I am your Muslim neighbour in London. As there are almost a million of us here (almost one in eight people), I would not think my presence here is strange at all. But it can be alienating to be a Muslim in London these days. While Muslims are a familiar sight, there are still some deep rifts between us and other Londoners. After the terrorist attack of 7/7 (nearly fifteen years ago!) and the recent spate of terrorist attacks, the deep suspicions towards us has increased tremendously. Added to that is the racist Tommy Robinson whose puerile approach to Islamic texts attracts the most intellectually bereft, the situation has actually become dangerous for us.
This is why I write this piece – as your Muslim neighbour. I would like you to know that we are human, just like you, with human failings. Of course, that is an obvious fact, biologically speaking, but I am speaking ideologically and from the angles of culture and civilisation. And being human means we do not express our identities in the exact same way either. There are a myriad of factors which influence our expression and you should know about this.
I will be completely honest with you – most of us know almost nothing about our faith. The reason for this is simple – we don’t have to know much about it. The Islamic priesthood – and make no mistake, that’s what they are: priests – scares with the idea that unless we are guided by a ‘qualified scholar’, we will be guided by the devil himself. This suits the ordinary Muslim just fine. He is content to remain focused on the performance of rituals. Let the ‘qualified scholars’ deal with the deep study.
International event aims to encourage mutual understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.
An international event aiming to break fears and prejudices against Muslims and promote empathy has been launched in King’s Cross station in central London, the capital of Britain.
The event this week will see young Muslims promoting mutual understanding in public places in various countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, France and Austria.
‘Hello, I am a Muslim’
The Islamic Community Milli Gorus (ICMG) group said in a statement on Thursday that thousands of young Muslims living in Europe, Australia and Canada will take to the streets to deliver “their ‘Hello, I am a Muslim’ message to introduce themselves”.
“Contacting people individually is the most natural and the best way of promoting understanding and empathy,” the ICMG said.
“We have prepared the ‘Hello, I am a Muslim’ events to encourage mutual communication and cooperation between Muslims and non-Muslims,” said Kemal Ergun, the group’s president.
More than 500 mosques across Europe will also take part in the initiative, according to the ICMG statement.
The letters arrived in March. Sent anonymously to multiple communities, the letters with words in bold at the top declared that Tuesday, April 3, would become “Punish a Muslim day” in Britain.
Sent to homes, lawmakers and at least one business, the documents detailed a disturbing point-based system that would award attackers for acts of hatred and violence: 10 points for verbally abusing a Muslim; 500 points for “butchering a Muslim using a gun, knife, vehicle or otherwise.”
Police launched an investigation, urging communities to stand together.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police service told London’s Evening Standard that there is “no credible information” that any hate crimes would happen on Tuesday. By Tuesday evening, there were no news reports of hate crime incidents relating to the “Punish a Muslim day.”
At a time when hate crimes are on the rise and British Muslims are repeatedly feeling the sting of the xenophobia that surfaced during and after the 2016 Brexit vote, the letters caused distress, not just to those receiving them, but also in the broader Muslim community.
THE new Commission for Countering Extremism has been set up to fight opposition to fundamental British values including respect and tolerance for those with different beliefs.
As the founder of a charity that works to build a more peaceful and cohesive society, I have been bringing people together across religious divides since 1990. So why am I concerned about the creation of an organisation that is intended to play a key role in tackling those whose views threaten to tear society apart?
My parents taught me that Islam is a simple religion. It means ‘submission to God’ (‘Allah’ in Arabic), and those who accept this way of life wholeheartedly are called Muslims. We believe our religion is not a new one – it started with Adam, who was the first man. He was followed by 120,000 more prophets, including Moses, Jesus and finally Muhammad. All of them preached the same thing: submission to the will of Allah.
We believe in five things: that there is only one God and that Muhammad was the last prophet; praying five times a day; fasting for one month of the year; giving part of our wealth to the needy; and, if financially and physically able, going on pilgrimage once in a lifetime.
In addition, and this is critical, my parents taught me that I needed other essential qualities in order to be a Muslim – not necessarily a good one but simply qualifying for the name! These are trustworthiness, truthfulness, standing up for justice and equality between men and women, complying with the law of the land, respecting other people’s beliefs, loving children, honouring and looking after elderly parents and neighbours, and being loyal to any country you call home. These principles are central to the way of life of any true Muslim.
Religious hate crime increased by 35% between 2016-17, during a time when a charity in Wales said teachers from 13 of the 22 local authorities reported incidents of racism in the last year.
Ms Holland said: “I’ve spoken to young Muslims from across Wales who’ve told me that they’re often scared in their communities, that they’ve directly experienced abuse at school, and that they’re tired of the way Islam is often portrayed by the media, and the effect this has on the views of their non-Muslim peers.”
Young Muslims’ views have helped shape the new resources for teachers to use in the classroom.
At 6am on December 25, 1888, the winter sun was yet to rise over the English city of Liverpool.
A Victorian terrace house was feverish with activity.
The soft glow of candlelight emanating from 8 Brougham Terrace revealed men and women busily putting up decorations and preparing food for the big celebration ahead, Christmas Day.
In one corner, a familiar Victorian scene of a woman playing the piano and directing hymn rehearsals, the singers’ voices muted by the howling of a bitter northeasterly wind as it rattled the thin panes of glass.
This was Britain’s first mosque and Muslim community preparing for their very first Christmas Day.
At 8am, having led the tiny congregation in the early morning prayer, the Imam finally opened the mosque doors.
Imam William Henry “Abdullah” Quilliam founded the mosque after embracing Islam in 1887, aged 31 years old.
He was greeted by more than 100 of the city’s poor, who had been invited to enjoy a charitable Christmas breakfast inside what locals called “Islam Church”.
When Tesco launched its Christmas advert featuring 14 different families, it caused a furore as it included a Muslim household. Some ‘devout Christians’ vowed to boycott Tesco such was their outrage.
But how do Muslim families in Hull spend Christmas?
Walk into their home and you immediately notice the lack of decorations and tinsel. But you quickly realise this warm and friendly family have no desire to snub Christmas.
“The kids around here call me Father Christmas and ask me to get them a present because of my white beard,” taxi driver Waseem Khan, 63, said. “I joke with them and tell them to make me a list and I’ll see what I can do.
“Christmas celebrations have moved away from religion to some degree now.