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15 things You Need To Know About China’s Torture of Uyghur Muslims

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By Gulnaz Uyghur

The Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is China’s largest provincial unit, accounting for one sixth of the Chinese territory. This region does not belong to the country as it was occupied in 1949. Uyghur Muslims are the ethnic population of this region and call this land, East Turkestan. Even after its occupation, the demands for freedom has always been alive and keeps growing due to the ruthless suppression of Muslims by the Chinese Government.

Below are the 15 ways through which Chinese authorities torture Uyghurs and suffocate them in their own land.

1. Forced Labour is Mandatory for Uyghurs

In Xinjiang, it is compulsory for Uyghur residents to participate in unpaid labor, called hashar. They are not provided any compensation for their labor and forced to pay for their own transportation and meal costs. Workers who are injured are also required to look after their own medical expenses. In some cases, if  someone sends a family member to work, then Uyghurs need to pay a fine for that.

2. Children are also pulled out for forced labor

Uyghur families that do not have an able bodied young men are also not exempt from the system. Men and women as old as 70 and children as young as 12 are reported to have participated. Uyghur secondary school students are at times pulled out of classrooms in order to meet laborquotas.

3. Teenagers are arrested due to posts on social media

Young Uyghurs are arrested for posting comments on social media or watching Islamic videos online. Once a 15 yr old was arrested in the same case and sentenced for 10 years!.Other than this not many people are given internet connection and Police can arrest anyone for watching anything online! Uyghur homes are also raided for materials deemed “extreme” or “subversive.

4. Muslim farmers are required to sell below market rates

Government regulations require many Uyghur farmers to sell their produce to local governments at below market prices. This results in extreme poverty for the Uyghur families as they are not able to earn appropriate money to feed their own families.

5. Farmlands are confiscated by the government

It has become common for Chinese authorities to confiscate farmland and property of Uyghurs. These assets are then redistributed to Chinese migrants. Uyghurs who petition these practices are often charged without trial for “harming ethnic unity”.

6. Discrimination of Uyghurs

On paper, the Chinese migrants are shown equal to Uyghurs. In reality, they enjoy far more entitlements than Uyghur farmers. The Chinese migrants not only enjoy the freedom to harvest any crop, they can also take out bank loans and are entitled to greater water resources.

7. A man was shot for keeping a beard

No man, in Xinjiang is allowed to keep beard. Uyghur men refusing to shave their beards are frequently harassed, intimidated, with one man having been shot by police in one instance. According to the Chinese Government keeping a beard is a sign of being an extremist. 

8. Most Uyghur don’t know about their basic rights

Most of the Uyghur population, especially those of the older generation, lack a basic knowledge of human rights and don’t even know their rights as citizens according to the constitution. This is because they have never been given these rights and lack of education has also played a very large role in it. Most of the times they are exploited by claiming that it’s a law.

9. Nikah is considered illegal in China

In April 2014, Chinese authorities instigated a system of rewards, some exceeding more than 50,000 Yuan (USD 7500), for whistle-blowers who reported on a range of illegal religious activities including the wearing of beards and the practice of Nikaha traditional religious marriage ceremony. Chinese authorities take harsh steps to ban religious freedom in East Turkestan.

10. Muslims are ordered to sell Alcohol

Chinese authorities in Hotan County, Hotan Prefecture ordered shopkeepers to stock alcohol and cigarettes in a campaign to “weaken religion,” as Uyghur residents refrained from drinking and smoking for religious reasons. All these actions are a part of ‘Strike hard campaign’ by the government, which is actually a campaign against Uyghur Muslims.

11. Muslim names are banned

The Chinese Government has banned Muslim names in the region. The security officials go from house-to-house ordering parents to ensure that their childrens names do not fall on a list of 22 banned names. Which include mostly Muslim names. Uyghur parents are not even allowed to name their child according to their wish. 

12. Imams are imprisoned

No one in Xinjiang is allowed to teach Quran outside the mosques. And children below 18 years old are not allowed to enter the Mosques. It is a crime to give any kind of teaching related to Islam in Xinjiang. Often parents are harassed for even keeping the Quran at home. Religious leaders often serve prison sentences for the peaceful observation and practice of Islam.

