September 2009 www.themuslimpaper.com
Marwa: Where was the press coverage? ARFY MAJEED
Bosnia - Shazia Awan takes a pilgrimage to the scene of a massive massacre she read about in school – when 8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed. P8 & 9
Police Cadets - Are Muslims allowed? Three of the top aims of the police cadets are to encourage good citizenship, enable young people to develop personal qualities and skills P4
Drugs Conference - Working in the field of addiction, my colleague Amar Ali and I wanted to utilize our knowledge and experience to help our local community P3
Pregnant Muslim mother murdered in courtroom in front of her 4 year old son A YOUNG Egyptian mother, Marwa Sherbini, died in a German courtroom having been allegedly stabbed 18 times by a man she had accused of racism. Her husband was shot by police as he tried to defend her and the horrific scene was witnessed by the couple’s four-year-old son. Marwa, 31 had just won damages against in her case against a man only referred to as Alex W who was said to have called her a ‘terrorist’, ‘bitch’ and ‘Islamist’, after she asked him to leave a swing for her son, then 3, during an August 2008 visit to a children’s park. Marwa, a pharmacist and former national handball champion, and her husband, a genetic engineer who was about to submit his PhD, had come to Germany from Egypt in 2003. They were planning to return to their homeland at the end of the year. Although this highly dramatic act of racism received little attention in the western media, it is the press coverage that instigated accusations of racism, as it focused on the Egyptians reaction to the murder, not on Sherbini. BBC News entitled their piece, ‘Egyptian anger over German court slaying’. CNN reported, ‘Egyptians cry racism in woman’s slaying in Germany’. ABC News reported, ‘Egyptians cry racism in woman’s slaying in Germany’. Many prominent UK newspapers and
news stations failed to report the racially motivated murder. The offence had been committed in Germany which is geographically closer to the UK and despite both the UK and Germany’s strong ties as members of the EU, the focus of the media had been the events in Egypt, not Germany. Commentators around the world are playing the ‘what if’ card, stating that the media does not value the life of a Muslim. One blogger claimed that had it been a pregnant nonMuslim woman stabbed to death in front of her child by an extremist Muslim, the press would have had the world buzzing. Interestingly despite all the accusations of racism, German law was in favour of
Sherbini; she won her case and had been awarded damages. The German hate speech legislation, outlaws public incitement of hatred, therefore it was illegal for Alex W to make racist remarks against Sherbini. A week before the murder UN special Rapporteur for racism, Githu Muigai, who having completed his 10 day fact-finding trip to Germany, emphasised the need for Germany “to turn its attention to the problems of daily racism and discrimination”. The law had not failed Sherbini, but many Egyptians, Iranians (who have protested daily in Tehran outside the German embassy), and world commentators are emphasising that the western media failed to give Marwa Sherbini the press coverage her case deserved.
Birmingham riots - why did British flags get burnt? P2
Baby Sharks - they bite! P14
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RECLAIMING MY FLAG, BRUMMIE AND BRITISH EDITORS NOTE Salaams and welcome to the first edition of the Muslim Paper. It has not been easy getting here, but Alhumdulillah we have made it! A long way from perfect so I do look forward to hearing your comments on how we can improve Insha’Allah! It seems fitting in the launch issue to write about the tragic story of Marwa Sherbini and how the media forgot her. We need to make sure we always cover the news that matters to you, even when others may forget. The newspaper is a forum for a new generation of Muslims to express their views, and we will fight hard to preserve this space. We pray you like our efforts, and we look forward to hearing from you Insha’Allah.
BUSINESS UPDATE MEHVISH AYUB
Markets have certainly improved from the last update, stocks have bounced back and UK economic reports are showing signs of an upturn. However, given that some of us are still digesting the news of a deep recession, perhaps we should take a sudden recovery with a pinch of salt? You may have seen reports over the past few weeks of the UK recession being over; this is based on the FTSE 100 hitting a significant high and without the disclaimer that what goes up can and has come back down. Similar news regarding property has been circulating, although this asset class was the first to be impacted in the downturn and therefore could be a contender to give an early signal for an economic recovery. Considerable uncertainty remains in the markets and those continuing to punt on their personal trading accounts be mindful that volatility is here to stay for a while yet. Ramadan Kareem to all. Page 2
Saturday afternoons in Birmingham are usually full of shoppers from a range of ethnicities and cultural backgrounds peacefully browsing for bargains. Saturday 1st August was different. Facebook, arguably the most powerful social media tool, had been used by the far right group ‘The English Defence league’, which describes itself as ‘a mixed race group of English people, from businessmen and women, to football hooligans’, to organise a protest targeting what they described as “Islamic Extremists”. The group ‘United against Fascism’, were able to find out about the protest in enough time to organise a counter demonstration encouraging locals and telling them that “everyone in the area should come along and show these thugs that their brand of vicious racism is not wanted in Birmingham or the West Midlands”. Scores of policeman lined the area around The Bullring Shopping Centre
where violence broke out between the two groups. Wooden planks, bottles and large placards were all used when the trouble broke out. One onlooker said: “I was standing there and all of a sudden there was just a stampede of people. I couldn’t see anything.” Many anti Muslims slogans appeared across a sea of placards agitating young Muslims further. The trouble first broke out when a few angered people from UAF went into the crowd shouting “smash the BNP”, who were not directly involved in the protest. One blogger even goes as far as stating that the ‘young Muslims were incited into violence by the UAF activists’. It was members of the Socialist workers party, who are present at most demo’s in Birmingham, a few local men and some trade unionists who tried to keep the peace. A contingent of at least 30 EDL protestors broke loose from the protest, some carrying knives, and ran up to the front line of the UAF protest and began pelting the public and police. Amidst the trouble that broke out, a few young Muslims had become so restless that they resulted to burning Union Jack flags. Waqas Khan Latif, a local activist and student said “I tried to stop some children who threatened to burn the flag. I don’t think it’s because they hate the country, it’s because they were so angry with the hatred being shouted”. “I think we need
to reclaim the Union Jack, so at the next protest on the 30th August, I myself am going to make a point of carrying a Union Flag against fascism”, he goes on to say. The problem is that our British flags have become associated with far right groups such as The BNP and so there is a hate culture amongst young people for the British flag. People like Amir Khan, one the biggest role models to Muslims, world champion and also a man who flew the British flag to create unity after the terrible events of 7/7, are few and far between. The burning of flags at the Birmingham riot singled out many Muslims and left many other British people feeling offended. British culture is made up of all the diverse and vast cultures in our country and we should all embrace this. We need to reclaim that flag from the far right and fly it proud. The protest organised by EDL in Birmingham is not an isolated occurrence, there are further plans to protest in Luton later this month and then Manchester in early October. It is yet to be seen if further division will be caused between different communities in Britain and whether the flag will become an ongoing symbol related to the hatred of far right groups or something which is reclaimed by the various communities in our country.
