As the number of English Defense League supporters continue to grow, many ordinary Muslims remain fearful that an attack against them is imminent. Such apprehension is understandable in light of recent attacks against Muslims and Islaam in the media, on social media sites and most worryingly; terrorist attacks against Mosques around Britain.
So how do we deal with the threat of the English Defense League?
There are a number of ways we can deal with this, for example, we can work on tackling Islamphobia in the media, often the fuel that drives popular opinion. We can work on giving Muslims a political voice to stop the atrocities which occur in foreign lands which can radicalize Muslims to take from groups that misrepresent Islaam.
Another great way to deal with the threat of the EDL is via positive engagement. Where taking the time to engage with those who you feel you have differences with pays of. Engagement works both ways; you have to be willing to engage and it needs to be reciprocated by the other person. This is the only way we can progress and understand the differences that exist between us.
It’s been a while since I’ve updated some of you on my Da’wah escapades. The truth is, most of the conversations I have are quite similar to one and other since those who frequently visit the are stalls are usually Atheist, Agnostic or Christians. Well, that was up until a month ago.
On one Saturday as the afternoon was coming to close, myself and Ali managed to get ourselves into a deep conversation with a member of the public named Roman. You see, the conversation was an unexpected one. Why? Because he takes his faith from a very rare ancient religious order. His beliefs and practises originate from two ancient scriptures dating back four thousand years. FOUR THOUSAND YEARS! These scriptures are in Sanskrit, an ancient language that dominated large areas of the Indian subcontinent, like Latin which dominated most of Europe many years ago and Aramaic in the Middle East. These languages have become extinct. These two scriptures are part of the Vedas series, the religious texts in Hinduism, although Roman wasn’t a Hindu.
Myself and Ali were astounded by the complete level of Tawheed (monotheism) Roman was upon. You see, his scriptures teaches him that God is One, Mighty, outside of creation, Unique and unlike His creation. It teaches him the prohibition of idolatry. It encourages him to have high levels of love for humans and animals. It teaches him how to eradicate diseases of the heart and most importantly, it teaches him how to build a relationship with his Creator.
A while ago, I managed to stop a particular lady in her tracks. It all started with an initiation card which generated some interest. She asked me what I was doing. I explained that we were discussing the purpose of life. Is it all fun and games, to live & die or do we have some sort of greater purpose?What was interesting about this lady was her background. She was from Cairo in Egypt and her name was Fatimah, the same name of the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him). She was in the UK to improve her English. Although from Muslim background, she didn’t believe in religion. She was a humanist. She believed in shared human values and the ultimate purpose in life is to live a good moral life. She admitted to being a theist, but she disagreed that the Creator would provide us with strict guidelines in the form of an organised religion. It was enough just to be good to one and other and that would be it. There was no place for religious guidelines.It’s worth noting that a person should be praised for having a moral perspective of life, especially living in a time where many openly celebrate their lack of morality – a dog eat dog world – it’s all about survival and getting as far as you can. Such attitudes are a poison to any society and is often the precursor to many crimes. So I praised Fatimah and she agreed with me that all religions share a morale perspective. She also affirmed it makes sense to believe in a Creator since everything that exists within the universe suggests design and creation.Since everything in life suggests a purpose. Even the inanimate non living things seem to serve us in one way or another, wouldn’t it make sense to question our purpose? Fatimah agreed with this, but believed it was up to humans to collectively decide on our purpose, and she had already decided that our purpose is to live with each other with shared values. On the surface of it, agreeing on common values and living by them seems like a reasonable way of living. No harm in it right? Let me explain why there is a problem.
A group we regularly encounter on our Daw’ah stalls are ‘Born again Christians’. They are quite challenging to discuss religion with since it is extremely difficult to agree on common principles. We find them to be introspective, as they tend to talk about their feelings and emotions. They tell us ‘I experienced the Holy Spirit and the love of Jesus and that is how I know he died for our salvation’. We feel they lack objectivity because their approach could be applied to every religion. There is no criterion for the truth. It is whatever they ‘feel’ to be true without having the need to justify it using rational deduction or empirical evidence.
Below is a verbatim record of a text message exchange I had with a Born again Christian:
Born Again Christian: i came to talk to ya the otherday as u and your team were out in market street but one of the elder ones told me to go away and got quite aggressive towards me. U sed u were going to show me discrepancies in the bible, do u have facebook or skype, cos U made it clear u wud show me and I would be happy to discuss them Sonny (The Geordie Christian)