13. Every year Ramadan is banned

During the holy month of Ramadan, restaurants in Hotan have been forbidden from being shutting down. Workers are forced to participate in educational activities on atheism. Government servants, students and anyone working for the party is not allowed to celebrate Ramadan. Various competitions related to eating and drinking are organized in the region to force feed people during the month.

14. Women are forced to abort their child

Pregnant Uyghur women in stages of gestation as late as 9 months have been forced to undergo abortions in some cases under China’s one-child policy. This practice is still brutally followed in Xinjiang and Uyghur women are sometimes forced to flee their homes due to this.

15. Uyghurs are not allowed to leave China

In 2014, Chinese authorities in Hotan began limiting Uyghurs’ ability to travel, both domestically and abroad through passport restrictions. These restrictions have increased now as the police authorities are collecting the passports of Uyghurs and keeping them in the office. At present , it is impossible for Uyghurs to travel abroad as first they would need to face interrogation which will most probably result in their arrest.

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Musa Abubakar

    November 30, 2016 at 4:35 AM

    And, the narratives is different because they are Muslims. The world watches mutedly to the injustice the Uyghurs are subjected, like Palestinians they perpetually condemned.

  2. Avatar

    Aafia

    November 30, 2016 at 2:39 PM

    In the initial stage of life at Madinah, after the migration, when the Muslims were in great trouble on account of economic hardships, external dangers and internal villainy of the Jews and the hypocrites, Allah said:

    “Do you think that you will enter Paradise without undergoing such trials as were experienced by the believers before you? They met with adversity and affliction and were so shaken by trials that the Prophet of the time and his followers cried out, when will Allah’s help come? (Then only they were comforted with the good tidings:) “Yes, Allah’s help is near!”‘ (Al-Baqarah: 214). Likewise, when after the Battle of Uhud, the Muslims again confronted a period of afflictions, it was said: “Do you think that you will enter Paradise without undergoing any trial? whereas Allah has not yet tried you to see who among you are ready to lay down their lives in His way and who will show fortitude for His sake.” (Al-Imran: 142). Almost the same thing has been said in AI-Imran: 179, Taubah: 16 and Surah Muhammad: 31. Allah in these verses has impressed on the Muslims that trial is the touchstone by which the pure and the impure are judged. The impure is turned aside by Allah and the pure is selected so that Allah may honour them with His favors which the sincere believers only deserve.

    Ref : Comforting Verses to the Oppressed Uyghur Muslim of China : http://islamhashtag.com/muslims-in-china/

    • Avatar

      M

      December 1, 2016 at 3:33 PM

      True, but unfortunately the Uyghurs will not be reading this since they can’t even watch Islamic videos without being arrested. But we by standers can, and it is our duty as Muslims to help those who are oppressed. So What should we do?

  3. Avatar

    MR MD JOARDER

    November 30, 2016 at 2:45 PM

    My heart bleeds. I wish I could help my brothers and sisters. Allah is watching. And our prayers are with them. Looks like human right is also driven by business case not by morals anymore.

  4. Pingback: Mao Tse-Tung on Paper Tigers – ALLAHU HAQQ ALLAH IS TRUTH

  5. Avatar

    Rafiu

    December 1, 2016 at 2:17 AM

    May Allah grant them patience and relieve their suffering. He knows best.

  6. Avatar

    M

    December 1, 2016 at 3:29 PM

    SubhanAllah, I knew China had human rights issues, but this is just crazy. Is there any way we can help them? I mean, besides raising awareness about the issue.

  7. Avatar

    Maryam

    December 1, 2016 at 10:18 PM

    La Illaha Illa Allah , is there anyway we can help , other than raising awareness , this is maddening.

    • Avatar

      a human being

      December 12, 2016 at 7:03 PM

      Perhaps bearded brothers and niqabi exodus…to their lands…WORLD fortillas and convoys….to all oppressed peoples….

      .suppose demonstrations are signs of the times one way or the other….

      Understandbly perhaps im wrong but donald was suggesting banning ideological demos…..

      What can be done??

