‘Wrong perception of Islam in UK big challenge for Muslims’
* UKIM chief says convincing non-Muslims Islam is religion of peace and harmony
By Asad Farooq
KARACHI: The core challenge that Muslim community is facing at the United Kingdom was the wrong perception of the Islam prevalent among British and other communities,” said United Kingdom Islamic Mission (UKIM) chief Dr Zahid Pervez.
Dr Pervez, who was recently on a visit to Pakistan, said this while exclusively talking to Daily Times, at a local hotel.
He said, “To combat the issue, we availed all chances to interact other communities on various dialogue forums so as to convince them that the Islam is a religion of peace and harmony, and we got very positive impacts of measures in that direction. He said that Muslim community was playing a vital role in the UK. They were contributing in business, services sector and even armed and law enforcement agencies.
Talking about the situation, he said that during last decade the situations for Muslims in Western world, including the UK, took several turns. Describing his viewpoint, he continued that in pre 9/11 scenario, Muslims were living in the UK with peace, prosperity and ideal relations with their British inhabitants. “Soon after the incident, a storm of anti-Muslim sentiments tensed the situations. Muslims were targeted with hatred and even on various occasions, Sikhs were beaten up due to their beards. “At that time, the British government came forward and supported Muslims and provided them with maximum protection till 7/7 banged,” he said adding that in post 7/7 situation, the government started to doubting Muslims, their mosques and community centres were started to be monitored. “At that time several lobbies, working as stakeholders of the society appeared jointly against the Islam and Muslims.”
Shedding light on the reasons behind that situation, he said that unawareness of various segments about the Islam, pressed them to assume that the rise of the Islam is tantamount to their fall. There were a number of movements and lobbies, including some radical minority among Christians, Jewish lobby, Feminist groups, communists, and Sikhs & Hindu activists groups, which feared that if Islam was strengthened, Muslims would influence in foreign policy and other national and international issues. He said that these segments, particularly Jewish lobby, had a significant influence in media, which played a very negative role in rising differences between Muslims and other communities, instead of bridging these gaps. “It was witnessed several times that media, particularly electronic, deliberately exaggerated and manipulated the situations,” he added.
“Due to the reasons, wrong concepts about Islam raised again, and the movements of extremism like English Defense Leagues got influence in the society,” he said, adding that at that times on various occasions, youth groups of both sides were about to clash with each other but timely interruption of Muslim and Christian religious clerics controlled the situation. At that times, Christian religious clerics overwhelmingly cooperated with us, he said while appreciating the role of Christian religious clerics.
When asked about the work of UKIM in the UK, he said that they work in three categories, first one was ‘Dawa’ or preaching, under which we approach Muslims and other people, including professionals, through our personal contacts to tell them that the Islam is a religion of peace, and this is our first priority. Our second priority was ‘Tarbia’ or development of moral character of our members under which we try our level best to nurture moral values in their personality, he said.
He said that our third significant priority was services sector in the UK. “We are trying to highlight the social aspects of the Islam through supporting single parents, senior citizens and students,” he said, adding that they pay special attention to their youngsters as they were transacting their work to upcoming generations.
Shearing his experiences in regard with the work of UKIM, he said that it was realised that Muslims were intellectually weak. To meet the deficiency, we focused in this dimension, we invited Christian religious clerics and media personality to out mosques and Jumma prayers ceremonies to tell them that the Islam preaches love, not bloodshed, we interacted with them and held dialogues with them. Such dialogues always helped us to naturalise the tense situations.
He said: “Despite all these challenges, we are trying to unite Muslims, besides combating with an stereotype image of the Islam portrayed among masses by the Western media under a pre-planned conspiracy.
Commenting on the overall position of Muslim Umma across the globe, he said that whatever going on was natural. “Conspiracies are being hatched against Muslims and they were targeted, because some international powers, particularly the United States were afraid of the Islam, however, in his opinion, the situation will become normal, when the world comes to know about the reality of Islam.
He termed it as childish behavior at the international level. “The government of the US was creating problems for its upcoming generations as the results of its doing would surfaced in near future and the offspring of the US nation would pay for the deeds of their seniors in the form of financial, environmental and diplomatic crises,” he said and added that the behavior would soon compel them towards diplomatic solitary at international level.
Dr Pervez further said while talking about Islamic block that Muslims in the UK were directly affected with what happens in Pakistan and other Islamic countries. He was of the view that genuine Islamisation of Pakistan and Afghanistan, which converts the countries into Islamic welfare state, would leave very positive impacts on Muslims across the globe including the UK. He said: “Ongoing era is the time of media, which can play a significant role in regard with opinion making.” To a question, he said that Pakistani media could also play an important role for the Muslim community in the UK.
“The UK is our home. The Muslim Diaspora in the UK has two options, either to go back or to torch their boats, so we have decided to follow the footprints of Tariq Bin Zyad. Our next generation will win people to Islam,” Dr Pervez concluded.