The First Mosque in the Channel Islands

June 3, 2017

The Channel Islands are a cluster of islands off the coast of France in the English Channel. Jersey is only 9 miles long and 5 miles wide but is the biggest island in the Channel Islands. When I accepted the opportunity to work in Jersey for a 6 month placement, it had not occurred to me to research if there was a mosque on the island.

However, during my first week I was starting to miss praying in congregation so I began researching if there were any mosques in Jersey. There was an article by the BBC in November 2013 stating that there were plans to convert a church into a mosque. However, I couldn’t find any further information about the mosque. Therefore, I was starting to wonder if the plans had fallen through due to local opposition or due to a lack of funds.

In a last ditch attempt to find a place of prayer, I went to a Bangladeshi restaurant and asked if there were any mosques nearby. To my amazement, the waiter told me that was a mosque just around the corner from the restaurant! I walked down narrow streets with terrace houses on either side. At the end of Poonah Road I could see an imposing building with elaborate gold colour decorative features around the windows. This building was different from the other properties in the area.

I walked to the front of this building and was overwhelmed by the height and beauty of the structure. There was a large square porch which had a flat roof that was resting on four circular columns. These columns were decorated in a Greek style and painted turquoise. There were two large windows either side of the porch and three identical windows above the porch. Two rectangular columns rose along the edge of the facade. “Methodist Church” was engraved in the centre directly above the edge columns. Resting above the edge columns was an acute isosceles triangle. The triangle had a white circle in the centre with two small triangles either side. The facade had a lovely symmetry and had features which bared resemblance to the Acropolis in Athens.

Front view of the mosque

I entered the building and came across a large hall with a wooden floor. There was a raised platform at the front of the hall and a seating balcony overlooking the first floor. You could also see the organs in the corners of the second floor which would have been played during a Sunday Church service. At this point I was still sceptical if this building was actually a mosque. However, some brothers walked in and directed me to the prayer area which was to the rear of the main hall.

Upon witnessing the prayer area, my spirits were lifted. There was a traditional red patterned carpet and Arabic calligraphy on the front wall. It was a simple room but it was beautiful because it was an unexpected surprise. There were also several book shelves which displayed Qurans and pamphlets about Islam.

Prayer area where the Sunday School used to be

History of the building

Methodists are a sect of Christianity from within the Church of England. Hugh Bourne and William Clowes in Staffordshire founded the Primitive Methodist branch in 1809. They arrived in Jersey in 1823 and built a church in 1839 on Aquila Road which served as their main base. The church was originally called the Primitive Methodist Chapel.1

Worshipers outside the church in 1914-2

In 1857 a Sunday School was built to the back of the Church. It is a rectangular shaped building and has a separate entrance from the side of the building. The Church was renamed Aquila Road Methodist Church. From the 1970s there was a steady decline of the Methodist movement in Jersey. The Aquila Road Methodist Church amalgamated with another church in the area in 1992.3

In 2009, the owner of the building allowed the Muslim community to use the top floor for Jummah prayers. In 2012 the building was put up for sale and the Muslim community gained support from the locals to purchase the building and convert it into a mosque. The building when brought was in a poor state; the roof and windows were leaking, ivy had grown on one side of the exterior wall, and the plaster of the interior walls was crumbling away.

It took nearly 2 years for the building to be renovated which included wudu (ablution) facilities on both floors and a kitchen on the first floor to use for community events. The new roof and windows made the building water tight. The exterior building was originally pink with gold columns. However, it was repainted in cream with turquoise columns and gold for the ornate features around the windows. The building is more appealing to the observer and the blend of colours used adds elegance to the building.

Not just a place to pray

The mosque is used so the 5 daily prayers can be prayed in congregation. The mosque is attended by brothers from all around the world including Madeira, Mauritius, Trinidad and Guinea-Bissau. This demonstrates that Islam is a global religion. The bottom floor is for the brothers and top floor for the sisters. It is also used as a madrasa every Sundays for the children. They learn things such as the etiquette of eating, Arabic and stories of the Prophets.

The mosque also holds open days where they invite non-Muslims and the wider community to visit the mosque. There are also regular social events such as bowling which bring the Muslim community together. This mosque is not just a place for prayer; it acts as a community centre and provides a platform for the Muslims to grow together, both socially and spiritually.