  8. Pingback: 15 things You Need To Know About China’s Torture of Uyghur Muslims | AbuMubarak's Blog

  9. Avatar

    Naomi Macklin-Carr

    December 4, 2016 at 12:05 PM

    SubhanAllah, may Allah ease their suffering. Thanks for raising awareness, I’m sure many of us are ignorant about what going on on that side of the world.

  10. Avatar

    Yousuf

    December 5, 2016 at 2:28 AM

    Dear Muslim brothers and sisters please make duaa for all the oppressed Muslims at night prayer and whenever you can. May Allah forgive us, we are not doing enough! May Allah guide us and keep us steadfast.

  11. Avatar

    shahid shaikh

    December 11, 2016 at 6:10 AM

    why china is doing like this kind of things, laying by force of things is an indecent acts and disgusting to human society and culture. Is China out of that circle?. We all muslim should appeal to their authorities to annihilate such kind of act, esp to muslims, and pray to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala to relieve Uighur muslims from these conditions and give some awareness to chinese authorities to stop such sinful crime.

  12. Avatar

    RaW

    December 12, 2016 at 2:30 PM

    If all traders from China know this and threaten China to stop importing their items, they will change the state of these Muslim Chinese.

  13. Avatar

    Khurshid Syed

    December 17, 2016 at 2:35 AM

    You will soon for forget about China. Wait till Trump gets into office. Following is the statement from Trump national security team:
    “Islam is no mere religion. It is an all-encompassing ideological system that dictates everything from law (Shariah) to personal relationships which also have religious elements. Conquest and subjugation of the infidel lands are integral to this totalitarian ideology, by the sword, if necessary. It therefore requires that we fight this war the way we fought the Nazis in World War II and Soviet communists during the Cold War: comprehensively and strategically, with every available military, economic, ideological, diplomatic, cyber- and religious lever. We must stop this threat before it metastasizes further and fully consumes Western Civilization.”(Monica Crowley, new member of Trump national security team)

  14. Avatar

    A

    July 25, 2017 at 3:21 PM

    Well, this is a big issue. But never going told by the news since its islam, working without being paid it is too much

  15. Avatar

    Nurul Hasan

    February 17, 2018 at 2:19 AM

    Allaha ,save this people”who love you”from the black hand Saitan”

  16. Avatar

    KEREM CONGAR

    November 6, 2018 at 1:19 PM

    Dear Gulnaz Uyghur. I’m a Turkish journalist from euronews, from Lyon France. We want to make an interview with you about East Turkistan issue (on the phone, chat or video call) Please contact with me. Thank you. Rahmat.

  17. Avatar

    The Muslim Talk

    January 12, 2019 at 7:49 AM

    How you can help with the Uyghur situation
    http://www.iuhrdf.org/help

  18. Avatar

    The Muslim Talk

    January 12, 2019 at 7:51 AM

    While the Uyghurs have suffered terribly under the Chinese regime, we must also not forget the Rohingya people:

    The Rohingya people are a Muslim people in Myanmar (Burma) who have, in recent years, been slaughtered, raped, exiled from their homes, subjected to poverty and hunger, and more — by the government of Myanmar and the Buddhist majority in the country.

    The blood of these people is running on the floor and they are being burned alive, tortured inhumanely, and denied a home. Should the world not care a bit? Yet, the major powers of the world have done little to help.

    The question for us is, what can we do?

    First of all, let’s remember to keep these people in our prayers. Would you pray for your relatives if they were being killed and raped? These are our brothers and sisters in Islam and our fellow humans.

    Second of all, you can actually offer some help through financial donations that provide food/supplies for them. Donations are available on the Islamic Relief Worldwide website:

    https://donations.islamic-relief.com/?

    Third, educate yourself on this problem. See the video link below (35 mins) that will give you useful information about the issue.

    Fourth, If you care for these people please SHARE this post and other posts that talk about them in order to bring more attention to the issue.

