February 03, 2005

ALLAH AND JAHILIAH

On my journey to Finsbury Park Mosque I wondered whether there could ever be any link between British Fundamental Islam and the peace “movement.” The idea wasn’t too serious. I don’t believe that there is a “movement” anyway but it intrigued me as to what they would make of me and I of them.

I realised straight away that I was blatantly the only person in Finsbury Park and possibly the whole country on this mission. With all my interviews, arguments, missed meetings and unanswered emails over two years the only people left standing who are still exploring this link are myself and Jamal.

For a Malung I surprised myself how dedicated I was in my filming over the last two years. The brothers possibly want to use some of my footage in Hamza’s defence. I don’t mind. The main evidence they are using against him is video evidence filmed in the Mosque anyway and he spent a lot of time refuting it outside. Looking through it all with Jamal we laughed about how much grief his masked friends were giving me sometimes when I was filming.

This led to an enlightening discussion about the difference between London’s “street” Muslim’s (the guys in the masks and Nike trainers) who didn’t trust a kaffir with a camera whoever they were and himself and Hajj who understood protest culture, knew where I was coming from and what a surprise it was that anyone of my ilk would be taking an interest in Finsbury park.

Jamal assured me that he had explained this all to Abdullah.

“ I told him, these guys usually hate Islam more than Bush does. They wouldn’t come anywhere near us...” which is true.

It was my previous background in born again Christianity- also the bane of anarcho/hippies which hooked me to this thing. I understand the mentality of monotheistic converting religions because I used to be part of one myself. I am not offended by people who want to convert me, as long as their motivation comes from a concern for my soul rather than a desire to be right. I can tell the difference in seconds and am really respectful of one and totally offended by the other.

If I was looking for a Fundamental Islamist to form any sort of alliance with idealogically I really couldn’t find anyone closer than Jamal. Hajj told me before how he believed that Jamal had a great future ahead of him as an Islamic teacher. I hope so. He has spoken a few times about how he met Mark Thomas on the tube once and wanted to send him some stuff.

It really is uncanny. When we were talking about how difficult it was to stop smoking weed he quoted me my favourite line from Jackie Brown where the Samuel L Jackson character says that dope

“Robs you of your ambition.” too true.

He also said that before he became a Muslim he had an idea for a screenplay referring to people of our age and political persuasion as

Thatcher’s Babies”

I once was toying with an idea for a film about underground squatter culture called

“Thatcher’s bastard children”

Throughout our conversation he casually dropped in names of bands he used to like, festivals he used to go to. When I said I was from Dorset he answered

“P.J.Harvey’s from there.”

I really want to film what Jamal and his wife think about giving up music for Islam as it was obviously such an important part of their pre Islamic life. This is all totally original stuff about British culture I believe people would love to see on TV.

Jamal refers to his previous life as

“When I was in Jahiliah”

He doesn’t glorify it, but it was strange to hear from such a devout Muslim who was leaving my house to pray outside every few hours how he used to be doing Calvin Klein’s (Lines of Coke and Ketamine) with his friends at work. I’m not going to plaster it all over Socialistwanker, I think Hajj is a bit upset with my “Hajj on Dope” piece anyway. I meant no offence, I just want part of my film to talk directly to my “malung” audience and Jamal is the only Muslim from Finsbury park who understands why.

If this film is about the people of Finsbury park Mosque refuting allegations of terrorism in the mainstream media its a numbers game as to who they can convince and which person can relate best to which social group. I think Abdullah would appeal to Christians and Muslims watching but he would definately offend British "Malungs" who would not care about his or Hamza's plight. This is where Hajj and Jamal come in.

The newspapers are full of stories at the moment about Bez winning Big brother and what it says about how the British people see themselves. I see a nation full of "malungs." Drug and drink fucked diamonds who wish the world was a better place. Jamal and Hajj can communicate who they are and what they believe directly to these people. I don't personaly believe in Islam but I owe it to them to give them their chance because they have taken a chance and trusted me. This is what I love most about documentary making. Fuck the dispassionate even handed bullshit, I care about these people.

