Thursday, 1 February 2018

Annual Community Leadership Awards

Annual Community Leadership Awards
And Gala Dinner

Dr. Mozammel Haque

An Annual Community Leadership Awards & Gala Dinner, organised by Community Leadership Foundation in Partnership with SOAS University of London, supported by Connecting Communities was held at The Royal Regency, Manor Park, on Tuesday 12th December 2017. This Community Leadership Awards were given to those Muslims who have been doing good works in the community also acknowledging the services and contributions.

Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre & London Central Mosque, was given an Award for his excellent leadership role in the British Muslim community and the role of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London. The Award was presented by H.E. Saud Al-Hamdan, Head of the Islamic Affairs of the Saudi Embassy in London.

Barrister Abid Hussain finally announced: “Our final penultimate speaker is Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham. He chooses to draw the lines what he feels what he thinks right; and he speaks for justice and against injustice. Unfortunately last year he had to fly out and I had to take this opportunity to ask what it is meant to give him the award that you should have last year for riding support for locally nationally and internationally.”

While giving the Award to Lord Ahmad, Barrister Abid said, “This is from SOAS University Professor Ornament Tea Award giving to Lord Ahmad for what he should have and now round of applause for our keynote speaker Lord Nazir Ahmad.”

Keynote Address at Leadership
Award Event Lord Nazir Ahmed
While delivering his keynote address, Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham, Peer of the House of Lords of the British Parliament, mentioned, “I had the honour of hosting this event for many years in the House of Lords. Community Awards SOAS and the community had been training the Awards and I had been proud of hosting this because I think the community needs to be recognised. You know in the United Kingdom and here in Europe and the United Kingdom our community has made a huge contribution whether it is in the field of economic development political development social and communities we have done lots of works.”

Lord Ahmed said, “The point that I wanted to make that the contributions I remind people that after the Second World War when they destroyed this country and the Bangladeshi community in East London and Afghanis, Pakistanis, Turkish and all the diasporas who are here tonight we are proud that our forefathers, our elders, made a contribution in the society and made this country the richest country today.”

“I am reminding when some people were asking us we should issue some sort of Fatwa against those people who believe in Caliphate.  We also related to the verses in the Holy Bible and I said that no religion no religion actually promote violence; even I say; we used to believe the Buddhism; the Buddhist religion is the most peaceful religion on earth and get what you see in Burma you would be horrified to see nearly a million Muslims have been driven out of their homes. Ten thousands who have been killed; thousands and thousands of women who have been raped,” mentioned Lord Ahmed in his keynote speech.

Lord Ahmed also described his visit to Bangladesh, to Cox’s Bazaar just on the line of the border where the river is. He mentioned, “I see those one thousand children; that ten thousand children; have come across this river to save their lives. Children don’t leave their parents or their homes if they were not afraid of their lives. I saw an old woman probably the same age of my mother who had broken arms, not but actually broken into two pieces; bruises are not fake. I saw and I met with a eleven or twelve year old girl; it is not only flesh, she will be okay; but when I realise on the side of her leg, the bones were coming out of her and when I asked her, she said that the Burmese had thrown her on the fire; because the Burmese army had burnt their house and threw them on the fire and also killed her parents.”

Lord Ahmed also narrated the horrific events that were happened to the Rohingya refugees. He mentioned, “When I was distributing food, I asked some young women: how many they have seen people have been murdered. Three women, barrister shahab was there; three women, young women, 18, 20 years old they stood up and said my husband was killed. There were many; they said, their mothers and sisters have been raped. So what are the points I am making even if you have the most peaceful religion on earth; those who use and abuse nationalism with religion; they cause disaster for all of us; whether Christians - Donald Trump is a Christian but do you believe what he does and what he practices.”

Going back to the topic of Khalifat, Lord Ahmed again mentioned, “Both Lord Qurban said and I tried to give them proper kind of answer because so many had spoken about these young Muslims or these fanatic who wanted to live in a Khilafat and they wanted to have a khilafah like in Turkey, the Ottomans and I told them that there is no such thing like khilafah after the four Caliphs – Sayyidana Abu Bakr, Sayyidana Omar, Sayyidana Osman and Sayyidana Ali. There were the Ottoman Empire, Mughal Empire, there were North African Empire. I told them that the Prophet peace be upon him sent his companions to Abyssinia and then one hundred joined them in Abyssinia who lived under a Christian ruler and they were allowed to practice their religion very fairly like the European countries and the United States live peacefully amongst other communities. And we have no problem whatsoever.”

“Therefore those fanatics, those extremists from all sides, whether they are from my religion or from any other religion, create hatred. They wanted to create hatred; they wanted to create wall, they wanted to create distance, divisions; so we want to stand together and be proud of the contributions that our communities make on daily basis in East London, in Greater London, in Yorkshire, in Scotland; all of you who have come here,” said Lord Ahmed.

Then Lord Ahmed expressed his thanks to Barrister Abid, his team and SOAS. He said, “You have attended all the awards in the House of Lords. It is a very small place and there was a smaller sort of celebrations. This is a huge gathering of the community and I am very proud to be with you tonight. Thank you Barrister Saheb; thank you. But I want to say how proud I am all of you for the contributions that you make at every level whether in this country, whether in economy, or in political life; social life; there are many doctors in the National Health Service; NHS would not be as good as it is today without the works of Asians and Muslim doctors today. So all of you together we make contributions and thank you for recognising the great works there are and please continuing doing hard work and we wanted to come back next year even celebrate many more of you.”

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Launch of Labour Muslim Network at British Parliament

Launch of Labour Muslim Network
at British Parliament

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Labour Muslim Network was launched at the British Parliament on 11th of December 2017. Rupa Huq, Member of British Parliament from the Ealing and Acton Constituency sponsored the Room in the British Parliament. It was attended by many members of the House of Commons and many members of the Muslim community. It was addressed by John McDonnell, MP, and Labour Shadow Chancellor and also by Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Opposition Party.

Opposition Party Leader at British 
Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn MP
Preparation is underway for the forthcoming general elections. Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition Party at the British Parliament, said, “When the election campaign will be underway we went out there with lots of enthusiasm; with lots of energy; two million people have registered to vote and some of those join the party which is excellent and we helped them getting the manifesto which is transformative; every one can see underway. The campaign is a combination of social media reach and public meeting and public opinion and offering to young people the real hope of enthusiasm for the future of this country. And the response we got is quite amazing; quite often day after day we have millions of people following us on social media; downloaded the manifesto; downloaded part of the manifesto and many people on social media engage in the debate on social media all the time.”

“Instead we offer to bring people together in a sense of hope and unity,” he said.

We give a sense of hope to people - Corbyn
Speaking about the issues Jeremy Corbyn talked about the “issues of migration; issues of communities; and the unsaid voice was somehow or other. He said, “I shall have and the words I used around now and everyone now rallies look around you; look around each other; who are you; who are you; you are young, you are old, you are black, you are white, you are Christian, you are Muslim, you are Jewish, you are guys, you got lots of enthusiasm and ideas, for the bubble you come together; that you are living in a country that brings your ideas together and gives you  hope for the future. That’s what we did; we gave people the sense of hope in the election campaign.”