If you are visiting Jersey, then visiting this mosque should be high on the list of things to see. This building is historic because it is the first ever mosque in the Channel Islands. The Muslim community have restored the once derelict Church which has stood in Jersey for over 150 years.  They have maintained the character of the building and are using it for its intended purpose; to glorify and praise God.

 

 

References

1- Jeremy Lake, Jersey Heritage Trust, Methodist Chapels in Jersey: History and Context

2-http://myprimitivemethodists.org.uk/page_id__168_path__0p2p61p.aspx

3-http://www.methodistcentre.je/about-us/history-st-helier-methodist-centre/

Ramadan 2015- The Blessed Month

June 17, 2015

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar. Muslims fast for the entire month of Ramadan. Muslims are obliged to abstain from all food, drink, use of tobacco, and marital relations from dawn till sunset. However, that is merely the physical component of the fast; the spiritual aspects of the fast include refraining from gossiping, lying, slandering and all traits of bad character.

Dates- the traditional food to break the fast

Dates- the traditional food to break the fast

What is the purpose of fasting for the whole month?

A fasting person’s aim is to attain purity of thought and action. The act of fasting redirects the hearts away from worldly mundane activities, towards God – the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth.

The month of Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, recitation of the Qur’an, remembering God, endurance and self-discipline. It is a month of training, training the soul and body to be able to exercise self-restraint. The fasting Muslim is continuously tied with rules and regulations for an entire month and then released for eleven months to see whether the training has been adequate and effective.

What Ramadan means for me?

Ramadan is a very exciting time for me. It is an opportunity for me to become closer to my family and relatives as we share the joyous experience of this month together. It also gives me time to reflect on how fortunate I am. Ramadan is based on the Lunar calendar, therefore the month moves back approximately ten days every year. This year Ramadan starts on 18th June which means the fast will be much longer this year than it has been for the previous years. I look forward to the challenge. I believe Ramadan will be beneficial for me and make me a better person.

What happens after Ramadan?

After the month of Ramadan has ended Muslims celebrate the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr.  This is like Christmas for Muslims.  It is a day where Muslims can reward themselves for fasting for the entire month. There is a special Eid prayer so Muslims can thank God. Then Muslims go to their relatives and friends houses to eat lots of food!

Happy Ramadan to everyone

World War 1- The war to end all wars?

September 4, 2014

The 4th August 2014 marked 100 years since the start of World War 1 (WW1). It was a war that led to the loss of approximately 10 million lives and a further 20 million people were injured. It was supposed to be “the war that ends all wars”; however it was only 31 years since the end of WW1 that World War 2 (WW2) began.

WW1 lasted 4 years and a truce was finally signed on 11th November 1918 between Germany and the allies, which ended the bloody war that lasted far longer than anyone had anticipated. The deal that was signed is known as the Armistice of Compiègne.1 It signified the end of the war and the date is commemorated every year on 11th November. Some of us call the day ‘remembrance day’ whilst others might call it ‘armistice day’. The day is to remember those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

It is common for people to wear the poppy to remember the dead. The poppy was the first flower to grow on the churned up earth of soldier’s graves in Flanders, a region of Belgium which saw intense fighting and the loss of many lives during WW1. The use of the poppy was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields”, written by Dr John McCrae who witnessed the fields of poppies that appeared on the battlefield of Flanders in 1915.

Poppies which inspired Dr John McCrae to write a poem

Poppies which inspired Dr John McCrae to write the poem “In Flanders Fields”

We even have a two minutes silence at the start of every football ground in England when ‘remembrance day’ is near. The question is why do we not learn from the past if we keep on remembering the horrors and atrocities of WW1 and 2 every year?

It seems like WW1 was not the “war to end all wars” but rather ‘the war that would start more wars’. Countries have only got more advanced in the use of military weapons and spending on the military has also increased since the end WW1.

The use of military weapons were much more advance by the time WW2 began in 1939. This was the war which led to the deaths of over 50 million people and was the first time nuclear weapons were used against civilians.

It is estimated that 51 million people have lost their lives due to war from 1945 to 2000.1 Also since the end of WW2 in 1945, 9 countries have developed nuclear weapons.2 There is probably enough weapons to destroy the world! Why have we not learned from WW1 and why are countries continuing to develop weapons and spend on the military?

