Friday, 18 May 2018

Read More and More the Qur'an in Ramadan

Ramadan: The Month of the Qur’an
Read more and more the Qur’an
In its month of revelation

Dr. Mozammel Haque
The Noble Qur’an was revealed in the month of Ramadan (Al-Qur’an, 97:1-3.). The Qur’an was sent down in the month of Ramadan on the Night of Power Lailatul Qadr. (Al-Qur’an, 91:1-3.). It is the month of Ramadan that Allah has honoured by revealing the Qur’an. Because of this strong relation between the Qur’an and the month of Ramadan, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to read the Qur’an to Archangel Jibreel every Ramadan. I think this is the right place to discuss the purpose and objective of the revelation of the Qur’an, its importance, the campaigns against it and the do’s and don’ts of the Qur’an.

First of all, Allah the Most High, created mankind and gave him the gift of expression. For the guidance of mankind Allah sent Prophets (peace be upon them all) to every single community. In the words of the Qur’an, "There has been no community to which God’s messengers have not come" and "Muslims should make no distinctions between them." So it is the duty of a Muslim to honour all the prophets equally.

The Qur’an represents the culmination of all other earlier Revealed Books. The Qur’an is the last of the Revealed Books. The Qur’an is the first religious book in the world, which requires the belief in other revelations, a part of its Faith. This Sacred Book was revealed to the last Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the month of Ramadan. Allah Himself said in the Qur’an: “Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to Mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong).” (2:185). Allah the Most High has especially mentioned the exact date and month of the revelation: “We have indeed revealed This (Message) in the Night of Power.” (97:1) So the purpose of the revelation of the Qur’an was for guidance of Mankind.

The Qur’an is emphatic in proclaiming that Islam is the religion of Jesus, Moses, Abraham and the Prophets Jesus and Moses were not Jews but Muslims. "Surely those who believe (in that which is revealed to Muhammad Peace be upon him) and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabaeans – whoever believes in Allah, and the Last Day and does good, surely their reward is with their Lord, and there is no fear for them nor shall they grieve." (2:62). "A Guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and judgement (between right and wrong)." This is the most important characteristic of the Qur’an, the Book that Allah has revealed in the month of Ramadan. It is guidance for mankind. It is clear proof, clear proof of guidance and of judgement.

Before the revelation of the Qur’an, it was preserved and guarded from corruption in the "Mother of the Book". Allah Himself said: "Nay this is a Glorious Qur’an (inscribed) in a Tablet Preserved" (85:21-22). When Allah wanted to give this Trust to someone, the Heavens, the Earth, and the Mountains, i.e. other creatures of Allah, besides man, refused to undertake this Trust or responsibility. They preferred to submit their will entirely to Allah’s Will, which is All-Wise and Perfect, and which would give them far more happiness than a faculty of choice, with their imperfect knowledge. Allah says in the Qur’an: "We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it: He was indeed unjust and foolish." (33-72).

So it is the human beings who took the responsibility of the Trust without realising its importance. This Sacred Book was revealed to the last Messenger Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the month of Ramadan. The Qur’an is the revealed book of God which has been in existence for more than four hundred years and the Word of Allah is available in its original form. There has not been an iota of change in this unique historic record. Its originality and authenticity has been guaranteed by no other than Allah the Almighty who challenges in the Qur’an itself.

Allah said, "This Qur’an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah: on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelation) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book - wherein there is no doubt – from the Lord of the Worlds." (10:37). In another verse of the Qur’an Allah challenges, "Or do they say, "He forged it?" Say: "Bring then a Surah like unto it; and call (to your aid) anyone who can, beside Allah if it be you speak the truth!" (10:38). "Or they may say, "He forged it." Say, "Bring you then ten Suras forged, like unto it, and call (to your aid) whomsoever you can, other than Allah! – if you speak the truth!" (11:13).

Allah said in the Qur’an, "And if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant then produce a Sura like thereunto, and call your witness and helpers (if there are any) besides Allah, if you are truthful." (2:23) Allah places many verses before you. Can you produce one like it?

The world is challenged to produce a Book like it and has not produced one. It is the only Revealed Book whose text stands pure and uncorrupted today. Allah said, "Say: "if the whole of mankind and jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support." (17:88)

Since the revelation of the Qur’an, the enemies of Islam have been trying to distort it. Firstly, they said, it is not revelation, it is written by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Then they started attacking its authenticity and originality. In spite of their conspiracy, the Qur’an has been preserved in its original form.

The Qur’an is the only Book in the world which has remained for the past fourteen centuries pure without any interpolation or change and will remain so till the Last Day as Allah has guaranteed its purity. (15:9).

The purity, preservation and propagation of the Qur’an were maintained by two methods: memorization of Qur’an in Qur’anic schools and the recitation of the complete Qur’an in Ramadan. In the month of Ramadan every year the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked by Archangel Jibreel to recite the whole of it twice. It was a Muzakira between the two. Abu Huraira reported that Jibreel used to repeat the recitation of the Qur’an with the Prophet once a year, but he repeated it twice with him in the year the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed away. The Qur’an was recited in the Taraweeh for the first time during the era of Caliph Omar.

So far as the memorization of the Qur’an in Qur’anic schools is concerned, many Huffaz and Islamic scholars have been killed in different parts of the world at different times. But still there is no dearth of Islamic scholars who can recite the complete Qur’an from memory. Severe campaigns have been launched against the Qur’anic schools, which teach the study, recitation and memorization of the Qur’an. The Qur’an is the main Book of the Muslims; it is the duty of the Muslims to learn Qur’an, which contains their code of life and ethical values whose benefits have been experienced by mankind throughout the ages.

