Imams should be free to speak their mind

Imams (Muslim clerics) are getting arrested in Bangladesh for refusing to read government issued Khutba (sermon)!

I remember one Friday one of the directors of the Mosques in London where I lead Friday prayers requested that I should submit to him my sermon in advance. I arrived with the copy of my speech and gave it to him. He told me to wait while he checked through the text. He took a pen and crossed off various parts of my speech. He did not approve of all my points. When he had finished editing my speech he handed the pages back to me.

I told him that he could keep the speech as it was printed for him. I had the speech in my memory and I was planning to deliver it without the notes. I thanked him politely, greeted him nicely and I walked away from his office. As I was leaving the office I could see his face turning pale in disbelief, red in anger and then frowning with frustration.

I took up my position at the pulpit and delivered my sermon as I had planned originally. It didn’t please the management but it was an important message the congregation needed to hear. The purpose of Friday sermon is to address issues that concern people, provide spiritual and practical solutions to the problems and uplift people’s spirit with hope and aspirations.

The Imam should speak in the local language of the people so that they could understand. I have always believed that Imams should be free to speak their mind. I would simply resign if I were given a gagging order. As an Imam I am already given clear and defined parameters by God and His messenger and as long as I abide by those principles no human being should have the right to silence my right to free speech. That is what I have done for the last 25 years and I pray I can continue doing this until I breath my last breathe.

In today’s Bangladesh, the current secular fundamentalist government of Hasina is writing the religious speeches for the Friday prayer sermons to be read out by its many “scholars for dollars” across the country and if you dissent you risk being arrested, harassed and sacked from your job. If I were in Bangladesh I would have been arrested long time ago for speaking the truth. Under this monstrous government and its murderous party I would have been lynched.

These militant secular fundamentalists have no shame in Bangladesh. They are trying to spin a brilliant web of lies and deceit in the eyes of the international community by blaming the 95% of the population who are religiously minded as terrorists. If an Imam speaks his mind about the political murder and mayhem that has gripped the country he is labelled as a terrorist and anyone who opposes their foul status quo gets arrested, abducted, disappeared, tortured and even killed in the line of crossfire while the international community turns a blind eye.

These are the same tricks successive military junta and despots of Egypt and Algeria have used against its own people for decades. Bangladeshi government has simply borrowed the same subjugation techniques to terrorise its own citizens. However, in the mean time they have been awarded international aid, monetary incentives, red carpet welcome, access to intelligence, military hardware, security training and specialist consultancy by various western backed agencies and governments.

Freedom of Imams to think, speak and explore the deeper theological and philosophical issues of Islam is essential to its culture of organic contextualised jurisprudence. It is paramount to the development of knowledge and training of local people to become more conscientious citizens. Their role is vital is teaching people the need to becoming economically independent, to strive for excellence, to become more socially and spiritually productive and most importantly to become ambassadors of peace and justice in the world. True Imams play moderating role if given the freedom and resources.

Bangladeshi government, just like the Egyptian dictator Sisi, is afraid of people thinking for themselves. They are afraid of educated masses who also competent and confident with their faith. They are happy to have puppet Imams who would proliferate their political message of madness. They would rather have people immerse in deep ignorance of their religion and practice superstitious mumbo jumbo including veneration of saints, graves and relics.

Hasina has an army of Imams who would be happy to sell their soul for a bit of grace from their paymasters. She has cleverly trained enough secular Imams who would join her secular fundamentalist intellectuals to socially engineer religionless in Bangladesh. She wishes to create a secular paradise in Bangladesh and banish any religious sentiments to hell of her own making.

I have bad news for Hasina. Many foolish and arrogant people have tried to silence genuine Imams in the past, Islam, as a religion did not recede, if anything, the reverse happened. Today Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Hasina and her cronies can create a smokescreen, arrest, and torture and execute as many Imams as her bloodthirsty heinous demand. The truth is Islam will remain a religion for peace and justice in the world and it will continue to grow attracting people who are truly looking for inner contentment and balance.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/ajmal.masroor.7/posts/10154361005279439

Friday Khutbah (23 January 2015): Seeking The Scholars of Truth

Friday Khutbah, January 23, 2015 by Imam Sikander Hashmi at Kanata Muslim Association

How do we figure out who?s path to follow? We explore ways to find the scholars of truth.

So many fatwa websites. So many imams, preachers and scholars. So many groups and sects. So many varying opinions. Everyone claims to be right. How do we figure out who?s path to follow? We explore ways to find the scholars of truth.

#StopTheBill Jumuah Khutbah Campaign

Jumuah Khutbah template related to the Counter Terrorism Bill

[Note; For more detailed information on #StoptheBill visit www.stopthebill.co.uk. You can also download the PDF version of this khutbah and print it for your Jummah Khutbah]

Almighty Allah mentions in the Holy Qur?an:

?Had Allah not been repelling some people by means of some others, the monasteries, the churches, the synagogues and the mosques where Allah?s name is abundantly recited would have been demolished. Allah will definitely help those who help Him (by defending the religion prescribed by Him.) Surely Allah is Powerful, Mighty.?[1]

Islam is a universal and complete way of life

All Praises be for Allah Who has given us a complete way of life based on a religion which is absolute and perfect. Islam teaches us how to live in any place, time and circumstance including a multicultural society, giving everyone their due rights, whilst not leaving the fundamentals and most basic beliefs that make us Muslims.

