On the 6th December 2013, Dr. Usama Hasan addressed a packed audience of 40 people at the Bristol University Multi-Faith Chaplaincy, an event organised by the Bristol City Circle. Topics were the history and development of Muslim political thought, and recent Islamist extremism and jihadism, from the 1979 Iranian revolution and siege of Mecca to 9/11, partly inspired by the unattainable goal of a pure, Islamic state.

Dr. Hasan argued, based on Islamic scripture and its mainstream, normative interpretation, that an ‘Islamic state’, if such a thing existed, would be a just state, respecting basic human rights, freedoms and democracy. Furthermore, it would be obliged to help provide for people’s basic necessities such as food and drink, housing, education, jobs and healthcare. Dr. Hasan stated that in this sense, “Britain is far more ‘Islamic’ than many so-called ‘Islamic states’.” The one-hour talk was followed by an animated discussion during which a leading humanist stated that “I would sign up to an Islamic state like that!” Another audience member quoted Muhammad ‘Abduh, the early 20th-century Grand Mufti of Egypt who said upon returning to his home country from a trip to Europe, commenting on the religious duty of promoting civic society, “In Paris I saw Islam but no Muslims. In Cairo I see Muslims but no Islam.”

Quilliam would like to thank Bristol University, its Multi-Faith Chaplaincy, and the Bristol City Circle for hosting this event.