As some of you may have heard, a coalition of fascist groups are planning to hold a static demo outside the Harrow Mosque in NW London, tomorrow, i.e., on Jumuah, Sept 11, 2009. A counter-protest has been organised by ‘Unite Against Fascism’, with support from various elements of the London Muslim community.
It is clear that tensions are now running high in the lead up to the event. I, myself, have received numerous text messages from Muslim acquaintances encouraging their fellow Muslims to go “defend the mosque” – without actually explaining what that means. I can’t help but feel that this is all reminiscent of several violent clashes between fascist protesters and Muslim youth, that have occurred in the recent past. In this regard, sister Yvonne Ridley gave clear warning to attendees of the protest, via her Facebook profile:
TO EVERYONE going to Harrow Mosque on Friday – be very careful you are not wound up and lured into a trap. There were all sorts of shenanighans [sic] going on during the Bradford riots, but who was arrested? The BNP, the anti Nazi protestors [sic]? Nope, young Muslim men who ended up being sent down for four years.
There’s a lot of hype and spin being created by muck stirrers who couldn’t g[i]ve a stuff about silencing the BNP but would like to see lots of young Muslims being arrested. Please do not allow yourselves to be led blindly into a situation where you will be set up and compromised. There’s going to be a lot of nasty people turning out at Harrow with a whole mixed bag of agendas.
The bad people will not only be the gorillas with knuckles trailing on the ground and wearing England T shirts. Watch out for the ‘voices’ right at the back goading and inciting those who are pushed to the front. They might seem to be on your side, but when the going gets tough they will scarper out of every copper’s reach.
The Bradford youth were hauled before a nasty piece of work called Judge Gillick who thought he was running an Apartheid court in Jo’berg. Collective responsibility was the order of the day and long prison sentences were handed out to those who just turned up to protest.
Please pass on.
Although I have heard that the counter-protest will be stewarded, I do not trust our Muslim youth to keep a cool head. Being Ramadan, we are commanded to avoid anger, and ill speech – especially when we are provoked – and imagine how much more applicable that advice is during the last ten days of Ramadan? However, I suspect that many Muslims will have the Battle of Badr in mind, which also took place in this blessed month, and are looking forward to a ‘face off’ with the enemy.
But are we in the same circumstances as the Prophet, sallalahu ‘alayhi wa salam, and his loyal band of companions? Do we have our own state that must be defended by outside forces? Or are we minority citizens of the United Kingdom, who are bound by civil law to avoid illegal acts of violence?
As sister Yvonne mentions above, the opposition are practically itching for a fight: why? To provoke us into breaking the law, acting in an undignified manner in public – especially in front of the media – so they can have the evidence they need, to claim that Islam and the Muslims are inherently violent. The British public expect violence from fascist thugs; it goes with the territory. But should they expect the same from us? Do two wrongs make a right? Aren’t Muslims meant to follow a higher path?
Some wise counsel from Sh. Yasir Qadhi:
One of the signs of a true Muslim is that he always acts in accordance with Allah’s commandments, even if his emotions tell him to do otherwise. It is apparent that tensions and hostility against Muslims is on the rise in certain parts of the world, most recently in London. This has even led to the tragic and brutal murder of an elderly Muslim in Tooting, who was beaten to death right outside the Masjid by a group of thugs, in front of his three-year old granddaughter. And while emotions will run high – indeed they should run high – our response will be in a way that pleases our Lord.
Allah commands us in the Quran that the believers are those who, ‘…when the fools address them, they respond: ‘Peace!” [Surah al-Furqan; 63]. In such situations, Muslims should never respond to verbal assaults with physical intimidation; only if a Muslim is physically assaulted would it become permissible to fight back in self-defense.
These ranting Islamophobes are a disgrace to any society and culture, and do not represent respectable human beings, much less the mainstream British population. I implore our youth not to give them more dignity by taking them seriously or stooping to their level. Let them make fools of themselves, and let us show them the reality of our religion.