I recall a scene from Terminator 2 that I will always remember. It is the scene of two children playing with toy guns. John Connor observes the kids and says to the Terminator “We’re not gonna make it, are we? People, I mean.” The Terminator replies in his monotone voice:

“It’s in your nature to destroy yourselves.”

Is the Terminator right in his judgement about humans? In the movie, The Planet of the Apes, The apes have the rule that ‘ape shall not kill ape’ but it appears that humans have the rule ‘human can kill human.’

It is true that God has made human beings imperfect but in the Quran it says that God has “created human beings in the best of forms…” (Quran Chapter 95, verse 4). So would the best creation made by God have the nature to destroy itself?

If God knew that humans would destroy themselves, then there would be little point in creating them in the first place. Humans have been created to feel pain, anger and envy but have also been programmed to feel love, compassion and empathy.

It is a blessing that God has given the humans such an abundance of emotions but if they are not regulated, the consequences could be disastrous. Since the beginning of time, it has been religion that has been used as a tool and a source of guidance for humans to control their emotions and become law abiding citizens.

It is unfortunate that a minority of humans have distorted the religion to wage wars and cause friction amongst people. However, I believe that humans need to turn back to religion to find a solution to the problems we face.

The Abrahamic religions teach us a moral code of conduct to govern our lives by: they teach us to respect and care for people, feed the poor and help those who need it. Telling the truth and being honest are other characteristics which the religions try to instil in their followers. However, one teaching which I believe is the solution to stop the endless bloodshed is the practice of forgiveness.

Wars are only started when somebody is provoked into a response. One of the catalyst of WW1 was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, whilst the start of the infamous Vietnam war was the fear of communism spreading to the country. The similitude of how a war starts is the lighting of a match. The match could easily be extinguished but one side is consumed with revenge and the match ignites a small flame which rapidly spreads into a huge fire.

Many of the Prophets such as Prophet Muhammed were often persecuted and ridiculed by the community. However, he always forgave those who treated him badly and always showed kind behaviour towards them. He had the opinion that love could foil hatred and aggression could be won over by forgiveness.

In fact the simple act of forgiveness and showing kindness was one of the reasons why many of the enemies of the Prophet actually converted to Islam.

The Quran makes it clear that good actions are necessary to battle evil actions:

Good and evil are not alike. Repel evil with what is better. Then he, between whom and you there was hatred will become as though he was a close friend.” (Quran 41:34)

 

Forgiving someone who has killed your loved ones is extremely hard. The great warrior Saladin has warned us to:

“Beware if bloodshed…for spilled blood never sleeps..Never nourish ill feeling toward any man, for death spares none.” 4

This is a stark reminder that once the killings start, it won’t stop unless and it could escalate into more deaths. Therefore, forgiveness is the only option to prevent further killings. One solution could be to destroy all the weapons in the world but that is unlikely.

In conclusion, it is a shame that the human race hasn’t learnt from the lesson of WW1. 100 years since the beginning of WW1, wars are still raging on around the world. We can choose to hate and destroy ourselves but I believe the human race can stay alive by practicing love and forgiveness to its enemies. It might be impossible but this is the only way for the human race to survive.

May God place forgiveness in people’s hearts and may man lay down its weapons for the sake of peace.

Amen

 

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References

 

Fifteen21- A revolutionary Muslim youth magazine

February 2, 2014

Fifteen21 is an exciting new lifestyle magazine for the 11+ age group to young adults. The magazine covers a broad spectrum of topics from the spiritual, the practical and the intellectual.

Fifteen21 inspires young Muslims to be proud of their British Muslim identity. Fifteen21 aims to reconcile both Muslim and British identity.

The name Fifteen21 is derived from both the 15th century of the Islamic Hijri year and the 21st Century of the modern era.

The magazine is available online and has recently published its 17th Issue. It has approximately 30,000 views of the website each month.

Front cover of issue 16

Front cover of issue 16

The magazine doesn’t just tell stories about the Prophets (pbut) but also focuses on those issues that are affecting the youth living in the UK. Issues such as eating disorders, depression, substance abuse and bullying. The issues are discussed and advice is offered on how to overcome them. It is revolutionary magazine which engages the youth and provides a variety of articles that they can benefit from.