    “The Rohingya and Our Duties Towards Them” by Shaykh Dr. Yasir Qadhi:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Abhh–Ts-DA

    *This comment was edited by the MM Comments Team in order to comply with our Comments Policy*

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#Current Affairs

5 Quick Things Americans Can Do For Uyghurs Today

Abu Ryan Dardir

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“I may die, but let it be known that my nation will continue their struggle so long the world continues to exist.” Kazakh leader Uthman Batur. He said these words as Chinese authorities executed him for resisting the communist occupation. Currently, China has, one million Uyghurs (Uighurs), Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities held in concentration camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) (East Turkistan) in northwestern China.

Their struggle surpasses the 10 or so years since we have become aware of it. Just like the Rohingya genocide, we waited till the last minute. We are always late and say, “Never Again.” It happens again and again.

In my lifetime, there have been horrendous genocides that could have been prevented to stopped. As a child, I remember Rwanda in the headlines, then a year later Bosnian genocide. Then we hear these demonic stories after the fact. I remember stories from survivors from Bosnia, and thinking to myself, “How are you here and functioning?”

Let us not be fooled to why this is happening now. It is related to economic advantages. The Chinese government’s present signature foreign policy initiative is the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) that seeks to connect the PRC economically to the rest of the Eurasian continent through massive infrastructure projects that will stimulate international trade. The western and south-western components of the BRI require the XUAR to serve as a transportation and commercial hub to trade routes and pipelines that will join China with Central and South Asia, the Middle East, and the entirety of Europe. As a result, the XUAR has become an important strategic region for the Chinese, and the state views its indigenous populations as an obstacle to developing its vision for this future critical center of international commercial networks.1

The expansion of their trade route also ties in Iran hence the sanctions placed, but that’s a different report for a different time. China, of course, has defended their actions by claiming its an anti-terrorism plan. Getting reliable information is hard. China has made it a point to make things difficult for reporters. Yanan Wang, a China-based journalist from the Associated Press, has reported extensively on and from Xinjiang.

In a ceremony at Asia Society on Tuesday commemorating AP’s 2019 Osborn Elliott Award for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, Wang described the subtle ways government minders worked to thwart her reporting: “(Both of the times we went there we arrived at the airport, we had a welcoming committee from the local authorities. They’re always very polite and professional. They say that “you’ve arrived in Xinjiang and we’re here to assist you in your reporting. Tell us what you’re working on so we can help you.” They offer us drives in their car and plenty of hospitality.

Basically, from the moment we arrive, we’re followed by at least one car. There are a bunch of interesting scenarios that we came across. You can see that the local handlers are trying hard to be professional. They are members of the propaganda department, so they’re PR professionals. They don’t want to make it appear like it’s so stifling. At one point, we were taking photos, and someone suddenly appeared on the scene to say he was a “concerned citizen.” He said he’d seen us taking photos and that it was an infringement of his privacy rights. He had this long monologue about privacy rights and about how it wasn’t right for us to take photos of him without his knowledge. We asked him, “Well, where are you in these photos?” and he’d go through all of them. He said we had to delete all of them. He’d say, “This is my brother,” or “This is my place of work, you have to delete it.”

They had all of these interesting tactics to work around the idea that they were trying to obstruct our reporting and make it appear that someone who claims to be a concerned citizen.)”2

On top of that, locals that talk to journalist are punished, sometimes go missing.

I decided to do something this time around; I got in touch with an Uyghur community near my residence to see how an individual could help. It started at a Turkic restaurant, and from there, I have been involved in whatever capacity I am able. Through this effort, I got in touch with a Turkic professor in Turkey who has students stranded as they are cut off from contacting family back in Xinjiang. He helps them out financially; my family and friends help with what they can.

As Muslims in the West, there is no doubt we should act. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said “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” (Muslim).

How Can You Help Uyghurs

Here are a few things you can do to help:

1. Ask Congress to pass To pass S.178 & H.R.649 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. Urge your senator and representative to support this cause. It has been introduced. This bill can help the Uyghur community to be treated like Tibetans (another region oppressed by China).

2. Stay informed. The mainstream media is not the place to get accurate information on the situation. Be skeptical of where the data is coming from, stick to reliable sources that are verified. As mentioned above, journalists find it difficult to report.

