The English Defence League & Islam

So, I know I haven’t written a post in while, over a month now. I’ve just been so busy with school work and other stuff, I had some free time today and I thought I would write one.

Today I just want to talk about a something that frustrates me immensely, however also accentuates the ignorance of many people in the 21st century.

The English Defence League (EDL). Many of you around the world may not know what the EDL is so here is a little history for you. To make sure that you are given a clear understanding and unbiased point of view of what they think they are about I have copied a paragraph or so from the mission statement on their website (http://www.englishdefenceleague.org/mission-statement/)

The English Defence League (EDL) is a human rights organisation that was founded in the wake of the shocking actions of a small group of Muslim extremists who, at a homecoming parade in Luton, openly mocked the sacrifices of our service personnel without any fear of censure. Although these actions were certainly those of a minority, we believe that they reflect other forms of religiously-inspired intolerance and barbarity that are thriving amongst certain sections of the Muslim population in Britain: including, but not limited to, the denigration and oppression of women, the molestation of young children, the committing of so-called honour killings, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and continued support for those responsible for terrorist atrocities.

Whilst we must always protect against the unjust assumption that all Muslims are complicit in or somehow responsible for these crimes, we must not be afraid to speak freely about these issues. This is why the EDL will continue to work to protect the inalienable rights of all people to protest against radical Islam’s encroachment into the lives of non-Muslims.’

I apologize for all that reading, I just didn’t know where to stop copying from the mission statement. It honestly fascinates just how ‘evil’ my religion is portrayed as.

The mission statement says ‘… these actions were certainly those of a minority’ which clearly shows that they seem to understand that those actions were by a minority. So why do they feel the need to disrespect the religion as a whole? Mosques are targeted, Muslims are targeted. Where is the humanity? There is even a picture of a man with a tattoo of a mosque blowing up on his body (As you can see below). Is that necessary though?

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Furthermore, the mission statement mentions a list of reasons as to what they believe is wrong with the religion. What makes me laugh is that they feel that women are oppressed in Islam! In fact, if you study the Qu’ran in more depth, people would actually understand the truth.

 ‘When she is a daughter, she opens the door of Jannah for her father. When she is a wife, she completes half of the deen for her husband. When she is a mother, Jannah lies under her feet.’

People need to understand the difference between what the religion says, and what different cultures teach. People are quick to misjudge Islam for horrific attacks against women, such as honour killings but what they do not realise that it is the various cultures that teach us all of this, not our religion.

I am originally from Bangladesh and I can say that most people over there would rather have a son than a daughter; someone who would carry their name to the next generation. However, this is not because of what the Qu’ran and Islam teaches us but it is the cultural beliefs that have been passed down from our ancestors.   

Furthermore, people do not understand the real meaning as to why women wear the hijab which leads them to think that women are oppressed.

It has been exactly 1 month and 10 days since I started wearing it. Do I feel oppressed?

No of course not!

So if I, wearing it, don’t feel oppressed, then how can someone (or a group of people) who do not wear it say that I am being oppressed?

It doesn’t really make any sense to me.

Every citizen of the UK has a ‘freedom of speech’ therefore to some extent what the EDL are doing seems legal to them, however there is a limit to everything and when it gets to a point when they are not just portraying their point across but using violence against ordinary Muslims and places of worship – that is where the line should be drawn.

 

 

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The Hijabi Life

Well, it has been just over a week since my last post on the blog. I keep meaning to write another one, but then something pops up and I completely forget all about it. But here I am, writing another one, it’s about the ‘life-changing’ decision I made which I briefly mentioned in my last post. I hope many of you will be able to relate to it as well.

So, Basically…

TODAY WAS THE DAY I STARTED WEARING THE HIJAB!

This was not a decision I made out of the blue, it has actually been something that I have been thinking about for quite a long time. During Easter 2012, it was the first time I tried wearing it in the school holidays when I went to the library to revise for my GCSE exams. However, I thought it would be weird for me and my friends at my non-multicultural school if they suddenly see me in a hijab after 4years so I decided against wearing it to school after the Easter holidays. After being in this habit for not wearing it for so long, I stopped wearing it completely.

September last year I moved to a new Sixth Form (Year 12), one which was a lot more multi-cultural than my last one, so I decided to wear it again on the very first day of school. However, that decision didn’t come from the heart and I kept trying to make these excuses in my head to discourage myself from wearing it again after the first day. I was telling myself things like:

‘The headscarf hurts my head and its giving me a headache,’

‘The hijab isn’t comfortable’

‘People are looking at me weirdly because I’m wearing the hijab’

And so on. Anyway, although I had many supportive family members and friends around me who showed me a solution to each of my issues, in the end they simply just asked me if I was ready in my heart. Honestly, back then it was a no. I hated it! I thought I was a freak which made me paranoid every time someone looked at me. Anyway, on the second day of school I took it off.

