Thursday, July 07, 2005

To London Muslims - Speak Out Or Be Condemned For Your Silence

The last 24 hours will have been an emotional roller coaster ride for the people of London. Following the elation of winning the right to hold the 2012 Olympic Games, at least 7 deadly explosions have brought death and tears to this ancient city.

The Olympic win promised to be an enormous boost to the East End, home to many impoverished groups including sub-continental Muslim migrants. Now these same migrants and their brethren in communities across the Western World will once again be asked to explain and prove their loyalty.

And how should we Western Muslims respond? Should we cry discrimination? Should we remind our fellow citizens that we are just as English or American or French or Australian as they are?

Or should we appreciate their fears and uncertainties? Should we empathise with their feelings of vulnerability as they feel besieged by what appears to be yet another attack by extremists using our faith as an ideological weapon?

When western citizens are kidnapped by extremists with Muslim-sounding names, the reputation of Islam is hijacked. When western citizens are murdered and executed, Islam is also being murdered and executed. When western citizens are the target of injustice, Islam is treated unjustly.

Islam is a word that means ‘peace’. How can peace be established with bombs and suicide attacks and kidnappings? How can peace be spread through killing peaceful civilians?

Islam is a word that also means ‘surrender to God’. Our Lord never taught us to kill and maim civilians. Our God never taught us to harm people who do not harm us.

The English people recently delivered a severe blow to their government over its involvement in the Iraq invasion and occupation. Even before the war, some of the largest protest crowds marched through English cities including London. The hearts of English men and women are on the side of the victims, of innocent Iraqi children and women and men who die each day in Iraq and elsewhere across the Muslim world.

England has provided sanctuary to hundreds of Muslim refugees and dissidents fleeing repressive Muslim regimes. For over a decade, London was home to the late Abdul Majid Khoi, one of Iraq’s most senior religious figures. Muslim dissidents and activists speak their minds more freely in London than perhaps anywhere else in the world.

The time has come for these English Muslim dissidents and activists to raise their voices and condemn the attacks on the city that has provided them with freedom and sanctuary.

London has been to many Muslims what Abyssinia was to the early Muslims who fled to its Christian government seeking sanctuary and protection from their oppressors. And just as the King of Abyssinia granted the early Muslims a fair hearing, natural justice and security, so has London done the same.

The Mayor of London has been a prominent supporter of human rights for Muslims, particularly for Muslim women struggling against discrimination based on dress. The English Parliament has welcomed Muslims into its hallowed halls. Muslims are free to participate at all levels of English society.

The nation that cheered its cricket team even when captained by one Nasser Hussein deserves to feel secure in the knowledge that its Muslim citizens openly and publicly condemn the perpetrators of these attacks. Muslim Englishmen and women must echo the condemnation of terrorist acts and ideologies already expressed by prominent English Muslim scholars such as Tim Winter and the late Martin Lings.

The time to speak is now. Muslims must speak out now. Or else they will be condemned by their silence. And at a time of terror-induced pain and tears coming so soon after Olympic elation, English Muslim silence will speak louder than any detractors’ words.

© Irfan Yusuf 2005

6 comment(s):

  • Salaams

    I regret to say that the following email was received in response to my letter, which was distributed to a number of Muslim groups and individuals in the UK and elsewhere.

    "Salaam brother, u should not make any assumptions and think that it is any person calling themself a Muslim, the media (liars) will be blaming them already. This might be the work of the government themselves so they get through the legislation on ID and put this country under martial law, what then?? It is all conjecture at the moment and I would not belive the government or the main stream media."

    Let us pray that other, saner voices make themselves heard, and that fools like this are told to silence their ignorant babbling.



    By Blogger Julaybib, at 7/07/2005 05:33:00 AM  

  • And why should we stand by and allow ourselves to be condemned for not groveling and repenting for acts we are not responsible for, and are often the victims of. Should those Muslims, living in Western countries who lose loved ones to attacks like these also beg the forgiveness of "westerners" (which presumes somehow that Muslims can not be both native to these lands and Muslim) for existing? No thank you.

    By Blogger UmmAli, at 7/07/2005 11:00:00 AM  

  • Salaam,

    Because we are an ummah, and a collective body. When one part hurts the entire body hurts.

    If it were Muslims behind this attack (and I think it probably was - m.o.) we should say *something*. Better still, we could do something about these people, but I know that that's asking *way* too much.

    I have no hesitation is saying that the perpetrators are sick psychopaths who under most of the khalifs that we've had in our history, would be torn apart limb from limb by wild horses, and their entrails eaten by rabid dogs.

    And that's no less than they deserve. al-Hajjaj had his faults, but at least he knew how to deal with the Khariji.

    (The above post is only partly tongue-in-cheek)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/07/2005 12:19:00 PM  

  • See anonymous what I find most disturbing is the idea that we are not and have never done anything about these elements in our community. I can tell you of very specific acts of Muslims acting to weed out extremists in our community in many masjids in th e San Francisco Bay Area of California years and years before 9-11 and the "Muslims are doing nothing to clean their dirty laundry" mentality. And I know those masjids weren't the only places. So I really don't get this attitude that we are all sitting around drinking pepsi and shrugging our shoulders at ANYONE's suffering.

    By Blogger UmmAli, at 7/07/2005 12:25:00 PM  

  • Muslims have been speaking out against these sorts for years. Often when you do it is seen as a joke. Dont pander to these people.

    By Blogger أبو سنان, at 7/09/2005 05:55:00 AM  

  • I sickened by the very idea that Muslims should be required or expected to anything at all in order to defend themselves.

    This is what I posted to the blog of a British Muslim asking what on earth was now expected of him:

    I sincerely hope – believe even – that the British people will show that the Muslim people are as an important part of our community as the rest of us and are no lesser victims than the rest of our community.

    Muslims in Britain are proud to be British and we are proud of them.

    Only 24 hours ago most British Muslims were celebrating along with the rest us the fact that London had won the 2012 Olympics, so today we mourn with them.

    Lest people forget, yesterday, one of those bombs went off in a busy Muslim majority part of London. Another bomb went off in a terminus through which tens of thousands of Muslims would pass through on their way to work every day.

    In the words of the Muslim Council of Great Britain:

    The scriptures and the traditions of both the Muslim and Christian communities repudiate the use of such violence. Religious precepts cannot be used to justify such crimes, which are completely contrary to our teaching and practice.

    And in the words of one of London’s most senior Police officers:

    Muslim and terrorist are two words which as far as I am concerned do not go together. Anyone who actually thinks that the people who would do this are truly Muslim is sick

    Would I like to see outrage? Would I like to see special reaction from Muslims? Not at all. Muslims, just like the rest of us, are hurt, shocked and angered – and just like the rest of us, they will express that. No special effort required.

    Yesterday was mourning. Today is carrying on as near normal as possible … doing our best not to listen to the rhetoric of the few angry bigots.

    By Blogger not in use, at 7/10/2005 02:43:00 PM  

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