3. Donate to Uyghur Human Rights Organizations to end concentration camps: UHRP, Uyghur American Association  Donate to Awareness Campaigns: Save Uigur Campaign 

4. Boycott or reduce buying Made in China products

5. Follow these links for updated information: facebook.com/Uyghur-Human-Rights-Project-227634297289994/ and facebook.com/ChinaMuslims

This crisis is an ethnic cleansing for profit. These are dark days as we value profit over people.

1.Statement by Concerned Scholars on mass detentions | MCLC …. https://u.osu.edu/mclc/2018/11/27/statement-by-concerned-scholars-on-mass-detention s/

2.Why It’s So Difficult for Journalists To Report From …. https://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/why-its-so-difficult-journalists-report-xinjiang

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#Current Affairs

Why Israel Should Be ‘Singled Out’ For Its Human Rights Record

Unlike other countries, ordinary citizens are complicit in the perpetual crimes committed against defenseless Palestinians.

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israel, occupied Palestine

Why is everyone so obsessed with Israel’s human rights abuses? From Saudi Arabia, to Syria, to North Korea to Iran. All these nations are involved in flagrant violations of human right, so why all the focus on Israel – ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’? Clearly, if you ignore these other violations and only focus on Israel, you must be anti-Semitic. What else could be your motivations for this double standard?

This is one of the most common contentions raised when Israel is criticized for its human rights record. I personally don’t believe in entertaining this question – it shouldn’t matter why an activist is choosing to focus on one conflict and not others. What matters are the facts being raised; putting into question the motives behind criticizing Israel is a common tactic to detract from the topic at hand. The conversation soon turns into some circular argument about anti-Semitism and the plight of the Palestinian people is lost. More importantly, this charge of having double standards is often disingenuous. For example, Representative Ihan Omar has been repeatedly accused of this recently and her motives have been called ‘suspicious’ – despite her vocal criticism of other countries, especially Saudi Arabia.

However, this point is so frequently brought up, I think that perhaps its time activists and critics simply own up to it. Yes – Israel should be singled out, for some very good reasons. These reasons relate to there being a number of unique privileges that the country enjoys; these allow it to get away with much of the abuses it commits. Human right activists thus must be extra vocal when comes to Israel as they have to overcome the unparalleled level of support for the country, particularly in the US and Canada. The following points summarize why Israel should in fact be singled out:

1) Ideological support from ordinary citizens

When Iran and North Korea commit human right abuses, we don’t have to worry about everyone from journalists to clerics to average students on campuses coming out and defending those countries. When most nations commit atrocities, our journalists and politicians call them out, sanctions are imposed, they are taking them to the International Court of Justice, etc. There are instruments in place to take care of other ‘rogue’ nations – without the need for intervention from the common man.

Israel, however, is unique in that it has traditionally enjoyed widespread ideological support, primarily from the Jewish community and Evangelical Christians, in the West. This support is a result of the historical circumstances and pseudo-religious ideology that drove the creation of the state in 1948. The successful spread of this nationalistic dogma for the last century means Israel can count on ordinary citizens from Western countries to comes to its defense. This support can come in the form of foreign enlistment to its military, students conducting campus activism, politicians shielding it from criticisms and journalists voluntarily writing in its support and spreading state propaganda.

This ideological and nationalistic attachment to the country is the prime reason why it is so incredibly difficult to have any kind of sane conversation about Israel in the public sphere – criticism is quickly seen as an attack on Jewish identity and interpreted as an ‘existential threat’ to the nation by its supporters. Any attempts to take Israel to account through standard means are thwarted because of the political backlash feared from the country’s supporters in the West.

2) Unconditional political support of a world superpower

The US is Israel’s most important and closest ally in the Middle-East. No matter what war crimes Israel commits, it can count on America to have its back. This support means the US will use its veto power to support Israel against actions of the UN Security Council, it will use its diplomatic influence to shield any punitive actions from other nations and it will use its military might to intervene if need be. The backing of the US is one of the main reasons why the Israeli occupation and expansion of the colonial settlement enterprise continues to this day without any repercussions.

While US support might be especially staunch for Israel, this factor is certainly not unique to the country. Any country which has this privilege, e.g. Saudi Arabia, should be under far great scrutiny for its human rights violations than others.