I am privileged to be part of the magazine since its first issue. I write about ‘mosques around the world’ in the magazine. My articles demonstrate that Islam is not just contained with the Arab lands. Rather, Islam is a global religion and there are beautiful mosques in countries such as Kazakhstan and China.

In the magazine there is also a book review section, recipes and interviews with prominent Muslims from various backgrounds. There is no other Muslim magazine for the youth that offers so much variety.

So what are you waiting for?

Go to www.fifteen21.com and find out for yourself how amazing the magazine is!

Nelson Mandela – What we can learn from him

December 29, 2013

On the 5th of December 2013, the world mourned the loss of a great man. A man who was influential in ending apartheid in South Africa and was the first democratically elected black president in the same country. His name was Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela or affectionately known by his clan name, Madiba.

mandela02

The legacy of Mandela will live on: a feature length movie about his life is set to be released, innumerable streets around the world are named after him and there is a statue of him in London. There is also a public garden in Millennium Square, Leeds which bears his name. I walked past the gardens last week and wondered if anyone walking past the garden stops to contemplate what we can learn from Mandela? Or are they too busy rushing from one place to another?

There has been a lot of coverage about Mandela and his life in the media. I came across a ‘shortlist’ magazine and read their thoughts on what we can learn from Mandela.  I have used some of the lessons listed in the magazine to compile my own lessons learnt.

1.    Everyone has to die- even the greats

Man can achieve great things but immortality is not one of them. In the Quran it succinctly says:

“Every soul shall taste death” (Chapter 3, verse 185)

It is a reality of life that we will all die one day. Mandela died at the age of 95 which seems quite old but he was deprived of 27 years of his life in jail. Some will die young and others will die old. Mandela achieved a great deal whilst he was on Earth and we should also be striving to leave the world a better place than we found it.

2.    Everyone has their critics

Mandela won many admirers during his long struggle to end apartheid in South Africa but he also encountered critics. One of them was the late Lady Margaret Thatcher who labelled the African National Congress (ANC) which Mandela was as a part of a “typical terrorist organisation.”

She also said: “The ANC and its leader Nelson Mandela have no more claim to be saints or heroes than do the Provisional IRA with their lynch mobs and car bombers.” 

Throughout your life, people will make judgements about you, either good or bad. Everyone has their critics. The Prophets were often ridiculed by their own relatives, it is nothing new to be loved by some and be loathed by others.

Mandela was not affected by the critics and continued in what he believed in. We must also have faith in ourselves and ignore the derision shown by others to succeed.

3.    Education is vital

Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Mandela was a very educated man and attended University. Even whilst in prison he continued his legal education. Some people think school is a waste of time but they couldn’t be so wrong. An education enables a person to have a voice and never allows them to be enslaved by society.

The famous saying “there is no knowledge without power” was once used for the opening of Mortal Kombat games. The saying is similiar to the one used by Mandela:  both power and education are intertwined.

All the leading nations in the world invest heavily in education because they realise its importance in changing the fortunes of the individual and the country. We should seek to get educated and continue to learn. There are Open Universities and part-time courses you can take in almost anything. It is never too late to learn something new.

 4.    Enemies must be embraced

According to the Sky News political editor Adam Boulton: “Mandela had the capacity to understand why people were in the position they were and sympathise with them.

Even though the guards used to abuse Mandela, he learned Afrikaans to speak with them in their language. He subsequently stayed in touch with some of his guards after his release from prison.

In his autobiography, Mandela wrote:

“If you want to make peace with your enemy you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

This is remarkably similiar to a verse in the Quran which says:

“Not equal are the good and the bad response. You shall resort to the one which is better. Thus, the one who used to be your enemy may become your best friend.” (Quran 41: 34)

5.    Hold no grudges

This follows on from embracing your enemies. Mandela once said that resentment is “like drinking poison.”

When Mandela walked out of prison in 1990 after 27 years, he claimed:

“As I walked out the door towards my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I would still be in prison.”

Holding grudges can cause more harm than good. The prophet Muhammed once said:

“Have mercy on those on the earth, and the One in heaven will have mercy on you” [Tirmidhi].

We need to forgive and forget, regardless of how hard it may seem. If we want God to forgive us then we should forgive others.

