Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Pasha Receives Lifetime
Achievement Award

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha, the General Secretary of the Union of Muslim Organisations of the United Kingdom & Ireland (UMO), was given The Editor’s Lifetime Achievement Award at The Muslim News Award for Excellence Annual Ceremony, held at London’s Grosvenor House, on Monday, the 15th of March, 2010.

Over 800 people celebrated the Tenth Annual The Muslim News Awards for Excellence - Britain's longest standing Muslim awards event. The coveted award ceremony recognised the very best of Muslim contribution to British society. Special guests included Communities Secretary, John Denham, MP, and Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling, MP. They were joined by civic and religious leaders, as well as representatives from the worlds of politics, business, sport and the arts, to honour unsung heroes and heroines of the community.

Presenting the Editor’s Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Pasha, Mr. Ahmed J. Versi, the Editor and Publisher of The Muslim News, said, “As we mark the tenth year of The Muslim News Awards, this new accolade recognises those who have made exceptional contributions to the life of Britain’s Muslim community. Unlike the other Awards – whose recipients are chosen by a strictly independent panel of judges – this tribute is granted by the Editor of The Muslim News.”

“The winners of this Award personify the spirit of this entire initiative. They are our community’s unsung heroes who have diligently, courageously and persistently expended energy and striven to improve the lot of British Muslims,” said Versi.

Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha
On receiving the Editor’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Dr. Pasha said, “I was surprised to receive this Award as I was not expecting it. I do remember Mr. Ahmed Versi attended our first annual conference of Union of Muslim Organisations of the United Kingdom & Ireland (UMO) 40 years ago. Since then he has been consistently supporting our organisation and giving prominent coverage to our conference particularly our Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi celebration which is our main daw’ah activity, for which Allah the Almighty will reward him.”

“Regarding the acceptance of this award, I am hesitating whether I am violating the commands of Allah the Almighty for whose pleasure I have been doing little service to Islam and the Muslim community,” said Dr. Pasha and mentioned, “In the Holy Qur’an, it is made clear in one verse that Allah the Almighty has said: Paradise is reserved for those who do not aspire to greatness in this world nor seek mischief but piety is their guiding principle. However in another verse, he said: seek what is best for the life Hereafter (Akhirah) but do not neglect your share in this world.”

Dr. Pasha also said, “In this spirit, I am accepting this award which I hope will not affect my reward in the Akhirah. I commend Mr Versi’s enterprising spirit to provide this platform to the Muslim community to prove that practising the tenets of Islam in no way inhibits their ability to reach the top of their professional and academic positions.”

The Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, MP
Earlier, the Guest of Honour, Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, MP, said, “The Muslim News Awards are an excellent opportunity to celebrate the fantastic contribution that British Muslims across the country make to the UK.”
The Home Secretary also said, “we are celebrating the enormous contribution that Muslims make in every aspect of British life - whether that’s in politics, academia, law, sport, the arts, healthcare, humanitarian aid, the military, business and finance, or indeed, cuisine

The Home Secretary presented the Al Biruni Award for Excellence in community relations and said, “Al Biruni is not only celebrated as one of the fathers of modern mathematics – he was also an outspoken campaigner against intolerance and prejudice between Muslims and Hindus in 11th century India.”

“Each of the nominees exemplifies this spirit – whether it’s by building bridges between faiths, improving relationships between Muslim communities and the police, or promoting understanding and awareness of Islam through important cultural events such as the Edinburgh festival,” the Home Secretary added.

The Home Secretary mentioned, “Our history and our values are deeply entwined – Muslim communities have been part of British life for many centuries, long before the waves of emigration from the Commonwealth in the 50s and 60s. There are references to Islamic scholarship in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and there have been sizeable Muslim communities in this country since at least the 17th century.”

“Just as we have a shared history, so we also have shared values. The key principles of Islam – the right to life, the right to worship, freedom of expression, justice and tolerance – are universal,” said the Home Secretary and added, “They are echoed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights drawn up in 1948.”

