Sarah Waseem, London
Yesterday, 26th March, I participated in a very unusual event. Along with about ten other ladies from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community we joined a larger group of women drawn from various walks of life to stand for five minutes on Westminster Bridge to remember those who died on 22nd March. The event organised by the Women’s March was very low key –no banners, no loudspeakers, no speeches no leaflets just a simple request for women to join together to remember those who had been murdered that fateful day.
We stood hand in hand, Muslim and non-Muslim for five minutes in silence. People passed us by – some stopped to take photos of us, while others watched us. The experience was very emotional. Here we were, reminding people that terror attacks affect us too and in the words of the Holy Qur’an , ‘Whoso kills a person, except for killing another or for creating disorder in the land, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind’ (5:33). Here we were – a visible living statement to people that we, as Muslim women condemn violence of all sorts.
As I recalled the tragic events of that day it seemed surreal to think that one person could have caused so much pain to so many, in that act of mounting the pavement with a car and deliberately crashing into the crowds. I felt overwhelmed reflecting on the deaths of innocent people, those who has sustained injuries, the violence of brutal murder in Parliament square, –and the grief of those who were now bereaved.
I am not one to relish personal attention and I felt quite vulnerable being watched by so many as we stood by the cold wall of the bridge. All I could hear was the incessant clicking away of cameras. What were they thinking of us? “What are these Muslim women doing?” It bothered me as it always does, to think some might be even be afraid of us – all these Muslim women in hijabs standing on this beautiful bridge which had been the scene of such horror earlier in the week.
I am a Londoner. I am proud of this city of ours, home to such a divergent range of cultures and faiths. Acts of terror affect me, as they do the next person, but more so because when a so called Muslim commits such a barbaric crime, he or she disgraces all of us and does a grievous injustice to the name of the founder of this faith – the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). His kindness, compassion and mercy to all was unrivalled. Under the guidance of the teachings of Islam, he brought peace and civilisation to the unruly uncivilised nation that was pre Islamic Arabia.
As a Muslim my religion teaches me that I have responsibility to maintain peace in society –to observe law and order, and to respect those in authority. My Islam guides me to care for the young, the old, the orphans and the dispossessed, to respect others’ faith and to safeguard freedom of belief. This is not a faith of terror and extremism. ‘Moderation in all things’ was the way of the Prophet of Islam.
As I stood on the bridge, and the minutes moved on, a sense of calm come over me. Suddenly it did not matter anymore what people might be thinking. I was proud to be there – to show passers-by that, I as a Muslim cared about what had happened in my city, and that I condemned it. I hoped that with my companions, we had in some small measure, showed that terrorism could not divide us from them, that we were at one with them and that perhaps we could reassure them that Islam was not the enemy.