Integration · Politics

On Freedom of Speech and the Ability to Ponder and Reflect

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Arfa Niswan Yassir, Swindon

Love and compassion softens your heart whereas selfishness leads you to cross the limits of what is acceptable to many. It is heart wrenching indeed to see the name of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) yet again used politically in an unthinkable manner. If we just stop and think about this issue, it concerns someone who for 1.6 million Muslims is the saviour of mankind, a person who was a blessing for every living soul, who had the benevolence to forgive the cruellest of enemies at the height of his power and strength, indeed, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) who spent sleepless nights praying for humanity. For whom Allah states:

“So haply thou wilt grieve thyself to death for sorrow after them if they believe not in this discourse.”

Al-Quran [18:7]

The Holy Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) had so much love for humanity that he was about to grieve himself to death, and the aforementioned verse is witness to this.

This was the stature of our Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) about whom someone today is planning a rather regrettable competition. We reject this approach, we reject this competition, we reject this abuse of freedom of expression and we reject the motives behind this move.

Such activities are carried out under the cover of freedom of speech! When freedom impinges on morality it is bound to cause trouble. To my mind Allama Iqbal, poet and philosopher of British India fairly sums up this idea of freedom in his Urdu couplet:

آزادیِ افکار سے ہے اُن کی تباہی

رکھتے نہیں جو فکر و تدبر کا سلیقہ

The poet says that free, unbridled thinking can bring about the ruin of those who don’t possess the skill and flair needed to ponder and reflect over matters.

As Muslims let’s respond to this ‘competition’ with efforts at vying with each other in good works, as the Qur’an commands us (2:149) vying with each other in trying to emulate the noble and blessed model of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be on him). These efforts of course will last for a lifetime, while such competitions will come and go.

This is not about infringement of the grace of our Holy Prophet, because no one on the face of the earth has the capability to bring disgrace to the noble Prophet, it is actually about the sentiments of millions of Muslims which Geert Wilders wants to deliberately hurt. However, Islam teaches respect, love and compassion. We can never think of caricaturing any holy person. We respect all the Prophets of God who came through ages, we respect the Pope, the Dalai Lama and other spiritual leaders who are revered around the world because we are ethical and practice restraint in using our freedom of expression and we aspire to make this world a better place.

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Islam · Politics

Response to Anti-Islam Sentiment

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Navida Sayed, London

There was widespread disquiet following Dutch politician Geert Wilder coming back on the scene yesterday announcing to hold a cartoon competition of our beloved Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

The impact of Mr Wilders’ announcement has somewhat spiralled out of control among people from all walks of life on social media resulting in individuals instantaneously reacting without a pause for thought. Social media platforms were laden with hundreds of concoctions offensive, abusive, derogatory comments against Islam and our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Enraged individuals who clearly don’t know the basics about Islam were exchanging deluded and distorted comments. Existing negative media content about Islam already drives such individuals and Wilders’ announcement gives it a big boost.

Surely freedom of speech does not mean creating disorder and chaos in the world. The antagonism Mr Wilders is breeding and expanding will harm peace of society by creating further divisions and barriers. Wilders’ interpretation of freedom of speech will open a gateway for further bigotry.

Prevention remains better than cure we can only pray and hope the relevant authorities will rethink and take responsibility.

Producing and publishing cartoons may be the asserted right of individuals wishing to express freedom of speech, however is it necessary at the expense of hurting the sentiments of others and jeopardizing peace in society? Will posting cartoons of our beloved Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him) enable the world to become a better and peaceful place?  Surely this cannot be deemed as freedom of speech especially if it leads to strife.

As for our response, regardless of the surge of hatred against Islam, in these last ten days of the blessed and holy month of Ramadhan, we will continue to pray and won’t give up advocating peace, tolerance, love and understanding among followers of all faiths.

A humble message to all fellow Muslims in the world, let us all endeavour to put into practice the goodwill, piety and self-discipline acquired during Ramadhan, and  not be provoked by  Wilders of the world. Pray for unity among the Muslim Ummah and understand the Need for the Imam. I end with the words of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace):

‘Alas! Heaven is bearing witness and you do not hear; the earth is crying out: One is needed, one is needed, and you pay no attention! O unfortunate people! arise and see that in this time of distress, Islam has been trodden underfoot and has been maligned like criminals. It has been counted among liars and has been written down among unholy ones. Then would not God’s jealousy be aroused at such at time? Understand then that heaven is drawing close and the days are near when every ear shall hear the affirmation: ‘I am present’.