Jeremy Corbyn was serious and straightforward. He said, “The result we got was not good enough I know; not good enough; we did not gain a majority in the election, but we gained more votes in England than any time since 1970; before the three million votes across the whole of the country. We gained seats of the Tories; there was a biggest swing in favour of Labour since 1945.”

The Leader of the Opposition Party, Labour Party, at the British Parliament Corbyn MP expressed thanks to the Muslim Network that sprung up. He said, “The Muslim Network that grows up during the election campaign; the way you were able to send same people in the constituencies makes a big difference; and a big help. Constituencies; people were frankly worried about; you went in and knock on the door of all of those returned majorities of many many thousands  as a result of it. You know what the enthusiasm is like during the campaign and on the doorsteps.”

The Leader of the Opposition Party at British Parliament said: “We don’t have to work out where we will go from here; because in areas with large Muslim communities your involvement and understanding are absolutely brilliant. And we live in a society where unfortunately there are instances of deep intolerance; anti-semitism; of Islamophobia; and of far- right racism in our society and it got worse since the Brexit referendum in 2016 and the attacks we had during the election campaign in London and in Manchester mainly opposing the campaigning rightly so. And I went to Manchester a day after the attack and report thousands of people probably ten thousand people came to our square in a sense of unity and defiance.”

He mentioned about the unity and defiance of the entire community. He also mentioned, “Afzal (Khan, MP from Manchester) was there and others were there and the community; incredible sense of unity and many others. That feeling of the whole community came together.”

Attack on Finsbury Park
Jeremy Corbyn also mentioned what happened after the election campaign. He said, “After election campaign there was the attack on the people, the worshippers in my local mosque; the Finsbury Mosque Finsbury Park, people were going home from prayers late at night. I was home at that night and heard siren of the car going on the road; it happened all the time services on the road; sadly there were lots of fire police ambulances sirens and then start phoning around to ask what was going on. Then I heard the horror of the story emerged of what happened that somebody deliberately driven a vehicle into a group of worshippers and I went down there to talk to the people, talk to the police; going to the mosque; talk to the officials of the mosque; what was amazing was in the next morning, the whole community came out in school and had a discussion two days later in the primary school and they all decided that they wanted to do something. So they decided they would have a march round the area on the day of the memorial event and most of the people, they carried very very loudspeakers to play around they love. There were kids who understood the only answer to these sorts of things is to bring out people together and do things together.”

Muslims in the British Parliament
Labour Party Opposition Leader then spoke about the Muslim representation at the House of Parliament. He said, “We have nine Labour Muslim MPs in 2015. We have newly elected colleagues who have done an incredible amount of work in order to get elected to this Parliament and already making a big impact and what we do next as a party; we are dealing with the issues: complicated issue of Brexit; we are dealing with challenging Tories on the austerity; on housing; on poverty; on injustice; on inequality in our society. That the social equality and international solidarity message that we have to go.”

Rohingya Refugees
Speaking about the international issues, Jeremy Corbyn said, “I want to lead the Labour government; the government that says the cornerstone of what we do internationally is about human rights, peace, justice and democracy. I don’t like the government should involve of sending people into war. I want to stop wars but looking at the causes of war in the first place. And that means voting people who are refugees, fleeing from the conflict not on their making; but it also means to engage when injustice takes place. For example, the way which the Rohingya people were driven out of their homes and sent them into Bangladesh and now many have been possibly returning in the near future. I am very pleased with the Labour MPs who have been there; went out and help the charities there. We got a very thorough report what is going there because we are unable to raise that in the UN. We will continue to raise it and we are continuing.”

66 million refugees in the world
Jeremy Corbyn mentioned all the meetings that were held in the weekend, the most distressing one for him is when he talked with the Head of the United Nations Refugee Authority. Speaking about this meeting, he said, “The Head of the United Nations Refugee Authority who told me the total number of refugees around the world is 66 million. Think about it; 66 million refugees; refugees somehow or other around the world. What we are doing? They are going to the International Olympic Committee arguing with them that since the refugees are so numerous around the world, they should represent the Olympics with their own team, good message. Good message; millions of people will be watching the Olympics; you see refugee team running in the Olympics; having represented the people the number of people around the world that have lost their homes, forced to flee, because the war, environmental calamites,  natural disaster,  human rights abuses, tyranny, many many other things.”

“We can assure and must do much more to support refugees wherever they are around the world but also to look at the causes; look at the causes in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and that’s it, “ he said.

Domestic Issues
Speaking about the domestic issues, Jeremy Corbyn talked about real wages fallen; the number of people sleeping roughly homeless has risen; on the NHS and the lack of house building means more people homeless.”

Issues to be told
He explained the strategy to be followed. He said: “So we get that message out; bring us all together; bring all the communities together; so we say to the Muslim communities – yes Islamophobia is a problem; yes, there is too many young Muslims have stopped and searched; yes there are very disturbing issues about discrimination against young Muslims; come together as a community. We welcome all the other communities, to create that kind of inclusive, caring cooperative and supportive society, that in turn help us to realise the Labour government.”

Social Campaigning Movement
“We need Labour party which is big, which is inclusive; that is a social campaigning movement that is there, every day in every community helping and supporting people. Because just knocking on the door last three weeks in the election campaign voter ID is very important; absolutely crucial but; but you have to have conversation and the sense of inclusion well before that; well in advance of that in order to win people out. People will not give a fair win in the next elections,” Jeremy Corbyn said and added, “We will not get any support from the Daily Mail or the Daily Express or the Daily Telegraph or the Daily anything else. For that matter, we do have a support of many people; we do have the support of many people on social media and we do have the ability to bring people together and make them exciting. It’s not young people; it’s not old people. Give young people a chance of education; older people security of knowing that there will be a care service there for them should they need it. But above all of this society will not alone live on poverty.”

Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell
Talking about the preparation for the forthcoming elections, the Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell mentioned, “We got to be ready. What we are doing at the moment; literally going through the last manifesto; looking at every policy, turning into implementation manual; get legislation drafted on the shelve; but that manifesto was the last election. We got to think about the next election; we have to get make sure that manifesto is re-drawn; is radicalised; and actually goes into much more detail about the gender things etc.; it’s come off to the point you made which is really. We have to have a deep database access to our own communities; what are the issues they face people?”

Mr McDonnell said, “The idea is when we go into government next time; I keep saying this we all going into government; all going into government. I take my constituency into what’s happening in the Muslim community I have been in my constituency for more than 40 years; I am really old. I have been in my constituency for more than 40 years; it was the Labour party that helped found the local mosque. It was the Labour councillor found the premises for the local Muslim community mosque; Muslim came together and found the mosque.”

Speaking about the Muslim community and prevent, he said, “We are dissatisfied the way the prevent strategy is implemented. So we brought together two local mosque, Gurdawar and other religious groups. We think we have better network here and how we work together very grassroots level to identify any problem that accrued. There was a community we came together to protect the mosque and to work together humbly but thinking how can we implement our own prevent strategy more effectively.”

