Mona Siddiqui, professor of Islamic studies, New College, University of Edinburgh

The Arts are suffering because of the virus (which has nothing to do with my Invisible Magic Friend). The Arts are important. One of the nice bits of the Koran says so, so it must be true.

6 thoughts on “Mona Siddiqui, professor of Islamic studies, New College, University of Edinburgh

  1. I found the most interesting part of this to be the part where she asked “I’ve often wondered why so much popular artistic expression has faded away in some Muslim societies in the last few decades.”
    Well all you have to do to know the answer to that is read the ‘Meeting the needs of Muslim pupils in state schools’ booklet produced by the Muslim Council of Britain, especially the section on Expressive Arts. I never realised how much the religion is obsessed with sex and restricting their adherents freedom of though, although given the Catholic Church’s obsession I shouldn’t have been surprised.
    Such comments as “In Islam the creation of three dimensional figurative imagery of humans is generally regarded as unacceptable because of the risk of idolatress practices and some pupils and parents may raise objections to this”. So I wouldn’t be able to paint a picture of the head teacher to celebrate their birthday? Or a (Secular) Mother’s Day card with a picture of mum on the front?
    Or “All forms of music that may include the use of obscene and blasphemous language, encourage or promote immoral behaviour, arouse lustful feelings, encourage the consumption of intoxicants and drugs or contain unethical and un-Islamic lyrics would be considered objectionable.” Well, I’m not bothered about listening to hard core rappers or anyone else swearing and being misogynistic but I never realised “I wanna hold your hand” by The Beatles was so full of lust.
    Or “Dramas, plays and artistic works for Muslim pupils are encouraged for educational purposes. However, parents may have reservations regarding participation in theatrical plays or acting that involves physical contact between males and females, the encouragement of gender role-reversal (girls dressing as boys and vice-versa) or performing in a manner that may encourage sexual feelings.” At Junior school? Surely the trip to Panto is the best day out of the school year.
    There are clearly areas of art that Muslim pupils are encouraged to express themselves in such as calligraphy, textile art, ceramic glass, metal/woodwork, landscape drawing, paintings, architectural representations, geometric figures, photography and mosaic art, but it is typical of coercive religions to stop people expressing themselves freely so no surprise that Mona is worried.


    1. Yes, I also found it odd that Mona didn’t seem to know that other Muslims don’t support artistic expression except within the confines of stricter observance than her version of Islam.
      Has she never heard of Salman Rushdie?
      The MCB’s use of “idolatress practices” (idolatrous, innit?) made me smile. Making demands of an education system should at least require a bit of proof-reading.


      1. “The MCB’s use of “idolatress practices” (idolatrous, innit?) made me smile.”

        Maybe they take special exception to a female idolater, who could conceivably be referred to as an “idolatress”?


  2. It’s not the first time I’m not sure exactly what Mona is saying when she refers to more liberal interpretations of the Koran. Is it, ” my interpretation of the Koran trumps yours?” Or is it,” the Koran is contradictory, and a product of another era. Our values come from many other places ,as well. You need also to look at these other sources of values ,even if you do still regard the Koran as influential .” Taking Mona’s contribution as a whole, I suspect the latter. But she’s not always clear about this.


  3. The MCB represents only a small proportion of UK Muslims, although it shouts with a very loud voice. It is largely based in the austere and fundamentalist Sunni Deobandi community, and has a very specific agenda of its own. In particular, it uses the blanket term of ‘Islamophobia’ to smear any criticism of Muslims and Islam as motivated by bigotry. I suspect that Mona has little sympathy with the MCB, and would not see it as representing her interests: indeed, it would not surprise me if the MCB regarded her (a woman with a prominent position in the public space, who is not afraid to utter her own opinions and criticise her own religion when she feels it is justified) as a threat to their own authority, and verging on the apostate.


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