(Kitab-ul-Bariyyah, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 13, pp. 228 -330 – Essence of Islam, Vol. IV, pp. )

 

Islam · Politics

The Caliph Speaks

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Tooba Khokhar, Cambridge

“What’s in a name?” the Bard once mused. “That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet”. Islam, so we are told, “literally means peace”. With this pronouncement, it is hoped all arguments critical of Islam will melt away. Or perhaps not quite. The fundamental problem with this simplistic approach is that in essence a name is just a name, it is the substance that matters.

In a time of tangled rhetoric and heated debates, there is a voice every bit as calm and peaceful as the religion he speaks for. His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community doesn’t merely proclaim the beauty of the rose, he describes its every beauteous shape and contour, alludes to its fragrance and verdure. In other words, his is the approach of expounding the actual teachings of Islam, based on the Qur’an and the example of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

In the roar of the age, his gentle words carry more strength and proof than a thousand rhetoricians. In an address at the Houses of Parliament in the UK in 2013, he explained:

The Holy Qur’an states that one of the Attributes of God Almighty is ‘Salam’ which means He is ‘The Source of Peace.’ It follows that if God truly is the ‘Source of Peace’ then His peace should encompass all of His Creation and all of mankind, rather than be limited to a specific group of people… Allah says:

‘I swear by his repeated cry “O my Lord!” that these are a people who will not believe. Therefore, turn aside from them, and say, “Peace;” and soon shall they know.’ (Ch.43: Vs. 89-90)

These words illustrate that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) brought a teaching that was a source of mercy and compassion for all people and thus was a means of peace for all of mankind.[i]

Secondly, His Holiness always emphasises respect and kindness as cornerstones of dialogue. For the fragrance of the rose attracts by its beauty. There is no need to set fire to the rest of the garden to illustrate its charms. Drawing from Qur’anic principles for Muslims to come to a “mutual word” between them and others, His Holiness extols the virtues of the founders of all faiths whom he says were sent by God, “with teachings of love and affection” [ii]. Moreover, he emphasises the compassion, mercy and kindness embodied by the example of our Noble Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). So, the second aspect of his approach is peaceful and respectful dialogue.

Thirdly, he addresses Muslims. We are instructed to practice the beauties laid out by our faith, to live out the motto of “love for all, hatred for none”. So as to prove that the rose is not a withered thing of bygone years, but that the garden of Islam is ever verdant. According to His Holiness, “to love mankind and to show compassion to others is an immense form of worship of God” [iii] and in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s annual Peace Symposium of 2016, he stated:

Allah the Almighty has said that those who believe in Him should adopt His Attributes and so it is impossible for a true Muslim to be cruel and it is similarly impossible for Islam to permit any form of injustice, violence or extremism.[iv]

After all, the attributes of Allah include the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Just, the Gentle and the Kind and it is these virtues we should seek to inculcate. His Holiness always underlines how it is not Islam that sustains extremists, but rather access to funding, the arms trade and political interests, stating that far from being a “religious war”, it is only “geopolitical gains” at play.[v] As for the religion he practices, he proclaims:

Without a shadow of doubt, Islam’s teachings are a guarantor for peace and security for all mankind. Its teachings are rooted in compassion, mercy and humanity and it is these true Islamic values that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has endlessly emphasised and endeavoured to spread across the world for more than 125 years. [vi]

Thus, His Holiness’ defence of Islam is as comprehensive as it is compelling. With an emphasis on expounding the true teachings of the faith, he speaks with gentleness and always entreats towards actions and deeds over mere wordplay. Granted, Islam by any other name would be just as sweet. But, as His Holiness has illustrated, there is a deep wisdom to the name, for Islam truly is a religion of peace.

[i] https://www.khalifaofislam.com/articles/islam-a-religion-of-peace-compassion/
[ii] https://www.khalifaofislam.com/articles/islam-a-religion-of-peace-compassion/ “Allah has said that all prophets were sent by Him, and so all true Muslims must accept them. No other religion so willingly and openly praises every faith and every nation as Islam does”
[iii] https://www.khalifaofislam.com/articles/islam-really-feared/
[iv] https://www.khalifaofislam.com/articles/peace-symposium-keynote-2016/
[v] http://www.pressahmadiyya.com/press-releases/2018/03/head-ahmadiyya-muslim-community-says-time-come-stop-blaming-muslims-worlds-problems/
[vi] http://www.pressahmadiyya.com/press-releases/2017/08/islam-proclaims-people-born-equal-no-matter-hail-colour-skin-hazrat-mirza-masroor-ahmad/
Features · Politics

Westminster Reflections

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Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot

The Metro newspaper had a story a couple of days ago about a terror response exercise on the river Thames; as events unfolded in Westminster yesterday afternoon it felt surreal as if reality and training were merging. Three members of the public died and dozens are being treated for extensive injuries after a car was driven into a crowd on Westminster Bridge. PC Keith Palmer was stabbed and died after confronting a man who ran towards the entrance and tried to gain access to Parliament; this man was shot dead by police. Parliament and the surrounding area remained under lockdown for several hours and now, on the morning after, the country is left reflecting on what happened.