6.    God still sends down good people

Although it has been over 1,400 years since God send the last Prophet to Earth, good people are still out there and continue to come. Mandela was one of those good people and God willing his work will inspire other people to follow in the path of righteousness.

7.    ‘Shepherds’ make the best leaders

Mandela noticed that the chief of the tribal council meetings in his village of Mvezo “worked like a shepherd… He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realising that all along they are being directed from behind.”

Mandela adopted this shepherd like style when become leader of the ANC and president of South Africa.

It is interesting to note that all the Prophets that God sent down were shepherds at some point in their lives.

We can all be shepherds. A shepherd is anyone who is responsible for the care of another. Like a shepherd, we need to show qualities such as compassion, understanding and patience towards others.

8.    Don’t congratulate yourself too much

Mandela remained modest when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Rather than congratulate himself on receiving the award and talking about how great he was, he dedicated the award to all the people who fought against apartheid. He was determined to keep battling for “a society which recognises that all people are born equal.”

We need to remain humble and never become too arrogant. We need to recognise the efforts of others and continue to improve our character.

There is much we can learn from the life and struggles of Mandela. Role models such as Mandela need to be embraced.

Madiba has gone but he is not forgotten.

Rest in Peace Madiba.

 

The Muslim Holocaust Anniversary

October 13, 2013

11th July 2013 marked the 18 years anniversary when 8000 Muslims were shamefully massacred at Srebrenica in Bosnia. 18 years have passed since Serbian forces entered Srebrenica under the order of Ratko Mladic and committed the worst genocide since the Jewish holocaust. Time has passed but the wounds are still raw, tensions are still high in the country.

What makes the massacre at Srebrenica worse than other crimes is that the area was supposed to be a ‘safe zone,’ The UN in 1993 declared that the town of Srebrenica was a ‘safe zone’ and it was the duty of the UN to protect them. However, in July 1995 the Serbian forces entered the town. The Dutch army whose duty it was to protect the town were ordered to leave the area by the UN. Therefore, leaving the Muslims in the area defenceless against the Serbian forces. The ‘safe zone’ was in fact a danger zone! It was like lambs surrounded by wolfs. The UN has blood on their hands.

The memorial at Srebrenicia

The memorial at Srebrenicia

You would have thought that the massacres of Srebrenica would be the last time there would be ethnic cleansing in the world. Surely the world would not let it happen again? Unfortunately, the world allows ethnic cleansing to continue to this very day. In 1994, two ethnic groups in Rwanda massacred each other and an estimated 500,000 people were killed. More recently since June 2012, the Buddhist majority have been killing the Muslim minority in Burma. It took Aung Sang Suu Kyi a year before she openly criticised the massacres.

So why does the world not learn from its mistakes? Everyone was horrified when they discovered the Jewish holocaust, but the holocaust of different religions and ethnic groups still continue. As human beings we should forbid the wrong and enjoin with the good. We should take guidance from Prophet Muhammad who said in his last sermon;

“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. “

This is a beautiful message that everyone should listen to. Our colour and our ethnicity don’t make us superior to anyone else. Rather our good actions and level of piety is what distinguishes us. Don’t our hearts beat the same and don’t we bleed the same? It is a tragedy that ethnic cleansing still continues.

It is hoped that the world stops and ponders over the 18th anniversary of Srebrenica. It is hoped that they understand why it happened and why it should never happen again. No massacres should be allowed to take place in the world.

God willing, one day the massacres will stop. God only differentiates us by our good actions and piety. It is about time we do the same.

Scriptural Reasoning

June 20, 2013

I attended an interfaith event in the first week of June at Makkah Mosque in Leeds. The event was called scriptural reasoning. People from the Jewish and Christian faith also attended the event. The aim of the event was to read and discuss selected passages from the Torah, Bible and the Quran.

The selected verses from the bible were from chapter 5, from the torah we studied verses from the book of Exodus chapter 22 and 23, and finally from the Quran we studied verses from Chapter 17. One common theme from the all three passages was to do good deeds.

The verse from Chapter 17 of the Quran I liked was;

“Do not follow what you do not know. No doubt, the ear and the eye and the heart all are to be questioned” (17:36)

It applies that we should not blindly follow something. The latter part of the verse refers to judgement day. Muslims believe that on Judgement day their lips will be sealed and their ears, eyes and heart will speak for them. They will be questioned about what they did on this Earth. Did they do good or bad? Everything is recorded so the verse is a warning that everyone will be questioned.