?This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.?[2]

Islam provides solution for problems in society

Due to its comprehensive and balanced way of life, Islam has allowed Muslims to integrate in European society and, in particular, Britain.

?Verily, this Qur?an guides to that which is most just and right and gives glad tidings to the believers (in the Oneness of Allah and His Messenger, Muhammad (sall allahu alayhi wa sallam) etc.) who work deeds of righteousness, that they shall have a great reward (Paradise).?[3]

Apart from its light and contentment, Islam also provides solutions for the different problems arising in society.

Muslims also contribute to society in every field; from the thousands of Muslim Doctors who work with patients in our hospitals, to social workers who assist families and help them work through their problems. After all, Islamic morality teaches us to assist and help all of humanity. Our beloved Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

?All of creation is the dependents of Allah, and the best of creation in the sight of Allah are those that are good towards His dependents.?[4]

This hadith makes it clear to us that the Messenger (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam) commanded Muslims to work for the better of all humans, regardless of race, creed or religion.

Islamophobic people are not happy with the success of Isl?m

Unfortunately, some individuals amongst us are scared to see Muslims positively integrating into society, and passing on good character and morals taught by the Shar??ah. They do not want Isl?m to flourish in Western countries, and are trying to create friction amongst Muslims and non-Muslims. Aided by extensive media coverage, far right groups and extremist policy makers have begun a campaign of scaremongering. As is clear from other European countries, right wing fascist groups have held rallies against Isl?m in the name of democracy. These demonstrations are held under the banner of preventing the ?Islamisation of the West?. Western governments have come under pressure from these extreme views, and are beginning to take measures to ensure that Isl?m in its true form is no longer practiced. Laws such as the banning of the veil in public places have already been introduced in neighbouring European countries, and right wing think tanks are trying to bring these policies to Britain.

Islam commands Muslims to speak against injustice wherever it is

Being followers of a global religion, Muslims are commanded to help and support oppressed people wherever they may be. This obligation becomes more stressed when the oppressors themselves are Muslims.

?The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion). So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allah, that you may receive mercy.?[5]

 

?Verily! Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those, to whom they are due; and that when you judge between men, you judge with justice. Verily, how excellent is the teaching which He (Allah) gives you! Truly, Allah is Ever All-Hearer, All-Seer.?[6]

Those that are prejudiced against Islam are not satisfied to see that Islam is flourishing in the West. They discourage Muslims from criticising foreign policy and refuse to consider a possible link between foreign policy and the suspicions that some Muslims have of Western countries. Those that question foreign policy and the role it has placed in the oppression of Muslims both in Muslim and non-Muslim countries are treated with suspicion and are marginalised.

Allah has placed our success in following the teachings and Sunnah of the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam). By adopting the true character of the Prophet, we will never be disgraced and will in fact show the beautiful teachings of Islam to our neighbours and society as a whole. As the hadith of revelation makes clear, Khadijah (radiy Allahu anha) when comforting the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam) after his first experience of revelation said:

?Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones.?[7]

The Islamophobic tactic to suppress Muslims

They are trying to introduce legislations and policies that may stop this success of Muslims. They have found that playing the terrorism card is the best tactic to achieve their goals. They claim that acting upon certain Islamic practices leads to extremism and eventually to radicalisation and terrorism.

What is the government definition of extremism?

Under the pretext of extremism, a loosely coined term which includes anything that goes against British values (though there is no definition of what British values are), our government has introduced various policies to prevent Muslims from practicing many Islamic practices that are in accordance with the Qur?an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam).

Examples of normal Islamic practices that may be seen as extreme

The way a number of politicians, along with many media outlets, speak about Islamic extremism confirms the thought that many of the Islamic teachings that form part of mainstream Islam will be classified as extremism. Examples include: teaching children that they MUST pray; teaching Muslim girls that they MUST don the hijab; teaching children that homosexuality is a sin; believing Isl?m is the best religion; believing the Prophet Muhammad is the best of mankind and mocking him is an insult for Islam and Muslims.

Counter terrorism Bill

In order to aid them in this agenda, the government seek to bring the ?Counter Terrorism and Security Bill? into effect. The Bill represents the seventh piece of terrorism legislation since 2000. It is likely to have an impact on activists, campaigners, charity workers and some religious groups including Muslims. The Bill, if enacted, will also affect public servants such as local government officers, immigration officers, teachers, social workers, lecturers and other healthcare workers. The government?s stated purpose for provisions within the Bill are to respond to concerns about security in relation to the situation in Syria and groups like ISIS. Whilst the Government rightly seeks to protect its citizens from harm, there is a danger that further laws will affect the ability of particular groups to work for change abroad and/or practice their religious beliefs in the UK.

