Archive for the ‘Islamophobia’ Category

The Challenge of Prayer and Peace in the Midst of Violence

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Salaam2
The hostage situation in Sydney made me, like many other people despair of seemly daily accounts of Man’s inhumanity to man.

A traumatic event which was resolved on some level for us only to wake up to the news of the mayhem in Peshawar Pakistan and this time the intended victims were mainly children. The reporter on the Pakistani news channel kept repeating the words “How can any human look at a classroom of children and want to do them any harm let alone blow them up.”  It unfortunately, is not the first time such things have happened but it is one of the worst examples of its kind and was done in the name of my faith: Islam.

The BBC religion and ethics website   tells us that Muslims perform ritual prayers five times a day. What is not common knowledge, however, is that these prayers end with a greeting of peace and blessings to all those to the right and left of the speaker. This afternoon as I finished my prayers I stopped and did this last bit very slowly thinking how incomprehensible it was that anyone with carnage on their minds could perform the same ritual with any real understanding of the words they were reciting.

Their words and actions have poisoned so many of the words and concepts that I grew up with it. It started simply with the word Qaida (the book from which we learnt to read Arabic as children), then Taliban (student) and now the article of faith and the first pillar of Islam. That very morning I had been meditating on the words written on the flag used by the hostage taker in Sydney Australia: “There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God”.

The greeting of Muslims everywhere is Peace/Salaam and each formal prayer ends which a blessing for people everywhere. In Islamic tradition, God has sent many prophets, messengers, teachers and guides throughout the whole world to help us live in harmony. My favourite verse in the Qur’an states that we were made into nations and tribes so we might come to know one another.

The evening of the hostage crisis in Australia I went to a Christmas Carol Service where the congregation reflected on the Christmas truce during World War 1. That is  100 years ago soldiers on both sides of a conflict stopped, celebrated Christmas by playing football on land where fighting had taken place only hours before.  Les Isaac, founder of the Street Pastors also spoke about how we need to take risks and be generous. Conscientious objectors and those that played football on no man’s land 100 years ago took a risk when they refused to fight.

It is difficult to know how to respond to the terrible news but one of my hopes and prayers for the year ahead is that we all look at stories within our own communities and faiths that inspire us to take risk and be generous when dealing with others.

Qaisra Khan

Supporter and fundraiser for Christian Muslim Forum

I will be doing a 15 mile walk between a church and a mosque to raise funds for The Christian Muslim Forum. Please sponsor me at www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/thepilgrims1

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/practices/fivepillars.shtml

[1] The Qur’an Chapter 49 verse 13Surah al-Hujurat

5 tips to integrate Muslims like me

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

integration

Last week, Julian Bond – the Director of the Christian Muslim Forum – and I had a twitter spat with someone who identified themselves as a patriot. During the conversation, said patriot stated that I (and Muslims in general) need to “deal” with “radical Islam”, and inferring from that I presume, also extremist Muslims. The same tweep also mentioned Woolwich and Drummer Lee Rigby’s horrific murder.

To be honest it isn’t the first time I’ve had that thrown at me, but I am frustrated and annoyed at being expected de facto, because I am Muslim, to have to deal with “Muslim or Islamic” problems.

That same day Rolf Harris had been charged with 13 counts of various indecency and sexual assault charges. I don’t, and thankfully so, see any of my older white male colleagues or friends being told that sexual deviancy and preying on children is an “old white man problem” and that they need to deal with it! Or else “don’t you remember all the victims of these terrible crimes?” Instead we are finally (near enough) coming to acknowledge that there is a pervasive sexism problem within our society that must be dealt with, as it is leading to sexual violence against women and children.

I am fed up of being expected to, or urged to, apologise for horrific crimes committed by people who are so alien to me and the Muslims that I know. If in our society young people are being radicalised then we all need to step up and deal with it. We need to reflect on what sort of community we are developing where young men are so easily preyed upon by extremists, that they do not feel they are part of society, and their only recourse to be heard is to commit terrible acts of violence. What made these young men become so filled with hate that they took their own lives along with the lives of others? And dare I say it, this also means having difficult and considered conversations on our government’s foreign policy.

Could the crisis of masculinity amongst ethnic minority men be a factor? Or the fact that in today’s world and culture, boys are socialised to be violent? Has anyone noticed or researched a correlation between men with extremist views and gender based violence?

Without taking collective responsibility for these crimes, we’ll never be able to move past the tired and age-old barriers of stereotyping, racism and prejudice that fuel extremism and provide fodder for the “us versus them” narrative.

I should point out that some of these questions have been interrogated and researched. However, to date, much of the focus has been on extremist Islamic ideology. Additionally in some instances, the conclusions of research constructed a narrative that essentialises British Muslims by attributing all responsibility to deal with extremism to the Muslim community only, rather than taking a holistic approach in which all of society deals with extremism collectively.

If you would like me as a British Muslim to integrate, then here are five tips to help you facilitate that process:

1. Integration is a two way relationship; accept me for who I am, not the stereotype perpetuated by bigots.

2. Trust is two way; don’t expect me to deal with all the crimes of “Muslims” around the world.

3. Accept me as an individual and do not lump me into a homogenous group of “all Muslims” which is pretty much the equivalent of saying, Christians such as the Pope, Queen, Tony Blair and Pastor Terry Jones (of Quran burning infamy) are all the same.

4. Do not balk when I call myself English.

5. Accept at face value when I say, I am discriminated against because of my faith and deal with anti-Muslim prejudice.

Fortunately, in the Forum we strive to implement the points above. Christian and Muslim colleagues across the spectrum of both faiths come together to work on projects that create cohesiveness and social bonding across and between communities which can sometimes be polarised and isolated.

Since the recent spate of attacks on Mosques, I have felt that it is now time for other communities to stand up and vocalise their support for British Muslims, in the same way that Muslims have done so every time there has been an instance of Muslim extremism and violence. There have been some good examples of this but more needs to be done to send a clear message that British people will not tolerate anti-Muslim bigotry, hatred or violence, in the same way other forms of bigotry are denounced.

Akeela Ahmed
Family Specialist, Christian Muslim Forum