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.

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”.

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.

 

 

 

The Media Virus Against Islam

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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.

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.

 

 

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.

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’.

The Muslim Council of Britain and Ahmadi Muslims

La ilaha illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah (6)

Navida Sayed, London

Religious persecution in Pakistan against Ahmadis has existed since they were declared non-Muslims in the amendment introduced in Pakistan’s Constitution in 1974. Since then, many hard line Muslims refuse to have anything to do with Ahmadis considering them as social outcasts; many Ahmadis have faced bitter persecution and some have been murdered for their beliefs.

Religious extremists and radical sectarian clerics use Pakistani blasphemy laws as their means to gain mutual support and justify targeted attacks against Ahmadi Muslims. In 1986, the Pakistani blasphemy law, PPC 295-C, was promulgated. It calls for the death penalty to perpetrators of “blasphemy”. The Supreme Court remarked in a written judgment in 1993 that an Ahmadi who shows any commitment to the Kalima (Islamic declaration of faith) defiles the name of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings upon him).’[i] Tragically the main victims of this blasphemy law have been Ahmadi Muslims who wouldn’t even contemplate the thought of defiling the Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings upon him) name.

Hate campaigns against the Ahmadis in the UK have been brewing over the last few years, but alarmingly the Pakistani blasphemy laws have paved their way onto the streets of UK, leading to the brutal murder of an Ahmadi, Asad Shah, who was killed outside his shop in Glasgow on 24 March 2016, by Tanveer Ahmed, in a religiously prejudiced attack. ‘His death was celebrated by some anti-Ahmadi Muslims on the Internet, who believe that the sect is heretical and therefore worthy of persecution.’[ii] Such an atrocious attack and loss of an innocent life shakes one to the core, and brings into question security of Ahmadi Muslims in the UK. Certainly, extreme, narrow-minded, bigoted clerics with obscure views must be stopped from radicalising people in the UK.

As Ahmadi Muslims, we believe the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian was a non-law bearing Prophet, who came in servitude of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him). Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad vigorously upheld the finality of the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) demonstrating in word and practice that he strongly believed the Holy Prophet as Khātam-an-Nabiyyīn, Seal of all the Prophets and the last law-bearing Prophet.

In a statement on 6th of April 2016, the Muslim Council of Britain, MCB presented a mealy-mouthed response, as to where it stands about the Ahmadiyya Community. Stating, ‘Muslims should not be forced to class Ahmadis as Muslims if they do not wish to do so.’[iii]

MCB further stated that ‘Ahmadi Muslims do not believe in the finality of the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him).’ [iv]

I would like to remind the MCB and all those who take it upon themselves to decide who is or is not a Muslim, that this is a matter between a true believing Muslim and Allah alone.

Most Muslims must be familiar with Hadith or Traditions that Usama bin Zaid was an appointed commander of a division, by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings upon him). On one occasion Usama confronted an unbeliever whom he was about to kill, the unbeliever recited the Kalima, affirming his faith in the truth of Islam. Usama killed him nevertheless. Usama protested that the man’s reciting of confession of faith was due to his fear of death and was not an indication of repentance. Thereupon the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said:

“Did you peep into his heart to see whether he was telling the truth or not?” and went on repeating: “How will you answer on the Day of Judgement when his confession of faith will be cited in evidence against you?” Usama says: “On hearing the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) repeat this so often I wished that I had become a convert to Islam only that moment and had not been guilty of what was charged against me”
(Muslim, Kitabul Iman).[v]

Likewise, only Allah knows what is in our hearts as Ahmadi Muslims. We declare ourselves Muslims, nobody has the right to say that, God forbid, our Islam is a pretence, that we deny Islam, or deny the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings upon him).

Every person who enters the fold of Islam becomes the equal of everyone else, regardless of which society he belongs to. I would like to remind affiliates of the MCB of our beloved Prophet Muhammad’s (peace and blessings upon him), a most prominent message for mankind.

‘Returning from Muzdalifa, the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) stopped at Mina. It was the eleventh day of the month of Dhu’l-Hijja. The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) stood before a large gathering of Muslims and delivered an address, famed in history as the farewell address of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him). In the course of the very detailed address he also said:

‘O men, what I say to you, you must hear and remember. All Muslims are as brethren to one another. All of you are equal. All men, whatever nation or tribe they may belong to, and whatever station in life they may hold, are equal’. While he was saying this the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) raised his hands and joined the fingers of the one hand with the fingers of the other and then said: ‘Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another. No one has any right, any superiority to claim over another. You are as brothers.’

Then the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) further said:

‘Even as this month is sacred, this land inviolate, and this day holy, so has God made the lives, property and honour of every man sacred. To take any man’s life or his property, or attack his honour, is as unjust and wrong as to violate the sacredness of this day, this month, and this territory. What I command you today is not meant only for today. It is meant for all time. You are expected to remember it and to act upon it until you leave this world and go to the next to meet your Maker.’ [vi]

We call upon all the Muslims of the world to bear in mind the words of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) and become united as one under the banner of true Islam.

[i] https://www.persecutionofahmadis.org/opening-narrative/

[ii] “Muslim Brotherhood Umbrella Group: ‘We Won’T Kill Them, But Ahmadis Aren’T Muslims’”. Breitbart. N.p., 2016.