Muslims are concerned for the security of their country

British Muslims in general are keen to live peacefully with all other communities in Britain. It has been established that the vast majority of the terrorist attacks in the UK in the last few years have nothing to do with Islam. However, they refuse to attribute terrorism to Islam and they also refuse to link normal Islamic practices to terrorism.

What is the counter terrorism bill?

We urge all Muslims to visit www.stopthebill.co.uk for all the latest information regarding this bill and to join the #StoptheBill campaign. The bill has 5 main parts:

1) TEMPORARY RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL

Powers to seize passports if the government suspect that a person is leaving the country in support of a ?terrorism related activity (TRA)?. This assumption will affect aid workers, in particular Muslim charities, who are trying to get aid into countries such as Syria. It also includes a temporary exclusion order. Any individual suspected of being involved in a terrorism related activity abroad can be prevented from entering the UK for up to 2 years, effectively leaving the individual stateless. This will likely have implications specifically on Muslims, as the government seems to turn a blind eye to other individuals who leave the UK to fight for the army of their country of birth, such as soldiers in the IDF.

2) TERRORISM PREVENTATIVE AND INVESTIGATION MEASURES -TPIMS

This section introduces a range of new measures including relocating people away from their homes and communities. Any individual suspected of extremism can be taken away from their family.

3) DATA RETENTION

The government is seeking power to intercept communications such as emails and messaging, raising grave concerns related to breach of privacy.

4) AVIATION, SHIPPING, AND RAIL SCHEMES.

Airlines and carriers are forced to adopt an ?authority to carry? scheme which can effectively enforce ?no fly? lists on entire nationalities.

5) RISK OF PEOPLE BEING DRAWN INTO TERRORISM

This is the part of the bill which is most concerning and possibly damaging to Muslims in the UK. This promotes the government?s much-criticised PREVENT scheme in becoming a statutory requirement for specified authorities including police, councils, health and social care. If authorities fail to follow orders, the government can enforce. For example, they can take a university to court for not banning a particular speaker. The statutory duty will have a particular impact on faith-based schools, especially those that are state aided. The broad term ?extremism? and ?British values? offers little in the way of practical guidance, and may conflict with the faith ethos.

This last point has been aimed at ensuring that Muslim scholars do not preach true Muslim values. Informing the Muslim community of their duty to pray, the necessity of hijab, unlawful things in Isl?m such as homosexuality will be considered as extremism. Anyone who preaches such things will be stopped from speaking.

What must we do?

Muslims are obliged to take all means to protect their Deen.

On the authority of Abu Saaid al-Khudr (radiy Allahu anhu) who said,

?I heard the Messenger of Allah (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam) say, ?Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart ? and that is the weakest of faith.?[8]

In light of this bill, which has been fast tracked through parliament in order for it to be approved as soon as possible, there are steps that each one of us must take. The bill is currently at its third reading. There is still an opportunity to stop it or at the very least amend it so that it does not impact our ability to follow and practice Isl?m freely.

? Rely on All?h to help us as is mentioned in the Qur?an.

?and put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed.?[9]

 

?And there is no victory except from All?h. Verily, Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.?[10]

? We must be united amongst ourselves.

All?h states in the Qur?an:

?And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. this Qur?an), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah?s Favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islamic Faith), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.,) clear to you, that you may be guided.?[11]

? Each one of us must understand the bill and the implications on Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Educate family members and colleagues. A dedicated website and campaign has been set up which all Muslims must visit at www.stopthebill.co.uk

? Any petitions related to preventing the bill from coming into effect should be signed. The more Muslims that voice their opposition to the bill the better chance we have to stop it.

? Send letters and emails to your local MP. It is the MP?s that will be voting on the bill. Therefore we must lobby our MP?s to ensure they vote against the bill.

? Participate and assist groups that are working to prevent this bill.

? And we must make dua and pray that Allah helps us to overcome this bill, and allows us to continue to practise our religion peacefully. As All?h mentions:

?..and your Lord said: ?Invoke Me, [i.e. believe in My Oneness (Islamic Monotheism)] (and ask Me for anything) I will respond to your (invocation). Verily! Those who scorn My worship [i.e. do not invoke Me, and do not believe in My Oneness, (Islamic Monotheism)] they will surely enter Hell in humiliation.??[12]

Source: www.islam21c.com

[Note; For more detailed information on #StoptheBill visit www.stopthebill.co.uk]

[1] Al-Qur?an, 22:40

[2] Al-Qur?an, 5:3

[3] Al-Qur?an, 17:9

[4] Bayhaq

[5] Al-Qur?an, 49:10

[6] Al-Qur?an, 4:58

[7] Bukhari

[8] Muslim

[9] Al-Qur?an, 5:23

[10] Al-Qur?an, 8:10

[11] Al-Qur?an, 3:103

[12] Al-Qur?an, 40:60