I have already mentioned the objective and importance of the Qur’an and how its originality and purity have been maintained. Our Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions dedicated their days and nights for worship. Their lives revolved completely around the Book of Allah, the Qur’an, reciting it in and out of Salah.

The Qur’an is the basis of the religion of Islam, and on the preservation and propagation of the Qur’an depends the very existence of this Faith. Hence the virtue of learning and teaching the Qur’an is self-evident and does not need further elucidation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The best amongst you is he who learns the Qur’an and teaches it.” (Bukhari, Daud and Tirmidhi).
A great Islamic scholar wrote in his book entitled Toward Understanding of the Qur’an: “The present arrangement of the Qur'an is not the work of later generations, but was made by the Prophet under God's direction. Whenever a surah was revealed, the Prophet summoned his scribes, to whom he carefully dictated its contents, and instructed them where to place it in relation to the other surahs. The Prophet followed the same order of surahs and verses when reciting during ritual Prayer as on other occasions, and his Companions followed the same practice in memorizing the Qur'an. It is therefore a historical fact that the collection of the Qur'an came to an end on the very day that its revelation ceased. The One who was responsible for its revelation was also the One who fixed its arrangement. The one whose heart was the receptacle of the Qur'an was also respon­sible for arranging its sequence. This was far too important and too delicate a matter for anyone else to dare to become involved in.”

“Not even the most skeptical person has any reason to doubt that the Qur'an as we know it today is identical with the Qur'an which Muhammad (peace be on him) set before the world; this is an unquestionable, objective, historical fact, and there is nothing in human history on which the evidence is so overwhelmingly strong and conclusive. To doubt the authenticity of the Qur'an is like doubting the existence of the Roman Empire, the Mughals of India, or Napoleon! To doubt historical facts like these is a sign of stark ignorance, not a mark of erudition and scholarships,” he added.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre receives Grade II listing

The London Central Mosque and the Islamic
Cultural Centre is newly listed at Grade II

Dr. Mozammel Haque

His Excellency the Minister of Art and Heritage, Government of the United Kingdom, Mr. Michael Ellis came to the London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, Regent’s Park, London, on 13th of March 2018. With him also came Chief Executive of the Heritage England, Mr. Duncan Wilson, to announce that the London Central Mosque and The Islamic Cultural Centre in Regent’s Park has been given the Grade II listed status.

The London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre is given protected heritage status to recognise their historic, architectural and cultural importance.

Heritage Minister Michael Ellis said listing the mosques preserved important places of worship and celebrated the rich heritage of Muslim communities in England.

Mr. Ellis said: ‘Our historic buildings tell the story of Britain’s past and the people, places and events that shaped them.

‘By listing these beautiful mosques, we are not only preserving important places of worship, but also celebrating the rich heritage of Muslim communities in England.’

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive, said the mosques were ‘exceptional places of worship’. ‘Through listing we are celebrating some of our most significant examples of Islamic heritage from the stunning Shah Jahan in Woking, the first purpose-built mosque in the country, to the landmark London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park.’

While reporting on the listing of the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre, The Guardian said on 13th of March, 2018, “A landmark London mosque has been given Grade II* listed status in recognition of its historic, cultural and architectural importance.”

London Central Mosque and the Islamic
Cultural Centre in Regent’s Park
The London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre in Regent’s Park which is newly listed as Grade II status, was built as a centre point for Muslim worship in the capital. It was built in the 1970s. The first fund for the new mosque was set up in 1910 and the Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s government offered the location in the 1940s in recognition of the importance of Islam in an increasingly multicultural society.

“The land of this mosque was donated from the government of the UK and also the Prime Minister at that time 1940 Winston Churchill himself signed the document for granting the land. His Majesty King George VI came on 1944 to open the location for the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre which is we are so proud of,” said Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre in an interview with me.

He also mentioned, “It means recognition of Islamic heritage as part of National British heritage in this country. It means also recognition of the efforts and contributions of the Muslim community in the UK.”

A design of the London Central Mosque by the British architect Sir Frederick Gibberd was chosen in an international competition. “His (Sir Gibberd) elegant scheme combined architectural traditions of British modernism with historic Islamic forms,”  according to Historic England, which recommended the mosque for listing by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The mosque, which took two years to build at a cost of £6 million, completed in 1978.

The main prayer hall of the London Central Mosque was built in the 1970s and can hold several thousand worshippers in its grand prayer hall. “Its golden dome and 44-metre minaret make it a London landmark,” according to The Guardian.

The newly listed buildings include the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre in Regent’s Park, which was built in the 1970s by British architect Sir Frederick Gibberd on land offered by the government of UK led by Winston Churchill in the 1940s in recognition of the importance of Islam in an increasingly multi-cultural society and in the then-Empire.

The DCMS has also upgraded the listing of two other mosques. The Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking, Surrey, England’s earliest purpose-built Muslim place of Worship, has become the only Grade I listed mosque in the UK, upgraded from its previous Grade II listing.

There are estimated to be almost 2, 000 mosques and Islamic prayer rooms in the UK, serving 4.1 million Muslims, or 6.3% of the UK population.

An interview with Dr. Ahmad Al-Dubayan
Director General London Central Mosque and ICC
In an interview with me yesterday, the 14th of March, 2018, Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Central Centre said,Yesterday on the 13th of March 2018, we have received in the Islamic Cultural Centre here His Excellency the Minister of Art and Heritage, Mr Michael Ellis and also members of the Historic England. They came with the media in the Islamic Cultural Centre to announce that we have taken the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre as part of the National Heritage in the UK which means the building is actually listed in Park Road, in Regents Park.”

He also said, “I believe this is, may be, the third mosque listed in the UK the second or the third for many reasons, first of all,  this London Central Mosque represents actually the heritage of the British Muslim community.”

