Harrow Mosque 9/11 Counter-Protest: Urgent Advice for Attendees

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.

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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.

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22 responses to “Harrow Mosque 9/11 Counter-Protest: Urgent Advice for Attendees”

  1. [abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed]

    May Allah preserve the masjid, preserve the Muslims, and preserve peace. The article is well-written and mashaAllah should be required reading for every Muslim who comes to the masjid that day, and at least for all the administrators of the masjid and responsible brothers among the crowds.

    The advice regarding women avoiding the scene is especially responsible. No brother would stay his hand if a sister were hurt, naudhobillah. And it should be assumed that the police would as gladly arrest a Muslim as a true hooligan. So do not increase the odds against the Muslims by removing a source of self-restraint.

    As we go into the last ten nights of Ramadan, make dua for these Muslims in England, and Muslims everywhere who have to deal with oppression and worse than that.

  2. Nasreen says:

    This article is just what is needed to put our thoughts into perspective. Thankyou

  3. […] September 11th, 2009 // Blog I wrote the following article in a hurry this afternoon, after receiving messages from certain friends and acquaintances, […]

  4. Muslima says:

    Assalam O Alaikum,
    Indeed sad to see all this happen. Its a shame the cops dont react in such situations as they should and normally would. Personally, i feel enough security personnels should be deployed outside the mosque if the government indeed is secular and does’nt want to see innocent blood.

    Inshallah whatever will happen, will happen right and no Muslim will give anyone a chance to speak ill about him/ her or their actions……Ameen, Summ Ameen

  5. mahir sayar says:

    selamu3alikum.

    i think this is a time to think drastically. i remember malik al shabaz saying, islam doesnt need to accept democracy, democracy needs to accept islam.

    i think this is a pivotal mentality to act upon in our current time.

    if muslims are not save to pray in their places of worship, if the goverenment, for whom we pay taxes for, are unable to secure our safety and protect us from far-right wing groups, that they themselves claim to be against,

    then we need to do something else.. we need to think out of the box, we need to..
    be out of the mesjid.

    we need to pray juma3a outside harrow council, in their carpark. we need to continue doing so, until the local and national government see that muslims are not here to cause trouble, and that if we are paying taxes we have the right to our representation.

  6. Yaser, Bradford says:

    as Sister Ridley has so eloquently stated; avoid the bait!

    these fascists are experts in inciting violence, and we only need to go back a few days to Birmingham, where they illustrated it well. not only that, but they know how easily young men are wound up. obviously, ‘young Muslim men’ in this instance.

    The riots in Bradford didn’t occur once, but twice in 7 years. it appears, after falling foul to the law and so easily taking the bait, Bradford’s youth is a little more conservativr in how it responds to such inciteful behaviour.

    don’t get me wrong, a place like Bradford – its reputation, and certain minoritiess reputation tarnished, to say the least after the 2 disturbances – is still not totally immune to violence, but on a lesser scale.

    we can see, especially during the last year (week), Birmingham is being primed for a ‘Bradford’, and Luton seems inevitable.

    The problem is simple; how do we correlate the views of the eminent people of the Muslim elders to the red-blooded youth ?. it would be a start, especially during the last 2 in Ramadhan, for the Khutba – a joint national effort will be required – to focus on this issue, and try to deter the youth from partaking in the ‘anti-rally’.

    on a final note; there is a new video out by br. Rizwan Ahmed aka ‘MC Riz’, which focuses on this issue, titled ‘sour times’. – viewable on youtube.

    Wasallam

  7. Paris says:

    Have you spoken to every single muslim person in England to make such a generalised comment? because i can assure you not all Muslims hate Jews, homosexuals and the non-Muslims.

    Can you not see the multicultural society, the integrated community around you? does it not show you how much the Muslim world DOESN’T hate the non-Muslims?

    Islam does not condone violence and endangering innocent lives and if you do your research you will find that the majority of Muslims are opposed to terrorist attacks and the like- WE ARE NOT A VIOLENT CREED.