As the year went on, I made my fair share of mistakes which I regret from the bottom of my heart. Mistakes which I wish I could go back and change but unfortunately I can’t. Although, it is not the most ideal situation, I cannot deny the fact that I have actually learnt some valuable lessons from these stupid mistakes which has taught me to never go down that route again. It was then that I thought about how different, perhaps even better my life would have been if I had just kept it on.

In addition, as time went on, I felt that my knowledge in my faith was increasing from valuable weekly Islamic lessons with a tutor. Although people underestimate the importance of the hijab (as they do not realise that it is in actual fact compulsory in Islam for women), it has never actually been forced upon me. In actual fact I am glad and thankful to my family for this because I would much rather want to wear it instead of being forced to.

Anyway, as the academic year was coming to an end, I felt that I was finally ready to wear it, so I decided that at the start of the new academic year I would turn up at school with it on. However, after thinking it over I realised that I didn’t want to wait that long to start, so what better time than the day my AS results were coming out. Today.

I had so many people around me who were supporting me for my decision, and although there were some people who tried to discourage me from going through with this I realised that I wasn’t wearing the hijab for their satisfaction or their needs, I was wearing it for my faith and Allah (swt). This is why I simply ignored them and continued with what I thought was right.

Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘Obey your parents unless they ask you to disobey Allah.’ It is your duty and right to wear Hijab therefore you are not sinning if you have to go against your parents’ wishes (when it comes to Islam). Furthermore we are all tested by Allah (swt) especially the ones who start practicing Islam. No matter how small or big the test is, if you are going through a hard time or a rough phase, always know that this is simply a test and it is a sign that Allah (swt) loves you. You may be confused, why would Allah (swt) put you through a hard time if he loves you? Well, think about it like this: Medicine is bitter and disgusting (most of the time) but we still offer medicine, despite its bitterness to the people we love! According to a hadith, ‘The greatest reward comes from the greatest trial. When Allah loves people, He tests them, and whoever accepts it gains the pleasure of Allah and whoever complains earns His wrath.’ (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2396; Ibn Maajah, 4031; classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani.)

Some may support me, some may not. Some may think I have an ulterior motive but honestly I know what my intentions are and so does my lord. In the hereafter I will not have to face those who doubt my intentions, I will have to face Him instead therefore whatever I do is to please Him and no one else.

Also I just want to take this time to clarify one thing, me wearing a hijab does not mean that I’ve become a ‘good Muslim’ overnight. Only Allah (swt) knows the extent of our sins, we as people have no right to judge others upon their actions as for all we know they may have repented to Allah (swt) who may have already forgiven them. What right do we have to judge when our god has forgiven them already?

I am not perfect. Nobody is. But one thing I do believe is that the hijab will help me become a better Muslim (Insha’Allah) than I was before because now if I ever want to do something  stupid I will think twice as by wearing a hijab I am representing my faith and I would never ever want to give my beliefs a bad name.

To conclude, I would say to all you Muslim Sisters out there, if you are thinking of wearing the hijab then firstly make sure that it is something that you want to do and then once your mind is fixed, don’t let anyone stop you! Whenever you do something to please Allah (swt), just know that He is on your side regardless of the amount of hardship you have to go through! Also, if you are thinking of wearing the hijab, I would recommend you read a book called ‘Does My Head Look Big In This?’ by Randa Abdel-Fattah. The story is about a 16 year old girl who decides to wear the hijab resulting in different reactions from different family and friends and how she copes with it. Such a brilliant book!!

Insha’Allah, for me, today is truly the beginning to the rest of my life.

Also in the UK, the AS/A2 results came out today, I hope everyone got what they wanted and deserved. If you didn’t do as well as you would have liked, don’t forget whatever happens, happens for a reason! So keep smiling! 🙂

‘What’s the point starving yourself for a whole month?’

As the Islamic month of Ramadan comes to an end, I just wanted to take this time to explain the real reason behind fasting. Most of you may already know, but we are always in the learning process. I’m sure at some point in a Muslim’s life they have been asked why they fast by people belonging to other faiths. Before I begin, let me take this time to clarify that this is not me criticizing those people. The point of this post is to simply teach those who may not know.

In Islam there are 5 pillars which are the foundations of the Muslim life thus making it compulsory for every Muslim to follow. These are: Shahadah (the belief/confession of faith), Salat (prayer), Sawm (fasting during the month of Ramadan), Zakat (charitable giving) and Hajj (pilgrimage in Mecca).

As you can see from above, fasting is also one of the five pillars of Islam, therefore every Muslim around the world is obliged to fast (unless of course they are ill or have a legitimate reason as to why they are abstaining from fast). Fasting means not eating or drinking anything from dawn (Fajr) to sunset (Maghrib). Although in the winter it is a lot easier as the days are shorter, it is still obligatory in the summer heat. For example, this year in the United Kingdom; Muslims had to fast for over 18 hours in a heat wave which lasted for over two weeks. But why? What’s the point starving ourselves all day long?