It was interesting in the book of Exodus it talked about not charging interest. In verse 25 it says;

“If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest.”

In Islam, charging interest is also forbidden. Dr Zakir Naik from India says that interest is not allowed because it makes a rich person richer and a poor person poorer.

The Christian text talked about loving your enemies. In verses 43 and 44 it said;

“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

This is very similar to the teachings of Islam where it says in Chapter 41;

“And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.” (41:43)

It teaches that the evil deed should be repelled with a good deed so our enemies may become our good friends. It shows that the religious person needs to lead by example.

The verses that caused much debate within the group was verse 9 from the book of Matthew where it said;

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”

It was datable as to what peacemakers actually meant. In Syria, some countries think that supplying weapons to the rebels will create peace. Whilst other countries think supporting the Government will create peace.

Another verse which caused debate was in the book of Exodus where it says in verse 21;

“Do not ill-treat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”

If God is commanding the Jewish not to oppress the foreigners that why are they oppressing the Palestinians? This was a thought that came into the minds of many of the people attending the event. It shows that the scriptures teach us good things but sometimes the followers don’t always obey them. Humans are not perfect.

In conclusion, by comparing the scriptures we found that the passages are very similar. In addition, you cannot understand a verse by not understanding the context. You cannot take one verse in isolation without reading the full passage. This is an important message since today many people against religion hand pick verses from the holy texts to try and defame the religion.

The culprits behind the Woolwich murder and the recent attacks on mosques by the England Defence League will not succeed to cause hatred within the community. We need to continue to promote harmony within the community and to enhance our understanding of each other to achieve peace.

Page 3- Britain’s favourite page under threat?

June 11, 2013

When you mention the words ‘Page 3’ and ‘The Sun’ to anyone in Britain, they will automatically know what you are talking about.  What is on Page 3 in The Sun newspaper that would make immature boys giggle and elderly women will shake their heads in disapproval? It isn’t that the fact that crossword has been moved from Page 30 to Page 3. Nope it is the fact that young ladies appear on Page 3 wearing nothing.

I am not sure how daily news about the world and sports have anything to do with nude girls? It is an odd feature but has proved very popular during its 44 year reign. Around 10 million people read The Sun which is Britain’s most popular paper. Page 3 has propelled many glamour models to stardom, such as Katie Price.

I was remember when I was young we got coupons to read The Sun for free. Even at that tender age I knew about Page 3. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised when my mum threw the coupons in the bin. Why couldn’t we have got free coupons to read The Independent instead?

I came across a petition online to ‘take the bare boobs out of The Sun.’ The petition was started by Lucy Holmes in the summer of 2012 who was dismayed that the largest female image in The Sun during the Olympics was of a topless girl and not Jessica Enis, who had just won a gold Olympic medal.1

This prompted Lucy to write to the editor of The Sun newspaper, Dominic Mohan. She argued that The Sun was portraying girls as ‘sex objects’ and they were confusing young girls about the family newspaper. Young girls would see their dads reading the paper and see the topless girls and think maybe I should be like that. It could lead to them having low self-esteem and confidence which could result in depression and eating disorders.

Since the petition was started, 104,595 people have signed the petition including several charity groups and organisations such as UK Girlguiding and Respect UK. 88 MPs and several MEPs have also signed the petition. So as the numbers of signature sincrease is Dominic Mohan getting hot under the collar? Is the most loved page in Britain under threat? Well it appears not if the Prime Minister’s comments are anything to go by.

David Cameron was asked about whether Page 3 should be banned. He responded by saying no and it was the parents responsibility to stop their children seeing indecent images. Maybe Mr Cameron is a secret admirer of Page 3? Maybe he hides it from his daughter whilst he drools over the assets of a teenage girl. I hope this isn’t the case but why would he not call for a ban on Page 3? Parents can’t have a 24:7 watch on their children. They need help from the Government to protect their children from seeing indecent images and material.

Lilly Allen says in her song “I’ll take my clothes off; it won’t be shameless cos everyone knows that’s how you get famous. I look at the Sun and look at the Mirror. I know I’m on the right track, I’m on to a winner.”