Alan Johnson, MP, said, “There is a responsibility on government to tackle social exclusion, deprivation and discrimination in all its forms – we know that in our schools and universities, only a fraction of the potential of young Pakistanis and Bangladeshis is realised, despite significant improvements in recent years. And we know that there are Muslim communities in the UK which are disproportionately affected by poverty and unemployment, who struggle to access services or face discrimination and harassment because of their faith or ethnicity.”

“Tonight’s award winners and nominees exemplify the talent, passion and commitment among Muslim communities to making the UK a fairer, more tolerant and safer place and I’d like to thank all of them for their contribution to the wellbeing and prosperity of this country and its citizens,” said the Home Secretary.

Editor of the Muslim News, Ahmed Versi
Earlier, while welcoming the distinguished guests, ministers, religious leaders and community leaders, Editor and Publisher of The Muslim News, Ahmed J. Versi, said, “We began this event ten years ago because we wanted to acknowledge the noble accomplishments and displays of distinction within the British Muslim community and showcase the tremendous contributions British Muslims make to Britain. We wanted also to identify and highlight Muslim role models for the younger generation.”
Versi said, “I wrote then that the contributions of British Muslims to our society and economy, was not readily acknowledged and that Islam and Muslims suffered under the glare of an excessively negative media. I said then too that ‘I look forward to the day when Islamophobic stereotypes will become an anachronism and as unacceptable as racism is now.’ Sadly, things haven’t moved on much since then.”

“On the contrary, Islamophobia has considerably worsened and stories reflecting positively on Muslims and Islam are a rare thing indeed,” said Versi and argued, “This is an unfortunate state of affairs because there are enormous contributions being made by British Muslims in all sectors of our society. Yet, in the face of our many visible successes, there are those who refuse to relent and insist that Muslims are in ‘need of integration’.

Versi also mentioned, “A decade ago Muslims were in the main observed and viewed through the lens of fundamentalism. A decade on they’ve come to be observed and seen through the prism of extremism and terrorism. The preoccupation with the actions of a tiny violent extremist minority and a small vocal provocative fringe has come to eclipse the everyday achievements of the British Muslim majority.”

As the general elections are approaching, as an Editor of The Muslim News, Versi touched upon “over a decade of the Government and reflect on how matters have fared for British Muslims, particularly for those of us working in the media.”

Speaking about the Labour Party, Versi mentioned, “Labour picked the first Muslim for a safe Parliamentary seat and appointed Muslim peers, as well as Muslim advisors for a host of initiatives. There are now four Muslims in the House of Commons, all of them Labour. And we have the first Muslim minister attending the Cabinet, the Rt Hon Sadiq Khan.”

“The Government fulfilled many of our longstanding requests: A question on religion to be included in the national census of 2001; funding of Muslim schools; Shari’ah compliant financial products working within UK financial regulations; outlawing of religious discrimination at work place and in service delivery in public institutions and outlawing of incitement to religious hatred,” he mentioned.

The editor of the Muslim News, said, “However, since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and more so since the July 7 2005 bombings in London, relations between the Government and Muslim organisations have suffered from episodes of severe strain.”

“Muslims, especially young men and university students, are predominantly viewed by the Government through the lens of extremism,” said Versi and argued, “This certainly cannot be healthy for nurturing of active citizens for tomorrow’s Britain.”

Speaking about The Conservative Party, Versi mentioned, “It was under William Hague that we saw Britain’s first Muslim member of the European Parliament. This change has continued under the current leadership of David Cameron. There are now two Muslim Tory peers and one of them Sayeeda Warsi, is a member of the shadow cabinet.”

Speaking about the Liberal Democrats, Versi said, “And the Liberal Democrats too have made strides in supporting Muslim issues and they have one Muslim peer. They aptly reflected the society’s feeling on war on Iraq by taking a robust stand against it. Nick Clegg demanded that our Government and the European Union halt arms sales to Israel during Operation Cast Lead in which hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians, including many children were killed.”