3)  Military aid and complicity of tax-payers

US tax-payers are directly paying for Israel to carry out its occupation of the Palestinian people.

Israel is the largest recipient of US-military aid – it receives an astonishing $3 billion dollars every year. This aid, according to a US congressional report, “has helped transform Israel’s armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world.”

Unlike other countries, ordinary citizens are complicit in the perpetual crimes committed against defenseless Palestinians. Activists and citizens thus have a greater responsibility to speak out against Israel as their government is paying the country to carry out its atrocities. Not only is this aid morally reprehensible, but it is also illegal under United States Leahy Laws.

4) The Israeli lobby

The Israeli lobby is one of the most powerful groups in Washington and is the primary force for ensuring continued US political support for the nation. It consists of an assortment of formal lobby groups (AIPAC, Christians United for Israel), think-thanks (Washington Institute for Near East Policy), political action committee or PACs, not-for-profit organizations (B’nai B’irth, American Jewish Congress, Stand for Israel) and media watchdogs (CAMERA, Honest Reporting). These organizations together exercise an incredible amount of political influence. They ensure that any criticism of Israel is either stifled or there are serious consequences for those who speak up. In 2018 alone, pro-Israel donors spent $22 million on lobbying for the country – far greater than any other nation. Pro-Israel lobbies similarly influence politics in other places such as the UK, Canada, and Europe.

5) One of the longest-running occupation in human history

This point really should be the first one on this list – and it is the only one that should matter. However, because of the unique privileges that Israel enjoys, it is hard to get to the crux of what it is actually doing. Israel, with U.S. support, has militarily occupied the Palestinian territories (West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem) since 1967. The belligerent occupation, over 50 years old, is one of the longest, bloodiest and brutal in human history.

Israel continues to steal land and build settler colonies the West Bank – in flagrant violation of international law. It has implemented a system of apartheid in these territories which is reminiscent of the racist regime of South Africa. The Gaza strip has been under an insufferable siege which has made the living conditions deplorable; it has been referred to the world’s largest ‘open-air prison’. In addition to this institutional oppression, crimes committed against Palestinians include: routinely killing civilian protesters, including teenagers and medics, torture of Palestinians and severe restrictions on the everyday movement of Palestinians.

The brutality, consistency and the duration for which Israel has oppressed Palestinians is alone enough reason for it being ‘singled out’. No other nation comes close to its record. However, for the reasons mentioned above, Israel’s propaganda machine has effectively painted itself as just another ‘liberal democracy’ in the eyes of the general public. Any attempt to bring to light these atrocities are met with ‘suspicion’ about the ‘real’ motives of the critics. Given the points mentioned here, it should be evident that the level of support for Israeli aggression is uniquely disproportionate – it is thus fitting that criticism of the country is equally vocal and unparalleled as well.

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#Society

Ya Qawmi: Strengthen Civic Roots In Society To Be A Force For Good

Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari

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For believers the traditions and teachings of the Prophets (blessings on them), particularly Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), are paramount. Each Prophet of God belonged to a community which is termed as their Qawm in the Qur’an. Prophet Lut (Lot) was born in Iraq, but settled in Trans-Jordan and then became part of the people, Qawm of Lut, in his new-found home. All the Prophets addressed those around them as ‘Ya Qawmi’ (O, my people) while inviting them to the religion of submission, Islam. Those who accepted the Prophets’ message became part of their Ummah. So, individuals from any ethnicity or community could become part of the Ummah – such as the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad.

Believers thus have dual obligations: a) towards their own Qawm (country), and b) towards their Ummah (religious companions). As God’s grateful servants, Muslims should strive to give their best to both their Qawm and Ummah with their ability, time and skillset. It is imperative for practising and active Muslims to carry out Islah (improvement of character, etc) of people in their Ummah and be a witness of Islam to non-Muslims in their Qawm and beyond. This in effect is their service to humanity and to please their Creator. With this basic understanding of the concept, every Muslim should prioritise his or her activities and try their utmost to serve human beings with honesty, integrity and competence. Finding excuses or adopting escapism can bring harm in this world and a penalty in the Hereafter.