The singer is right, glamour models are well paid and do get famous. They are made to feel like they are important and doing a great job. When in fact they are harming the image of women around the world. There is a saying that ‘you are what you eat.’ A new saying should be’ you are what you see.’ If you see images of naked girls in your family newspaper, then that will eventually have a negative impact on you. According to figures published by the Home Office, 69,000 females are victims of rape each year in England and Wales.2 In addition, there have been many rapes of young girls and women carried out by high profiled men such as Jimmy Saville.

This is a Christian country and Jesus said But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

In the Quran it tells the believing men and women to “lower your gaze.” In addition it also tells women to cover up their bosoms.

I am sure other religions say similar things. Even an atheist will want women to cover up. It doesn’t make sense why naked teenage girls are in the Sun. Since when were boobs a part of the news? Could you imagine Susanna Reade of the BBC saying “we have breaking news, a girl aged 21 has amazing boobs!” It sounds outrageous doesn’t it and it is ridiculous that Page 3 has been running for 44 years.

It is strange that in this country we are comfortable with seeing a young girl bare her breasts in a paper but get all flustered when we see a women breastfeeding her baby in public! It is also strange that in the wild, the males are always more beautiful than the females. For example, the male duck has a green head and ring on its neck, whilst the female ducks are normally a dull brown colour. However, for humans women are more beautiful than men.The beauty of women is their gift and their curse. Their beauty should not be exploited.

 

Pretty male duck being chased by a female duck

Pretty male duck being chased by a female duck

 

Please back the campaign started by Lucy Holmes and sign the Petition to ‘take the bare boobs out of The Sun.’ Sign now and make a difference:

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/dominic-mohan-take-the-bare-boobs-out-of-the-sun-nomorepage3

 

References

1- http://nomorepage3.org/about/

2-http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2013/jan/11/male-female-rape-statistics-graphic

Wake up and smell the coffee!

June 4, 2013

My friend in sixth form used to say to me “wake up and smell the coffee” whenever he tried explaining a complicated physics question which I didn’t understand. I now think it is time the Muslims is the UK wake up and smell the coffee before it is too late!

The recent killing of solidier Lee Rigby by a muslim convert, Michael Adebolajo has sparked rage all over the country. These cowardly acts by a crazy individual not in the name of Islam has led to an increase in attacks on Muslims. Mr Mughal who runs a project called Tell Mama said after the Woolwich murder there has been “a wave of attacks, harassment, and hate-filled speech against Muslims … an unprecedented number of incidents”, including “a rise in street harassment of Muslims – unprovoked, opportunistic attacks from strangers as Muslims go about their lives”.

There has been a growing tension towards Muslims since the rise of the English Defence League (EDL), but are the Muslims to blame? Here are some statistics;

  • The 7/7 bombers were born and raised in the UK
  • In 2008, the Muslim population represented 12% of the jail population in England and Wales despite making up less than 5% of the population.1
  • Muslims burn the poppies which lead rise to creation of the EDL
  • Muslim gangs rape white girls in Rochdale and other towns

The above statistics are hard to digest but they are true. Why should a country deal with Muslims who are causing trouble in society? It might only be a minority of the total Muslim population that are causing trouble but it might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. If we aren’t careful, all Muslims could be kicked out of this country. You may think this isn’t possible but did you think there would be Muslims gangs raping white girls in the UK? It is time to be wake up and become proactive, rather than reactive.

For a long time now, the Muslims in the UK have been very quiet. We only raise our voices when we get attacked. We live in ghettos, don’t like to mix with non-muslims and blame others for our situation. This may be a generalisation but I am trying to make a point. That the Muslim community isn’t engaged enough in society as it could be. My friend Shafiq Pandor saidThe idea that ‘the West’ is to blame for all the ills of the Ummah is convenient because it absolves Muslims around the world of any responsibility for it.”3

If we stay in our ghettos, not doing anything then we will be left vulnerable. We are sitting ducks, an easy target. What can we do to help our communities? Can we do anything that will improve non-muslims understanding of Islam? What are the 3000 plus mosques in the UK doing?