There is a pressing need for whichever party comes to form the next Government “to re-visit policies that improve relations with the Muslim community and help rejuvenate community cohesion” and “Questions like ‘are you a Muslim first or British first’ or ‘are you from Pakistan’ will, such is our hope, no longer feature in the discourses of the future,” said Editor of the Muslim News and the main sponsor of the event.

Winners and Presenters of Award for Excellence
This Awards ceremony is about recognising those individuals who aspire to attain their very best as members of the British Muslim society. It is those British Muslims and non-Muslims that have proven themselves worthy of recognition for their contribution to Britain that we are here to honour this evening.

Al Biruni Award for Excellence in Community Relations was awarded to Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra. This Award was presented by Rt Hon Alan Johnson, MP, Home Secretary. Ibn Battuta Award for Excellence in Media was awarded to Faisal Al Yafai. This Award was presented by Liberal Democrats.

Ibn Khaldun Award for Excellence in promoting understanding between global cultures and faiths was given to Salma Abbasi. This Award was presented by John Denham, MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Sankore University Award for Excellence in Education was given to Dr Nadia Durrani. This Award was presented by Irfan Akram, UK Fundraising Manager of Muslim Hands.
Annemarie Schimmel Award for Championing a Muslim Cause was given to Tim Cooper. This Award was presented by Samia Ahmed, PA to UK Director of Islamic Relief. Ummul Mu'minin Khadijah Award for Excellence in Enterprise was awarded to Iqbal Wahhab. This Award was presented by Karim Saad, Founder,

Malcolm X Young Person’s Award for Excellence was given to Zain Haider Awan. This Award was presented by Meral Hussein, Religion and Belief Commissioner, Equalities and Human Rights Commission. Uthman Dan Fodio Award for Excellence in Community Development was awarded to Mohammed Mangera. The Award was presented by Dale Simon, Director, Equality and Diversity, Crown Prosecution Service.

Alija Izetbegovic Award for Good Citizenship was given to Wakkas Khan. This Award was presented by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Chair of Board of Trustees, Muslim Aid. Imams Hasan and Husayn Children's Award for Excellence was awarded to Abdul-Akbur Ali. This Award was presented by Salmi Kidwai, Muslim Council of Wales.

Faezeh Hashemi Award for Excellence in Sport was given to Kolo Abib Touré. This Award was presented by Mrs Faezeh Hashemi, President, Islamic Federation of Women Sport. Alhambra Award for Excellence in Arts was awarded to Mohammed Umar. This Award was presented to him by Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Fazlur Rahman Khan for Excellence in Engineering, Science or Technology was awarded to Dr Haifa Takruri-Rizk. This Award was presented by Rt Hon Chris Grayling, MP, Shadow Home Secretary. Ibn Sina Award for Health was awarded to Sohail A Khan. This Award was presented by Dominic Grieve, MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice.

Imam wa Amal Special award was given to Dr Gill Hicks. This Award was presented to him by Fatima Hussain, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and Chair of the independent panel of judges.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Say [O Messenger]: If you love God, follow me; God will love you - Al-Qur'an

“Say [O Messenger]: If you love God, follow me:
God will love you.” – Al-Qur’an

Dr. Mozammel Haque

The Messenger taught his Companions to love God, and the Qur’an taught them in return: “Say [O Messenger]: If you love God, follow me: God will love you and forgive you your sins.” (Al-Qur’an; 3:31)

This is the month of Rabi al-Awwal, when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last and final Prophet of Almighty Allah, was born in Makkah. The Holy Qur’an, the Final Revealed Book, was revealed to him through Angel Gabriel. I was reading a book: The Messenger: The Meanings of the Life of Muhammad, (peace be upon him) by Tariq Ramadan and I am presenting some of his thoughts and ideas through this column, as promised earlier. “He (The Prophet) received and transmitted the last revealed book, the Qur’an, which repeatedly insists on the eminent and singular position of the Messenger of God, all at once a prophet, a bearer of news, a model, and a guide. He was but a man, yet he acted to transform the world in the light of Revelation and inspirations he received from God, but also fully accepted his own humanity in what makes Muhammad an example and a guide for the Muslim faithful.” (page ix)