For me seeing these events happening in the city of my birth is devastating. The beautiful sights of London under lockdown and once more filled with the sound of sirens and the sight of blood because of an act of hatred. We experienced it with IRA bombings in the past as well as the 7th July attack.

Events of horror such as this one affect us all and we react in different ways; until the police actually tell us details of what happened and until we can see into the hearts of our fellow people speculation is futile.

However speculation began immediately and in this age of social media it doesn’t take long for information, both fact and fiction, to spread. Matters were made worse when the usually more reliable Channel 4 News named the suspect only for it to emerge that the man in question is actually serving a jail sentence. Many people began to blame Islam and Muslims, for carrying out and condoning terrorism; so once again and despite their open condemnation, peaceful, ordinary Muslims were blamed for ‘not doing enough’. As if reasonable people could really believe ordinary Muslims are not shocked and saddened; the fact that the great majority of devout Muslims are against terrorism should be enough to show that Islam itself does not allow for terrorism.

A couple of other things struck me as really unsavoury; first was the way former EDL leader Tommy Robinson rushed to the scene and the media interviewed him. Why should importance be given to a man who wasn’t present during the incident and is only known for stirring up hatred against Muslims? Once again the media’s need for shock value prevailed.

Another thing was that despite advice from the Police that people should contact them with information and not circulate photographs and speculation, many were shared. One showing a man in a crowd taking a selfie in front of ambulances produced immediate outrage; however the people circulating the photo didn’t maybe stop and think they were complicit just by sharing. A second photo showed a Muslim woman walking past an injured person on the pavement while speaking on a mobile phone. This led to many comments condemning “the uncaring Muslim rushing by”. But who knows the situation? She could have been contacting relatives to tell them she was safe, she could have been pacing unable to help and if she was merely walking past chatting what makes this action an illustration of an uncaring Muslim rather than the actions of any other uncaring young person these days?

Divisions and hatred may have been shouted out but the images and words that should stay in our minds are rather different. The image of MP Tobias Ellwod was all over the media as he desperately tried to save the life of the fallen police officer. The many medics rushing out from St Thomas hospital disregarding the fact the area may not yet have been secure. Passers-by helping the injured, something which has been shown again and again at times of crisis.

Hatred and pointing fingers will get us nowhere; to defeat attempts to terrorise us we must unite and show tolerance towards one another as fellow human beings. As Brendan Cox pointed out this morning, there was one act of evil but thousands of acts of kindness and bravery. This is something that what we should focus on as more details emerge in the coming days when the need for unity will be great.

Politics

Liberty Not Neutrality

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By Tooba Khokhar, Cambridge, UK

On the 14th of March 2017, the European Court of Justice ruled in favour of a corporation wishing to prohibit its employees from “the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign”. The plaintiff in this case, Belgian citizen Ms Samira Achbita was a “hijabi”, a woman observing the Islamic code of dress. The court ruled that the company, GS4, had the right to impose “neutrality” in dress-code.

In light of these statements, we really must ask ourselves whether we, as a society, have the right to define precisely what level of clothing is considered appropriately “neutral”? The Hijab worn by Ms. Achbita and so many Muslim women is a spiritual garment that offers us security and comfort of the heart. The Hijab by no means restricts women nor is it a political statement; what it represents to us is but devotion to God. Why must this spiritual garment be brought into courtroom disputes and become a pawn in the political arena?

After all, we cannot forget that the headscarf, the turban, the kippah- all are a part of the religious landscape of Europe. Indeed, Muslim and Jewish communities have long peopled the lands and isles of Europe. The sacred garments we wear hold so much meaning to us, to many of us they form an essential part of practice of our faith. Why then have the fabrics we have for so long donned become cause for such contention?

An equally alarming side to the ruling however is that if we start to maintain the rights of employers and corporations over and above the rights of the European citizen, where does it lead? Are we not embarking on a slippery slope of curtailing citizens’ rights to freedom of religion, one of the most sacred rights enshrined in our law? Though this ruling does not directly prohibit religious dress, it sets a precedent for allowing corporations and private entities to usurp the rights of their employees when it comes to religious expression. A precedent that could have dire consequences indeed.

