Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | New Age Islam Website | May 17, 2016
Q. Sadiq Khan, the son of a bus-driver, has been elected as the mayor of London, and with a sizeable margin. He is London’s first Muslim mayor. How do you respond to this?
MWK: In his first address as the Mayor of London, Mr. Sadiq Khan said, while expressing his gratitude towards Londoners, that they had made the impossible, possible. In my view, it would be better to say that Londoners had demonstrated to the entire world, and especially to Muslims, what the spirit of this age is—that in today's day and age, sectarian thinking has ended and competence alone holds meaning. If one is able to prove one's competence, one can achieve anything. In this age of globalisation, there is no room for any kind of sectarian thinking. There is only one criterion of success—and that is, competence.
Q. What do you think Mr. Khan’s election can imply in the context of the much talked-about question of relations between Muslims and others, both in the West and globally, more generally?
MWK: The issue of relations is a unilateral one—the rest of the world has adopted the spirit of the age already, and now it is time for Muslims to change their attitude and adopt the spirit of the modern age, too.
Q. Some people allege that what is termed ‘Islamophobia’ has become widespread in the West. How do you see Sadiq Khan’s victory—a Muslim man being elected as mayor of a leading city in the West—in this context? What do you think it means in the context of claims of widespread ‘Islamophobia’ in the West, and among non-Muslims generally?
MWK: “Islamophobia” is a baseless rumour that Muslims have invented. It exists neither in the West nor anywhere else in the world. This is the age of opportunities, and today every person is busy in availing these opportunities; no one has the time to become enemy to another. Muslims must realise that the victory of Mr. Sadiq Khan completely dispels the notion of “Islamophobia”. Muslims must accept that they were under a wrong impression until now while the reality is quite different. It is now the responsibility of Muslims to unilaterally come out of this negative mindset.
Q. Besides living up to his other responsibilities as mayor of London, what do you think Sadiq Khan could do—or what would you like him to do—with regards to improving relations between Muslims and others in London, and in the UK and the West more generally?
MWK: It is now the turn of Muslims to change their perception towards the West. “Islamophobia” was a self-invented obsession that has no relevance. Muslims have not yet understood the spirit of the modern age, which invites everyone to adopt a "customer- friendly" attitude. It is only a friendly atmosphere that can allow the global economy to thrive, foster goodwill and sustain this era of professional development. In this modern age, no one can potentially remain an enemy to another.
Q. What lessons do you think we can draw from Sadiq Khan’s victory in terms of relations between Muslims and people of other faiths?
MWK: Mr. Sadiq Khan's victory should make Muslims realise that they live in a new age. This is an age where no kind of sectarian politics is workable. Today's global economy thrives on competition and cooperation and upholds competence as the single most important factor of development. Mr. Sadiq Khan is not a Muslim leader, but the result of his victory has left a lesson much bigger than any other, inviting Muslims to re-think and re-plan their efforts and channelise them in constructive matters.
Q. What lessons do you think can be drawn from Sadiq Khan’s victory in terms of political representation of Muslims and of minorities more generally?
MWK: In my opinion, the concept of political representation is irrelevant. What is relevant is political competence. In politics, quantity is nothing, it is competence that matters; quantity has only a secondary significance. For example, Jews are a minority community in the United States of America but they outshine in their spheres of work. This has become possible only because today competence is given supreme importance. The concept of representation emphasizes only on quantity, but in our view life is not a game of quantity. It is quality that matters!
Q. The people of London elected their first Muslim mayor. What message do you want to convey on the basis of this to Muslims in Muslim-majority countries in terms of how they should treat the minorities living in their midst?
MWK: At present, Muslim countries have adopted a “We-They” concept with respect to non-Muslim minorities. This concept is anachronistic to the modern world. The concept of today's age is “We-We”, that is, equal human rights for all. Muslims are free to follow their choice in matters of cultural belief but in social and political affairs they must adopt and practise the universal norms. That is, as far as human rights are concerned, there is no difference at all between any human beings.