On Thursday 23rd May 2013, Hyderi Islamic Centre, Streatham held a special interactive programme, open for neighbours and members of the public, in response to the horrific murder that occurred in Woolwich. Panellists included the resident Imam Sheikh Mohammed Abbas Panju, Dr. Sayed Ammar Nakshwani, Cllr Judy Best, Tom Chigbo from Citizens UK and Jonathan Bartley – Chair of St Leonards Safer Neighbourhood.
The event began with strong condemnation of the heinous activity, and reiterated the message that the barbaric actions of a few are not reflective of the beliefs and actions of Islam as a religion. Verses from the Holy Qur’an were looked at, in particular Chapter 5, Verse 32 which states that whosoever takes the life of one, it is as though he has slain all of mankind.
A moment of silence was requested, to honour and remember Drummer Lee Rigby, and all those across the globe who have been killed unjustly. The attendees, in their hundreds, were reminded that the Prophet Muhammad was sent as a mercy to all of mankind, and promoted the message of peace, justice and equality – the core tenets each Muslim lives their life by.
This event coincided with the birth anniversary of the great Muslim leader and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, Ali ibn Abi Talib who once declared: “Remember that people are of two kinds; they are either your brothers in religion or your brothers in mankind.” The presentations from panellists reinforced the commonality of the morals of humanity – irrespective of faith, race or culture – and the pride and patriotism members of the Islamic centre felt at being British Muslims who contributed to civic society.
Jonathan Bartley, in his blog commented “The Centre deserves great credit in showing leadership. Not only did this send an important and unequivocal sign of condemnation…It moved beyond the bland platitudes and simplistic commentary that we have seen in a lot of public debate in the last two days.”
There was diversity in the range of opinions expressed, and a clear message that we need to contribute and engage with public conversation in order to challenge stereotypes and together tackle the issue of terrorism. Dr. Sayed Nakshwani actively encouraged those present to try and look through the lenses of others and stated “We need to be more proactive to ensure the true face of Islam rises.”
Islam lays great importance on community cohesion, and ensuring that Muslims build and maintain positive social and civic relationships with the communities in which they live in. The event ended with a strong reflection from Ali ibn Abi Talib “He who has mercy on creation, the creator will have mercy on him.”