Speaking about the background of the construction of the Mosque, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned, “The land of this Mosque was donated from the Government of the UK and also the Prime Minister at that time 1940 Winston Churchill himself signed the document for granting the land. His Majesty King George VI came on 1944 to open the location for the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre which is we are so proud of.”

“It means recognition of Islamic heritage as part of national British heritage in this country. It means also recognition of the efforts and contributions of the Muslim community in the UK. We are so thankful for this to his Excellency the Minister and to the historic England,” he said.

Dr. Al-Dubayan also mentioned, “The building was listed because it shows a kind of architecture which is important modern architecture where the architect Sir Frederick Gibberd who really designed the building that was in the late 60’s as a modern piece of architecture concentrated on space and light and you see the mosque with almost whole wall of glass and the other side is glass to give more space and try to come closer to this spirituality in the mosque by open airs and by open spaces inside the mosque itself and that’s why it kept because it is unique in architecture and it is one of the good examples of the modernity: the modern architecture in the UK.”

Talking about the Muslim community in the UK, The ICC chief also said, “Muslims, of course, came to the UK long time ago and the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre is one of the biggest organisations actually happened as a result of their efforts.”

In this connection, Dr. al-Dubayan also mentioned the role of the Muslim Ambassadors in the UK. He said, “There are Muslim ambassadors who are directors and trustees now. The head and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre Trusts, now is Mr Khaled Al-Duwaisan and Ambassador of Kuwait and the deputy chairman is Mr Abdul Aziz Abdullah Zahir al-Hinai; he is the Ambassador of Oman and the treasurer is His Royal Highness Prince Muhammad bin Nawaf, the Saudi Ambassador in the UK. We have also the board of Muslim ambassadors, of course, on one side and on the other side the British government and the Muslim community. Now we have result: is this unique work which is supported by the government here.”

“It is now for more than 70 years giving Muslim community  and the whole society at large a lot of services, their education, social services and teaching Islam, presenting good image about faith; trying to attracting young people; trying to make empowerment for women in the centre,” he mentioned.
Dr. Al-Dubayan also said, “It is a place; it’s a hub really and vocal point where people come and the unique thing also from the London Central Mosque that is, it is really for all communities; it is not classified as a mosque for ethnical group or country; it is for all people and everybody is welcome. Many non-Muslims, also many friends, who are not Muslims, they come sometimes to the centre to participate on different occasions and to different activities of its different programmes.”

Speaking about what the Minister said, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned, “The Minister H.E. Michael Ellis said that we have enrolled these two mosques this marvellous mosque on the list, not only to maintain and to protect places for worship but also to celebrate together the heritage of the Muslim community in England.”

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Is Islam Fair to Women at the ICC

International Women’s Day
Lecture on Is Islam Fair to Women
at the Islamic Cultural Centre - Part-1

Dr. Mozammel Haque

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on 8 March every year. Now the question is when, where and how it started. This Day marked the plight and achievements of women for more than a century. It commemorates the movement for women’s rights. The first observance of a Women’s Day was held on 28 February, 1909 in New Work but March 8 was suggested by the 1910 International Woman’s Conference to become an International Woman’s Day. Since then it has developed into a formally recognised day by the UN and is celebrated around the world.

There are lots of questions asked about the status of woman in Islam. These are all questions actually raised about Islam and about the practice of Muslim community. There are something which are related with Islam as a religion and there are something which are related with Muslim practice. So, there are something we must know; there are something which we have questions about and about which we must ask questions sometimes. There is something which we are going to discuss. The question is: Is Islam fair to woman? This question is always discussed about and what we said in the circles, in the media, to the community you will find lot of articles, books, speeches, talks about this: those who will say Islam is fair to woman and those who will say no. Islam is unfair with woman for many things, because of traditions etc. etc.

Is Islam Fair to Woman
Because of this dichotomy, a lecture was held by the Islamic Circle at the Islamic Cultural Centre, London in December 2017. Dr. Ahmad Al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, was invited to give a lecture on: Is Islam Fair to Women? Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan said, “Now we are going to discuss this objectively.  You have to think objectively; “You will go back to really real Islamic principles and sources. You don’t just pick up what anybody or one person says; go back to the sources. This is very very important as a principle.  In my talk, I always talk about to go back to the authority; go back to the sources; we always like to remember that we have the Qur’an, Alhamdulillah as it is untouched; unchanged; as it was left by Prophet (peace be upon him); Alhamdulillah. This is unchanged; we have the Qur’an unchanged. Everywhere you go you will find the same Qur’an everywhere; we make difference on the basis of how we understand the verses. That’s normal.”

He said, if there is difference it is because of the understanding of the verses which is quite normal but as regards the text itself nobody says this is missing or there is something or there are other meaning for special people, not for everybody. This is not all correct at all.

Dr. al-Dubayan also mentioned, “If you find some radical ideas with some Sheikhs of Islam; some times they say like that; but it is not; because Allah the Almighty wants one religion for all people, for all mankind, men or women. It is simple logic. It is quite impossible that Allah wants to send this for all people and at the same time HE keeps some of it hidden; not reachable to somebody. This is contradictory to the principle itself. We say religion is for all mankind even it is clear in front of us; nothing special for certain people; everything is for everybody. That is the principle of Islam.”

Go back to the sources –
The Qur’an and The Hadith
Dr. Al-Dubayan always advised people if there is something confusing, go back to the sources – The Qur’an and the Traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). He said, “I always say to you that if you hear something; go back to the sources - The Qur’an the first one source; the second source is the tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him); provided we make sure that the Hadith is correct; Sahih; it is not faked Hadith. Because lots of Hadith are going around specially now after the social media; everybody says Kala Rasullullah the Prophet says. I have to put question mark here: Is this Hadith authentic? What is the reference? It is very important. I have seen lots of Hadiths talking about certain hours of the day, certain days, certain times, even some people say about certain rituals which are not actual; they are all fake Hadiths or weak which Muslims should not follow. They are very weak.”