Like many other parts of the world, Britain is going through a phase lacking in ethical and competent leadership. People are confused, frustrated and worried; some are angry. Nativist (White) nationalism in many western countries, with a dislike or even hatred of minority immigrant people (particularly Muslims and Jews), is on the rise. This is exacerbated through lowering religious literacy, widespread mistrust and an increase in hateful rhetoric being spread on social media. As people’s patience and tolerance levels continue to erode, this can bring unknown adverse consequences.

The positive side is that civil society groups with a sense of justice are still robust in most developed countries. While there seem to be many Muslims who love to remain in the comfort zone of their bubbles, a growing number of Muslims, particularly the youth, are also effectively contributing towards the common good of all.

As social divisions are widening, a battle for common sense and sanity continues. The choice of Muslims (particularly those that are socially active), as to whether they would proactively engage in grass-roots civic works or social justice issues along with others, has never been more acute. Genuine steps should be taken to understand the dynamics of mainstream society and improve their social engagement skills.

From history, we learn that during better times, Muslims proactively endeavoured to be a force for good wherever they went. Their urge for interaction with their neighbours and exemplary personal characters sowed the seeds of bridge building between people of all backgrounds. No material barrier could divert their urge for service to their Qawm and their Ummah. This must be replicated and amplified.

Although Muslims are some way away from these ideals, focusing on two key areas can and should strengthen their activities in the towns and cities they have chosen as their home. This is vital to promote a tolerant society and establish civic roots. Indifference and frustration are not a solution.

Muslim individuals and families

  1. Muslims must develop a reading and thinking habit in order to prioritise their tasks in life, including the focus of their activism. They should, according to their ability and available opportunities, endeavour to contribute to the Qawm and Ummah. This should start in their neighbourhoods and workplaces. There are many sayings of the Prophet Muhammad on one’s obligations to their neighbour; one that stands out – Gabriel kept advising me to be good to my neighbour so much that I thought he would ask that he (neighbour) should inherit me) – Sahih Al-Bukhari.
  2. They must invest in their new generation and build a future leadership based on ethics and professionalism to confidently interact and engage with the mainstream society, whilst holding firm to Islamic roots and core practices.
  3. Their Islah and dawah should be professionalised, effective and amplified; their outreach should be beyond their tribal/ethnic/sectarian boundaries.
  4. They should jettison any doubts, avoid escapism and focus where and how they can contribute. If they think they can best serve the Ummah’s cause abroad, they should do this by all means. But if they focus on contributing to Britain:
    • They must develop their mindset and learn how to work with the mainstream society to normalise the Muslim presence in an often hostile environment.
    • They should work with indigenous/European Muslims or those who have already gained valuable experience here.
    • They should be better equipped with knowledge and skills, especially in political and media literacy, to address the mainstream media where needed.

Muslim bodies and institutions

  • Muslim bodies and institutions such as mosques have unique responsibilities to bring communities together, provide a positive environment for young Muslims to flourish and help the community to link, liaise and interact with the wider society.
  • By trying to replicate the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah, they should try to make mosques real hubs of social and spiritual life and not just beautiful buildings. They should invest more in young people, particularly those with professional backgrounds. They should not forget what happened to many places where the Muslim presence was thought to be deep-rooted such as Spain.
  • It is appreciated that the first generation Muslims had to establish organisations with people of their own ethnic/geographical backgrounds. While there may still be a need for this for some sections of the community, in a post-7/7 Britain Muslim institutions must open up for others qualitatively and their workers should be able to work with all. History tells that living in your own comfort zone will lead to isolation.
  • Muslim bodies, in their current situation, must have a practical 5-10 year plan, This will bring new blood and change organisational dynamics. Younger, talented, dedicated and confident leadership with deep-rooted Islamic ideals is now desperately needed.
  • Muslim bodies must also have a 5-10 year plan to encourage young Muslims within their spheres to choose careers that can take the community to the next level. Our community needs nationally recognised leaders from practising Muslims in areas such as university academia, policy making, politics, print and electronic journalism, etc.

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