Center for Strategic Communication

[ by Charles Cameron — coded signalling, or “a nod is as good as a wink” ]

Maajid-Nawaz 602


Maajid Nawaz‘s An Ex-Radical’s Open Letter to ISIS Fighters: Quit Now While You Can! just published by The Daily Beast gives us an invaluable insight into the way a Muslim can skilfully address the “foreign fighters” who have migrated to join ISIS. His final paragraph contains the words:

.. you take one step to the good, we will all make leaps towards you.

What interests me about this is its close correspondence to the end of a Hadith Qudsi, or narration recounting in the Prophet’s own words, some truth that God revealed to him in person:

Abu Hurairah (RA) reports that Nabi (SAW) in a Hadith Qudsi narrated that Allah Ta’ala says:

I treat My slaves according to his expectations from Me. I am with him when he remembers Me; and if he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him in My heart; and if he remembers Me in a gathering, I remember him in a better and nobler gathering (of angels). If he comes closer to Me by one span, I go closer to him an arm’s length; if he comes towards Me an arm’s length, I go towards him two-arm’s length; and if he comes to Me walking, I run to him.

Anyone familiar with the hadith will recognize the allusion, and in fact Nawaz’ referencing it in this way can be considered akin to George W Bush‘s use of the phrase –

there’s power, wonder-working power, in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people

— in his State of the Union address, 2002 — knowing that while those words would slip past most Americans without holding any special significance, to those familiar with the hymn “There is Power in the Blood” it would strike a distinctively Christian note.


In Dog-Whistle Politics, Coded Communication and Religious Appeals, Bethany Albertson gives other instances, citing Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton as well as Bush, and quoting the religion scholar Bruce Lincoln as saying of Bush:

Aware that he must appeal to the center to secure reelection, he employs double-coded signals that veil much of his religious message from outsiders ..

It’s interesting to see a Muslim (and a politican, too, for Nawaz is currently running as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the seat of Hampstead and Kilburn at Westminster) using the same rhetorical form of coded messaging.


All of which puts a new spin on the words:

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.