UK: Islam must learn to live as a minority, says Chief Rabbi
The Chief Rabbi has called on Muslims to get used to living as a minority in Britain and to learn to separate religion from power.
Lord Sacks said that neither Muslims nor Christians had yet learnt the lessons inflicted on the Jewish people by the Babylonian exile.
“One of the great advantages of being Jewish is you know how to sing in the minor key,” he said. “We have had 26 centuries of experience ever since the Babylonian exile of living as a minority in the midst of a culture that does not share our views. Christianity and Islam have not had that experience.”
He said that Christianity had learnt toleration but only after 100 years of “knocking the hell out of each other all over Europe”.
He said: “So Christianity went through its experience, Judaism has been through it a long, long time ago and Islam has not yet had that experience.
“I have no doubt that Islam will work its way through to the essential situation that Judaism arrived at and Christianity, namely the substantive separation of religion from power. But there’s no quick way of getting there. It is quite a difficult and painful process within religion.
“Only Muslims can do it. Nobody can tell them from the outside. That would be taken as an affront and I would regard it as morally unacceptable. I do see some wonderful Muslims in this country and elsewhere, in Iraq and even in Iran, going through that process.
"I think some of the Muslim thinkers today are some of the most courageous thinkers I have come across and it is very striking how many of them are women. It is very interesting. So Islam will get there. But I would hope that one of the ways they would get there is just coming to understand how things work in Britain.”
The Chief Rabbi was delivering the annual lecture to the think-tank Theos in London to an audience of politicians, journalists, academics, businessmen and faith representatives.
He warned that Europe’s loss of a tolerant religious culture made it vulnerable to the advance of fundamentalism.
Tolerant religion was “the only strong enough defence with some of the religiosity that is coming our way with the force of a hurricane,” the Chief Rabbi said.
“Let me be blunt. Either we win or the fundamentalists win and that is the challenge. If the fundamentalists win, I wouldn’t hang around too long.”
Source: The Times, h/t London Muslim