Speaking about the Muslim community to join the Labour Party, Shadow Chancellor Mr. McDonnell mentioned, “I think this is the most exciting time to come into Labour Party; the time to change and we can accomplish that. On the ground, we have got such a mass movement now; a mass movement of young people especially building for the next generation So a number of you in future be a member to come to this meeting and a number of you in future years will be meeting down that corridor of the Parliamentary Labour Party because what we want the people to say I can represent Labour as well. I can stand for office within the party; I can stand for the office of the council; I can stand for the office; in charge of parliament ministerial office as well; because we want to reflect the wider community.”

Welcoming the Labour Muslim Network, McDonnell said he wants to see more members of the Muslim community in the Labour Party. He said, “We need many more members of Muslim community to be as partner assistant in going into office that every one wants. I welcome the Muslim Network. I really welcome the discussions that we have. I also welcome the policy decisions; we have to follow that decisions that we have made government together.”
Rupa Huq, MP
Rupa Huq, Member of British Parliament, mentioned that she was proud to sponsor the room at the Parliament.

Monday, 8 January 2018

'A Very Merry Muslim Christmas' Report

APPG on British Muslim
‘A Very Merry Muslim Christmas’ Report

Dr. Mozammel Haque

All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims launched a Report entitled titled ‘A Very Merry Muslim Christmas’ Report at the British Parliament on 19 December, 2017. The APPG on British Muslims submitted its report on the untold story of British Muslim charities which the APPG on British Muslims wants to highlight in this summary report, drawing on oral and written evidence presented to the group during hearings held in Parliament in November 2017.

‘A Very Merry Muslim Christmas’ Report
Acknowledges British Muslim Contributions
All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims organised a meeting at the Palace of Westminster, London, on 19 December, 2017 which presented findings of “A Very Merry Muslim Christmas” Report highlighting ‘Faith as the Fourth Emergency Service’. This meeting was chaired by Anna Soubry & Wes Streeting, MP. In her Opening remarks, Anna Soubry, Member of Parliament (MP) narrated the background to APPG on British Muslims and why it was formed. In her remarks she also mentioned a short background on this being the first report and why such a report is so important.

Anna Soubry in her opening remarks enquired what is Christmas. And immediately added, you Christians have completely lost the essence of Christmas. “But Muslims have not lost – huge celebration of what Muslims do all this time of the year.” She also mentioned about Islam the religion which thinks of other people; this report is part of that.

The second speaker was Naz Shah MP who spoke about the untold stories of British Muslims. She mentioned, How we are often told about the negative stories regarding British Muslims and not those that are just getting on and making a positive difference. She gave some examples of positive stories from the report.

The third speaker was Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Member of the House of Lords of the British Parliament, who spoke about the findings of the report. Baroness Warsi mentioned, How the findings of the report are just a drop of the ocean? She said more research is needed on this subject. We often see further research carried out on Muslims in relation to Extremism, Grooming, Integration and other negative areas; we should also see further research in this area.

Baroness Warsi also mentioned what were the findings? The findings of the evidence sessions, i.e. Muslims often give because of their faith. Give with one hand without the other knowing. Lots of groups work purely as volunteers and how most of the recipients of Muslim donations are non-Muslims.

In the Foreword of the Report, Anna Soubry and Wes Streeting, Co-chairs of the APPG on British Muslims, mentioned, “Too Often, Muslim charities come to our attention because of negative media coverage of governance issues or bad practice among a handful of individuals working in the charity sector, or because of latent fears about charities being abused for terrorism financing, even though evidence assembled by the Charities Commission  recognises the near non-existent level of threat of such abuse in the sector.”

Anna Soubry, Member of Parliament, also mentioned in the Foreword, “What is less well appreciated, and rarely celebrated, is the fantastic range of work done by Muslim charities in the UK which evoke the very best of our British Muslim communities: a commitment to giving to those less fortunate than themselves, a desire to help those in need, a willingness to volunteer time, professionalism and extend friendship to those who are simply in need of a warm embrace, a friendly face and/or a place to go for a free hot meal.”

It was also mentioned in the Foreword: “Muslims quietly go about charity giving in a way that is consistent with the emphasis in Islam on discretion; of ‘giving charity so that the left hand does not know what the right hand gives’; but this is a story which needs to be told and we want to be the ones to tell it. Let us celebrate the benefits of a multi-faith society, where people from different faith traditions focus their charitable activities on helping their neighbours in towns and cities across the UK.”

“What we hear even less about is the ‘Muslim Merry Christmas’. The soup Kitchens, the food banks, the Christmas dinners, the New Year clean up – work Muslim charities will be busy doing during the Christmas period,” mentioned in the Foreword.

The Foreword clearly said, “British Muslim charities haven’t received the kind of attention they deserve. At this time of year, when Muslim charities are working alongside many other faith based charities to spread good cheer, peace on earth and goodwill to all we hope our preliminary findings highlights and celebrates their work.”

Findings of the Report
Following questions were raised when the investigation was going on: ‘Why was it necessary to establish an inquiry into Muslim charitable contributions to the UK? Would it even be possible to quantify the impact of the Muslim charity sector in the UK? Would we be able to do justice to the work of Muslim charities in the UK and in doing so, shine a light on the myriad contributions British Muslims are making in their local communities and on the national scene?

The Report says: “the elision in the public imagination of Islam with violence and conflict, the perception of Muslims as ‘takers’ not ‘givers’ and the pervasive narratives which portray British Muslims as resistant to integration in British society, seemingly preferring to set themselves apart than be alongside their neighbours.”

“But such perceptions of British Muslims, and of British Muslim charities in particular, are wide off the mark,” the Report said and added, “We did so because Muslim charities are illustrative of those facets of British Muslim lives which we rarely hear about: expressing compassion for those less fortunate than themselves, exemplifying Islamic teachings to give generously to alleviate poverty, hunger and to care for the elderly, the sick and the needy. Being civic-minded and socially aware are among the primary teachings of Islam”.

The Report finds: “It is well-known that charity giving is integral to Islam, as it is in other great religious traditions but what is less well known, indeed what is often wilfully ignored, is the role Muslim charities play in bringing communities together by facilitating integration and social cohesion through civic solidarity, interfaith social action and crisis response.

“Muslim charities engage in such charity work without regard for the age, gender, racial, religious or ethnic background of the beneficiaries. They do so with a poignant focus on responding to need,” the Report mentioned.

The Report also finds, “Another aspect that is also unknown and largely overlooked, but which deserves much wider attention, is the specific functions Muslim charities undertake during winter and in the Christmas season. It is at this time, when we are reminded of peace of earth and goodwill to all that Muslim charities come into their own.”

The Report mentioned, “British Muslims we spoke to were keen to exude Islam’s true teachings through their charitable works. They want the British public to recognise them for who they really are: British Muslims. Their Islamic faith and their British identity increasingly motivates them to respond to crises and social problems on their doorstep, from flooding to homelessness, domestic violence and prisoner rehabilitation.”

The Report also said, “This is social conscience, community spirit and civic engagement working together at its best. This is only a short summary of some of the findings from the evidence sessions held by the APPG in Parliament in November and the written submissions presented to the group by British Muslim charities as part of our call for evidence. This report showcases our preliminary findings.  It is merely an indicative of some of the impact made by the Muslim charities. It is in no way exhaustive of Muslim contributions to British society.”