I believe it is time to wake up and smell the coffee. It is time to be proactive, educate ourselves and engage with the community. Not sure what you can do? Well there are fortunately avenues that you can take. I have listed a few of them below:

  • Educate yourself by reading the free Muslim magazine aimed at the youth and young people. The magazine is packed full of inspirational stories, information about early Muslim scientists and current day Muslim role models. Read now at http://www.fifteen21.com/
  • Start going to your mosque more regularly and engage with the mosque committee. Many times youngsters come up with ideas but they are rarely seen in the mosque. Why should the mosque committee listen to them if they are rarely seen in the mosque? We need to understand the mosque committees do want to make a difference, however they are of a different generation with a very different background to ourselves. It is only by making a presence will we eventually be heard.

 

  • Look out for local events in your area on social network sites. One such event is feeding the homeless in Leeds. Every month the Muslims in Leeds gather outside the Leeds Art Gallery and offer food to the homeless. Get involved.

Muslims in the UK are very fortunate compared to other Muslims living in European countries. We are free to practice our religion, wear what we want and build mosques. I would say that the UK is the best place in Europe for a Muslim to live. However, we need to understand that this is a Christian country. We should respect that and engage with the society. This doesn’t mean we need to get drunk or go to pubs to fit in. There are other ways and methods we can use to get involved with the community.

I end this blog with a verse from the Quran which is repelling the bad with the good:

And not alike are the good and the evil. Repel (evil) with what is best, when lo! He between whom and you was enmity would be as if he were a warm friend. (Quran 41:34)

 

References

1-    http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/index.php/mosques-mean-criminality/

2-    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-17993003

3-    http://www.leedsisoc.com/blog/201305/why-we-muslims-just-dont-get

The lion and the antelope

March 16, 2013

I was recently in London and wandered around the streets, whilst I waited for my coach from Victoria station. I was impressed by the grand Victorian buildings, but what really caught my eye was a statue of a lion chasing its prey at Grosvenor Gardens. The statue was situated in the centre of a ‘park’; in Leeds we could just call it a patch of grass! Benches were placed on opposite sides of the statue, indicating that the designers wanted this statue to be seen.

The intriguing chase

The intriguing chase!

So why was a random statue chosen to become the focal point of Grosvenor Gardens? The agility of the lion and the desperate struggle of the antelope are captured in the statue. In my opinion the statue symbolises the struggle for survival. At some stage in our lives, we are either the lion or antelope. We are either chasing someone or being chased. There is always someone who wants to eat us!

Sitting on the park bench, I could hear and see the rush of people and cars around the park. They are all in a rush to be somewhere, maybe for a meeting or to get home to see the kids. Everyone is in a rush: this is the zeitgeist. We live in the world of fast food restaurants, 4G internet speeds and instant money transfers. The cogs of the world keep on turning and the capitalist drivers keep on demanding more efficiency, and more profits. The drive for efficiency has turned people into robots.

In the madness and the dash from the lion, we sometimes forget the real reason why we are here. In the Quran, God tells us the reason why He created us;

I have not created the jinns and the humans for any purpose except to worship me alone.” (Quran 51:56)

It is a simple task, or so it seems. Numerous prophets have come to deliver the divine message and to preach the simple message of worshipping one God. The one problem is that humans have been made with imperfections and the devil’s main mission is to lead us astray. In the Quran, the devil rejects bowing down to Adam and says the following;

“Remember, this one whom you have honored more than me I shall bring him and most of his offspring under my sway if you will give me respite until the Day of Judgment.” (Quran 17:62)

When I ponder over the above verses, I think about the scene in Constantine when Dectective John Constantine is being raised up to heaven. The devil in his desperation rips out the cancer that is killing the detective, in a last ditch attempt to prevent him from entering heaven. By removing the cancer, the detective lives but he is deprived of reaching heaven for the time being. The scene exemplifies the desire of the devil to destroy mankind.

The antelope represents mankind and the lion is the devil. He is constantly chasing and doing all in his power to mislead mankind. As I sit in silence pondering over the significance of the statue, I am reminded that I have a coach to catch! As I set off for the coach station, I gaze back at the statue; wondering if the lion will devour his prey or the antelope will live for another day?

Keep on our toes and be wary of the predators out there! Give thanks to God and keep on doing good deeds. The more good we do, the less the devil can influence us. Every atom of goodness will be recorded on the day of judgement. Maybe smiling at a stranger or a simply saying “thank you” to the coach diver will be that one deed to tip the weighing scales in favour of paradise?

I end this blog with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson;

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, because you never know how soon it will be too late.”