It is a point where, as a society, we must question what path is it that we wish to take. Should we side with those wishing to enforce a colourless “neutrality” or are we to thrive in tolerance and co-existence? For integration does not mean wiping out any sign of difference, visible or otherwise- it means embracing one another in goodwill and respect and being all the stronger for it. As a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association here in the UK, I have never felt there to be any conflict between my Islamic faith and loyalty to Britain. In fact, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) maintained that loving your country is a part of faith. And I have always had before me the examples of countless women- doctors, teachers, lawyers, researchers who live, work and flourish alongside colleagues of all faiths and backgrounds all the while observing the Islamic code of dress.

There is no doubt that Britain is a nation that lives up to its values of peace, tolerance and respect. However, in the times we live in, we must hold on to these values ever more dearly. For a free state is a free state and a police state is a police state, regardless of whether it is “secularism” or religious orthodoxy the latter espouses.

I welcome the Prime Minister’s comments that “it is not for government to tell women what they can and cannot wear”. I hope this ethic extends to corporations and businesses too for it is a sure marker of any society whether it is money or morality that defines our ethics. One can only hope that the Belgian courts take no further steps against our freedom to practice our religion and that they rule in favour of liberty and not so-called “neutrality”.

Features · Integration · Politics · Women

MUSLIM WOMEN’S GROUP SAY LOYALTY TO BRITAIN IS PART OF THE ISLAMIC FAITH

PRESS RELEASE

16 January 2017

Some 700 women attended a national Peace symposium titled “Faith and Loyalty to Britain: The Role of Women” on Saturday. The event was organised by women from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association UK to dispel misconceptions about Islam and Muslim Women and demonstrate that loyalty to Britain is part of the practice of Islam.

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It was held at the largest Mosque in Western Europe, the Baitul Futuh Mosque in South London.

Keynote speakers were Baroness Williams of Trafford, Minister of State (Home Office), Ms. Patsy Robertson, Vice Chair of the Commonwealth Association, and Mrs Safiyya Salam, Vice President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association, UK. Distinguished speakers included the Rt. Hon Fiona MacTaggart MP and Siobhain McDonagh MP. The event was also attended by Councillors, Mayors, academics, NGOs and invitees from many faiths and beliefs.

The aim of the event was also to highlight the important contribution made by Ahmadi Muslim women who are dedicated to Islam and its peaceful teachings but are also able to contribute significantly to British society, its culture and its economy. A £5000 cheque was presented to Whizz-Kidz a British Charity which is working hard to transform the lives of disabled children.

Baroness Williams of Trafford, Minister of State (Home Office) said:

It’s so good to see so many women here to talk about the role we can play in promoting peace and integration. Whether we are mothers, religious leaders or politicians, we all have a role in establishing peace.” 

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Baroness Williams also commended the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association and said:

“Your dedication to your faith and your country is an inspiration for us all. Ahmadiyya Muslim Women demonstrate to me their importance to building strong communities. Thank You!”

Baroness Williams also outlined the Government’s commitment to tackling hate crime which includes action on racially and religiously aggravated hate crime and to protecting communities from hostility, violence and bigotry.

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Mrs. Patsy Robertson, Vice Chair of the Commonwealth Association spoke of the advancement of women since the Beijing UN Conference for Women’s Rights, but said:

I have come to know that as a Community, you are accomplished and have done a great deal of work for your fellow citizens … I really do believe that it is incumbent on Muslim and non-Muslim women to end this idea that wearing the hijab is an oppressive tool. We are educated women, we have to speak up and challenge these societal beliefs.”

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The Rt. Hon Fiona MacTaggart MP said:

I want to congratulate you on leading this woman’s only event… Mum’s roles are not celebrated enough in government and the job they do in bringing up moral children and establishing peace within society… The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is I believe the only group in Parliament with a majority of female MPs”

Siobhain McDonagh MP said:

I want to thank you for your contributions. I want to thank you for showing loyalty without condition to your country.”

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Mrs. Nasira Rehman, National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association UK said:

Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and unity.  Ahmadi Muslim women have been in Britain since 1913 and adopting modest dress have been determinedly serving society ever since.  We will continue to do so building on our determination to show society that respect and tolerance for true peaceful Islam and responsibility to God and His creation is a source of unity and peace for all of us.

Mrs. Rehman also paid tribute to Councillor Maxi Martin, who passed away in 2016 and was a dear friend of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association.