Well, fasting is not all about just starving ourselves in daylight! There are many reasons why Muslims fasting such as learning self-discipline, becoming spiritually stronger, giving thanks for the Holy Qur’an, which was revealed in this month but the most important reason I would say is that we start to appreciate the shelter and food and drink that Allah (swt) has provided for us and makes us more conscious and aware about the hunger and discomfort that is felt by the less fortunate (currently 1.4 billion people living in poverty in the world). These people have to starve on a daily basis throughout their entire lives. At least when Muslims fast they know that they will eat eventually at sunset, these people living in poverty through their whole lives do not have anything to look forward to. This therefore is meant to enkindle a spirit of sacrifice in the Muslims which leads to giving charity towards the people who are suffering.

Ramadan means something different to every Muslim; whether it helps them become a better person afterwards, if it simply opened their eyes to make a difference to the less fortunate or even if it has helped you make certain life choices that you would probably not think about before (the last one applies to me). However, even Muslims sometimes need reminding that this month means a lot more than just ‘starving’ yourself and as this month comes to an end; close your eyes, think what you have achieved in this past month and try to make a difference in the future.

 

 

 

 

Although we do not know when Eid-Ul-Fitr 2013 is yet, in the United Kingdom, it is either tomorrow (Thursday) or the day after (Friday). If it is tomorrow, an early Eid Mubarak to you all! May Allah (swt) bless you and your families

I’m a Muslim, not a terrorist!

Before I begin blogging, I am well aware that this is a very sensitive topic therefore if I offend you in any way, this is not my intention. I am simply blogging my opinions, therefore you do not have to agree with me by any means.

Terrorism.

Many people will automatically think of the September 11 attacks in New York City/Washington DC in 2001 or the July 7 attacks in London in 2005. On both occasions, it has been proved that the attacks were launched by Muslim extremists. The point of this blog is not to defend these extremists, but to show people that because of the foolish mistakes of a small minority of the religion, is it fair to blame every single Muslim?

In 2005, before the July 7 attacks took place in London, it was a normal Thursday morning for me as a 9 year old. I was near the end of Year 5 excited about the coming summer holidays like any child would and it started off as a perfectly normal day. To be perfectly honest, the teachers didn’t tell us exactly what happened afterwards, they just called all the parents of the children to send us all home. Obviously they had to be careful, as one of the bombs that were set off was on the Piccadilly Line in North London, and my primary school was situated between two stations and they did not want to take the risk. As parents came to pick up their children, they all had similar facial expressions, a sense of fear but at the same time a sense of relief that their son/daughter is perfectly okay. My mother was the same, when she saw me; she gave me the tightest hug ever. As I innocently asked my mother what had actually happened, she tried to explain as much as she could without scaring me, bearing in mind I was only 9 years old.

I can’t remember much about that day, but I do remember watching news channels and reading newspapers afterwards and being absolutely terrified. At that time I didn’t understand why people would do things like this, and to be honest, even now, at the age of 17, I still don’t understand why. But I guess that’s something that we will never know.

Anyway, we had a day off school the next day (Friday). When we returned on Monday, things had subtly changed and I didn’t realise this until a fellow classmate came up to me obviously noticing the colour of my skin (as my school wasn’t really multicultural so there were very few people with an obvious South Asian heritage), and asked me: ‘Are you a Muslim?’ I didn’t think that was a bad thing to ask as you can never know a person’s religion if they are not wearing the Hijab or Turban or any other religious garment. So, I replied with a ‘Yes.’ She then asked me innocently: ‘Does that mean you’re going to be a terrorist when you’re older?’ Surprised, I replied back with ‘Of course not!’ It was her next sentence which shocked me: ‘But you’re a Muslim! That means you’re going to be a terrorist!’ she exclaimed. I was so shocked. I had only recently learnt what that word meant after having heard the word on more than one occasion I had asked someone in my family who told me and here I was as a 9 year old being accused of potentially being a terrorist when I was older because of my faith.

It’s not right to do that to anyone, let alone a 9 year old. Thinking back now, no 9 year old could come up with something like that on her own, it must’ve been talked about in her family or by whoever was looking after her. Anyway, I didn’t tell anyone about this at the time, or anyone afterwards I don’t really know why but I just chose not to. As I grew older, I realised that this was a common thing in society and it is so sad because there is a minority of the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide (23% of the world’s population)* that take part in horrific terrorist attacks in the name of our god, Allah (swt) which is completely wrong but the rest of the people in the same faith have to put up with the wrath of it?

The one thing I would like to stress from this blog is that not all Muslims in this world are terrorists; therefore it isn’t fair to blame us all for the mistakes of the dim-witted minority.

 

 

* 2012 Global Religious Landscape report from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.