Key Points of the Findings of the Report
Followings are some of the key points of the findings of the Report:
“Major festivals are a time to celebrate the values shared between religions. Values of charity, goodwill and caring for one’s neighbour all come to the fore during Ramadan, Eid, Christmas and other festivals. Muslim charities do tremendous work during Christmas and winter season by providing hot meals for the homeless, ‘Winter Warmer’ kits to keep the elderly and vulnerable groups warm in the colder months, and through provision of other essential items.

“Media narratives portray Muslims as rejecting, even calling for the banning of Christmas, but as our findings reveal, Muslims are busy preparing for a ‘Merry Muslim Christmas’ with charities distributing food parcels, hot meals, thermal clothing and other essential items to spread good cheer and help individuals celebrate the season.

“Some of the larger Muslim charities are recalibrating their distribution of charitable funds to commit more money to domestic projects and services. As the size of the young British Muslim population grows, they are increasingly focusing more of their time and money to charity at home.

“Muslim charities are at the forefront of domestic crisis response. One notable example illustrated in this report is the Grenfell Muslim Response Unit; a collaboration between a handful of British Muslim charities that have spearheaded emergency response, food and shelter provision, burial services and ongoing support to individuals and families affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

“Muslim charities are increasingly responding to social needs in innovative and creative ways whether prisoner rehabilitation programmes or medical aid for homeless people to alleviate the strain on local A&E services. They are stepping in where other support or service networks are failing and in doing so demonstrate solidarity with their fellow citizens and exemplify the best of their religion.

“Substantial models for running food banks are being developed by Muslim charities such as UK Education and Faith Foundation, UK Islamic Mission and iCare. There is learning in the Muslim charity sector that is applicable to the wider charity sector.”

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Introduction of Islam to New Muslims at ICC

Introduction of Islam to New Muslims at ICC

Dr. Mozammel Haque

An Introduction of Islam Course both to New Muslims and others was organised in the Islamic Cultural Centre, London on 26 November 2017. In the main opening speech, Dr Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC) started by saying Assalamualaikum and then he explained what it means. He said, “Assalamualaikum means peace be upon you or on you.” Then he talked about the course, he said, “Introduction to Islam is an idea to say to those who do not know Islam at all or to give more knowledge for the Muslims who know about Islam but they have questions or they want to deepen their knowledge about Islam.”

Actually he started the course he asked the gathering who is attending the course for the first time and after knowing that most of them are attending for the first time; he asked again who are Muslim amongst you. After that Dr. al-Dubayan expressed his thanks generally to both Muslims and non-Muslims because you wanted to learn about the faith.

Knowledge brings tolerance
Dr. Al-Dubayan said,  “Let me thank you both; to Muslims because you want to learn more about your faith and the non-Muslims because they want to know about Islam because we believe knowledge brings tolerance and better understanding of society from everybody. The more you know about people actually you have less fear about them and you are close to them. Actually the less you know about them the more you have fears about them because you are suspicious about them because you do not have enough information about them. So, that will give you more space for stereotypes or false stories about other people; because you are not close to them. This is exactly everywhere in the world, not only about one nation or one country, it is everywhere, everybody.”

Why we talk about Islam?
Now why we talk about Islam? Dr. Al-Dubayan explained it is especially important nowadays for many reasons. He said, “First of all, Islam is one of the biggest largest religions in the world. It is, may be, the fastest growing religion in the world; every day, every month, every year we have more followers, more people come to Islam. Of course, there are many reasons for this; I am not going to talk about this all but this will give us an idea why we want to know about this religion. Why people come to this faith and what this faith means and what it has?  What is the philosophy of this religion itself?”

“Secondly, Muslims are now western citizens, in the UK, in France, in Germany.  Many Muslims are there, they are Germans, they are French, they are British and at the same time they are Muslims. And they do not see any contradiction in the values of Islam and being citizens of these countries. And there is no contradiction actually,” said Dr. al-Dubayan and added, “So it is better to know about our neighbours, our friends, our colleagues in the work who are Muslims; and they are sharing with us many every day and we know a little bit about them. Better to know more about them. I have to come to this. I have to thank also non-Muslim friends who are with us today; because they would like to know about Islam and about Muslims. Thank you very much; welcome to the Islamic Cultural Centre.”

Dr. Al-Dubayan then gave a brief history of Islam. He said, “The purpose of this is really to give more support for tolerance, more support about co-existence, about people; when they know about each other, they know more about each other. Historically, Islam came in the seventh century; and Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him died in 632 AD. This is about 600 years between Jesus Christ and Muhammad peace be upon them. Prophet Muhammad started from Makkah. Makkah is a city. This is where Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was born in that time; and this is where he started the Call for Islam.”

What Islam means itself?
“What Islam means itself? The word itself. Islam comes from Arabic; the language of the Qur’an is Arabic. Islam means submission; it comes from the word ‘Salam’. Salam means peace; Salam peace. Islam also means being peaceful to other people; submission to Allah Subhanahu WA Taala. Submit yourself to the Orders and Instructions from Allah Subhanahu WA Taala. To Him, to Allah; following the teachings or following the Orders from Allah subhanahu WA Taala. They came from the same roots or from the same language,” said ICC chief and added, “When you see Muslims greet one another person they say Assalamualaikum; same word, Salam. It came from the same word Islam. It is sometimes in Hebrew Salon; Salam in Arabic, it means peace; this is the meaning of the word.”

Foundation of the Call of Islam is Tawheed
Dr. al-Dubayan then explained the core of Islam. While doing this, he said, “Prophet Muhammad actually started new call in Makkah. The new call  was actually calling people to worship Allah Subhanahu wa Taala-  Only One God; do not have many gods like the Arabs used to do in those societies in those days. Then after that, the Prophet started this. The main foundation of the Call of Islam itself is Tawheed. Tawheed means you recognise and believe in your hearts that God is One; the One Only. The Oneness of God, there is only One God; there is no second god; or three gods or four gods or whatever. No goddess or no goddesses; except One Only. He is the Only One Who deserves to be worshipped. This is the foundation of the whole story of Islam. If someone does not accept this and does not deeply believe in his heart, he is not Muslim; even if he follows the other rituals or other things. This is the core; this is the theme of the whole religion.”

Islam – continuity of other religions
The ICC chief then explained that Islam is a continuity of other religions. He said, “Islam itself is not a new religion. The Qur’an is telling us about Abraham; about other Prophets, about Moses, about Jesus Christ. Islam is presenting itself as a continuity of other religions. That’s why; the Qur’an itself calls Abraham, Moses, Jesus and others as Muslimeen; as Muslims. And the Qur’an says: The Message Allah Subhanahu WA Taala delivers to all Messengers, to all Prophets came, there is Only One God; and He is the Only One to be worshipped. He is the Only One deserves to be worshipped. That’s the Foundation.”