[iii] “Position Statement: The Muslim Council Of Britain And Ahmadis | Muslim Council Of Britain (MCB)”. Mcb.org.uk. N.p., 2016.

[iv] “Position Statement: The Muslim Council Of Britain And Ahmadis | Muslim Council Of Britain (MCB)”. Mcb.org.uk. N.p., 2016.

[v] Aḥmad, Bashīruddīn Maḥmūd, and Bashīruddīn Maḥmūd Aḥmad. Life Of Muhammad. Surrey: Islam International, 1990. Print. pg.239-240

[vi] Aḥmad, Bashīruddīn Maḥmūd, and Bashīruddīn Maḥmūd Aḥmad. Life Of Muhammad. Surrey: Islam International, 1990. Print. pg. 182-186

Stand United Against Extremism

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Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot, UK

It is so common these days to hear about terrorist atrocities being committed by extremists and while many right wing groups are also a cause of terror, for a Muslim it is more painful when Muslim extremists kill and maim innocent people and say it is in the name of Islam.

When the 7/7 bombings occurred, when Lee Rigby was murdered, as a Briton I felt sadness at the pain caused to my fellow countrymen. After the Paris and Brussels attacks I felt the same sadness as my fellow Europeans were hurt and as a human I feel the same whenever I hear about terrorists causing death and destruction around the world.

I am not alone in the sadness I feel; the majority of the world shares these feelings because those who are carrying out these acts of terror are an extremist minority. There is a quote attributed to Edmund Burke:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”
And so we must act in whatever way we are able, to counter the message of the extremists.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community with a motto of “Love For All, Hatred For None”, has always spoken out against extremist actions, especially when the name of Islam is used to justify terror as Daesh have been doing for the past few years.

Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has said:
“It is a dire need of the time to respond to all forms of fanaticism and extremism with Islam’s true message of peace and harmony.”

After the Paris attacks in November 2015 a nationwide campaign was launched by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the UK to show solidarity against extremism. It included features in national and local press and adverts on 100 buses across London.

Rafiq Hayat, National President Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, said:
“We stand united with all who oppose extremists because our strength stems from our unity. The campaign will send a clear message that IS has nothing to do with Islam and that extremism will never succeed.”

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has always believed in the true, peaceful teachings of Islam and promotes this constantly. The Caliph has taken this message around the world speaking at the Capitol in Washington, the European Parliament and to politicians, military leaders and people from Australia, Japan and around Europe. This is how Ahmadi Muslims counter the hatred spread by extremist Muslims and felt in the hearts of those extremists who oppose Islam.

Unfortunately the need for the message of unity remains and the campaign continues with tomorrow’s launch of the United Against Extremism bus adverts in Scotland. For Ahmadi Muslims there is an added poignancy in this after the recent murder in Glasgow of popular local shopkeeper Asad Shah who was killed by a Muslim extremist because he was an Ahmadi Muslim.

Ahmadi Muslims are used to their fellow believers being persecuted and attacked merely for their faith and the news of murders such as Asad Shah’s are sadly an all too common occurrence. May 2010 saw the incident which wrenched the hearts of all Ahmadi Muslims around the world when terrorists in Pakistan murdered scores of worshippers at their mosque in Lahore during Friday Prayers. 86 people died that day, people who had merely gone to their mosque to Pray. The answer to violence is not more violence and it is telling that the Caliph on that occasion, as on others, advised his grieving Community to react with prayers.

Now the murder of Asad Shah has brought the violence against Ahmadi Muslims closer to home. The fact that a Muslim extremist has killed a fellow Muslim on British soil is bad enough but it is appalling that there are others who hold extremist views and support the actions of the murderer. Those Muslims who openly celebrate the death of an Ahmadi for ‘insulting Islam’ should realise they are complicit to some degree in the extremism that is a blight upon Islam.

The fact is that no person can decide who is or is not a true Muslim; that is between a believer and God. So as Muslims it should be for all of us to join together and condemn the extremist views that are killing innocent people. And as British people of all religions it is up to us to stand united in the face of the extremism that is shattering the peace of this beautiful world and declare that we are United Against Extremism.

 

 

I’m Not Striking But Hear My Voice

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By Dr Maleeha Mansur

To the Department of Health

I am a junior doctor working in the NHS but I will not be striking today. Why? Because Islam does not let me disrupt the peace of society in order to gain my rights.

It is truly saddening to see that our government is not willing to listen and justly negotiate with its workforce. Junior doctors work tirelessly and for many, many extra hours than they are paid for or indeed legally allowed, purely out of their goodwill for the sake of their patients. However striking, despite all of the precautions put in place, does impose risks to patients lives and impacts on patient care. It is the teaching of Islam, the very word itself means peace, that one must strive to fulfil the rights of others rather than seeking one’s own.

Islam also teaches that a government should be just and one that serves its people. Where is the justice in forcing one group of society to work on national holidays without reasonable compensation? A group that, in fact, constantly and endlessly works to selflessly serve the whole of society. Do these servants of the people not have families? Do doctors not deserve reasonable rest before making decisions about patients’ lives? Are doctors not allowed to have lives outside of work?

I hope my voice will reach the ears of the world such that we will find a peaceful and non-disruptive agreement that will lead to a prosperous NHS with a passionate workforce.

Yours Sincerely

Dr Maleeha Mansur