Mrs. Safiyya Salam, Vice President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association in the UK and daughter in law of Dr Abdus Salam, the first Muslim Nobel laureate in sciences said:

This Muslim Women’s Association was established in 1922 to encourage Muslim women to be improve knowledge, serve the community, and train and bring up children to be righteous and loyal citizens. As practising Muslims, we are instructed to love our country and act as an instrument of peace. Loyalty to one’s country is part of the Islamic faith and there is no conflict between this and our belief in Islam”.

Mrs. Farzana Yousuf, a lawyer and National Secretary for Community Outreach said:

Ahmadi Muslim women believe in loyalty to Britain, we believe in freedom, respect, tolerance and a shared responsibility for our world. In other words, we believe in true Islam.”

Alison Gordon O.B.E, Director and co Founder of Sister for Change, Mitty Tohma President of the Women’s Federation for World Peace, Margaret Ali, Director of the Universal Peace Federation, Councillor Brenda Fraser Mayor of Merton, Councillor Wendy Speck Deputy Mayor of Wandsworth and Deputy Mayor of Croydon Councillor Toni Letts were also distinguished guests who attended and spoke. Their thoughtful sentiments were well received by the Symposium.

 

 

 

Politics

The Media Virus Against Islam

Virus

By Navida Sayed, London, UK

News about virus outbreaks resulting in major global pandemics always raises alarm and concern, Zika being the latest to hit the headlines. The current global IT and digital networks connecting the cyber world are also witnessing the rise of malicious software and Internet security threats. Other than biological and technical viruses, which most people are aware of, something else is lurking around. The latest newly emerging uncontained virus, without immunity or a cure in sight, is highly contagious and rapidly spiralling out of control contaminating vast parts of the population around the world – the media virus against Islam.

In the recent months, the world has witnessed a wave of atrocious, barbaric, terrorist attacks carried out wrongly in the name of Islam. Leading media outlets are cognizant of the fact that terrorists have nothing to do with Islam, yet their skewed negative media coverage against Islam acts as a powerful catalyst in promoting fear and feuds. The degree of antagonism and hatred against Muslims, as a result of bad press, has arguably reached new heights and peak negativity.

During any catastrophic incident, facts are often obscured by perceptions, but the assumptions and connections with Islam are distorted and blown out of proportion. The words Islamism, ‘Islamists, and Islamic terrorism, instantly diffuse via media outlets sparking anger, grief, fear, anxiety and hatred. These terms are innovations of the mass media and not mentioned anywhere in the Quran. The religion is Islam, and the followers are Muslims.

The impact of the media virus against Islam is affecting people from all walks of life to the extent where individuals instantly react without a pause for thought. Social media such as Twitter and Facebook is laden with hundreds of concoctions of racist, abusive, derogatory comments against Islam. The negative and offensive comments are shared across the board by enraged individuals who believe they have mastered the teachings of Islam; clearly and evidently they don’t know the first thing about Islam, and they are driven purely by negative media content about Islam.

The media virus feeds off the extremists by giving them the platform they are pining for; at the same time in the rat race to sell their story, the media create chaos and panic in society often resulting in knee jerk reactions by many individuals.   The most detrimental impact of the media virus has affected the most vulnerable people in society, and the world is witness to the fact that nearly all of the terrorist attacks committed in recent times were by individuals who hardly practiced Islam. The perpetrators of the attacks were persons going through some life crisis and angered by their situation, by individuals under the influence of drugs and alcohol or by people with a history of mental illness.

Sensationalism in journalism has always existed, but the irony is that now almost every media outlet reporter thinks he or she is an expert on Islam, featuring sensationalistic headlines and articles randomly citing cherry-picked verses or writing about topics without any knowledge or insight. Such reporters are not an authority on Islam but claim undisputedly accurate opinions about the faith. They recklessly report inaccurate facts and are responsible for inciting and instigating hate crimes, only to attract readers and increase sales.

The way to defeat the so-called Jihadists is not to fall prey to their motives for creating disorder and chaos in the world which is what we are witnessing as a story in the media is picked up by multiple sources, and the hatred amplifies across the board. The media virus propaganda and sensationalized negative accounts about Islam presented as truth and breaking news will damage society by creating great divisions and barriers.

Journalists need to take responsibility in combating extremism, not add fuel to the fire and cause unrest in society. They should be unbiased in an attempt to bring about incremental positive change to make the world a better place. Journalists and reporters have a duty towards the information they present to the public bearing their well being in mind.