Of course there are some differences, Dr al-Dubayan mentioned. He said, “There are differences in rituals, for example, how to fast, how to pray. May be during the days of Abraham, not like we are doing now; there were different instructions based on the societies based on the news may be, but the rules of the religion itself - The Oneness of God and Only we Worship Allah and we don’t worship any other god, or any other idol or goddesses, or any other - whatever. The Qur’an is very clear about this. Most of the Qur’an talks about this point; in one way or other. Even the stories of the Qur’an tell us about other Prophets; it says all the Prophets came to deliver the same Message I sent and O Muhammad the Last one who came to carry this Message for everyone.”

How Islam sees the whole existence
There were other speakers who were going to talk about pillars of Islam and articles of faith. That’s why; Dr. Al-Dubayan was concentrating about the philosophy of Islam itself. How Islam itself sees the whole world. This is the main things you have to understand Islam. If you are actually not Muslim and you try to understand Islam this way.

Dr. al-Dubayan explained How Islam sees the whole existence. He said, “First of all, what you see all around in the universe is created by ONE GOD. He is Allah; He is God. You can use the word God, you can use the word Allah, and you can use the proper name Allah for Him. God is the Creator of the Universe. Everything you see in it, everything yourself, around you, whatever it is; even it is air actually created by Him. So He is the Only One who deserves to be worshipped. And He is the Only One who created us also.”

Existence of Mankind
Speaking about the existence itself of Mankind, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned the existence is divided into two parts – first part is this life and the second part is the life after death. He explained, “The existence itself of Mankind is actually divided into two parts -   the first one is this life; where you are living; beginning from the birth till the end to death. It is for everybody; does not matter how long you live; the beginning is birth and the end, everybody is going to die. That’s the first part of it. The second part starts when the Day of Judgement comes, the day of resurrection when people will come back again to life, actually to be judged according to their practices and deeds in this life.”

First part is the part of trial and testing
“So where are we now? We are in the first half; the first one. The first part is actually the time of testing. It’s the time of trial, when Allah gave us a chance to see what we are doing in our life; what we do with our bodies; what we do with other people; what we do with everything around us; starting from ourselves then going to other people; to everything around us; everything. All the good all the bad which we are doing will be counted, counted and counted till there is an account after death we come to see it,” explained Dr. al-Dubayan.   

“Why there is this chance?” He questioned and immediately said, “This chance Allah wants to see what we are doing and gives us a chance to be judged later on. So Muslims believe whatever you are doing it will never be forgotten; unless you are forgiven. Everything that will keep your eyes always opens about your action or about your intentions. What I do to you is counted actually even if you forget it. Or even if you harm somebody and he does not know who does to him; he does not know but Allah knows who does it; so it is counted. Nothing will be missing; nothing will be actually lost or be mistaken.”

He also mentioned, “The person who understands Islam very well is always watching his actions and behaviour because he always knows whatever he or she does is all counted always and it will come later on.”

Characteristics of Islam itself
There are some characteristics and things about Islam itself. Actually, Dr. al-Dubayan started, first of all, mentioning the Oneness of God. Secondly, about how Islam sees this world - what we do; why we do not do and one is our first life and the second one is the second life; everybody is going to come actually and everything will be seen. You cannot hide anything; everything will be counted. So nobody can escape from the crimes or the evil things he or she does; even if the law cannot punish the person who did all these bad things; there is another law which will come to make judgement about it.”

Then Dr al-Dubayan gave an example. He said, “Muslims after all these atrocities happen to them and all the wars, they said Alhamdolillah. For example, some mothers in Syria when asked, How do you feel; they say Alhamdolillah, thanks to Allah; everything is okay; we are fine, to be better; we are thankful. Why? Because they know that nothing will be missing; nothing will be lost. This person has killed his children or this person has lost his woman; whatever he does he or she goes without any punishment; okay, that is not the end of the story. There is another time; there will be a Day of Judgement when everybody from A to Z of us; from the first human being on earth to the last one will be actually stand; will be standing there and they will be judged according to their accounts; what they have done in their lives. When you believe in this; you have to be very careful; you have to be very careful in your life.”

“So whatever you are doing it is not lost; was not forgotten; even if people do not know about it. So that makes you like in the process of observation all the time. All the time you are observing yourself; all the time you are protecting and you protect yourself and this is Iman the real faith in the heart of the real believers,” said al-Dubayan and added, “Those who forgets this they live as they want and they don’t care about what is happening. They sometimes do some bad things to some persons or kill some innocent persons; this woman or harm this animal or destroying natural resources they don’t care about it. Who knows; nobody knows; the important is money what we have. This is what’s happening now everywhere. But in the sight of Allah everything is counted and everything is there. This is something very very important in Islam.”

Islam itself is a Universal Message
The ICC Director General then explained another characteristic of Islam. He said, “Islam itself is a universal message. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) delivers this message; but it is not only for certain nation. Islam represents itself as a message for everybody on this earth; everybody. It is a universal message for all worlds. That’s why when the Qur’an talks about Prophet (peace be upon him) Allah said: We have just sent you to be the Mercy for the Worlds; to everybody; not only for Arabs; or for his own people or for his family nobody but for everyone. That’s why; after the beginning of Islam Muslims started to call other people to Islam. It is the guidance, the right path to call people to know it. It’s the same way like the Christian missionaries do. This is the right to call other people to it.”

“Christianity and Islam, may be, they are the only religion or most religions which are mostly doing this missionary works and calling people. Other faiths sometimes they don’t care; or they think this is a private faith or religion for certain people; or they make it very individual so everybody having his own. I don’t care what he believes; I have no responsibility to call. But in Christianity and Islam, they believe this is a light of Allah; I am calling people to know it like I knew. And it is their choice: they can accept it or reject it; it is up to them. But my duty is to convey the message; to bring it to them. That’s one. The universality or the message being universal,” explained Dr al-Dubayan about the universal Message of Islam.

Islam is the law of equality of Mankind
Another characteristic of Islam is the principle or law of equality of mankind. While explaining the law of equality in Islam, Dr al-Dubayan mentioned, “Secondly, Islam is one of the sharpest ever religions or may be the law of equality of mankind. All people are equal. There is no difference between black and white; north or south; anybody comes from any race; anybody comes from any nation; anybody comes from any tribe; or any country or any language. In Islam, this means nothing more than you are a human being; you are equal to others and the Qur’an telling us actually: It is very sharp; i.e. Allah says in the Qur’an: I have created you O Mankind! And I have created you in tribes and nations so that you know each other; not actually that you are superior and others are inferior; No. You are equal; but to know each other I made you like this divisions; this is how I created you.”

“So equality is very sharp in Islam and very clear. And the Qur’an said the best among all of you in the sight of Allah is the one who has fears in his heart more for Allah Subhanahu wa Taala. It is not the one who has more money; it is not the one who is more handsome or more beautiful than others; or it is not the one who is descendant from this family or this king or whatever; No. The best amongst all of you is the one who has this feeling or Imaan or faith or fears of Allah Subhanahu wa Taala in his heart. This is very sharp and clear in Islam. That’s why you see the Islamic Civilization or Islamic history is not made by certain people or by Arabs only. You will find actually the contributions by many many nations to create what we call now the Islamic civilization or Islamic culture or Islamic history. You will find there the contributions of the Arabs, the contributions of the Turks; contributions from the Kurdish people; the Persians, the Indians; the Africans; the Asians and from the Europeans in the last three centuries; from everybody. There is a contribution. It is not a religion for certain people; it is a religion for everyone; not a private one,” explained Dr. Al-Dubayan the law of equality of mankind in Islam.