Intimate relationship of trust and love
While pointing out the intimate relationship of love and trust, Professor Ramadan wrote: The essence of the Islamic message is wholly expressed in this intimate relationship of trust and love with the Most High, establishing a direct link between the individual and his or her Creator, Who has chosen to demonstrate exemplary behaviour through a messenger, a human being, whom He has set as a model. Three verses were later to synthesize the exact substance of this teaching: “When My servants as you concerning Me; I am indeed close [to them]: I respond to the prayer of every supplicant when he or she calls on Me.” (Al-Qur’an; 2:186)

The Prophet (peace be upon him), at the heart of this intimate relationship, opens the way: Allah the Almighty said: “Say: If you love God, follow me: God will love you and forgive you your sins.” (Al-Qur’an; 3:31)

The Prophet is the epitome of the human being aspiring to the divine beyond the finitude of life: Al-Qur’an says: “You have indeed in the Messenger of God an excellent example for the person who hopes in [aspires to get close to] God and the final Day and who remembers God intensely.” (Al-Qur’an; 33:21)

Not to compromise principles for wealth and power
In the early years in Makkah when the situation was getting increasingly difficult for Muslims, when insults, rejection, and ill-treatment became the rule, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) began looking for a solution to alleviate the trials and suffering endured by the first Muslims. He was thought of approaching Walid, the chief of the Makhzum clan. Professor Ramadan wrote the story thus: “While he was setting forth his arguments and trying to win Walid’s support, the Prophet was interrupted by a blind man, poor and old, who had already converted to Islam and was asking him to recite some surahs from the Qur’an for him. Muhammad first turned aside calmly, but he soon became irritated by the insistence of this old man, who was preventing him from presenting his case to Walid. The chief, full of contempt, eventually refused even to hear the matter. A surah was to be revealed as a result of this incident, requiring Muslims to draw a lesson from it for eternity:

“In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. He (the Prophet] frowned and turned away, because the blind man came to him. But what could you tell but that perhaps he might grow in purity? Or that he might receive admonition, and the reminder might profit him? As to one who regards himself as self-sufficient, you attend to him, though it is no blame to you if he does not grow in purity. But as to he who came to you striving earnestly, and with fear [in his heart], of him you were unmindful. By no means [should it be so]! For it is indeed a message of remembrance. Therefore let who will, keep it in remembrance.” (Al-Qur’an; 80:1-12)

“The Prophet, moved by his desire to protect his community, is here reproached by his Educator, who teaches him never to turn away from a human being, regardless of whatever difficult circumstances the Prophet might be facing, even though the person might be poor, old and blind. Seeking the protection of a person of distinction, socially and politically useful, Muhammad (peace be upon him) had neglected a poor man, apparently of no significance to his cause, who was asking for spiritual solace; this mistake, this moral slip, is recorded in the Qur’an, which through this story teaches Muslims never to neglect a human being, never to turn away from the poor and needy, but rather to serve and love them. The Prophet was never to forget this teaching, and he repeatedly invoked God, saying: “O God, we implore You to grant us piety, dignity, [spiritual], wealth, and love of the poor.”

Commenting on this Professor Ramadan wrote: “No one must ever let power or social, economic, or political interests turn him or her away from other human beings, from the attention they deserve and the respect they are entitled to. Nothing must ever lead a person to compromise this principle of faith in favour of a political strategy aimed at saving or protecting a community from some peril. The freely offered, sincere heart of a poor, powerless individual is worth a thousand times more in the sight of God than the assiduously courted, self-interested heart of a rich one.” (page 48-49).