Both biological viruses and cyber attacks on a global or minute scale are dealt with extreme efficiency and speed. Likewise, the media virus against Islam is also in need of a cure and immunity to contain it quickly so that the media world can focus on dealing with the real deadly threat of extremism in the world. The best way to defeat extremism is to stand united against it.

The worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Fifth Khalifa, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, said:

 “The early Muslims were only ever permitted to raise their swords in a defensive war when the opponents themselves physically raised their swords in an effort to eliminate Islam. However, in this era religious wars are not being physically fought against Islam but rather the media is being used to attack Islam and to misrepresent it. Thus, we must ourselves use the media to counter these attacks and inform the world of the true teachings of Islam.”

Regardless of the surge of hatred against Islam in the recent days, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association continues with life and preparations for the community’s 50th Annual celebration of Jalsa Salana UK. An annual international conference of a community, which encourages interfaith dialogue, advocates peace, tolerance, love and understanding among followers of different faiths. Our community firmly believes in and acts upon the Qur’anic teaching: “There is no compulsion in religion.” (2:257) We firmly reject violence and terrorism. Thousands are expected to attend the three-day International event in the suburbs of Hampshire. Our annual convention is not only a platform against extremism based on a jihad of love and not a jihad of the sword. It is a deeply spiritual and inspirational experience in an atmosphere, which radiates the tranquillity of love and message of peace.

Politics

Mad or Bad? Black or White? And Trial by Media

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Dr Sarah Waseem, London

The brutal murder of MP Jo Cox has left the nation stunned and appalled. Coming as it did on the heels of the appalling Orlando shootings, it left us all a little more afraid and feeling a little more vulnerable. But of course that is what terrorism is about .

Leon Trotsky (1920) described it well – ‘War, like revolution is founded upon intimidation. A victorious war, generally speaking, destroys only a portion of the conquered army, intimidating the remainder and breaking their will . . . terror . . . kills individuals and intimidates thousands’.

Terrorism involves the intentional use of violence or the threat of violence against an instrumental target (usually population) with the aim of communicating to a third party its intention to follow with more lethal attacks. The objective is to create intense fear and anxiety in the population so as to coerce the primary target to submit to their requests. Julio Arboleda-Flo´ rez (2007)

Many assume that such individuals must be mentally ill based just on the sheer awfulness of the crimes committed. However research indicates that mental illness is typically not a major cause of terrorist behaviour .Borum (2014) has suggested that rather than focusing on a “psychology of terrorism” based primarily on mental disorder, it might be more useful to explore vulnerabilities and propensities. Questions about a person’s motivational, attributional,  volitional, emotional, attitudinal, and worldview propensities may offer information about where he or she is on a path toward or away from involvement with terrorism and terrorist organizations. For those involved with terrorist activities and groups, such knowledge may be useful in both understanding and modifying behaviours of concern.

So it is not a simple case of ‘mad’ versus ‘bad’.  In the interests of justice, every case needs careful, individual and neutral assessment to ascertain what has made an individual act in such a despicable manner.  Professor Simon Wesley Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrist  has explained that is precisely what happened in the trial of the Norwegian mass murderer, Anders Breivik five years ago, with considerable time being taken by the Norwegian authorities before it reached its verdict that Breivik was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia  That verdict was later overturned and psychiatrists decided that he suffered from a personality disorder’ and ‘narcissistic traits’

So let us return to the murder of Jo Cox. She was murdered by a white man Thomas Mair, who reports suggest , was shouting out  “ Britain First” as he killed her . Later on, police discovered neo nazi material at his home. When arrested, he said he was a ‘political activist’ Asked to give his name in court, , Thomas Mair stunned the courtroom by declaring: ‘My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain.’

What is worrying here is that immediately,  some in the media seem to have ‘diagnosed’ him as mentally ill without any concrete evidence. What was their basis for this? He was a member of a far right group who reportedly shouted out ‘Britain First’ before killing Mrs Cox. He refused to give his real name in court. but as  many commentators have asked, would the rush to declare that he had ‘mental; health’ issues have been so fast had he shouted out “Allahu Akbar”?

Now contrast that with the immediate reports that came after the Orlando massacres when there seemed to be no doubt initially by media representatives, that Omar Mateen was a radicalised Muslim. There was no talk of any mental health problems by the media. The same was the case after the appalling murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby who was savagely attacked by two men who had converted to Islam. One of them, Michael Adebowale, later turned out to have mental health problems.