Objectives of Islam
Dr. al-Dubayan then started mentioning the objectives of Islam. He said, “I would start by mentioning objectives of Islam. This is something you have to keep always in your mind. This is very very important. The objectives of Shari’ah, Maqasid al-Shari’ah; why there is law in the Islamic religion? Islam as religion is guidance; for worship etc. Also it talks about lots of rules relating to our lives; related to the society; related to ourselves; related to between man and woman; related to many things. Even for buying and selling and loans etc.”

Protection of Religion itself
Now what are the objectives of Shari’ah? Shari’ah has usually five objectives. We have to keep these five objectives of Shari’ah always in our mind. This is very important. Talking about these five objectives of Shari’ah, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned, “The first objective of Shari’ah is to protect the religion. Religion is something special; something very important. Allah the Almighty wanted to make it sure so that everybody follows it and the religion can stay all the days for this generation; the next generation; the other generation. So if anything you add or change anything, this is against Islam; because Islam does not want to change. That is very important. So one objective is: always protection of religion itself. That’s why the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself warns us many times about adding or removing from the Sunnah or the Qur’an. That’s the first one.”

Protection of mind
“The second one is the protection of mind. It is very important for you as a person as a society to protect your mind. That’s why wine is not allowed. It is haram in Islam; because if someone drinks he will lose his mind, he will not be the normal person, who can work or take care of his life; who can take care of his family or wife or whatever. So for this reason the protection of mind is very important, “said Dr. Al-Dubayan.

Protection of life
Dr. al-Dubayan then mentioned the other two objectives of Shari’ah. He said, “Protection of life; this is the third one. Life is something very valuable and precious in Islam. You are not allowed to play with it. That’s why in Islam killing is not allowed or it is haram or very deeply haram to kill anybody. It is also haram to kill yourself for any reason. Why? Because Islam wants to protect your life; even when sometimes one is depressed, don’t know what to do, for example, they have problems in their families; problems with their jobs. In the darkest time of your life, you must not touch your life; insecure your life, because it is the right of Allah the Almighty; not in your hands. The moment you decide to finish it you are taking the right from Allah Subhanahu wa Taala. So protection of life is very very important.”

Protection of money and property
The fourth objective of Shari'ah is protection of money of everybody and the fifth objective of Sharia’ah is the protection of property, not only money, any property of anybody. Talking about this objective, Dr. Al-Dubayan explained, “Protection of property is another objective of Shari’ah. That’s why, stealing is haram in Islam; because you are taking the property of another person. That’s why; destroying public things is haram in Islam. Suppose somebody is angry with any one for something; then he goes on the street and destroys something on the street, because it is owned by the government; it is not belonged to me. In Islam it is also haram; because it is actually public property; for everybody. You are not allowed to destroy it. This is very important. You will find many many verses in the Qur’an and Hadith talking about do not attack anybody, not steal, do not take anything that does not belong to you. This is very very important.”

Protection of Environment
After mentioning five objectives of Shari’ah, Dr. al-Dubayan said we can add to this five another one in this modern time. He said, “We can add to them based on the verses of the Qur’an: protection of environment. This is also a kind of property. You cannot play with the natural resources; for example, you cannot burn forests; you cannot waste things actually wherever water itself; you cannot because Allah subhanahu wa Taala and the Prophet (peace be upon him) warn us from this. Don’t waste water even if you live on the bank of a river. Don’t waste water.”

Dr. al-Dubayan also mentioned another one – the Protection of ethics; protection of the society – all these are important. Usually the scholars talk about the first five; I am adding the other three; because on the basis of the modern lives what we have to have. This is very very important, said Dr. Al-Dubayan.

Islam as a Faith and Muslim Practice
Dr. al-Dubayan wanted to distinguish between Islam as a faith and Muslim practice. He said, “Another important thing which I want to talk before I talk about woman. “We have always to distinguish between Islam itself as a faith and rules and sometimes Muslims practice something which came from their traditions; they are not Islam. Some people see them and around them in the society and they think this is part of the religion.”

“When can I know this is a part of the faith or not?  I have to go back again to the authority - to the Qur’an and the Sunnah. See how the companions themselves did into this. If you don’t find there, then there is something you practice is not part of the faith itself. But in any kind of society, anywhere in the world, they have their own traditions; local traditions, no problems; local traditions or folklores. It is okay, it is respected; as long as it is not contradict with faith itself; and as long as you did not give it the colour of the faith. But the moment you take it as a holy thing; and then you say it is something very very touchy; it is really Islam. It is not Islam. This is something we use to do in the society, but it is not part of the faith. This is very very important” explained Dr. al-Dubayan.

Forcing girls to be married
Talking about Muslim practice, traditions in the society and Islam as a faith itself, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned some of his practical experiences. He said, “I have actually seen around us in the society many things; they create problems; that does not come from Islam; that came from traditions. I will give an example - forcing girls to be married. This is not Islamic at all. You are the father, you have the right to agree but you don’t have the right to force; there is a difference between this. You have, of course, a word to say, yes or no about your daughter or about your sister or about your mother, if she is a widow or something. I am going to explain why Islam did this. Even if you agree and she refuses, her word will be higher than yours. It is more important, you cannot force. This is her mind. This is very very important. This is practiced in many Muslim societies throughout the world and some people think I am practising my right; it is in Islam. It is not Islamic. This is an example.”

[To be continued]

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Annual Community Leadership Awards

Annual Community Leadership Awards
And Gala Dinner

Dr. Mozammel Haque

An Annual Community Leadership Awards & Gala Dinner, organised by Community Leadership Foundation in Partnership with SOAS University of London, supported by Connecting Communities was held at The Royal Regency, Manor Park, on Tuesday 12th December 2017. This Community Leadership Awards were given to those Muslims who have been doing good works in the community also acknowledging the services and contributions.

Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre & London Central Mosque, was given an Award for his excellent leadership role in the British Muslim community and the role of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London. The Award was presented by H.E. Saud Al-Hamdan, Head of the Islamic Affairs of the Saudi Embassy in London.

Barrister Abid Hussain finally announced: “Our final penultimate speaker is Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham. He chooses to draw the lines what he feels what he thinks right; and he speaks for justice and against injustice. Unfortunately last year he had to fly out and I had to take this opportunity to ask what it is meant to give him the award that you should have last year for riding support for locally nationally and internationally.”

While giving the Award to Lord Ahmad, Barrister Abid said, “This is from SOAS University Professor Ornament Tea Award giving to Lord Ahmad for what he should have and now round of applause for our keynote speaker Lord Nazir Ahmad.”

Keynote Address at Leadership
Award Event Lord Nazir Ahmed
While delivering his keynote address, Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham, Peer of the House of Lords of the British Parliament, mentioned, “I had the honour of hosting this event for many years in the House of Lords. Community Awards SOAS and the community had been training the Awards and I had been proud of hosting this because I think the community needs to be recognised. You know in the United Kingdom and here in Europe and the United Kingdom our community has made a huge contribution whether it is in the field of economic development political development social and communities we have done lots of works.”

Lord Ahmed said, “The point that I wanted to make that the contributions I remind people that after the Second World War when they destroyed this country and the Bangladeshi community in East London and Afghanis, Pakistanis, Turkish and all the diasporas who are here tonight we are proud that our forefathers, our elders, made a contribution in the society and made this country the richest country today.”

“I am reminding when some people were asking us we should issue some sort of Fatwa against those people who believe in Caliphate.  We also related to the verses in the Holy Bible and I said that no religion no religion actually promote violence; even I say; we used to believe the Buddhism; the Buddhist religion is the most peaceful religion on earth and get what you see in Burma you would be horrified to see nearly a million Muslims have been driven out of their homes. Ten thousands who have been killed; thousands and thousands of women who have been raped,” mentioned Lord Ahmed in his keynote speech.

Lord Ahmed also described his visit to Bangladesh, to Cox’s Bazaar just on the line of the border where the river is. He mentioned, “I see those one thousand children; that ten thousand children; have come across this river to save their lives. Children don’t leave their parents or their homes if they were not afraid of their lives. I saw an old woman probably the same age of my mother who had broken arms, not but actually broken into two pieces; bruises are not fake. I saw and I met with a eleven or twelve year old girl; it is not only flesh, she will be okay; but when I realise on the side of her leg, the bones were coming out of her and when I asked her, she said that the Burmese had thrown her on the fire; because the Burmese army had burnt their house and threw them on the fire and also killed her parents.”

Lord Ahmed also narrated the horrific events that were happened to the Rohingya refugees. He mentioned, “When I was distributing food, I asked some young women: how many they have seen people have been murdered. Three women, barrister shahab was there; three women, young women, 18, 20 years old they stood up and said my husband was killed. There were many; they said, their mothers and sisters have been raped. So what are the points I am making even if you have the most peaceful religion on earth; those who use and abuse nationalism with religion; they cause disaster for all of us; whether Christians - Donald Trump is a Christian but do you believe what he does and what he practices.”

Going back to the topic of Khalifat, Lord Ahmed again mentioned, “Both Lord Qurban said and I tried to give them proper kind of answer because so many had spoken about these young Muslims or these fanatic who wanted to live in a Khilafat and they wanted to have a khilafah like in Turkey, the Ottomans and I told them that there is no such thing like khilafah after the four Caliphs – Sayyidana Abu Bakr, Sayyidana Omar, Sayyidana Osman and Sayyidana Ali. There were the Ottoman Empire, Mughal Empire, there were North African Empire. I told them that the Prophet peace be upon him sent his companions to Abyssinia and then one hundred joined them in Abyssinia who lived under a Christian ruler and they were allowed to practice their religion very fairly like the European countries and the United States live peacefully amongst other communities. And we have no problem whatsoever.”

“Therefore those fanatics, those extremists from all sides, whether they are from my religion or from any other religion, create hatred. They wanted to create hatred; they wanted to create wall, they wanted to create distance, divisions; so we want to stand together and be proud of the contributions that our communities make on daily basis in East London, in Greater London, in Yorkshire, in Scotland; all of you who have come here,” said Lord Ahmed.

Then Lord Ahmed expressed his thanks to Barrister Abid, his team and SOAS. He said, “You have attended all the awards in the House of Lords. It is a very small place and there was a smaller sort of celebrations. This is a huge gathering of the community and I am very proud to be with you tonight. Thank you Barrister Saheb; thank you. But I want to say how proud I am all of you for the contributions that you make at every level whether in this country, whether in economy, or in political life; social life; there are many doctors in the National Health Service; NHS would not be as good as it is today without the works of Asians and Muslim doctors today. So all of you together we make contributions and thank you for recognising the great works there are and please continuing doing hard work and we wanted to come back next year even celebrate many more of you.”

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Launch of Labour Muslim Network at British Parliament

Launch of Labour Muslim Network
at British Parliament

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Labour Muslim Network was launched at the British Parliament on 11th of December 2017. Rupa Huq, Member of British Parliament from the Ealing and Acton Constituency sponsored the Room in the British Parliament. It was attended by many members of the House of Commons and many members of the Muslim community. It was addressed by John McDonnell, MP, and Labour Shadow Chancellor and also by Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Opposition Party.