“History, with its many examples of how the thirst for power and wealth has led individuals to compromise their principles, has since taught us how true this intuition was. In this respect, another of the Prophet’s warnings echoes in our minds, addressing his spiritual community for the centuries to come: “For every [spiritual] community there is an object of discord, tension, and disorder [fitnah], and for my community, this object is money.”, quoted by Professor Ramadan (page 49).

Begin every act invoking the Name
of Allah the Almighty

While writing the biography of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Professor Ramadan mentioned another incident. The Quraysh were at a loss about how to prevent the Prophet’s message from spreading further. They decided to send a delegation to Yathrib to ask Jewish dignitaries. The Rabbis suggested the people of Makkah should ask him three key questions. Back in Makkah, they went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked him the three questions. The Prophet replied almost instantly: “I shall answer your questions tomorrow!” (page 57)

But the next day, the Angel Gabriel did not appear. There was no Revelation. Nor did the Angel come the day after. Professor Ramadan said, “Two weeks later, he received a Revelation and an explanation: “Never say of anything, “I shall do that tomorrow,” except: “If God so wills,” and remember your Lord [Rabb, “Educator”] when you forget, and say: “I hope that my Lord will guide me ever closer than this to the right course.” (Al-Qur’an; 18:23-24)

“This Revelation once again involved and a teaching: it reminded the Prophet that his status, his knowledge, and his fate depended on his Rabb, on the One and Sovereign God, and that he must never forget it. This is how one should understand the meaning of the phrase Insha Allah, “if God so wills”: it expresses the awareness of limits, the feeling of humility of one who acts while knowing that beyond what he or she can do or say, God alone has the power to make things happen. This is by no means a fatalistic message: it implies not that one should not act but, on the contrary, that one should never stop acting while always being aware in one’s mind and heart of the real limits of human power. For the second time, the Prophet was called to account by the Transcendent. Whatever adversity one faces, one’s strength and freedom on earth consist in remaining constantly aware of one’s dependence on the Creator.” (page 57)

“Only later was the Prophet to receive the answers to the three questions he had been asked. The delay was paradoxically to strengthen the believers’ conviction and to baffle the Prophet’s interlocutors: his initial inability to answer and then the belated communication of Revelation proved that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not the author of the Book that was being constituted and that he did actually depend on his Rabb’s will,” wrote Professor Ramadan (Page 58).

Remember God’s Infinite Power and never
pronounce final judgement on anybody

While narrating the story of Umar’s conversion, Professor Ramadan wrote: Umar had gone out of his home determined to kill the Prophet, blinded by his absolute negation of the One God; there he was, a few hours later, changed, transformed, as the result of a conversion induced by a text and the meaning of God. He was to become one of the most faithful Companions of the man he had wished dead.”

Commenting on Umar’s conversion, Professor Ramadan wrote: “This heart’s revolution was a sign, and it carried a twofold teaching: that nothing is impossible for God, and that one should not pronounce final judgements on anything or anybody. This was a reminder of the need of humility in all circumstances: for a human being, remembering God’s infinite power should mean healthy self-doubt as to oneself and suspending one’s judgement as to others. Thus, the more he moved forward with God, every day becoming more of a model for his Companions and for eternity, the more the Prophet was attaining humility and modesty as expressed in being, knowledge, and judgement.” (Page 65).

Sheikh Muhammed Sayed Tantawi

Sheikh Muhammad Sayed Tantawi

Dr. Mozammel Haque

I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Sheikh Muhammad Sayed Tantawi, a prominent voice of the Islamic world and the Head of Al-Azhar University, at the Masjid al-Haram, Makkah, in front of the Maqam-e-Ibrahim, at the Tawaf area, two/three times. It was specially when he used to come to Saudi Arabia on the occasion of the King Faisal Award-giving ceremony in Riyadh.

