2nd July 2013
British Muslims from a diverse range of faith traditions came together on Saturday 29 June to affirm their commitment to Muslim unity and pluralism. The initiative brought together leaders from a range of Islamic schools of thought, and from both the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam.
A historic document was signed by leaders and representatives of a number of organisations from a cross section of Britain’s Muslim community.
At a time of deepening sectarian tension in the Middle East and Muslim world, this document has been drawn up to warn and ward off any threat to cross-sectarian unity in the United Kingdom. With Britain possessing one of the most diverse Muslim communities on earth, this document is intended to provide an initial framework for respect, dialogue and cooperation amongst Britain’s Muslims.
Introducing the statement, Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said: “This document is a signal to the British Muslim community and to the world that we will work hard to avoid hatred and division. Everything else we seek to achieve as a community must stem from this most basic respect for our fellow Muslims.”
Welcoming the initiative, Yousif Al-Khoei, the Director of the Al-Khoei Foundation and partner signatory said:
“This is an important and historic step for our communities in the UK. We may have different viewpoints and backgrounds, but it is important that Muslims come together in agreement while managing their differences peacefully, rather than resorting to hate speeches and conflict.”
New Thinking on Extremism
In his annual speech to the Muslim Council of Britain, Farooq Murad also outlined the organisation’s position regarding extremism, especially after the brutal killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in May. Farooq Murad stressed again the community’s condemnation of this act, and noted the solidarity of communities across the country, despite the rise in Islamophobic attacks.
He said: “In our view, extremism breeds not within communities, but in their gaps and margins. In places where the webs and safety nets of community that sustain dignity, self-worth, autonomy and solidarities fail.”
“Investing in the resilience and capacity of our communities is the surest guarantee that we can stand up for who we are and what we believe in; that we can articulate our grievances without being accused of disloyalty and face up to those who seek to undermine our contribution to this society.
“We are against the singling out of particular Mosques, Imams, charities, or student societies. Difficult and frank discussions need to take place and these cannot happen if certain opinions or actors are proscribed before we even start the debate. Anyone who eschews violence and wants to engage by democratic means should be encouraged to do so, no matter how difficult their opinions may be for some.”
Farooq Murad stressed the point that the Muslim Council of Britain will not take any public funds to counter extremism and will aim to establish a scholar’s forum to examine the issue.