Opposition Party Leader at British 
Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn MP
Preparation is underway for the forthcoming general elections. Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition Party at the British Parliament, said, “When the election campaign will be underway we went out there with lots of enthusiasm; with lots of energy; two million people have registered to vote and some of those join the party which is excellent and we helped them getting the manifesto which is transformative; every one can see underway. The campaign is a combination of social media reach and public meeting and public opinion and offering to young people the real hope of enthusiasm for the future of this country. And the response we got is quite amazing; quite often day after day we have millions of people following us on social media; downloaded the manifesto; downloaded part of the manifesto and many people on social media engage in the debate on social media all the time.”

“Instead we offer to bring people together in a sense of hope and unity,” he said.

We give a sense of hope to people - Corbyn
Speaking about the issues Jeremy Corbyn talked about the “issues of migration; issues of communities; and the unsaid voice was somehow or other. He said, “I shall have and the words I used around now and everyone now rallies look around you; look around each other; who are you; who are you; you are young, you are old, you are black, you are white, you are Christian, you are Muslim, you are Jewish, you are guys, you got lots of enthusiasm and ideas, for the bubble you come together; that you are living in a country that brings your ideas together and gives you  hope for the future. That’s what we did; we gave people the sense of hope in the election campaign.”

Jeremy Corbyn was serious and straightforward. He said, “The result we got was not good enough I know; not good enough; we did not gain a majority in the election, but we gained more votes in England than any time since 1970; before the three million votes across the whole of the country. We gained seats of the Tories; there was a biggest swing in favour of Labour since 1945.”

The Leader of the Opposition Party, Labour Party, at the British Parliament Corbyn MP expressed thanks to the Muslim Network that sprung up. He said, “The Muslim Network that grows up during the election campaign; the way you were able to send same people in the constituencies makes a big difference; and a big help. Constituencies; people were frankly worried about; you went in and knock on the door of all of those returned majorities of many many thousands  as a result of it. You know what the enthusiasm is like during the campaign and on the doorsteps.”

The Leader of the Opposition Party at British Parliament said: “We don’t have to work out where we will go from here; because in areas with large Muslim communities your involvement and understanding are absolutely brilliant. And we live in a society where unfortunately there are instances of deep intolerance; anti-semitism; of Islamophobia; and of far- right racism in our society and it got worse since the Brexit referendum in 2016 and the attacks we had during the election campaign in London and in Manchester mainly opposing the campaigning rightly so. And I went to Manchester a day after the attack and report thousands of people probably ten thousand people came to our square in a sense of unity and defiance.”

He mentioned about the unity and defiance of the entire community. He also mentioned, “Afzal (Khan, MP from Manchester) was there and others were there and the community; incredible sense of unity and many others. That feeling of the whole community came together.”

Attack on Finsbury Park
Jeremy Corbyn also mentioned what happened after the election campaign. He said, “After election campaign there was the attack on the people, the worshippers in my local mosque; the Finsbury Mosque Finsbury Park, people were going home from prayers late at night. I was home at that night and heard siren of the car going on the road; it happened all the time services on the road; sadly there were lots of fire police ambulances sirens and then start phoning around to ask what was going on. Then I heard the horror of the story emerged of what happened that somebody deliberately driven a vehicle into a group of worshippers and I went down there to talk to the people, talk to the police; going to the mosque; talk to the officials of the mosque; what was amazing was in the next morning, the whole community came out in school and had a discussion two days later in the primary school and they all decided that they wanted to do something. So they decided they would have a march round the area on the day of the memorial event and most of the people, they carried very very loudspeakers to play around they love. There were kids who understood the only answer to these sorts of things is to bring out people together and do things together.”

Muslims in the British Parliament
Labour Party Opposition Leader then spoke about the Muslim representation at the House of Parliament. He said, “We have nine Labour Muslim MPs in 2015. We have newly elected colleagues who have done an incredible amount of work in order to get elected to this Parliament and already making a big impact and what we do next as a party; we are dealing with the issues: complicated issue of Brexit; we are dealing with challenging Tories on the austerity; on housing; on poverty; on injustice; on inequality in our society. That the social equality and international solidarity message that we have to go.”

Rohingya Refugees
Speaking about the international issues, Jeremy Corbyn said, “I want to lead the Labour government; the government that says the cornerstone of what we do internationally is about human rights, peace, justice and democracy. I don’t like the government should involve of sending people into war. I want to stop wars but looking at the causes of war in the first place. And that means voting people who are refugees, fleeing from the conflict not on their making; but it also means to engage when injustice takes place. For example, the way which the Rohingya people were driven out of their homes and sent them into Bangladesh and now many have been possibly returning in the near future. I am very pleased with the Labour MPs who have been there; went out and help the charities there. We got a very thorough report what is going there because we are unable to raise that in the UN. We will continue to raise it and we are continuing.”

66 million refugees in the world
Jeremy Corbyn mentioned all the meetings that were held in the weekend, the most distressing one for him is when he talked with the Head of the United Nations Refugee Authority. Speaking about this meeting, he said, “The Head of the United Nations Refugee Authority who told me the total number of refugees around the world is 66 million. Think about it; 66 million refugees; refugees somehow or other around the world. What we are doing? They are going to the International Olympic Committee arguing with them that since the refugees are so numerous around the world, they should represent the Olympics with their own team, good message. Good message; millions of people will be watching the Olympics; you see refugee team running in the Olympics; having represented the people the number of people around the world that have lost their homes, forced to flee, because the war, environmental calamites,  natural disaster,  human rights abuses, tyranny, many many other things.”

“We can assure and must do much more to support refugees wherever they are around the world but also to look at the causes; look at the causes in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and that’s it, “ he said.

Domestic Issues
Speaking about the domestic issues, Jeremy Corbyn talked about real wages fallen; the number of people sleeping roughly homeless has risen; on the NHS and the lack of house building means more people homeless.”