Message of Balance:
The First relation with Allah
The third characteristic of Islam is the message of balance. Dr. Al-Dubayan mentioned about this message of balance. He said, “It is a message of balance; how is the balance? The balance is first of all your relation with Allah Subhanahu wa Taala. Balance with Allah; we know Allah God is different from our status. We cannot describe God like we describe human being. We know He is everything but HOW? We cannot say How. He is; it is a different level; we cannot describe it; we cannot reach it in our mind. That’s one and God is here to be worshipped.”

“My relation with Him is to worship Allah Subhanahu wa Taala and to do the good within decent, so that He will reward me for that. That will control my life.  For the sake of Allah, for the sake of God, I am doing this. I give charity; I am merciful with people; I take care of my parents; I do good for my neighbours; I do good for my friends; I do everything for my dog, my cat, my donkey; whatever; for everybody. Even doing good for the people you do not know; people walking on the street; may be somebody need your help you give this. When you have the intention I am doing this for the sake of Allah, Allah will reward you. Any action even if it is very tiny small thing; you don’t care about it as long as intention is there; Allah will reward you for it and it is counted into your account. So there is an account which is more important than any account in the HSBC; which is this one which counted everything. Actually for everybody,” explained Dr al-Dubayan the first relation with Allah with God in the message of Balance.

Message of Balance:
The Second Relation with the Prophet
That’s the first relation. The second relation is the relation with the Prophet himself. Dr. al-Dubayan then talked about the second relation in the message of balance. The second relation is the relation with the Prophet (peace be upon him). He mentioned, “Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself is a human being. He is like us; like you, like me. He is man of flesh and blood like us. We don’t worship him at all. We respect him, of course. He is the highest person respected in Islam but he is a human being. Never be mixed or to be lifted to the level of Allah or to the level of God. This is different. So those people; sometimes some Muslims make this mistake because they love the Prophet so much they think Prophet is controlling the whole universe and he knows everything happened in the past and the things to be happened in the future. This is not correct; this is not Islam.”

“In Islam, Prophet deserves to be of course respected. But he is a human being. He knows only when Allah God tells him or told him to tell us; what is delivered in the Qur’an; what are delivered in his speeches; but the future Allah knows only. Only God knows what is going to happen. And all the things that the Prophet told us about what are going to happen; because Allah taught him to tell us that. But more than this he does not know. So worship does not go to the Prophet at all. Worship goes only to Allah. That’s it. Of course, we have all the respect and love for the Prophet (peace be upon him) more than ourselves and more than again our own children,” explained Dr. al-Dubayan the second relation with the Prophet in the message of balance.

The Message of Balance:
Third Relation with People
The third relation is with people; with the society. After mentioning and explaining the first two relations in the message of Balance, ICC chief talked about the third relation with people, with society. He mentioned, “The third relation is with people; with the society.  There are, of course, values; values must be there; then we talk about manners; we talk about good behaviours, we talk about being honest with people; we talk about not chatting; not lying; doing the best to get the benefit of all your actions; to be just and fair; actually to do justice to everybody. The Qur’an says: if you want to deliver testimony or something, for example, in a court; then you have to be fair even if the other party is actually one of your family. Then you don’t tell lie because he supports your mum, your dad or your sister. You have to tell the truth; even if it is against yourself. Because this is the truth and because you have to be fair and just with people.”

The Message of Balance:
Fourth Relation with Nature
The fourth relation is with nature, with everything around you - forests, seas everything all natural resources. Dr. al-Dubayan then mentioned about the fourth relation with nature, with everything around you I forests, seas everything natural resources. He said, “Islam forbids wasting. Wasting things is not allowed in Islam. Some Muslims forget sometimes; they even do not know - wasting thing, wasting water; wasting food; killing things which you do not need; destroying for example killing birds just like feasts or animals or going without need to eat - this is also not allowed in Islam. This is some kind of destruction of nature which is also forbidden in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told us: if you kill one single tiny bird without any need, this bird is going to ask on the Day of Judgement, why you killed him. Did you need to eat or just to finish the life of this creature which is not allowed.”

“The Prophet himself was telling us, ‘don’t waste water even if you live exactly on the bank of a river. If your house is somewhere very close to a river, don’t waste its water; of course if you are very close to river you will never think of wasting of water; because water is there. It is running in front of your door. You don’t care for this; but the Prophet was telling thus, don’t waste water. You have to protect natural resources whatever they are and wherever they are. This is very very important. So those people who go to a restaurant; they order lots of foods and they do not eat it; they just eat a little bit and the rest of it throw it in the bin. This is actually daily practice some people actually do this. This is haram, this is not allowed in Islam. It is really wrong; something wrong; Muslims should not do it. You should order something to eat  or at least give it to someone to eat. But don’t throw it; don’t throw food; give it to animal or somebody. I like some people they take bread to feed people; to chicken or duck in the Hyde Park or any other park. Because they believe actually this is a kind of charity; giving to this animal or bird,” explained Dr. al-Dubayan the fourth relation with nature in the message of Balance. In this connection, he mentioned about the wastage of water, of food and the unnecessary killing of birds or animals.

The Fifth Characteristic of Islam:
Manners and Ethics
The fifth characteristic is manners or ethics in Islam. Islam taught the message of ethics or manners to us. While talking about the fifth characteristic of Islam, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned about Ethics or manners. He said, “Ethics and manners are very very important in Islam. Sometimes unfortunately is forgotten. Being honest with people; being grateful to people to those who help you; being merciful to children; with women; with your neighbours; doing good for everybody; these are all the manners that Islam is asking you always to be like that. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Islam is not only about how many times you pray or about your fasting; or you go to Makkah for Hajj. It is also about how you behave yourself. In another Hadith, the Prophet is saying: Allah does not look at your properties, money, wealth you have; but Allah looks at your heart. And He also sees how much you feed and Taqwa and good manners you have carrying in your heart. This is the most important. This is what is working. Don’t working on your properties, or being handsome or beautiful or not; this is something outside the scale at all.”

Islam also asks for doing charity
Dr. al-Dubayan then mentioned about charity. He said, “Giving charity is something Islam is asking to do. Doing something to your parents; Mum is the first one in the Muslim life, then Dad comes after, then of course sisters, brothers everybody then to neighbours or relatives; then everyone. So now, for example, Zakat. Zakat is an annual charity. When Muslims give Zakat, he starts with his family; if you have cousins or sister or brother who is poor to start to give him; if you don’t have anybody poor in your family, then you go to the people around you; your neighbours; your friends; then if you don’t have anybody who is in need; then you go to the people even you don’t know those you give him. If you do not know anybody; you give to the charity. The charity will do for you. They will give it to any person in need of this.”


Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Interfaith Symposium Countering Fear and Rise of Discrimination

Interfaith Symposium Countering Fear and the Rise of Discrimination Hate Speech and Hate Crimes in the UK

Dr. Mozammel Haque

“One conviction was clearly articulated here today and the International Dialogue Centre advocates this conviction as well. No religion tolerates violence, discrimination, or prejudice in its name. On the contrary we are motivated by the conviction that religion is, and must be, part of the solution,” said Mr. Fahad AbualNasr, Director General of the KAICIID, at his closing speech at the One-day International Interfaith Symposium Countering Fear and the Rise of Discrimination, Hate Speech and Hate Crimes in the UK, which was organised by the Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC), London in cooperation with the Vienna-based KAICIID (King Abdullah International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue), held at the Conference Library Hall of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London, on Thursday, 9th of November, 2017.

There were four sessions besides the Opening and Closing sessions. Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, addressed the Opening Session. After his Opening address, the Symposium started.

Opening speech of Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan
Dr. Ahmed al-Dubayan in his Opening Speech, addressed the gathering including the diplomats, representatives from different embassies and religious leaders by saying, “Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Assalamualaikum wa Rahmatullahe wa Barakatuhu, peace be upon all of you. It is a great honour and privilege for us, here to have together this symposium with you which is very very important.”

He expressed his deep thanks to the Vienna-based KAICIID (King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue) for Interfaith Dialogue for their really continuous works throughout the world really to have more environment for interfaith for better understanding for dialogue and their activities are really remarkable and their works may be seen in many countries.

Subject or Topic of the Symposium
And its importance
Speaking about the subject or topic to be discussed today, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned, “Today’s subject or topic which we are going to discuss about and we have many experts, speakers to discuss this, is very very important. It is about many phenomena around us; one of them is Islamophobia, one of them is hate crimes; are they rising or not, and why? And what is the solution? And many other issues; such as: what are the roles of religious leaders, how can we expect from religion really to be a factor for better understanding; not a factor of misunderstanding; among our people.”

Dr. al-Dubayan also said, “Very important also today because the subject we are talking about today is really related to the life of societies everywhere in the world; because we have religions everywhere in the world. We have different communities everywhere in the world. It is also important because it is really related and touches the future. It is important because it is also related to the youth in our communities in the societies.”

Modern technology and the digital technology
Speaking about the modern technology and the digital technology and how it will remove the borders of knowledge among the societies, Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan mentioned, “Interfaith today is very very important kind of activity. We believe also after this actually the removal of borders of knowledge among the societies within the modern technology, the digital technology. We expect this much of knowledge about others will bring better understanding than differentiation.”

All Religions call for peace and harmony
Speaking about the messages of all religions, the ICC chief maintained, “Religions, all of them of course in their messages call for peace, call for harmony, in one society or different societies; but what we see sometimes is really exactly the opposite. Religions sometimes are used to hate other people or interpreted sometimes to build orders among communities among societies. Now we have new phenomenon where we need more efforts not only from religious leaders, but we need from sociologists, from politicians also; and from religious leaders and any expert who have any knowledge in this field.”

Stereotypes in communities
Speaking about kind of stereotypes in communities, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned, “We have to really talk about this stereotype that is every community or every people around the world have this kind of stereotypes which of course build through sometimes decades, sometimes even from centuries, like about the old image of Islam in Europe in the old literature especially after the Middle Ages. All these stereotypes must be discussed and we have to really have room to discuss this; to talk about how to educate people and how we study this to bring harmony and peace for everyone.”

Issue of Identity
Speaking about the issue of identity, the ICC Director General said, “The issue of identity is very very important now and I myself think it is really one of the vital issues which may be affect even what we see about the youth when they go to be radical; I think this is one of the manifestations of the issue of the identity. If the person does not belong to the society or feels that he or she does not belong to a society where they live then this is really a problem; that means they are really go to too radical against the society whom they don’t belong.”

“Many things of course they are all related together; as I said sociology is there; religion is there; politics is there and many things are there and management is there sometimes. That’s why we have this symposium together,” said Dr. Al-Dubayan and added, “And that’s why, ladies and gentlemen, you are here today to discuss and talk about this. We have many experts talking today; we have also many penallists going to talk here. They are people of experts, either they work in this field; either they work in religious field or they have made studies about some of these phenomena I have just talked about.”

Concluding his Opening Address, Dr. Al-Dubayan thanks everybody on behalf of the Islamic Cultural Centre as well on behalf of KAICIID. He said, “On behalf of the Islamic Cultural Centre and of course on behalf of KAICIID I would like to welcome you and thank you so much for coming today and being with us today and I am sure, ladies and gentlemen, it is very important. That’s why we open our hearts and then we talk about this. If leaders of the society do not put their hands together I don’t think there will be solution for the future or in the future.”

Session 1: Identifying familiar patterns and situational differences in the UK
The topic of the First session was: Identifying familiar patterns and the situational differences in the UK: Fear and the Rise of Discrimination, Hate Speech and Hate Crimes in the UK. In this session, following questions were looked into and discussed:

-          Is it true that hate speech and hate crime is on the rise? How is it manifested, in which shapes and forms?
-          What, according to your community, have been the main drivers of fear? Towards whom?
-          How has religion, ethnicity or national origin been used to foster fear, feelings of superiority in the lead up to the increase of incidents?
-          How has religion been misused to justify discrimination and/or violence in a broad sense and in the UK?

This session was moderated by Renata Nelson, Assistant to the Senior Advisor, KAICIID and the Panellists were Dr. Sayyed Ataollah Mohajerani, Religious Researcher and Writer; Reverend Bonnie Evans-Hills, Dioceson Interfaith Advisor, At Albans, Priest in Charge, Luton; Rev. Alexander Goldberg, Chaplain of Surrey, International Advisor and Director of Programmes University in Surrey and Aysha Esakji, UK the Home Office Counter Extremism.

There was a break for prayer and then the Session 2 started.

Session 2: Role of Religious Leaders and Establishments in Countering Fear and the Rise of Discrimination, Hate Speech and Hate Crimes in the UK
The topic of Session 2 was: The Role of Religious Leaders and Establishments in Countering Fear and the Rise of Discrimination, Hate Speech and Hate Crimes in the UK. Taking into account the background of the increase in hate speech/crimes in the UK, as well as the recent terrorist attacks:  the following points were looked into for discussion:
-          What are the potential causes within your own community that have led to discriminatory speech/actions or event hate speech/crimes?
-          How religious leaders and religious institutions in the UK do to counter these actions?
-          What can religious leaders and religious institutions do to try to address the drivers of these feelings and actions?
-          What are the responsibilities of the faith community, civil society more broadly, as well as the individual believer in countering hate speech/crimes? How?

In this Session 2, the moderator was Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Senior Advisor, KAICIID and the Panellists were The Archbishop Gregorios of Thyatriara and Great Britain; Rev. Mark Poulson, Secretary for Inter-Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury and National Inter-Religious Affairs Adviser for the Church of England; Bhia Sahib Mohinder Singh, Chairman of the Nishkam Group of Charitable Organisations; and Sheikh Dr. Isa Jahangir, the Principal of Islamic College.

There was a lunch break and Prayer time. After that, the Symposium started again.

