An Encounter With The English Defence League

hatredAs 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.

Just the other day I was approached by a young lady, her face painted in the colours of the flag of St George, wearing a ‘Help the Heroes’ Tshirt. She asked, “Why are you guys here? Are you here to talk about Shariah law?”

I answered explaining that I was here to engage with members of the public to discuss ‘what is the Purpose of Life, how to determine this and to clarify some of the common myths that the media portray about Islaam & Muslims’

This lady was an English Defense League supporter . She wasn’t happy with the role of Islaam and Muslims in England, believing we were here to take over and implement Shariah law, something she felt was barbaric. She claimed to have read parts of the Qur’aan that seem to talk about killing the kaafir (non Muslims) wherever you find them and this is what people such as Anjem Chowdury and Al-Muhajiroon use. That ‘moderate Muslims’ weren’t doing enough to combat this, leading to the likes of EDL to tackle this on there own.

Before I started on her contentions, I explained that Muslims believe in One Divine Creator who calls Himself Allaah. He created us for a Purpose to worship Him in a holistic sense, sending us guidance via different messengers such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon them all) explaining who the Creator is, the Purpose of life and how to live worthwhile lives in preparation for the eternal life after death. Sometimes the Messengers were sent accompanying Books such as the Torah, the Gospels and the Qur’aan. Muslims accept the Qur’aan as the untampered, preserved and final Revelation from God in His own words, and the belief in the Qur’aan is based upon critical analysis to verify authenticity and preservation.

(I fully believe that it is imperative to explain the context of a Muslim’s belief in the Qur’aan for a person to understand any further points. It is the crux of any discussion)

So there were a few things I thought I would clear up, starting with the verses from the Qur’aan.

Like with any book that is read, you have to read what the passages are actually referring to. You would probably also need to read the whole book to get a concrete determination of the whole message. So let’s take these verses that talk about fighting and killing. These verses are specifically talking about warfare where the head of the Islamic state sanctions it when under attack and persecution. It is referring to self defense in a situation where the aggressor is attacking the Muslim stopping them from worshiping God by means of violence and threats to their lives. That this isn’t something new and can also be found in many passages in the previous scriptures such as the Bible. The point here is that self defense is allowed in Islaam under certain circumstances as life is worth protecting. It is unfair to pick and choose verses and apply them under different contexts such as what some Muslims and members of the EDL do. This is ignorance and exposes the evil in their hearts.

Shariah Law: Shariah law is often misunderstood and depicted as exclusively the state law which includes the penal code. This isn’t what Shariah Law is. Shariah is synonymous with Islaam. It includes everything from how you worship Allaah in the rituals, how to clean yourself, the rights of your family, neighbours, society and non Muslims, how to conduct trade and all other business transactions and statute law. So every Muslim implements Shariah law to the extent they are able to in their daily lives. A part of Shariah law is to follow the laws of the land.

The state Shariah rules can only be applied when the rulers are Muslim where the majority of country are Muslim. This obviously doesn’t apply in the UK. The only way it could potentially apply is if people chose Islaam at their own free will and the rulers were Muslim choosing to implement this Godly way of living. The penal codes that exist within the Shariah are deterrents, where the burden of proof is set so high that in reality it is almost an impossibility for it to be ever really applied. The penal code within the Shariah would rather allow a guilty man escape punishment where there is a miniscule level of doubt than punishing him. If the criterion which determines proof isn’t met, even if there is a number of proofs against the person, he or she is let go. Furtheremore, the avenue of repentance and forgiveness is always preferred over punishment as it allows the person to connect with Allaah and Allaah is the One who loves to Forgive.

I explained that there are no countries in the world which implement Shariah the way it should. There are no recognised Shariah states. The people are imperfect but the system of God isn’t. Historically, whenever state Shariah was implemented properly, in it’s entirety, the societies lived in harmony together, growing and developing in every sense. The region known as the Levante which consists of modern day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Israel were ruled under Shariah for centuries. Muslim, Jews and Christians lived together in harmony, each practising their religion and trade under freedom. Likewise in Spain where the Jews were liberated from Christian persecution when the Muslims came and spread the religion.

I explained that there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim as this implies that a person moderately implements Islaam. This implies that God is deficient and this could potentially lead to a range of problems. Rather than taking this approach, a Muslim is required to understand the religion and use the teachings of the religion to tackle everyday problems. You’ll find that Islaam isn’t the problem, but the people are.

The lady asked, “then why do some Muslims use these verses to incite violence”

I explained that there are two real issues here and they are intricately linked:

1) Some people are evil and they will use anything to justify the evil they do.

2) We have to be realists and understand that many people are reactionary and feel helpless in defending those that are being killed abroad in foreign lands and thus lean towards these people that are teaching wrong things about Islaam in hope of some justice.

But what they don’t understand is that as Muslims we have to use the lawful means of the land to change the situation for ourselves here and abroad. What we term as ourselves is humanity, not just Muslims. We should have concern for everyone – Muslim & non Muslims as we are one global community. That is the greatest level of faith.

So using the laws of the land, we use the means of lobbying, writing to MPs, protesting and engaging in the process ie maybe entering into Politics to represent your views etc. At the same time, we engage with the people like we are doing now, discussing religion and allowing people to make an educated decision. We involve ourselves in media and awareness so people are aware of the truths rather than the bias that is sprouted out via most of the mainsteam media.

She asked me why there weren’t more Muslims like myself. I replied by stating that there are and they are the majority. They are in fact better Muslims than myself. There are Muslims such as those in the ‘Blessed Hub’ community group and ‘Manchester with the Homeless‘ offering so much back to society. There are mosques around Manchester opening their doors to the wider community allowing them to benefit from their services. There are national groups such as the Islamic Society of Britain and the Muslim Council of Britain doing so much for the betterment of the community we live in.

I explained that the media love to either twists things to sensationalise stories in order to sell – which makes them money. They also love to exaggerate making an issue bigger than it actually is and many times they simply lie to sell a story to fit with the current agenda. Unfortunate but true.

If she wanted to know what Islaam teaches and what Muslims are really about, she should carry on with the approach she has taken today. The lady lives in Heywood, a town between Bury and Rochdale, so I suggested she visit the Rochdale Daw’ah Centre and the Muslim Youth Foundation in Manchester city centre when she is back again.

By time I had finished speaking to her, a friend of mine who was on the stall with me at the time, Raza started speaking to her regarding other teachings of Islaam. The lady had dropped her barriers and wanted to learn about the concept of God in Islaam, the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him) and the Qur’aan. She said she didn’t believe Jesus (may peace and blessings be upon him) was God or the son of God.

Raza went on to explain the first miracle of Jesus (may peace and blessings be upon him) mentioned in the Qur’aan where he defends the status of his Virgin mother Mary (upon whom be peace) from his cradle. He explained who Jesus is and his status in Islaam. He explained the direct route we have with Allaah in Islaam without any intermediaries along with His Oneness and Uniqueness. Raza concluded with the role of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him).

The lady was overwhelmed, thanking myself and Raza for taking the time to speak to her. She appeared truly appreciative. She was definitely more informed about Islaam and was considering it but needed to find out some more.

She was willing to do a video testimonial for us about her experiences at the stall but her friend appeared and started causing a commotion saying we wanted to record it to upload of YouTube with captions taking the **** out of her. We ended asking the lady if she was ok if we didn’t record it. Yes, we *asked her if she was ok to not do it* as willing to ignore her friend. We didn’t want to give her friend anything potentially bad to say about us.

She happily took material from the Daw’ah table for a further read with  Raza providing her with his personal details if she felt she wanted to ever talk further.
By Ghulam Haydar