1:50pm Tuesday 13th November 2012
By Mike Wright
A Watford councillor was previously a senior member of the radical Islamist movement, Hizb ut-Tahrir, and called for the establishment of an Islamic state, the Watford Observer can reveal.
Articles written by Asif Khan, a Labour representative for Leggatts Ward, argue Muslims should not take part in Western politics and that they should work to establish Islam in non-Islamic states.
The articles, written between 2003 and 2004, also state Muslims in non-Islamic countries should strictly adhere to Sharia law, arguing for polygyny – in which a man has more than one wife at the same time - and against intermarriage with non-believers.
Councillor Khan, a 36-year-old college lecturer, has confirmed he was a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir between the early 2000s and 2007 and sat on its executive committee as well as editing its magazine Khilafah.
However, this week he said he has since totally rejected his previous views and blasted Hizb ut-Tahrir, saying its ideology “doesn’t fit with reality”.
Councillor Khan said he became involved in Hizb ut-Tahrir was when he was young and was angry at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since leaving, he said he had become a vocal opponent of the organisation and its ideology within the Muslim community.
Councillor Khan said: "I have completely disavowed such opinions. They were written almost a decade ago when I was younger. I am now a family man.
“The pamphlet was a piece of theoretical academic work to provide debate amongst Muslim thinkers during a period of turmoil following the Iraq war.
“I now publicly campaign against all these views and oppose (Hizb ut-Tahrir). I devote all my energies to working for local residents who have elected me to serve them."
Hizb ut-Tahrir is a controversial group that campaigns for a pan-national Islamic state, a caliphate, under a single leader.
The group is still legal despite attempts to ban it by the Conservative Party, which described Hizb ut-Tahrir as advocating “hate or the violent overthrow of our society” in its 2010 manifesto.
In his 2004 pamphlet, titled The Fiqh of Minorities, Councillor Khan adopted a number of hard-line stances on how Muslims should live in a non-Islamic country.
In one passage he said: “A Muslim woman’s marriage to a disbeliever is clearly unlawful as mentioned in the ayah of the Qur’an.”
Later in the tract he argued: “The reality of applying the hukm [commandment] of polygyny is that certain problems are solved. For example if the wife cannot bear children or the number of women in society is greater than men; these problems can be solved as a result of applying the rule of polygyny.”
One of the main arguments of the pamphlet was against Muslims participating in non-Islamic politics, and he accused Labour – the party he later joined - of bringing misery to the lives of Muslims.
He said: “We have a lesson to learn from the example of George W Bush who won the American presidential elections with the votes of Muslims.
"A large number of Muslims thought that this man would achieve an Islamic interest by allowing them to build institutions and help them improve their image, and win support for many issues such as Palestine.
“As soon as he was elected and assumed power, he began to light the fire of a new crusader war and began to kill, banish and expel the Muslims of the world under the pretext of terrorism.
“The same can be said about the current Labour Party, where many Muslims voted for this party expecting the lives of Muslims to be easier, but instead it has been full of misery.”
In one edition of Khilafah magazine councillor Khan argued that Muslims had an obligation to establish Islam in places where there is no Islamic state.
He said: “Many Muslims use these Ahadith [sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad] to justify their inactivity in working to change the political situation and to bring back the Khilafah State.
“They incorrectly believe that this earth will be filled with injustice until Imam Mahdi appears and revives the Muslim Ummah [nation].
“There is in fact no indication from these, or other Ahadith, that we are relieved from fulfilling our obligation of comprehensively establishing Islam if the Islamic State is absent, and working in all situations to make the deen [religion] of Allah dominant.”
In an interview with the Watford Observer this week Councillor Khan said his hard-line views started to change after the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London and when he got married and had children.
In 2010 Councillor Khan joined the Watford Labour Party and was then elected to Watford Borough Council in 2011 with a majority of 116 votes.
He said he now believed Muslims needed to engage in British society and take part in politics.
He said: "Hizb ut-Tahrir's philosophy does not fit with reality.
"The older generation came here as immigrants and always saw themselves as being temporary here. But my generation has been born and brought up here and our homes are. We need to engage.
"I want the next Barack Obama to come from the UK and why not the Muslim community?”
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