Session 3: Fostering Social Cohesion
After Lunch and Prayer, the Session 3 on Social Cohesion started, the moderator was Ahmed Shaheed, special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief. This session was going to look into the following:
-          What measures can be taken to build bridges across the gaps that have been created by Brexit, the conflicts abroad, religious extremism, etc?
-          What is needed in your community to support these measures?
-          Who is needed to support these measures?
-          How can we ensure that the most affected communities in the UK benefit from such measures?

Among the speakers in the panel of this session were Commander David Stringer, Metropolitan Police; Ven. Mahinda Deegalle, Professor of Religions, Philosophies and Ethics, College of Liberal Arts, Bath Spa University; Iman Abou Atta, Director of TellMAMA; Krish Raval, Director of Faith in Leadership and the Senior Faith Leadership Programme run in partnership with the University of Cambridge Divinity School programme.

Iman Abou Atta
While speaking in the session, Iman Abou Atta spoke about awareness, multiple factors played in the hate crime. She mentioned majority of the attacks are on the street; physical assault, following Brexit; holistic approach to find out – south Asian background, Turkish women and also Jewish heritage. Reasons are hatred and intolerance.

She said they are working in partnership with police forces; we try to match our data Muslim community and security forces. She also mentioned about backlash internationally terrorist activities – she said we have direct contact with police forces;
She also mentioned younger generation is often attacked; they are the victims.

Summing up: Documentation; outreach in terms of building bridges; trying to facilitate accountability; working with the police; multiple forms and multiple platforms.

Commander David Stringer, Metropolitan Police
Commander Stringer gave statistical figure of current hate crime in London. He said there is rise in hate crime after Brexit. He mentioned British crime services says actual level rising; every kind of hate crime is rising.

He also mentioned women are unreasonably target because they are clearly visible.
Speaking about how to deal with that, he mentioned Criminal Prosecutor Service (CPS) charges. People knew now they will be liable to have significant charges and punishment.

Summing up: Importance of solidarity; universality of values; human rights/equality framework; response to the aftermath and interfaith and intrafaith activities.

Krish Raval, Director of Faith in Leadership
Krish Raval said Xenophobia rise after Brexit; He mentioned to bring people together; to bring forth faith leaders together. He said we encourage pluralism; our answers are to be good; go deep; deep religious;

Summing up: Deep faith is better than shallow faith. Understanding the other faith.

Ven. Mahinda Deegalle, Professor of Religions, Philosophies and Ethics
Mahinda talked about Buddhism and Buddhist community. He mentioned Buddhist community in the United Kingdom is a tiny community; very few people; few temples – Sri Lankan temple.

He said important idea about media came out today but he mentioned media is full of religion in one way or other. When talking about what the religious leaders should do; he said feed the media with right and proper information.

He again said people emphasized the importance of mother. He said religious teachers cannot teach the young people; he emphasized on the importance of the role of parents, mother and father.

Talking about young generation, he said: ask the young participants in the meeting; we are not successful in reaching out to them. Then he talked about alienation.

Summing up: Media is responsible but we have the responsibility. Character forming; Alienation – community.

Session 4: Closing Session
Closing Address by Fahad Abualnasr
Fahad Abualnasr, Director General of KAICIID gave the closing speech. In his closing address on Countering Fear and the Rise of Discrimination, Hate Speech and Hate Crimes in the United Kingdom, he said, we have all heard today, we share a commitment to champion policies that help citizens appreciate diversity as a beneficial pillar of a robust and resilient society.

Speaking about the role The Islamic Cultural Centre London and the International Dialogue Centre in Vienna are playing, Mr. Fahad said these two institutions place the “the greatest importance on inclusive dialogue. Today’s forum has been enriched by the active participation of religious community leaders, representatives of the Metropolitan Police, the Home Office, the academic community and civil society.”

Xenophobia is growing
Mr. Fahad mentioned today’s dialogue revealed plainly that xenophobia is growing. Xenophobia diminishes the rights and the prosperity of citizens in Europe as well in some other parts of the world. This xenophobia is expressed in prejudice against minorities, including religious minorities. In certain cases, here in Europe, religious minorities face discrimination.

Report says at least 25% of the Muslims
surveyed faced daily discrimination
Mr. Fahad also mentioned, “Some forms of religious prejudice are monitored by European Institutions such as the Fundamental Rights Agency. The Agency’s surveys show that some religious minorities in Europe report that they avoid religious events or sites because they fear for their safety. At least 25% of the Muslims surveyed by the Agency faced daily discrimination in the past year. The reported discrimination occurs on the street and in job interviews.”

“Research shows that if we tolerate a public discourse that divides citizens into groups, into ‘us’ verses ‘them’ based on skin colour, religion or ethnicity, then we will harvest conflict and greater prejudice,” he said.

KAICIID promotes dialogue
Mr. Fahad also talked about the KAICIID. He said, “At the International Dialogue Centre, we promote dialogue that addresses existing prejudice and stereotyping. The Centre’s multi-religious Board includes representatives of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Judaism. Inclusivity and diversity is at the heart of our identity. The Centre’s interreligious and intergovernmental structure fosters constructive, equal cooperation between religious communities and governments.”

Works of KAICIID
Speaking about the works of the KAICIID, Mr. Fahad mentioned, “We work in four conflict regions in Africa and Asia. We also pilot a project to support the integration of people seeking refuge in Austria to support the people seeking refuge in Europe. Their integration means that religious and cultural identities will be part of coming together with their host countries.”

“Integration is a two-way process between newly arrived and established citizens. In this program, we train women with a migration history to support newly arrived women and girls in pursuing their integration proactively. We will also support the interreligious education of young people seeking refuge. In this work, dialogue helps both sides, the new and the established citizens, acquire a full and accurate understanding of the other,” he explained.

Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors
Speaking about their Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors, Mr. Fahad mentioned, “Together with our partners, the UN Office on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect, the World Council of Churches, and the Network of Religious and Traditional Peacemakers we are in the midst of implementing the Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actor to Prevent Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes.”

Mr. Fahad said, “We have been involved in the Action Plan since its inception in Fez in 2015. It is a remarkable undertaking, because it is the international community’s first initiative that creates a coalition of religious, governmental, intergovernmental, and civil society organizations to prevent and stop incitement.”

KAICIID’s programmes in the Arab world
Talking about some of the programmes in the Arab world, Mr. Fahad briefly mentioned those programmes which may offer good practices in approaching European challenges. He said, “For instance, we support religious educators in institutionalizing interreligious dialogue in the training of future religious leaders. We help facilitate the network with key Christian and Muslim religious higher education institutions in the Arab region to jointly formulate a curriculum to train future religious leaders to use interreligious dialogue. And we are currently training more than 400 young religious leaders to utilize social media to create a dialogue that pushes back against hate speech online.”

Religion is, and must be, part of
the solution – Mr. Fahad
Mr. Fahad also said, “One conviction was clearly articulated here today and the International Dialogue Centre advocates this conviction as well. No religion tolerates violence, discrimination, or prejudice in its name. On the contrary we are motivated by the conviction that religion is, and must be, part of the solution.”

In conclusion, Director General of KAICIID said, “We need to invest in building the capacity of religious community leaders, educators, policy makers and civil society to correct stereotypes and combat prejudice. This is an ethical commitment. It is a commitment to build resilience and respect to build an inclusive, peaceful future.”