Indeed, we must stand up against the utter evil of fascism, and not let our mosques and communities go undefended. But let’s clarify what that statement means, lest any of us are tempted to get carried away.
- As the Prophet, sallalahu ‘alayhi wa salam, once advised: Do not get angry, do not get angry, do not get angry. Further, “The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.” [Bukhari]. It’s a shame that many of our brothers do not remember this when it comes down to the crunch.
- Also, remember when Ali, radiallahu ‘anhu, was about to kill an enemy combatant – but he stopped when the man spat in his face? He let the man go, because he did not want to avenge himself out of anger; he fought for Allah alone. The man was so impressed by such nobility displayed during the heat of battle, that he accepted Islam. Allahu akbar! This is the self-control all Muslims should aspire to.
- The best example for the Muslims experiencing Islamophobia in the UK, is that of the Prophet, sallalahu ‘alayhi wa salam, and the immense persecution he faced during his time in Makkah. Can you endure a few hours of goading and name calling, when he, and his companions, put up with much worse for thirteen years?
Please remember all the above, when the fascists are pushing, shoving, and shouting filth. Think: why am I standing outside Harrow Mosque? Is it to defend Islam, or to fulfil my own desire to get physical?
Please also remember that you are all da’ees – callers – to Islam. That every word, action, and deed will directly affect how many millions perceive Islam, both in the UK, and around the world. Again, what does defending Islam really mean? Will punching the lights out of a few racist bullies make Islam suddenly ‘safe’? Think before you act!
And to my sisters, I must advise that you do not join the brothers on the protest. Yes, I am telling you to stay at home. Is it because you’re all so dainty and feminine, that you cannot handle yourselves? Well, in some cases, maybe – but on the whole, I know my sisters better than that. You have guts, and sister Yvonne is a prime example of the many strong, female defenders we have in this Ummah. But tomorrow, we don’t need ‘guts’, we need brains. Our presence will only make the brothers more emotional, because we have to face facts: we are a soft target. No man worth his salt should tolerate the verbal, or a’authobillah, physical abuse of his sister. Therefore, our presence will only add fuel to the fire. And for the love of all things good, if you do insist on ignoring my sincere advice, do not take your children with you! It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised.
Finally, I am reminded of an interview with director, Amir Colan, during which he told me of a similar incident that took place a few years ago, where an extreme ring-wing group threatened to protest outside a mosque in Australia. The response by the masjid? They held a free, community BBQ on the same day, and openly invited the protesters to join them! This friendly, welcoming act confused the fascists, who were only expecting hostility, and in the end, after all the fuss and drama, not a single one showed up. Amazing! I wish we were that ingenious. Call me a Muslim hippy, but in this case, making chai, not war, had a far greater impact.
So, in summary, I do encourage brothers to go to Harrow Masjid, to act as a barrier between those with evil intent, and the weaker members of the congregation attending Jumuah – but I must stress that you keep your cool. Take bottles of water to sprinkle over your heads, if you must! Be a living example of the Sunnah of our Prophet, sallalahu ‘alayhi wa salam: control that nafs of yours, because you can’t cry: “Shaytaan made me do it!” in this, of all months.
In closing, I think it despicable that any group should seek to intimidate individuals at their place of worship, especially on their most sacred day of the week. It only serves to highlight the ignorance and hatred of such people. In this regard, I am reminded of the following ayaat, from Surah Al-Hajj, verses 40-1:
“…If God did not repel some people by means of others, many monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, where God’s name is much invoked would have been destroyed. God is sure to help those who help His cause – God is strong and mighty – those whom, when We have established them in the land, keep up the prayer, pay the prescribed alms, command what is right, forbid what is wrong: God controls the outcome of all events.”
May Allah grant patience and true strength to those brave Muslims to who seek to keep our places of worship, and their worshippers safe, Ameen.