    However, if i use your logic then English people belong to a violent nation – what with all the football hooligans, gangs and Chavs – because surely all of you are the same. Right? Fortunately for me, i’m not so narrow-minded and can learn about different religions and cultures from my Catholic, Jewish and Hindu friends. Heck – i even know a few Athiest people – fancy that!

    Noone’s forcing you to become Muslim – people do that off their own accord. Neither do we want to make England a Muslim nation. Give educated opinions, do your research, look at both sides of the story and be open-minded. This isn’t apartheid South Africa or Nazi Germany… one would hope that we’ve come past that!

    All we want is the freedom to live our lives – including practicising our faith -in peace and harmony; without the fear of being targetted by fascist and racist bullies.

    Have a good day… Peace.

  8. Paris says:

    sorry! I would also like to say that this article is very well written and should be read by many so that people are reminded of how they should behave, following the guidance of our Prophet p.b.u.h.

    Inshallah Allah will protect us all.

  9. Abu Abdurrahman says:

    Bismillah..

    Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullah

    JazakumAllahu khairan for this piece, which has been written very well mashallah.

    I too, as an Imam in the area, humbly request the Brothers intending to come to the counter demonstration to reconsider.

    Furthermore the resident scholars such as Shaykh Haitham Al Haddad have also stated the same request on several occasions – urging the Muslims to ignore the BNP affiliated demonstration.

    The matter in reality, is simple.

    Islam is built on two grand pillars of sseeking to harness and procure Benefit; and the warding off of Harm.

    It is the opinion of the vast majority of Muslims – both those active in da’wah, as well as those experienced with such feeble attempts from groups such as the BNP/EDL that making counter demos such as these just adds fuel to the fire of the assailants.. The Muslims of Harrow are also requesting that you do not attend; it would be of direct (negative) consequence upon them if there were to be a counter demo involving Muslims.

    Why give them (the BNP et al) the attention they are craving for?

    Why be – unwittingly – part of furthering their goals?

    May Allah rectify our affairs and those of the Muslims, in every part of the world. Verily He is the All-Hearing, the One to Respond.

    Allah knows best

  10. iMuslim says:

    A few people have commented that brothers should stay away from the masjid, and not rise to the bait. I do see the logic in your advice, because, as we know, most of the brothers who have attended, or will attend the counter demo, will be young – they may be students on break from their studies, unemployed, single without responsibilities, etc. Basically, these brothers have a lot of energy, combined with free time, and as such, find dramatic events like these extremely seductive, for all the wrong reasons.

    So telling these brothers to stay home makes sense, as the significant majority would just love a good kick off to prove their worth, and get the adrenaline going.

    However, I do not think this means that all brothers should stay home. Because if the BNP/EDF and their ilk show up in their numbers, and the police cannot contain them, and something were to happen to the mosque – or worse, the worshippers and local residents – then how could we, as a community, not feel ashamed that we weren’t there to repel their evil, even if it was just with our presence, never mind any physical exertion?

    Therefore, I do believe the sensible, mature, family-men types should be there. The ones with something to lose, who would therefore not be so quick to anger. They should be there to act as a buffer between the hotheads on both sides.

    And yes, maybe the opposition need to see that we are prepared to defend our holy places, and that we are not going to cower in fear in front of their threats. But we will never act aggressively, for Allah hates the aggressors. Rather, we stand united against evil, and will only repel as much harm as is inflicted upon us, without stepping over into afflicting harm onto any soul.

    This kind of strength, self-control, maturity and responsible attitude is what is needed. I think the brothers in their late 20s, and thirties are old enough to possess these traits, and yet young enough to engage with their younger brothers to teach them such necessary life skills.

    Wa Allahu ‘alam.

  11. Naima says:

    I spoke to my mother not that long ago and she told me many of the protesters didn’t show up. May Allah protect our fellow Muslims. Ameen

  12. Nahyan says:

    Jazakallahukhair for the article.
    It is indeed a fitna for the community.

    May Allah make it easy for the Muslims there and protect them.

  13. Arsaw says:

    Aslamwalikum Brothers.