Issues to be told
He explained the strategy to be followed. He said: “So we get that message out; bring us all together; bring all the communities together; so we say to the Muslim communities – yes Islamophobia is a problem; yes, there is too many young Muslims have stopped and searched; yes there are very disturbing issues about discrimination against young Muslims; come together as a community. We welcome all the other communities, to create that kind of inclusive, caring cooperative and supportive society, that in turn help us to realise the Labour government.”

Social Campaigning Movement
“We need Labour party which is big, which is inclusive; that is a social campaigning movement that is there, every day in every community helping and supporting people. Because just knocking on the door last three weeks in the election campaign voter ID is very important; absolutely crucial but; but you have to have conversation and the sense of inclusion well before that; well in advance of that in order to win people out. People will not give a fair win in the next elections,” Jeremy Corbyn said and added, “We will not get any support from the Daily Mail or the Daily Express or the Daily Telegraph or the Daily anything else. For that matter, we do have a support of many people; we do have the support of many people on social media and we do have the ability to bring people together and make them exciting. It’s not young people; it’s not old people. Give young people a chance of education; older people security of knowing that there will be a care service there for them should they need it. But above all of this society will not alone live on poverty.”

Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell
Talking about the preparation for the forthcoming elections, the Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell mentioned, “We got to be ready. What we are doing at the moment; literally going through the last manifesto; looking at every policy, turning into implementation manual; get legislation drafted on the shelve; but that manifesto was the last election. We got to think about the next election; we have to get make sure that manifesto is re-drawn; is radicalised; and actually goes into much more detail about the gender things etc.; it’s come off to the point you made which is really. We have to have a deep database access to our own communities; what are the issues they face people?”

Mr McDonnell said, “The idea is when we go into government next time; I keep saying this we all going into government; all going into government. I take my constituency into what’s happening in the Muslim community I have been in my constituency for more than 40 years; I am really old. I have been in my constituency for more than 40 years; it was the Labour party that helped found the local mosque. It was the Labour councillor found the premises for the local Muslim community mosque; Muslim came together and found the mosque.”

Speaking about the Muslim community and prevent, he said, “We are dissatisfied the way the prevent strategy is implemented. So we brought together two local mosque, Gurdawar and other religious groups. We think we have better network here and how we work together very grassroots level to identify any problem that accrued. There was a community we came together to protect the mosque and to work together humbly but thinking how can we implement our own prevent strategy more effectively.”

Speaking about the Muslim community to join the Labour Party, Shadow Chancellor Mr. McDonnell mentioned, “I think this is the most exciting time to come into Labour Party; the time to change and we can accomplish that. On the ground, we have got such a mass movement now; a mass movement of young people especially building for the next generation So a number of you in future be a member to come to this meeting and a number of you in future years will be meeting down that corridor of the Parliamentary Labour Party because what we want the people to say I can represent Labour as well. I can stand for office within the party; I can stand for the office of the council; I can stand for the office; in charge of parliament ministerial office as well; because we want to reflect the wider community.”

Welcoming the Labour Muslim Network, McDonnell said he wants to see more members of the Muslim community in the Labour Party. He said, “We need many more members of Muslim community to be as partner assistant in going into office that every one wants. I welcome the Muslim Network. I really welcome the discussions that we have. I also welcome the policy decisions; we have to follow that decisions that we have made government together.”
Rupa Huq, MP
Rupa Huq, Member of British Parliament, mentioned that she was proud to sponsor the room at the Parliament.

Monday, 8 January 2018

'A Very Merry Muslim Christmas' Report

APPG on British Muslim
‘A Very Merry Muslim Christmas’ Report

Dr. Mozammel Haque

All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims launched a Report entitled titled ‘A Very Merry Muslim Christmas’ Report at the British Parliament on 19 December, 2017. The APPG on British Muslims submitted its report on the untold story of British Muslim charities which the APPG on British Muslims wants to highlight in this summary report, drawing on oral and written evidence presented to the group during hearings held in Parliament in November 2017.

‘A Very Merry Muslim Christmas’ Report
Acknowledges British Muslim Contributions
All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims organised a meeting at the Palace of Westminster, London, on 19 December, 2017 which presented findings of “A Very Merry Muslim Christmas” Report highlighting ‘Faith as the Fourth Emergency Service’. This meeting was chaired by Anna Soubry & Wes Streeting, MP. In her Opening remarks, Anna Soubry, Member of Parliament (MP) narrated the background to APPG on British Muslims and why it was formed. In her remarks she also mentioned a short background on this being the first report and why such a report is so important.

Anna Soubry in her opening remarks enquired what is Christmas. And immediately added, you Christians have completely lost the essence of Christmas. “But Muslims have not lost – huge celebration of what Muslims do all this time of the year.” She also mentioned about Islam the religion which thinks of other people; this report is part of that.

The second speaker was Naz Shah MP who spoke about the untold stories of British Muslims. She mentioned, How we are often told about the negative stories regarding British Muslims and not those that are just getting on and making a positive difference. She gave some examples of positive stories from the report.

The third speaker was Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Member of the House of Lords of the British Parliament, who spoke about the findings of the report. Baroness Warsi mentioned, How the findings of the report are just a drop of the ocean? She said more research is needed on this subject. We often see further research carried out on Muslims in relation to Extremism, Grooming, Integration and other negative areas; we should also see further research in this area.

Baroness Warsi also mentioned what were the findings? The findings of the evidence sessions, i.e. Muslims often give because of their faith. Give with one hand without the other knowing. Lots of groups work purely as volunteers and how most of the recipients of Muslim donations are non-Muslims.