Neither of them want to glorify drug use on British TV. They only tell me these things to say

“I was once like you, looking for something in drugs and physical pleasure and I gave it up to follow Allah.”

In conversation Jamal also explained the difference between the view’s of Omar Bakri’s Al-Mujaarharoun movement and Abu Hamza regarding September 11th. Apparently it was Al-Muj who organized the controversial “Towering day in history” event in Finsbury park.

If I understand it correctly the Al-Muj view is sort of

“Yeah, Muslims did it, it was a fight back against U.S. Imperialism in the middle east”

Whereas Jamal, Hamza and co took a step back and analysed the data Muslim’s and non Muslims collected and came to believe that the whole thing was a CIA/Mossad plot and the towers came down in a controlled explosion. They do not believe that Bin laden either did it or admitted to it. Far out. These are the views they want to expand on if the TV want a show which demonstrates their point of view.

Looking over my footage of Hamza’s preaching with Jamal made me see him in a different light. He was quick to point out how Hamza said

“Sometimes the truth comes from someone who is not a believer. We should accept it from where it comes.”

I found it hard to make any judgement about Hamza with all the buzz around him at the time. I wish now that I had spoke to Hajj and Jamal a lot more when he was around. I can see that the Sun really want him to be guilty. They want a terrorist “Bin Laden of Britain” really badly.

Although I want to present this as objectively as possible I can see that I want the old guy to be innocent. I don’t know why. I don’t think he’d do the same for me if I got in trouble. It’s the little things...Samir telling me how Abu Hamza was like a father to him and his brother, even calling him about things like parking tickets. No one has got this on film. Not even me -yet. I don’t know why it has fascinated me to the point of obsession for two years.

Although I can see that my success or failure in this project is very much tied up in a sort of post punk middle class angst to me, to them it will be created if Allah wills it to be so.

Before he left Jamal told me that he believed it was good that a non Muslim was after the truth behind their story. I've been saying this to Abdullah for over a year now. Jamal wants to make a connection to “counter-culture” groups. We both know that this would be difficult, nigh on impossible as such people are often radical feminists and gay rights activists, but if anyone from the Islamic world could do it it would be Jamal. I’d like to film him trying.

The main difference between us is that I believe in British TV’s forte- presenting the other side of controversial issues and he doesn’t. I believe that the guys at Finsbury Park Mosque are not terrorists, but as such this doc would be pretty pointless if people who believed that they were didn’t get to see it.

If they are not terrorists the only people who benefit from their continued silence are those who claim that they are. Their opponents have created a picture of mad-dog Islamists who cannot articulate their views except by bombing innocents. Its up to these guys to articulate a different story, if they want to. Abu Hamza’s celebrity is such that they, more than any other Muslim group have the opportunity to do so. I love being part of this story. I hope they’ll give it a go.

3 comments:

Unknown said...

i hate to admit it, but i am so lost when i read this. these names, these people and events are so foreign to me. it is interesting, but i feel like i've walked into a movie three-quarters of the way through and i can't seem to get up to speed.

i really liked what you said here:
"It was my previous background in born again Christianity- also the bane of anarcho/hippies which hooked me to this thing. I understand the mentality of monotheistic converting religions because I used to be part of one myself. I am not offended by people who want to convert me, as long as their motivation comes from a concern for my soul rather than a desire to be right. I can tell the difference in seconds and am really respectful of one and totally offended by the other."

something about the way you said that seems so un-threatened/un-threatening.

anyway, thanks for posting my thing...after reading it again, i kinda wish i had taken more time with it, but oh well.

DAVE BONES said...

Its more like You've walked into the makings of a movie three quarters of the way through, and its still anyones guess whether it will be made or not!

I've tried to sum up the story so far on socialist wankerIf you want to redo your enron piece go ahead!

Thanks again.

DAVE BONES said...

some photos of company executives in compromising positions with lap dancers would be nice...

faling that any sort of photos from the time..