London’s Pain

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Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot, UK

As it’s Ramadhan I was with my family preparing for the breaking of the fast at sunset, a few minutes after nine. Saturday night is family night for us and last night we were all together, parents, siblings and children, the Champions League final on the television, almost all of us rooting for Juventus so Buffon could lift the trophy. Around the London Bridge area there were also many people who had met up with friends in bars to watch the football.

Like all true Muslims up and down the country (and around the world) during the month of Ramadhan, we wait for the fast to open, before praying and eating dinner. As it was a family day we did this and then sat down to relax for a short time and catch up with one another before bed.

It was during this time I became aware of the events which had begun to unfold on the news; something was happening first on London Bridge, then Borough Market. A van had swerved into pedestrians and there were reports of knives and guns. London is the city of my birth, the city in which I grew up and despite moving away I’ve found that it’s true – you can take the girl out of London but you can’t take London out of the girl. To see the events unfolding felt personal, it hurts physically when my city is hurting.

Of course speculation started immediately that it was a terrorist attack and that it must be Muslims. Some  Muslims said on social media it can’t be Muslims, all real Muslims are breaking their fast and praying at that time. I thought of my family and all my fellow Muslim friends; it’s true, they would all be doing this.

The next fast began a few hours later; at this point the Metropolitan Police had confirmed six fatalities in addition to three attackers. Six innocent people out on a Saturday night caught up in the murderous rampage of hit and run, knife wielding madmen.

As a Muslim the thought of anyone claiming to carry out atrocities in the name of Islam is repugnant. Islam doesn’t condone the killing of innocent people, even in a state of war; the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) never condoned this either. So what is this version of Islam they claim to follow? That of Isis whose followers became famous for possessing “Islam for Dummies” rather than a copy of the Holy Qur’an? And if they justify their actions by saying they are killing unbelievers why are they setting off bombs in Muslim countries regularly killing Muslim men, women and children? This shows their murders are indiscriminate and it is innocent people in many countries who are suffering.

We are a week into the month of Ramadhan, a time when Muslims make extra efforts to please God by reading the Holy Qur’an, performing extra prayers and generally trying to be better human beings. An opportunity to feel the pain of those without food and give to charity to help the needy; Ramadhan is a time of self-reformation to make us better human beings.

What kind of Muslim would use Ramadhan to plan and carry out the murders of innocent people? How dare they hurt people in my beloved London and say it is in the name of my faith?

No, it is not Islam they are following and God does not ask for these actions which are those of criminals using the excuse of Isis inspiration as validation to carry out their murderous urges. Britain is suffering the effects as are so are many places around the world who are targets with such regularity.

Today London is in pain and so am I.

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Attack On Children

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Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot

It was with shock I turned my phone on early this morning and saw Manchester being talked about by everyone. There is always shock when a bombing or attack happens but one involving young people always hurts more. It was with tears my teenage daughter spoke to me after waking and finding out about it; she felt it all the more because a lot of the people involved were teenage girls just like her. Her friends have attended concerts where they’re dropped off by parents who have a meal before they all meet up to go home. Seeing the parents searching for their children, teenagers trying to get to safety was heart-breaking; a terror attack is designed to inspire fear; is the heartbreak just a by-product?

My daughter went to college but messaged me from there saying she was lying low during breaks as she couldn’t face anyone; Manchester was the only topic of conversation and people were mentioning social media comments about Muslims. At school yesterday, my youngest daughter had been speaking in a lesson about the Women’s March Westminster Bridge vigil and why Ahmadi Muslim women had joined to show solidarity with their country and condemnation of terrorism; she was heartened by the response from her classmates but today has become wary of their reaction. That is the everyday result on ordinary Muslim children, of a terror attack these days.

As someone who partly remembers and has read about the Troubles I have told my children what it was like in the recent past as bombings occurred in many towns in England as well as with sickening regularity in Northern Ireland. Bombings and terror are not a new thing and when one group stops the terrorising of innocent people another group is always ready to take its place; history has shown us this down the ages.