Now again, he came to Saudi Arabia on last Tuesday to participate in the award-giving ceremony of the King Faisal International Prize. On his way back to Cairo, while boarding an early morning flight he suffered severe pain and fell on the stairs. He was rushed to the Amir Sultan Hospital in Riyadh where doctors pronounced him dead, Inna Lillahe wa innah elaihe razeyoun.) He was 81. Tantawi’s burial took place in Jannatul Baqee cemetery in Madinah after funeral prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and Minister of Defence and Aviation of Saudi Arabia, sent messages of condolences to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the death of Tantawi. Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh also expressed his deep sorrow at the demise of the Egyptian scholar.

Several heads of government, leaders, scholars and Islamic workers from across the world have sent their condolences to the Egyptian government.

“Sheikh Tantawi, who was currently serving as chairman of the International Islamic Council of Dawah and Relief (IICDR), will always be remembered as a warrior for Islamic causes and for his reconciliatory approaches on issues of different religions and practices,” said IICDR’s Secretary General Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, who had been working with Tantawi for the last several years.

Dr. Naseef, who also served as Deputy Chief of the Shoura Council of Saudi Arabia, said that Tantawi’s death “was a shock as he was in better health” despite his old age. He said that Tantawi had taken a keen interest in the affairs of the IICDR, an international body representing 86 major Islamic organizations from across the world.

“The Islamic rulings (Fatwas) of Sheikh Tantawi, which at times were dubbed as controversial, carried great influence across the world and particularly in Egypt,” he said.

Sheikh Tantawi was born on 28 October 1928, in the village of Selim El-Sharqia in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Suhag. He went from the village at his youth to a religious institution in Alexandria and studied and memorised the Holy Qur’an in Alexandria and from there, he entered Al-Azhar University, graduating from the Faculty of Religious Studies in 1958. He went on to teach. In 1966, Tantawi was awarded PhD in Hadith (the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Islam’s second source after the Qur’an itself) and Tafsir, interpretation of the Holy Qur’an. He completed his own massive exegesis of the Qur’an, and this art of interpreting the Holy Book and fundamental juridical sources has remained his specialty.

By 1980, Tantawi was the head of the Tafsir department of the Islamic University of Madinah, in Saudi Arabia, a position he was hold until 1984.

In 1986, Sheikh Tantawi became Grand Mufti of Egypt and he held this position for almost 10 years, until he joined Al-Azhar in 1996. Tantawi used his position as Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University to defend traditional interpretations of Islam against challenges from radical groups such as the Taleban and Al-Qaeda.

Since 1996, Tantawi served as Sheikh of Al-Azhar University and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque. He was the leader of the most prestigious institution of Islamic learning in the world of Sunni Islam.

Seminar on the Life of the Prophet Peace be upon him

Seminar on the Life of the Prophet
Peace be upon him

Dr. Mozammel Haque

The Union of Muslim Organisations of the United Kingdom and Ireland (UMO of UK & Eire) held a Seminar on the Life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) at the Churchill Hotel, on Tuesday, the 2nd of March, 2010. This is one item which Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha, the General Secretary of the UMO never missed. “Once I was in hospital and I asked my assistant secretary to carry on and he held the function,” said Dr. Pasha.

Dr. Pasha also mentioned, “We organised this function every year without fail for two reasons: one is spiritual and another is mundane; spiritual reason because the Prophet (peace be upon him) was the first of Creation. Allah created the Nur of the Prophet and then the other Creation. He gave the title Rahmatullil Alamin; Mercy of all the Creatures. Why He said that. Allah is Rabbul Alamin; Prophet is Rahmatullil Alamin. Then all the Prophets who subsequently came they had the same faith al-Islam which he brought. The latest Prophets - Musa (peace be upon him) and Issa (peace be upon him) - both of them had forecast the coming of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). And they said when he comes follow him.”

Referring to his speech as a guest speaker in the Westminster Cathedral, where there were many Church leaders, Jewish Rabbis, Dr. Pasha recollected, “Do you know the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a Prophet for all mankind. He was sent for all mankind and he said two things - all children are born in fitra, in Al-Islam. It is the parents who rear them up in their own faiths.”

