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    Volume 9 Issue 4 | January 22, 2010|

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The Voice of Moderation

Nadia Kabir Barb

Professor Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri.

These days I am reluctant to read newspapers or switch the television on to hear the latest news. It is a knee jerk reaction to the constant bombardment of reports of natural disasters, global economic freefall, and of course “Islamic terrorists” wreaking havoc in the Western world. Every now and then we are lulled into a false sense of security when there is a momentary pause between one natural calamity and another or when we think the spate of suicide bombings or terror attacks have abated. However, the respite is usually short lived.

The latest incident which took place on Christmas day in 2009 of the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253 en route from Amsterdam to Detroit by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was yet another blow to the moderate Muslims around the world whose condemnation of such acts remains unheard, drowned by the ravings and actions of a minority of fundamental zealots. That and the fact that the opinions of moderate Muslims do not sell newspapers nor do they make news headlines. Being a Muslim living in the UK, I find that every time we have another suicide bomber or attempted terrorist attack, it has a domino effect and impacts the whole of the Muslim community living here.

I can only envisage the more stringent security measures being devised for airports which may in the not so distant future include a full body scanner to ensure that anything of a suspicious nature is detected immediately. Some people have argued that if the machines had already been in use then the Nigerian bomber would not have even been allowed to get beyond security let alone board the plane with a bomb sewn into his underpants. Soon we will have a time limit for use of the bathrooms on a plane as prolonged use might be considered suspicious or blankets will not be handed out.

I have lost count of the number of times I have had discussions with people about Islam being a pragmatic and practical religion that does not advocate violence or the subjugation of women. I grew up believing in a benevolent and merciful creator and I find it very hard to recognise or reconcile myself to the vengeful God the so called Muslim terrorists refer to as being one and the same.

So it was with great surprise that I read about a Muslim organisation in Britain taking a stand and denouncing the acts of violence threatened and committed by terrorists in the name of Islam. In fact they appear to have gone one step further and have issued a fatwa against suicide bombings and terrorism and declaring them “un-Islamic”. According to the Times newspaper, the fatwa, which was issued in Pakistan last month, uses passages and texts from the Quran and other Islamic writings to argue that attacks against innocent citizens are "absolutely against the teachings of Islam and that Islam does not permit such acts on any excuse, reason or pretext".

The organisation in question is Minhaj-ul-Quran International (MQI), a non-political, non-sectarian and non-governmental organisation (NGO) founded over 30 years ago by Shaykh-ul-Islam Professor Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri. It is an organisation with branches and centres in more than 90 countries and over seven hundred thousand members worldwide and according to its website, is working towards “the promotion of peace and harmony between communities and the revival of spiritual endeavour based on the true teachings of Islam”. Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri is also the author of over 400 books on Islamic law and stated that "All these acts are grave violations of human rights and constitute kufr, disbelief, under Islamic law."

The Times also went on to state that according to Shahid Mursaleen, a spokesperson for Minhaj ul-Quran, "Extremist groups start brainwashing the young students from British universities and eventually convince them to oppose integration in British society." The fatwa would help fight extremist recruitment of disaffected young Muslims and the 600 page document was "one of the most comprehensive verdicts on this topic in the history of Islam." Inayat Bunglawala, former spokesman of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and founder of the new group Muslims4UK, was said to have welcomed the fatwa. "This adds to the view of many Islamic scholars internationally that terrorism and suicide bombings are unacceptable in Islam," he said. "It is a positive initiative. Anything that helps move young people away from violence and from those who promote violence must be welcomed."

As you can imagine after years of having Islam held up as a religion that is regressive in nature, encourages the suppression of women and advocates acts of violence it was a breath of fresh air reading about MQI. It piqued my curiosity and made me want to learn more about the organisation.

From what I can gather, Minhajul-Quran International advocates peace, equality and harmony between individuals and communities.The concept is impressive but what is inspiring is that they appear to be more than just words or an ideology. Over the past three decades the organisation has managed to implement their goals by following a pragmatic and sustainable strategy. They have set up 572 schools including 42 colleges and IT Centres all over Pakistan. They have also set up 3000 libraries/CD exchanges and mass education centres that are run with the support of MQI. Their work extends to the arrangement of Free Legal Assistance for the exploited/abused women. MQI have also set up free blood banks and eye surgery for the needy.

Outside of Pakistan the organisation seems to be gaining prominence in the UK and I was further impressed by a statement from another of the MQI members Hafiz Sajjad Hussain suggesting that “Muslims living in UK need to reach out to the followers of other religions and culture by living within their own religious limitations. Our great religion imparts the values of humanitarianism and peaceful coexistence along with others. Thus by reaching out to their countrymen, they would actually act upon the teachings of Islam.”

I am just relieved to see that there are Muslim organisations that believe in the tenants of Islam but use them for the betterment of the community within which they live. Maybe this is a catalyst for the voice of the majority of peace-loving Muslims to finally be heard...


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