When Islam is condemned for being violent I recall verses from the Holy Qur’an which teach me how wrong this condemnation is. Chapter 5, verse 33 says “Whosoever killed a person it shall be as if he had killed all mankind”. The Holy Prophet (peace be on him) taught respect for those of other faiths and that the innocent should never be harmed even in a state of war. That is the Islam that I follow and that the vast majority of Muslims the world over follow.

But at this moment and in an age of global media that can be small comfort when extremists begin stirring up hatred which spreads in an instant. Rather than simply showing solidarity with those affected they only talk about blame, they create divisions making it the innocent us against the violent them. At this point terrorism has gained another victory by weakening the bonds that make us stronger.

Other than simply inspiring terror, the reasons behind terrorist atrocities may be complex but whatever the case we must hold firm and stand together united against all forms of terrorism and extremism. That way we will be gaining a victory against those that work to divide us.

#WeStandTogether

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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.

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.

A Burqini is not Equivalent to a Burqa

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By Navida Sayed

The barbaric and atrocious terrorist attacks around the globe have put the world on edge. Unprepared and unexpected the sudden and random attacks have left parts of the world shell-shocked. Security is a growing global concern for world leaders and authorities. However, repeatedly targeting Muslim women’s dress code & publicly humiliating them is not a solution.

The latest controversial topic surrounds the burqini, which is not an overt symbol of affiliation with terrorists. Created bearing Muslim women in mind, the burqini is an all in one convenient sun, waterproof swimsuit with a bonus, a swimming hat. Many non-Muslim women who may feel uncomfortable wearing other forms of swimwear for many reasons have benefited from the outfit.

I would like to clarify that a burqini is neither the swimwear equivalent of a burqa nor an Islamic item of clothing. There are no instructions in the Holy Quran or Islamic teachings about it. It’s a modern day innovation which complies with health and safety regulations in a swimming pool. It does not replace the loose outer coat and head covering which Muslim women wear on a day-to-day basis. The reference to the word burqa in the name given to this swimwear has resulted in the confusion and misunderstanding that it is an Islamic form of dress.

While France is desperately trying to seek a solution to terrorism following a wave of terrorist attacks, the Muslims of that country should cooperate with the authorities and assist them to defeat terrorism.

If France has temporarily placed a ban on the burqini it is the duty of every Muslim citizen living within that country to obey and respect the law of the land. The burqini ban does not hinder the daily life of Muslim women.

However, France and other nations in the world also need to protect and respect Muslim civilians and ensure their safety too.

The best way forward to deal with security and extremism is to educate and work with communities, not against them. Only then can the world pave a path for peace

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.

While I Grieve, I Am Angry

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Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot, UK

What is happening to the world these days? Terror attacks murdered people all through Ramadhan and in the last few days there has been so much going on that there is no time to digest things. The political turmoil in Britain would be enough on its own but the change of Prime Minister and Cabinet has been followed in quick succession by the Bastille Day lorry attack in Nice and the attempted coup in Turkey.

I am finding I hardly have time to gather my thoughts on one subject before another overtakes it. However one link between the deaths in terrorist attacks which took place through Ramadhan and Nice has been the link to Islam. Even the Turkish coup is linked due to Turkey being a powerful Muslim nation.

During past atrocities carried out against non-Muslim countries in the name of Islam – Charlie Hebdo, Paris, Brussels and Orlando etc – there was always a sense of sorrow that the name of Islam was being used in this way. Indeed there was even a sense of guilt that the terrorists identified with the religion I follow. While that hasn’t entirely changed there are additional feelings creeping in. Anger towards the terrorists at using Islam has been compounded by just as much anger towards those in the West who persist in equating the actions of the terrorists with Islamic teachings.

Time after time Muslims have patiently explained how true Islamic teachings do not allow for terrorism and murder yet time after time Islam is blamed and calls made for Muslims to speak out. Those supporting an overthrow of President Erdogan in Turkey claimed he is not doing enough to stop Daesh. The Nice murderer was known to neighbours as being violent, depressed and “not religious” yet links to terrorism were made immediately. The fact that Daesh subsequently claimed responsibility means nothing because as it benefits them they would, wouldn’t they?

