deliberate wrong-doing we are hard and sharp in our response. If any action is considered necessary in this case, it will be appropriate to the risks revealed by our assessment.
I trust this clarifies the Commission's position.
Senior Manager/Case Officer
Compliance and Support
13-15 Bouverie Street
London EC4Y 8DP
t: 020 7674 2365
f: 020 7674 2301
Comment: What good news. We'll report on the assessment when it is finished and publicized.
June 14, 2006 update: A letter of inquiry from my informant spurred a stonewalling response from Louise Edwards, as follows:
From: Edwards Louise [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Subject: Irshad Trust and the Islamic Centre of England
Dear Mr XX:
Thank you for your email of 25 May. The Commission's enquiries regarding the Irshad Trust and the Islamic Centre of England are on-going.
I am sure you will appreciate that the Commission's correspondence with the trustees of both charities is confidential between the Commission and that charity and it is not our policy to provide details to any third party. We initiated our dialogue with these charities partly as a result of the concerns raised by members of the public, including you, and I would thank you for raising those concerns with us. Once we have gathered and analysed all relevant information we will determine what action, if any, we consider appropriate to take. If you would like further information on how the Commission deals with complaints raised about charities I refer to our website, where under 'Publications' you will find our booklet CC47 on the subject.
Aug. 24, 2006 update: My correspondent followed up with a letter on Aug. 18, asking where things stand. He was informed in no uncertain terms today that the inquiry is closed.
Dear Mr XX:
Thank you for your email of 18 August.
I note your request for an update regarding the Commission's enquiries into the issues raised by the Times article of 20 April regarding the Irshad Trust and the Islamic Centre of England. . For your information, our enquiries are concluded. On the basis of our analysis of the evidence and information obtained about the charities' activities, the Commission has no regulatory concern about either charity.
The Commission needed to undertake an objective assessment of the concerns raised, and form its conclusions based on evidence. This we have done. I am sure you will appreciate that the Commission's correspondence with the trustees of both charities is confidential between the Commission and that charity, and it is not our policy to provide details to any third party. We initiated our dialogue with these charities partly as a result of the concerns raised by members of the public, including you, and I would like to thank you for raising those concerns.
To which, my correspondent ended the exchange with this:
Sent: Thursday, August 24, 2006
To: 'Edwards Louise'
Subject: FW: Irshad Trust and the Islamic Centre of England
Dear Ms Edwards
Thank you for your response. The Charity Commissioners may have "no regulatory concern about either charity," but I have great concern that Muslims are being taught that I am "filth," what about you?