Acts of terror must be treated for what they are – actions designed to instil fear into the population. We must not allow the media to jump to conclusions about the sanity or otherwise of those who commit these atrocities until suitable evidence has been gathered.  We must be especially watchful that the race or religion of a terrorist does not become the yardstick by which the atrocity of their crime is judged Jumping on a label of mental illness without sufficient and thorough examination is a disservice to those who suffer from such problems and a highly divisive strategy when it is seen to be used to ‘exonerate’ or ameliorate acts of terror.

 

 

Politics

In Response to Mo Ansar’s Complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

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Navida Sayed, Hounslow, UK

Following Asad Shah’s death, Scotland’s Ahmadiyya Muslim community launched a bus poster campaign in Glasgow with the message “United Against Extremism”.  The campaign is fully supported by Scottish politicians, the police, and members of the Christian, Jewish and Sikh faiths.  The campaign also has the full support of UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

A few days ago, in response to a question from the SNP’s Angus Robertson, the Prime Minister stated:

“The attack on Ahmadiyya Muslims by other Muslims demonstrates once again that what we face is not some clash of civilizations between Islam and Christianity, or Islam and Buddhism; what we are seeing is a small minority within one of the great religions of our world, Islam, believing that there is only one way, a violent extremist way, of professing their faith. This is a battle within Islam. And we have to be on the side of the moderate majority and make sure they win it. We have to really understand what is happening here or we’ll take the wrong path.” (i)

Following the above statement, Mohammed Ansar, lodged an official complaint with the Parliamentary Commissioner, as he felt that the Prime minister had made incorrect statements during Questions to the Prime Minister (PMQs) in the House of Commons.

Mo Ansar’s complaint against the Prime Minister is clearly preposterous. His assertion that ‘the Prime Minister has strayed into Islamic theology to undermine and attack the position of Muslims in Britain,’ (ii) is inaccurate. The Prime Minister is primarily focusing on the issue of extremism within the UK, which sadly resulted in a sectarian killing as a result of the blasphemy laws implemented in Pakistan, which are trickling into the UK.

Ansar’s comments emphasises that the Ahmadiyya Community is not considered Muslim according to mainstream Muslim theology.  Ansar further adds that ‘the consensus of all Muslims scholars and schools of thought is clear on this matter, and the Prime Minister is incorrect in fact.’  Ansar says, ‘Government is interfering with the key tenets of a faith. That’s a problem and quite wrong.’

The Prime Minister very accurately referred to Ahmadi’s as Muslims, and he precisely stated that “This is a battle within Islam, and we have to be on the side of the moderate majority and make sure that they win it. We have to understand really what is happening here. Otherwise, we will take the wrong path” (iii) The Prime Minister has clearly highlighted that there is a serious problem.

Firstly Ansar cannot put words into the mouths of others and monopolize who can and cannot be called a Muslim.

Secondly I would like to ask Mo Ansar, the affiliated scholars of the MCB and all other Muslims scholars around the world, whether they are a higher and greater authority than our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)?  When our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), reprimanded Usama bin Zaid, for killing an unbeliever who recited the Kalima – affirming his faith in the truth of Islam – (iv) our beloved Prophet (pbuh) had said that Usama bin Zaid had neither the ability nor the right to decide whether or not that man’s declaration of belief in Islam was genuine.(iv) Therefore no other human being on this earth has the right or the authority to declare whether someone is a Muslim or not, above and beyond the highest, in status and rank amongst the Prophets, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Furthermore, Ansar’s comments that, ‘The largest representative organisation of Muslims in Britain, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB); every global school of Sunni and Shia Muslim thought and the most liberal scholars in the world such as the American scholar Hamza Yusuf Hanson, all confirm the Ahmadiyya Community are not considered Muslims according to mainstream Muslim theology’ (v)

This only validates a hadith Abu Mansur Abd al-Kahir ibn-Tahir Al-Baghdadi says:

“There are many isnad (independent testimonies) for the tradition dealing with the division of the community. A number of following companions have handed it down as coming from the Prophet (peace be upon him): Anas ibn-Malik, Abu-Hurairah, Abu-l-Darda, Jabir, Abu-Sa’id al-Khidri, Ubai ibn-Ka’b, Abd-Allah ibn-Amr ibn-al-‘As, abu-Imamah, Wathilah ibn-al-Aska’ and others. It is also handed down that the pious Caliphs mentioned that the community would be divided after them, that one sect only would save itself, and the rest of them would be given to error in this world, and to destruction in the next” (vi) 

As mentioned explicitly in the Hadith, Ansar’s comments confirm, that all other Muslim sects would separate the one true sect unanimously.