If all Muslims supported Daesh they might have a point about blaming all Muslims and Islam. However as Muslims have pointed out numerous times Daesh does not represent Islam and ordinary and overwhelming majority of Muslims do not support Daesh.

Who even is Daesh? As the recent Chilcot report highlighted the illegal war in Iraq was the spark that lit terrorism in the area with the establishment of Al Qaeda followed by so called Islamic State. Those that claimed Al Qaeda was already a force as witnessed by the September 11th attacks conveniently forget it was the West who armed and trained Osama bin Laden in the first place. The United States has long interfered in foreign affairs to suit themselves – supporting Iraq while selling arms to Iran was ideal to weaken both countries, arming the Mujahideens, who later morphed into the Taliban against the Soviets in Afghanistan are just two examples from the near past.

Daesh is clearly financed by someone and it is common knowledge that it is countries like Saudi Arabia who just happen to be allies of the West which leads to no action being taken. Before blaming Muslims every time the West needs to stop supporting the quiet allies of Daesh and cut off their part in the supply lines. The West must finally accept until they withdraw support they are complicit in every death caused by Daesh.

This is why while I grieve for innocent lives lost I am angry at every death we are witnessing and ask when will it end?

An Eid Message to the Muslim World

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By Navida Sayed

Year after year the celebration of Eid ul-Fitr marks the first day of the rest of the year ahead to put into practice the goodwill, piety and self-discipline acquired during Ramadhan. Eid is a joyous day celebrated by young and old dressed in new clothes. People from all diversities flock together wealthy and poor, to stand side-by-side, shoulder to shoulder and offer congregational Eid ul Fitr Prayer promoting universal brotherhood. They greet and embrace each other in a spirit of peace; a joyous celebration at the end of Ramadan, a sacred month providing the training opportunities of spiritual cleansing, increased devotional worship, self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, generosity, and charity.

Sadly this Ramadhan we have witnessed a dismal wave of barbaric terrorist attacks in Orlando, Istanbul, Dhaka, and Baghdad and most recently Islam’s holy sacred site Medina. Killing innocent civilians on a holy day and daring to carry out a terrorist attack in a holy city in the close vicinity of our beloved Holy Prophet’s (peace be upon him) burial place, substantiates more than ever the fact that the terrorists have no regard for Islam whatsoever.

Regardless of the fact that the Muslim world has united to condemn the attack at one of Islam’s holiest sites, the biggest problem is that there is no unity or guidance amongst the Muslims. Unfortunately many misinformed individuals fall prey to the non-righteous so-called Muslim clerics, misleading and luring them to believe that they will be rewarded and go to heaven by committing evil, cruel and barbaric terrorist acts.

Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Promised Messiah, warned about this more than a hundred years ago concerning the Dajjal, a term which has two connotations: First, it signifies a group which supports falsehood and works with cunning and deceit. Secondly, it is the name of the Satan who is the father of all falsehood and corruption. [Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 22, p. 326][i] saying:

‘Remember, the sum total of the evils which the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) prophesied would spread in the latter days, is Dajjaliyyat, of which the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has said there are hundreds of branches. Hence, those Maulavis are also branches of the tree of Dajjaliyat who blindly follow the beaten path and have abandoned the Holy Qur’an, so that though they recite it, it doesn’t get past their tongues. Today Dajjaliyat is spreading its web like a spider. The disbeliever with his disbelief, the hypocrite with hypocrisy, the alcoholic with his drinking, and the Maulavi with his preaching without practice and with his black heart, are all weaving the net of Dajjaliyat. Nothing can break up this web but the heavenly weapon, and no one can wield this weapon but ‘Isa who should descend from that very heaven. So ‘Isa has descended and the promise of God was bound to be fulfilled. [Nishan-e-Asmani, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 4, p.369] [ii]

Tragically, due to the lack of harmony and unity amongst Muslims, Islamic nations have so much internal animosity where persecution and disorder is prevalent. It is a time to set aside differences and engage the renowned and influential scholars involved in discussions, to educate the public about false ideologies. Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmed explained a very important Hadith regarding the latter days and the enemies of Islam.

