Whatever your opinion of the British monarchy, there is no denying her late Majesty‘s devotion to the nation. Her stoicism, her political neutrality, and the universal affection she inspired are likely to remain unparalleled. Beyond that, however, is the comfort she provided us in the traditions she upheld; a realisation that struck many of us only in the wake of her passing. The ascension of King Charles III, therefore, signals much more than a perfunctory changing of the guard. It is arguably the end of an era.
There are many reasons to be concerned about this new age, with particular reference to Charles himself. His embrace of climate alarmism and the desire to be photographed with Greta Thunberg is one thing; his openness to demands that the Royal Family make reparations for slavery, an absurdity. His general kowtowing to ‘wokery’ is risible, seeing as the Left desires nothing more than his abolition. What concerns me the most, however, is his Islamophilia.
Defender of the faiths
As head of the Church of England, Charles has a duty to lead the nation in matters spiritual. But his imminent coronation is unlikely to allay concerns over religious loyalties, particularly since he has long-since eschewed the hereditary title ‘Defender of the Faith’ in favour of ‘Defender of Faiths’—something he is keen to highlight during the ceremony itself.
Notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary once stated his desire to convert Buckingham Palace into a mosque, and to fly the Islamic State flag over Number 10 Downing Street. Choudary was roundly mocked for such a suggestion, but he is unlikely to be fazed by the thought of King Charles III on the throne, whose flirtations with Islam are well-documented.
Perhaps it has something to do with his participation in the world’s longest apprenticeship scheme, but the seven-decade-long heir apparency has almost certainly compelled Charles to find purpose in the interim. Prominent, if not chief, among his interests is Islam. Once accused of being a ‘secret Muslim’ almost 30 years ago by the grand mufti of Cyprus, Charles has famously taken Arabic lessons to improve his understanding of the Koran.
He has previously hosted the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar at Clarence House, expressed his criticism of Salman Rushdie and the Danish Cartoons, and praised the Muslim influence on the world. Perhaps most poignant are Charles’ calls for the West to develop a better understanding of Islam, in a famous 1993 speech “Islam and the West” at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. The speech is well worth reading in its entirety, but I will give you just a flavour of the new King’s appreciation of Islam.
If there is much misunderstanding in the West about the nature of Islam, there is also much ignorance about the debt our own culture and civilisation owe to the Islamic world. It is a failure which stems, I think, from the straitjacket of history which we have inherited.
People in this country frequently argue that Sharia law of the Islamic world is cruel, barbaric and unjust. Our newspapers, above all, love to peddle those unthinking prejudices. The truth is, of course, different and always more complex. My own understanding is that extremes are rarely practised.
On women’s rights:
Women are not automatically second-class citizens because they live in Islamic countries. We cannot judge the position of women in Islam aright if we take the most conservative Islamic states as representative of the whole.
At the same time, we must not be tempted to believe that extremism is in some way the hallmark and essence of the Muslim. Extremism is no more the monopoly of Islam than it is the monopoly of other religions, including Christianity.
Medieval Islam was a religion of remarkable tolerance for its time, allowing Jews and Christians the right to practise their inherited beliefs, and setting an example which was not, unfortunately, copied for many centuries in the West.
Islam’s contribution to the modern world:
Islam is part of our past and our present, in all fields of human endeavour. It has helped to create modern Europe. It is part of our own inheritance, not a thing apart. More than this, Islam can teach us today a way of understanding and living in the world which Christianity itself is the poorer for having lost.
It is no coincidence that Charles ascends the throne at a time when the Church of England is particularly enfeebled. Successive Archbishops of Canterbury have done little to reverse the damning fall in church attendance, preferring to focus instead on ‘woke’ causes. Justin Welby presides over a Church fixated upon non-binary priests, a gender-neutral God, and the insistence that ‘hatred’ of Muslims is blasphemy. His predecessor, meanwhile, Rowan Williams, was a forceful voice for the introduction of Sharia itself. There are even suggestions that the next Archbishop could be a Muslim, after the rules were relaxed.
The lethal combination of a weak monarchy and a weak clergy leave Britain vulnerable to something more assertive filling the void. That something is undoubtedly Islam. Whether it’s Sharia via the backdoor, shows of strength like mayor Khan’s Ramadan lights in central London, or the election of Humza Yousaf as Scotland’s first minister—a man who wants to impose a de facto blasphemy law (Hate Crime bill)—inclusivity is only ever a one-way street.
Almost ten years ago, there were calls from the former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, that the Koran be read at Prince Charles’ coronation, with a view to “allow leaders of non-Christian religions to give their blessing to the new king.” Thus far, there are no signs that such a reading is planned, although it would not be a great surprise.
King Charles III’s ascension to the throne may not quite usher in the end of the Church of England, and the Islamic State flags any time soon. However those desirous of such things may find themselves justified in preparing the flagpole.