“All the Prophets (peace be upon them all) were Muslims. Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) was Muslim. This is a spiritual reason. That’s why we always say Allah the Almighty will ask us on the Day of Judgement: ‘I didn’t ask you to convert the people; I ask you to convey the message to the people that Islam is the only religion acceptable to Allah on the Day of Judgement,’” said Dr. Pasha and added, “We are doing our job. We are trying to save our skin. We can give this message to the people saying: ‘Our Prophet conveyed this message’.”

Secondly, while speaking on the mundane side, Dr. Pasha mentioned, “Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) brought a system of life; a system of government and ideology which guarantees happiness on this earth and permanent felicity in the life Hereafter. Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) was the only Prophet who was given the honour of being transported bodily to witness all the seven Heavens and what happens to people after they die. The Paradise and the Hell they are realities.”

Dr. Pasha also mentioned, “We are all discussing economics, recession; nobody worries about the moral breakdown in society. The UMO, for the past 40 years, what we have tried to do is to promote unity between the Muslims and to facilitate the upbringing of Muslim children in a moral and spiritual atmosphere. So coming elections, what we are going to say? We are going to issue a document now. The Catholics have issued; Muslims should issue a document: Top priority should be upliftment of morality.”

Dr. Pasha said, “Two things Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did. The Charter of Madina and the Charter of Human Rights. In that Charter of Madina he gave rights to the minorities. He said no compulsion in religion but our job is to convey. Don’t complain on the day of Akhirah. Minorities are protected; their religious freedoms are protected. Nowadays people are saying Islam is a religion of terrorism. Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and justice.”

“Secondly, the Human Rights Charter in which he declared the Universal brotherhood of all mankind. In a world which is still torn aside by racial violence, ethnic violence, Islam stands as a light of hope for humanity in the message of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him),” mentioned Dr. Pasha and added, “So, Insha Allah, we will do our best to campaign for the rights of the Muslim communities, no matter Member of Parliament is here or not; the Ministers are here or not; our negotiations will continue. We will continue to campaign for the rights because we believe that we are an ideologically oriented community.”

Dr. Pasha said that he saw many times Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, and told him, “There is no point of invading Iraq because you are a good negotiator in peace. All those things can be settled through negotiations. There is no room for violence any more. Violence breeds more violence; no peace for anybody. That’s our message. The Prophet (peace be upon him) brought the eternal message of peace and warned: Remember: ‘You owe your duty to Allah the Almighty. You are all born from one man and one woman. And Adam was created of dust’.”

Imam Sulaimani
Imam Sulaimani, Imam of the Hounslow Mosque, while delivering his message, he narrated the very well-known story of the Salman Farsi’s journey to Islam. Imam Sulaimani said, “Salman Farsi finally reached Yathrib which became Madina and wanted to judge and fulfil the conditions, predicted by monks and scholars of the previous scriptures. On the occasion of funeral he was walking around Rasulullah and the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to know that he was looking for something. So he removed the Jubbah or cloak from his shoulders so that Salman is looking to see the Seal or Finality of Prophethood of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). So he saw it and he became very pleased. In the narration it was mentioned that he kissed it as well.”

Imam Sulaimani said, “This is one of the conditions which was mentioned by the monks and the scholars of the previous scriptures. So this is fulfilled that the Rasulullah is the last final Prophet of Allah the Almighty. On another occasion, Salman Farsi came and presented something in front of Rasulullah which was Sadaqah and the Prophet (peace be upon him) refused to accept it because it belongs to public, those who are poor, those who deserve it. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not accept it. Salman presented Hadiya and the Prophet (peace be upon him) accepted it and distributed among his companions around him. These were the conditions which were fulfilled.”

“But Salman Farsi was still slave. There was one of the conditions that Salman should plant 300 date trees and it was the project of Jewish businessman or a feudal in Madina,” mentioned Imam and said, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) collected some funds for Salman and instructed his companions to take part in planting these date trees. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself planted these 300 plants of date trees in his own hands. Those trees remained for centuries. And the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘Any Muslim who plants tree and whosoever benefits from that tree it would be Sadaqah Jariah for that person’. (Sahih Hadith Muslim), In another Hadith, it was mentioned, ‘If the time of Judgement comes and a plant is in your hands and you are sitting down, do not stand up before you plant this plant into the soil.’”