Our Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw in a vision that the Dajjal was performing the circuit of the Ka‘bah, and was doing it stealthily, like a thief, so that he could destroy the Ka‘bah whenever the opportunity offered…. Every intelligent person will interpret this revelation as a vision through which the spiritual condition of the Dajjal was revealed to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and that this allegory presented itself to him in a vision in which he saw the Dajjal was circuiting the Ka‘bah like an actual person. What it meant was that the Dajjal would be a bitter enemy of Islam and would hover around the Ka‘bah with evil intentions. We know that just as the watchman goes around the houses at night, so does a thief. But while the watchman seeks to protect the houses and to catch the thief, the thief’s motive is to steal and plunder. Thus the interpretation of this vision of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is that the Dajjal will be preoccupied with trying to violate the sanctity of the Ka‘bah, while the Promised Messiah, who was also seen performing circuit of the Ka‘bah, would be busy protecting the House of Allah and trying to apprehend the Dajjal. [Ayyam-us-Sulh, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 14, pp. 274-275] [iii]

Thus this Hadith indicates that in the latter days the thief, who is designated Dajjal, will try his utmost to demolish the structure of Islam, and that the Promised Messiah, out of his devotion to Islam, will raise his supplications to heaven, and that all angels will lend him their support so that he should be victorious in this last final battle. He will neither get tired, nor dejected, nor will he slacken his efforts, but will try his utmost to catch the thief. [Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 22, pp. 323-324][iv]

In this day and age, the continuous effort to eradicate the false ideology of jihad and extremism in the entire world is being carried out with great strength by the grand leadership of the true Khilafat of Ahmadiyya Islam established after the Promised Messiah.

Eid Greetings to the entire Muslim world with hope and prayers that all Muslims unite under one banner of peace to save the world from destruction.

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. )

[i] Ġulām Aḥmad, Chaudhry Muḥammad Ẓafrullāh Khān, and Munawar Aḥmad Saʻeed. The Essence Of Islam. Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications, 2005. Print. pg.202

[ii] Ġulām Aḥmad, Chaudhry Muḥammad Ẓafrullāh Khān, and Munawar Aḥmad Saʻeed. The Essence Of Islam. Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications, 2005. Print. pg.284-285

[iii] Ġulām Aḥmad, Chaudhry Muḥammad Ẓafrullāh Khān, and Munawar Aḥmad Saʻeed. The Essence Of Islam. Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications, 2005. Print. pg.287

[iv] Ġulām Aḥmad, Chaudhry Muḥammad Ẓafrullāh Khān, and Munawar Aḥmad Saʻeed. The Essence Of Islam. Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications, 2005. Print. pg.288-289

I’m Always Putting Britain First

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Sarah Khan, London

I come from a long line of proud Yorkshiremen.  I was raised on a diet of no-nonsense, plain speaking and hard work.  My father regularly made sure to tell us that we had the right to play cricket for Yorkshire (never mind I was born in Berkshire and a woman).  As I grow older and raise my own children those same values permeate into my own parenting style and I realised it’s virtually impossible to divorce yourself from your cultural roots.  Even if I pronounce my vowels in a long fashion rather than with the shorter northern version and I’ve lived my life firmly in the south, I know that Yorkshire values run in my veins.

So while the murder of MP Jo Cox this week was shocking due to its brutal and unexpected nature, the senseless loss of a woman very much in the prime of her life had a personal resonance for me.  I know my father was a native of Leeds and knew Batley and the surrounding areas well.  While he is no longer here to voice his opinion, I know he would have had absolutely no affiliation with the murderer who yesterday gave his name in court as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain”.