    Im here sitting at my computer in Canada…I’ve never knew that this was the situation in London.. I havent heard of any news that racist groups have gathered together and started protests…wow…right now im kind of shaken. In Canada there are a bit or racists but they’re scattered they’ve never dared to get in a group and protest. Also Im amazed at the point you brought up “not to be lured in to a trap”. And thats agreeable. The best of people is one who thinks in a tough situation and acts upon the way allah would want him to act.

    Inshallah Brothers please dont be lured into fighting.

    Aslamwalikum I will pray for you.

  14. shahgul says:

    Alhamdo lillah, Jazakallaha khair,

    A similar incident took place here in Houston. Someone stuffed their empty beer cans and bottles in our trash can the night of September 11 and 12. My son went berserk and threw the trash on the street, cursed and called names.

    It took a lot of education, patience and quotations from the Quran and Sunnah to bring him to his senses.

    Bottom line is, no one saw the perpetrators who this this to us in the dark of the night. The whole neighborhood saw and heard my son.

    In the end, I called the police and made a report of hate crime. That too, required a lot of persuasion and persistence. The last thing I told my son was, (showing him the bag of trash) “This is a bag of hasanat sent to us as a gift by Allah. The matter of the believer is strange. When he experiences good times, he is grateful and benefits. When he experiences bad times, he is patient and benefits from that too.” Allahu aalim.

    All parents should make it a point to talk to their youth about the adab of being victimized. Of being smart and using their intellect vs their emotions. Of defeating their enemies at their own games. Of not letting other people push their buttons. Of being in control, not relinquishing control to others. The best example is that of our beloved prophet, sallallahu wa alihi wa sallam, who turned every attempt at tormenting him into an opportunity for dawah.

  15. […] mentioned to brother Mahmood that, at the time, I had posted a request on MuslimMatters, calling for self-restraint, and suggested that in the future there should be more leadership through action, from the older, […]

  16. alf says:

    DEFEND HARROW’S DIVERSE & UNITED COMMUNITY
    “Stop the Islamisation of Europe” and the
    “English Defence League” a group of racist
    football hooligans with links to the fascist
    BNP are threatening to invade Harrow on
    Sunday December 13th to demonstrate
    against the Harrow Central Mosque. We
    cannot stand by and let these racists attack
    any section of our community. An injury
    to one is an injury to all.

    Islamophobia – bigotry against Muslims – is
    as unacceptable as any other form of
    racism. Its aim is to divide us by making
    scapegoats of one community as the Nazis
    did with the Jews in the 1930s. Today they
    threaten the mosque, tomorrow it could be a
    synagogue, temple or church. Today they
    threaten Muslims, tomorrow it could be
    Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, blacks, gays, travellers
    or any other minority.

    Fascists have been beaten before by
    people standing united against them: at
    Cable Street in the 1930s, Lewisham in the
    1970s and in Derbyshire this Summer where
    black and white, young and old, Hindu,
    Christian, Muslim and Jew, gay and straight
    all came together to oppose the BNP’s
    fascist rally. In September we made it clear
    that these thugs are not welcome in
    Harrow. Now we must make Harrow a
    No-Go Zone for Nazis.

    Please sign the statement of support for Harrow Central Mosque
    Join the demonstration on Sunday December 13th
    We are black, white, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Jew
    Assemble 12 noon Sunday December 13th on the wide pavement
    outside Harrow Civic Centre opposite the Central Mosque
    Called by UAF Brent & Harrow ● uafbrentandharrow@googlemail.com and National UAF:
    unite@ucu.org.uk ● http://www.uaf.org.uk ● PO Box 36871 London WC1X 9XT ● 020 7801 2782 there are

  17. […] this year, the group “Stop the Islamisation of Europe” (SIOE) threatened to hold a protest outside of Harrow Mosque, in London. After all their talk, only a handful of Islamophobes actually attended the event, as it […]

  18. […] what are Muslims to do about this? Sister Mehzabeen (iMuslim) posted some very valuable advice right here on MM last September that brothers should avoid acting on anger and rising to the bait […]

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