After completing the story of the journey of Salman Farsi to Islam, Imam Sulaimani said, “One of the beautiful messages of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is to protect the environment by planting trees, fruit trees and other trees and the Holy Qur’an is full of the verses about the trees and Islam has been resembled with the trees. All companions of Rasulullah, the Ahle al-Bait, the Ummah are also resembled with the trees. The Prophet (peace be upon him) instructed that when you break the fast, open with the fruit which is date. So this shows how important is plantation environment in Islam.”

Imam Sulaimani wanted to convey a message to the Muslim Ummah, to the world and to all mankind that “Let us save our planet; let us provide more food and Muslim should not wait for others to send food,” said the Imam and mentioned, “Today most of the Muslim countries get food from those countries where the governments do not believe in Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). And those who celebrate the birthday, the Hijrah day, the Conquest day, they should stand up and follow the beautiful teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him).”

“And their hands should be upper hands and not be the lower hands; because the hands that give have always importance and the hands that always take, the lower hands, they always lose their values. May Allah the Almighty make us among those who give and those who help and support,” prayed Imam Sulaimani.

Mr. Maqsood Ahmed
The senior Adviser, Department for Communities and Local Government, Mr Maqsood Ahmed, read out the message from the Secretary of State, John Denham, which was as follows:

“I would like to congratulate British Muslims and Muslims throughout the world on this auspicious occasion of Milad-un-Nabi of the Prophet (peace be upon him). We in the Government would like to join you all in this joyous time of the year as families and communities across the country come together in joyful celebration of the birthday of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his life.

“This is a wonderful time to pause and acknowledge the important contributions that British Muslims have and are making in all parts of our society.

“I am pleased to be able to share this celebration with you all.

“Happy Birthday to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi Mubarak.”

Mr. Mohamed Ali, CEO of Islam Channel
Mr. Mohamed Ali, the CEO of Islam Channel said, “Dr. Pasha started his Dawah in this country in 1970s well before many people were born. I never turned down any invitation from Dr. Pasha, because really what I have learnt from him that he keeps doing things, he does not care what happens after that, whether people come or don’t come or whether people were happy or not happy, if he believes in something he does it.”

“That’s a lesson we learn from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him),” said Ali and added, “When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) went to Taif to invite people to Deen, to the faith, to the religion; no single person answered this call. In fact, people threw stones at him with the exception of a young slave who came all the way from Iraq and who offered the Prophet (peace be upon him), some grapes and waters and when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) came back Allah the Almighty told him not to worry. Although the human being did not listen to you, although the human being did not accept your call to join the faith, you have to know that while you were praying a group of jinn, another creation, heard what you were saying and they accepted your call to the faith.”

Ali also said, “This is something we have to learn; we have to keep trying and we have to keep inviting people. We should not hide. Islam, this faith, is the last revelation, is the last religion to come to mankind.”

Ali also mentioned, “I told some Christian and Jew friends. I said you called the Torah, the Old Testament, the Bible the New Testament, I call the Qur’an is the Last Version, is the last update. When you buy software they send you an update, and this is the last update. People did not know about this update. The faith of Islam is the last religion to come to complete and compliment religions that were sent before. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is one of many Prophets. We make no distinction between the Prophets of Allah the Almighty.”

“This is something we learn. It is our mission,” said Ali and mentioned, “It is our duty that we convey the Message of Allah the Almighty to the 2.4 million Muslims but there are 60 millions in this country who are not Muslim. It is our mission; it is our duty. I cannot tell you one day, the Day of Judgement, Mr. Smith or Mr. whatever his name, will tell: ‘You, Mr. Khan, I was living next to your door for 60 years and you never invite me; you never told me about Islam’. We are not forcing people. But we have to convey the Message of Allah the Almighty.”