He would have had no affiliation because in 1971 he did the very thing which Britain First and other far right groups fear the most, he became a Muslim.  And I, as his daughter, have been born a Muslim and my children are being raised Muslim too.  So I suppose for some we are living proof of the ‘invasion of Islam, of the conquering nature of this faith’.  My mother, a native of Birmingham, joined him in converting her religion so many years ago.  Three generations of English Muslims, turning their back on their heritage and joining the ranks of the medieval terrorists – according the rhetoric of the far right.  A Facebook video this week showed Jayda Fransen delivering a speech in Dewsbury, a few miles from Batley, telling a crowd Muslims like me were going to Hell for following the religion of the devil.

The tag line for Britain First’s website and literature is ‘Taking Britain Back’.  But the stark reality is that Britain cannot be taken back from me, and other English Muslims like myself.  I am nothing but English.  I have no other nationality or ethnicity and like many English people I’m not fluent in any language other than English.  So when such people talk about traitors, they mean people exactly like me and my family.

I’d like to think that such obvious bigotry should just be ignored.  In failing to give such views airtime or space in my thoughts, they will remain on the fringes of what is acceptable and eventually wither into obscurity.  Surely?  Yet recent events show that exactly the opposite is happening.  First, a leaflet for the London Mayoral Election showing all the campaigning parties landed on my doorstep, happily gaining entry into my personal sphere.  The entry from Britain First outlined how no more mosques would be built in a BF London.  This sent a shiver down my spine and I knew that had a race of people been selected and not a specific religion then more outcry would be heard.  I noted how they had worded it so carefully that it was just within the limits of not being hate speech, but the meaning was clear.  My kind wasn’t welcome or wanted.  Well, I wasn’t going to vote for them anyway and Britain is proud of its freedom of speech and worship, I rationalised to myself.

Then Britain First staged a protest very publically at Sadiq Khan’s victory, their representative Paul Golding turning his back on the new Mayor.  Not good sport old chap I thought as my fellow Brits laughed it off with humour and derision in a truly British fashion.  This was followed by last weekend’s military style training camp for Britain First.  Again we laughed on Twitter at their bumbling Dad’s Army style antics.  But Jo Cox’s murder this week shows that the time has come to stop laughing and to realise that such hate is deep and pervasive and a clear threat to the fabric of British society.  It seeks to divide neighbour from neighbour and, as we have seen, can lead the mentally fragile and vulnerable to extreme acts to express their hate.

So I think that it’s time everyone started putting Britain First.  In my own personal life I have long being doing so.  I’m proud to be British, I love the heritage and values of my country.  I love that I can be a Muslim and worship with full freedom and the protection of the law.  I regularly take a pledge of loyalty to my country.  The exact words are “I solemnly promise that I shall always keep myself ready to serve my faith, my nation and my country and shall always adhere to truth and shall always be prepared to make every sacrifice for the perpetuation of the Ahmadiyya Khilafat”.

This is a pledge I take in my mosque, as part of my faith.  I take it because I am a Muslim, not because I am English.  English law required no such pledge from me but my faith does require loyalty to my nation and my country.  There is no clash between my faith and my country.  This pledge is also taken in loyalty to my Khalifah.  Again, there is no clash between loyalty to Khilafat and Britain.  I know this is true because this Ahmadiyya Khilafat has been based in London for more than thirty years and has been a beacon of harmony and peace.

So, I’ve been putting Britain First for my entire life, I regularly take this pledge of loyalty at every monthly meeting of my faith.  Thousands of others make the same pledge across the UK.  I hope and pray that this hate rhetoric will stop.  I pray that such a senseless murder will give us all pause for reflection that as a society there should be no room for hate.  The motto of my community is ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’, I pray Britain adopts this value into its heart, as I know many British people do.  Because I know that I am not a traitor, far from it, I’m a proud English woman and the hate of a few will cause me to cling to my nation even more in a time of fear and danger for people just like me.  So let’s stop laughing at Britain First and let’s condemn them as the dangerous threat to our national fabric which they truly represent.

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.