I end with the words of the Promised Messiah Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad,

 “We are Muslims, we believe in God Who is One, and we also believe in the Kalimah. We believe that the Qur’an is the Book of Allah and Muhammad (sa) is His Prophet and Khata- mul Anbiya’. We believe in the existence of the Angels, in the Day of Judgement, and in the existence of Heaven and Hell. We say our daily prayers, keep fast during Ramadan and turn towards Ka‘bah to pray. 

“We consider it our duty to refrain from whatever Allah and His Prophet forbid us to do and do whatever they command us to do. We have no authority to add or detract anything from the Islamic Sharia. We accept as part of Islam all that has come to us from the Holy Prophet (sa), whether or not we understand its raison d’etre. By the Grace of Allah, we are true believers, Muslims and believers in the Oneness of God.”

(Nur-ul-Haq, Part I, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 8, p.7)vii

i Ansar, Mo. “Complaints To The Parliamentary Commissioner For Standards”. Mo Ansar.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

ii Ansar, Mo. “Complaints To The Parliamentary Commissioner For Standards”. Mo Ansar.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

iii “Prime Minister Backs Anti-Extremism Campaign After Shopkeeper Death – BBC News”. BBC News. N.p., 2016. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

iv (Muslim, Kitabul Iman) Aḥmad, Bashīruddīn Maḥmūd, and Bashīruddīn Maḥmūd Aḥmad. Life Of Muhammad. Surrey: Islam International, 1990. Print. pg.239-240

v Ansar, Mo. “Complaints To The Parliamentary Commissioner For Standards”. Mo Ansar.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

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vii Ahmad, Tahir. With Love To The Muslims Of The World. Tilford: Islam International, 2004. Print.

Politics

Divisions by the MCB vs Message Of Unity

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Mubarika Sami, Chessington, UK

Islam is a religion which prescribes the middle way. As the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said ‘I pray, yet I sleep. I fast yet I eat’ in order to discourage his followers from going to extremes.’ Moderation extends to all spheres.

Increasingly extremist groups notably the Taliban and Daesh claiming to carry out their suicide bombings in the name of Islam forget that both suicide and killing innocent civilians are grave sins according to Islam. The only time killing is allowed is in a defensive war when negotiation with the enemy is not possible and even then women, children, the elderly; places of worship are to be protected and trees are not to be pulled down.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has in a recent statement after the brutal killing of Asad Shah in Glasgow declared that Muslims must not be forced to accept Ahmadis as Muslims.

They state that ‘All Muslims are in agreement that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is the last prophet’.

My first question to the MCB is ‘What does someone have to recite to enter the fold of Islam?’  Does Kalima Shahada mention that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is the last prophet? Kalima Shahada simply declares the Oneness of God and the belief in the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as a Messenger of God which we clearly believe in.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) emphasised that Muslims must not doubt the belief of another Muslim. This is also explained in the Holy Quran where it states: O ye who believe!… say not to anyone who greets you with the greeting of peace, ‘Thou art not a believer’…’ (4:95). This is quite ironic as Ahmadi Muslims are prohibited from stating this greeting of peace, that is Assalamoalaikum, in Pakistan and this is a criminal offence which can even lead to imprisonment!

A well-known incident narrated by Hazrat Usama bin Zaid (may Allah be pleased with him) which is pertinent today is about when he killed a man, who was one of the enemies, after the latter recited the Kalima as Hazrat Usama believed he only did so to ensure his own safety. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was so displeased and asked him ‘Oh Usama! Did you still kill him after he affirmed the Kalima? Why didn’t you cut his heart open to make sure if he said it from the core of his heart?’ The Muslim said the displeasure of the Holy Prophet was such that he wished he had not accepted Islam before that day.

Now the body of the Muslim Ummah is waiting and … waiting for the Messiah to descend physically and they have even extended the 14th Century of the Islamic Era which is when the advent of the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) was foretold according to Hadith.

My next question to the MCB would be if and when your Messiah returns will he not be entering Earth as a prophet chronologically after the Prophet Muhammad? (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) even if his first advent occurred before.

By declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslim, the Muslim Council of Britain is encouraging hostility and discrimination against Ahmadi Muslims as well as distrust, discord and divisions generally in society.

In contrast, the Ahmadi Muslim Community is constantly striving for world peace and cohesion and here in the UK organised the bus campaign ‘United Against Extremism’ rejecting the evil of extremism in all forms. Despite all the hatred, persecution, in some countries both state and individual, Ahmadi Muslims respond as our Khalifa, has urged, with love and forbearance. He is the living embodiment of our motto ‘Love for all, Hatred for none’.