I attended Friday prayers recently in Dundee. Before the prayer a non-Muslim addressed the congregation about a rally which was to happen on the following day by the SDL. As a counter, the local community had organised a day long programme of multicultural activities celebrating their diversity and to vocalise their opposition to the racist and far-right message. I was pleased to see ordinary people taking action into their own hand dictating the type of society they want; an equal, fair and discrimination-free one.
PROFILE: Shaykh Amer has been described by the Sunday herald as one of the Scotland?s most prominent and respected Muslim thinkers. He holds a (LLB) law degree from Strathclyde university and BA (Hons) in Islamic studies from the University of Wales. He spent 10 years studying the Islamic sciences including 6 years with distinguished scholars in the Middle East (Syria and Yemen), gaining him teaching licenses (ijaza) in various Islamic sciences. His main field of interest is primarily Islamic family law; an area in which he has studied in depth having studied all four schools of Islamic jurisprudence. Currently, he is conducting a PhD research on the relationship between Islamic family law and Scots family law. He also has a certificate in counselling skills accredited by COSCA (Counselling & Psychotherapy in Scotland). He is an Islamic family law consultant to a local Scottish law firm and a Family support consultant at Unity Family Services. Part of his role at Unity involves delivering pre-marital and post-marital courses UK wide (www.unityfamily.co.uk/events.html). In 2007 he authored the booklet ?What Islam Really Says About Domestic Abuse? available at (www.unityfamily.co.uk/people.html). He is the author of the Reminder series - a series of short leaflets covering contemporary issues affecting the Muslim Community and wider society (www.the-reminder.co.uk). In 2009 he co-founded the Solas Foundation and with his partner Shaykh Ruzwan Muhammad, established the iSyllabus Islamic studies program. He is currently the co-director of the programme. He is also the Muslim Chaplin at Glasgow Caledonian University, where he delivers the Friday sermon and regular classes for students. Shaykh Amer is consulted by Scottish Law firm for his specalist knoweldge in Islamic Family Law.
Up and down the country ordinary people are fighting extremist elements in their own communities. Extremists exist in every community whether it’s Muslim or non-Muslim, and its up to us to combat these extreme elements and oppose them. They preach hate and intolerance, we react by teaching respect and tolerance.
It reminded me of ordinary people who have shown extraordinary composure, restraint and sacrifice for the benefit of community cohesion. I will mention two examples, one non-Muslim and another Muslim.
In 2004, a young lad Kriss Donald was murdered by three Asian gangsters. Thankfully, the murderers were caught and given life sentences. The sentencing of these thugs was welcomed by the local Asian community in Glasgow, whom the gangsters had been terrorising for years. Kriss was only 15 years old with his whole life ahead of him. He had no involvement in gangs and was chosen at random. When the BNP tried to use the incident to promote hatred his mother, Angela rejected it. Days after his murder, she begged members of the local community to stay calm, saying: “It doesn’t matter to my family what colour these men are… Kriss is gone because of gangs, not just in Pollokshields, but in every area of our communities.” In 2008 she urged YouTube to remove a clip made by the BNP that she said was using Kriss’s name to promote hatred. She stated “We are all still devastated about what happened to Kriss..To see our tragedy abused to promote hatred makes us very angry. It has upset us all.”
Then in 2011, three young men were murdered in Birmingham during nationwide riots. Haroon Jahan, 21, Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, were struck by a car during disorder in Winson Green. Within hours of Haroon’s death his father Tariq Jahan addressed a group of youths outside his home and appealed for them to calm down, end the disorder and go home. A judge called his actions his actions a “genuine public service” and said in the aftermath of his son’s death Jahan’s actions “probably prevented really serious disorder continuing in Birmingham.” His responsible action led to him being awarded the “pride of Britain” awards.
One can only imagine the loss and pain experienced by these two individuals; a mother and a father who probably dreamt of seeing their children grow up happy and fulfilled, only to have them taken away by senseless murders. Yet they showed true character and forbearance and refused to allow their tragic loss to lead to further harm and bloodshed.
Our actions will bear the type of society we create. That will require ordinary people playing their role, and if need be doing the extraordinary for the greater good.