In the Foreword of the Report, Anna Soubry and Wes Streeting, Co-chairs of the APPG on British Muslims, mentioned, “Too Often, Muslim charities come to our attention because of negative media coverage of governance issues or bad practice among a handful of individuals working in the charity sector, or because of latent fears about charities being abused for terrorism financing, even though evidence assembled by the Charities Commission  recognises the near non-existent level of threat of such abuse in the sector.”

Anna Soubry, Member of Parliament, also mentioned in the Foreword, “What is less well appreciated, and rarely celebrated, is the fantastic range of work done by Muslim charities in the UK which evoke the very best of our British Muslim communities: a commitment to giving to those less fortunate than themselves, a desire to help those in need, a willingness to volunteer time, professionalism and extend friendship to those who are simply in need of a warm embrace, a friendly face and/or a place to go for a free hot meal.”

It was also mentioned in the Foreword: “Muslims quietly go about charity giving in a way that is consistent with the emphasis in Islam on discretion; of ‘giving charity so that the left hand does not know what the right hand gives’; but this is a story which needs to be told and we want to be the ones to tell it. Let us celebrate the benefits of a multi-faith society, where people from different faith traditions focus their charitable activities on helping their neighbours in towns and cities across the UK.”

“What we hear even less about is the ‘Muslim Merry Christmas’. The soup Kitchens, the food banks, the Christmas dinners, the New Year clean up – work Muslim charities will be busy doing during the Christmas period,” mentioned in the Foreword.

The Foreword clearly said, “British Muslim charities haven’t received the kind of attention they deserve. At this time of year, when Muslim charities are working alongside many other faith based charities to spread good cheer, peace on earth and goodwill to all we hope our preliminary findings highlights and celebrates their work.”

Findings of the Report
Following questions were raised when the investigation was going on: ‘Why was it necessary to establish an inquiry into Muslim charitable contributions to the UK? Would it even be possible to quantify the impact of the Muslim charity sector in the UK? Would we be able to do justice to the work of Muslim charities in the UK and in doing so, shine a light on the myriad contributions British Muslims are making in their local communities and on the national scene?

The Report says: “the elision in the public imagination of Islam with violence and conflict, the perception of Muslims as ‘takers’ not ‘givers’ and the pervasive narratives which portray British Muslims as resistant to integration in British society, seemingly preferring to set themselves apart than be alongside their neighbours.”

“But such perceptions of British Muslims, and of British Muslim charities in particular, are wide off the mark,” the Report said and added, “We did so because Muslim charities are illustrative of those facets of British Muslim lives which we rarely hear about: expressing compassion for those less fortunate than themselves, exemplifying Islamic teachings to give generously to alleviate poverty, hunger and to care for the elderly, the sick and the needy. Being civic-minded and socially aware are among the primary teachings of Islam”.

The Report finds: “It is well-known that charity giving is integral to Islam, as it is in other great religious traditions but what is less well known, indeed what is often wilfully ignored, is the role Muslim charities play in bringing communities together by facilitating integration and social cohesion through civic solidarity, interfaith social action and crisis response.

“Muslim charities engage in such charity work without regard for the age, gender, racial, religious or ethnic background of the beneficiaries. They do so with a poignant focus on responding to need,” the Report mentioned.

The Report also finds, “Another aspect that is also unknown and largely overlooked, but which deserves much wider attention, is the specific functions Muslim charities undertake during winter and in the Christmas season. It is at this time, when we are reminded of peace of earth and goodwill to all that Muslim charities come into their own.”

The Report mentioned, “British Muslims we spoke to were keen to exude Islam’s true teachings through their charitable works. They want the British public to recognise them for who they really are: British Muslims. Their Islamic faith and their British identity increasingly motivates them to respond to crises and social problems on their doorstep, from flooding to homelessness, domestic violence and prisoner rehabilitation.”

The Report also said, “This is social conscience, community spirit and civic engagement working together at its best. This is only a short summary of some of the findings from the evidence sessions held by the APPG in Parliament in November and the written submissions presented to the group by British Muslim charities as part of our call for evidence. This report showcases our preliminary findings.  It is merely an indicative of some of the impact made by the Muslim charities. It is in no way exhaustive of Muslim contributions to British society.”

Key Points of the Findings of the Report
Followings are some of the key points of the findings of the Report:
“Major festivals are a time to celebrate the values shared between religions. Values of charity, goodwill and caring for one’s neighbour all come to the fore during Ramadan, Eid, Christmas and other festivals. Muslim charities do tremendous work during Christmas and winter season by providing hot meals for the homeless, ‘Winter Warmer’ kits to keep the elderly and vulnerable groups warm in the colder months, and through provision of other essential items.

“Media narratives portray Muslims as rejecting, even calling for the banning of Christmas, but as our findings reveal, Muslims are busy preparing for a ‘Merry Muslim Christmas’ with charities distributing food parcels, hot meals, thermal clothing and other essential items to spread good cheer and help individuals celebrate the season.

“Some of the larger Muslim charities are recalibrating their distribution of charitable funds to commit more money to domestic projects and services. As the size of the young British Muslim population grows, they are increasingly focusing more of their time and money to charity at home.

“Muslim charities are at the forefront of domestic crisis response. One notable example illustrated in this report is the Grenfell Muslim Response Unit; a collaboration between a handful of British Muslim charities that have spearheaded emergency response, food and shelter provision, burial services and ongoing support to individuals and families affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

“Muslim charities are increasingly responding to social needs in innovative and creative ways whether prisoner rehabilitation programmes or medical aid for homeless people to alleviate the strain on local A&E services. They are stepping in where other support or service networks are failing and in doing so demonstrate solidarity with their fellow citizens and exemplify the best of their religion.

“Substantial models for running food banks are being developed by Muslim charities such as UK Education and Faith Foundation, UK Islamic Mission and iCare. There is learning in the Muslim charity sector that is applicable to the wider charity sector.”