Global Peace and Unity

Published June 9, 2014

By Dr. Yasir Qadhi

I am from America but I do like to keep in touch with British politics and issues from a far. And the Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron, made a very famous speech in which he happened to remark that multiculturalism has failed in Britain. Now these kinds of remarks irritate me because everybody knows that when politicians talk about multiculturalism having failed, they’re not talking about the different cultures across the globe. They’re not talking about the fact that perhaps a large percentage of Scots actually want to secede from the United Kingdom. No, rather when they talk about the failure of multiculturalism, “multiculturalism” is a code, a politically correct manner to reference us Muslims and Asians, because we are Muslims and because we practice Islam that we are somehow a problem and perhaps even a threat to the British way of life. Now if Mr. Cameron did not have the courage to explicitly mention Islam and Muslims, another British chap who recently was in the news did not mince his words. And I refer here to Mr. Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the EDL (English Defense League). In the eyes of Mr. Robinson and his hooligan followers simply being a Muslim is an insult to the British way of life. Whatever that means. To me, as an American, it is the EDL that is an insult to the rest of the British population and even an insult to the rest of human beings.

If you wish us to accept the freedom of speech when it comes to insulting religious symbols, then when it comes to preaching immorality, why aren’t we allowed the same freedom of speech when it comes to preaching morality and virtue

Now Tommy Robinson was in the news recently because apparently he has quit the EDL and joined a group called the Quilliam Foundation and apparently quite a lot of media attention is being given to this event and people are overjoyed, saying that he has somehow changed his mind and left his racist views. Personally, looking from over the pond and from my perspective, I really don’t see what all the commotion is about. Tommy left one organization that claimed that every single practicing Muslim is a threat to world peace and he joined another organization that claims that every single practicing Muslim is a threat to world peace. It’s the same agenda, different label.

Well, there is a difference. Let’s be fair here. In fact there’s a big difference. Quilliam, unlike the EDL, is government funded with your tax money, and those who work for Quilliam are rewarded handsomely for barking as loud as they can against the Muslim community which probably explains Tommy Robinson’s career shift. But I digress. Let me return to Mr. Cameron’s assessment of multiculturalism being a failure. The way that I see it and then again, I am an American, it’s not quite your fault that multiculturalism has failed in England. I mean, Mr. Cameron, instead of getting all worked up about the issue, you need to ask the British population why they’ve left their own traditional food and made butter chicken curry the most popular takeout dish in the country. Don’t get irritated at us if your food isn’t spicy enough and you have to go multicultural. Perhaps you might want to add some spices instead of getting angry at us. And again, it’s not our fault that most of your “successful citizens” can’t seem to run fast enough so you have to bring in Mo Farah to represent your country and win medals in the Olympics. And here you are talking about the failures of multiculturalism when the model school that won top accolades in all of the UK was voted by an independent panel to be Tauheedul Islam School in Blackburn. Added to all of this, recent studies have shown that the most generous and charitable groups in all of England were its Muslim communities. And while we’re happy at the survey results, we, ourselves, could have told you we’re the most generous people. Conversely, you talk about the failures of multiculturalism, when the infamous London riots took place a year or two ago, I don’t think it was the Muslims who initiated it. I didn’t see any Muslim breaking down windows, I didn’t see any Muslims looting the stores. So really Mr. Cameron, by which standards do you claim that multiculturalism has been a failure?

Now, if we are expected to be a part of this society which is a fair and realistic expectation, then we must ask that we be treated with the same rights and privileges as every other segment of this society. We are told that we need to respect the freedom of other people to do as they please, speak as they please…as long as they don’t physically harm anyone. Fair enough. But recently, there has been a targeted harassment of many Muslim speakers and attempts have been made to ban them from speaking, merely because their views on morality happen to be different from that of mainstream England. It does seem to many of us that there is a double standard. If you wish us to accept the freedom of speech when it comes to insulting religious symbols, then when it comes to preaching immorality, why aren’t we allowed the same freedom of speech when it comes to preaching morality and virtue. In the face of all of this propaganda, unfortunately some of our brothers and sisters buckle under the pressure and they are too embarrassed to proclaim their heritage, to reclaim their true ideological rights.

But my dear brothers and sisters, if we truly believe in our faith, if we truly are believers in Allah SWT, if we are proud to be of the ummah of the Prophet Muhammad (saw), did we expect our lives to be so easy? This world is meant as a test and a struggle for all of us and Allah tests every Muslim community in different ways. There are people in the world whose struggle is physical. They don’t have enough to eat, they don’t have clean water to drink. There are Muslims whose struggle is political. They’re being bombed and tortured like our brothers in Syria, or being deprived of their basic rights like our brothers and sisters in Palestine, and there are also prisoners around the world who are unjustly locked up, never charged with a crime, such as our brothers in Guantanamo. And speaking of Guantanamo, by the way, for how long will this travesty of justice be allowed to remain? For how long will this stain remain on this earth? Every single person in Guantanamo has been and remains a Muslim, and one of them, Shaker Aaamer, is a British resident. We all know that if there were a Caucasian Christian in Guantanamo, he would not have been allowed to remain there for so long. Mr. Cameron, you complain about multiculturalism being a failure. What if we complain about freedom and justice having failed. Enough is enough Mr. Cameron. We demand that you bring Shaker Aamer home.

We are Muslims, and if injustice is done to us, we do not respond with injustice. We do not fight terror with terror.

As I said, Allah has tested different people in different ways. And our test is not the test of Guantanamo. It is not the test of Syria, it’s not the test of Palestine. Our test here in England and America and Canada is a very different one. Our test is the test of ease and luxury. Our test is being faithful when you don’t have to be faithful. Our test is being sincere to Allah when there’s lots of opportunities to be insincere. Our test is to show our true colors and live as Muslims in a society where it is getting increasingly difficult to do so. And even as we blame others and criticize them for violations and injustices, we have to be fair and criticize our own when they too fall into injustice like the recent brutal killing of the serviceman in Woolwich that was perpetrated by fanatics and I swear by Allah SWT they are fanatics and it needs to be condemned in the strongest of terms, even as we condemn British soldiers being sent to fight unjust wars in faraway lands, we must and will also condemn with even more passionate anger these barbaric killings that do not represent us, nor do they represent the teachings of our Lord and His prophet (saw). We are Muslims, and if injustice is done to us, we do not respond with injustice. We do not fight terror with terror. No matter how much we disagree with American foreign policy or British foreign policy, at the end of the day I am a part of my country and you are a part of your country. And the changes that we seek to bring must be done within the confines of the law. Utilizing legal mechanisms just like the sahaba, the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) did in the lands of Abyssinia under the leadership of Ja’far ibn Abi Talib when Ja’far went to the court of the Negus and he brought his case using the legal mechanisms of the laws of the land. We too must use the legal mechanisms of the laws of our land.

Brothers and sisters, the one message that I want you to take away from this is be brave, be courageous, have the courage to practice Islam. Be proud of who you are, be proud of your religious heritage and remember that the truth will always prevail in the end. The truth will always win over falsehood. Justice and freedom, that which Allah SWT loves, will always win in the end, even if the rejecters want to reject it. We must signal to whole world that we love Allah SWT and nothing is more precious to us than Allah. And Allah is greater than anything else, and we are servants of Allah and we will not be cowed and humiliated in front of any other being. No one will make us ashamed to be Muslim— yes, we are proud to be Muslim. Ameen.


Dr. Yasir QadhiAuthor This article is transcribed from Dr. Yasir Qadhi’s talk. Dr. Qadhi is Dean of Academic Affairs at the Al-Maghrib Institute.

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