DISCLAIMER The editors and owners of the newspaper do not necessarily agree with or accept the points made by the contributors who have submitted articles for the newspaper. The newspaper is a forum for Muslims in the UK to express their views but such views are not those of the newspaper or any of its editors or owners.
DRUGS AWARENESS CONFERENCE LYNNE ALI
Working in the field of addiction, my colleague Amar Ali and I wanted to utilize our knowledge and experience to help our local community. We felt that the National Tackling Drugs Week in June was the perfect opportunity for us to do so. We teamed up with Al Ansar Islamic Education Centre and Redbridge Primary Care Trust, Drug and Alcohol Team to
SISTER D’s AFFAIR WITH DRUGS After five years of battling alcoholism and two years of cocaine abuse my addiction took me further than I thought it ever would. I always thought of myself as a good person. I come from a Pakistani Muslim family and I was growing up in Ilford. I remember being at school when we talked about drugs thinking I would never touch those things. But I was never really taught how to deal with my emotions and found it so hard to be open with my parents when I felt down. When I discovered alcohol it was its numbing effect that I loved. At 14-years-old I was already sneaking it up to my room to drink alone to fall into a warm fuzzy sleep that seemed to take my problems away. As I got older drinking gave me bursts of confidence and acceptance from the popular crowd. It gave me a false sense of being more adult like and streetwise. As my uni years fell upon me the alcohol had become a daily habit. By 10am I was getting the shakes and eagerly awaiting the opening of the uni bar so I could take the edge off my withdrawals.
hold a Drugs awareness conference for the Muslim community. Alhamdulillah the event was the first of its kind to be held in a Redbridge Islamic Institution and was a huge success. More than 75 people attended. Separate Workshops for males and females were held. People ranging from the ages of 11 to 65 attended. Our main objective was to raise awareness within the local Muslim community about drugs and their effects as well as how to access treatment available here in Redbridge. These topics were covered in two workshops Drugs and their effects, and accessing Treatment. The workshops were designed to eliminate myths around drugs and enable
By this time most of my drunken nights were unpleasant ones. I would cry uncontrollably. Poor me Poor me! Pour me another drink! I found every reason to pity myself. The day I discovered cocaine it felt like the answer to the sorry situation. It gave me a sense of being in control again. I felt like the confident person within me was reignited. I was also working in sales and this helped with me getting the leads I needed to stay on top of the job. However eventually it became the cause of me losing that very job. The weight started to drop off me as my habit became a daily occurrence. Although some friends were shocked at the sight of me I was secretly pleased and had a false sense of being in control. By then some of my other friends had started dabbling in heroin. I was initially shocked and thought that this would be a line that I would never cross. So looking back now I don’t know how curiosity alone could have led me to have asked my friend to give me some. I clearly remember watching him smoke it and how he seemed so relaxed and peaceful. It reminded me of those times as a 14 year old how I would love that warm feeling as the alcohol took its effect. Perhaps it was because the cocaine was beginning to have its drawbacks; paranoia, falling out with friends, lack of sleep and irritability, loss of confidence,
the attendees to gain an awareness and understanding of drugs, how addiction develops and in what ways recovery from drugs can be established. After the workshops certificates were given to all attendees and the local Muslim scout group was very proud to receive theirs! It was wonderful to see people coming forward and being open about a subject that is not so openly talked about amongst our community members. In this sense we achieved what we set out to do; to allow access to information and advice for people who would not feel comfortable talking about this issue, and to raise awareness about the effects of drugs as to prevent them from experimenting in the first place. (A strategy the government is now pushing to be compulsory as part of the National Curriculum PSHE). The evening workshop was led by Abu Talha who gave a historical account of how Muslims started dealing with the issue of intoxicants, and how we, as Muslims living in the UK, have to open up to the issues we face and not shy away in dealing with community issues especially around drugs. Summary of which was a number of points which users can implement in order to overcome their issues of substance misuse. In a nutshell the day’s events propagated the importance of seeking treatment, something which generally individuals from the Muslim communities tend to shy away from or brush under the carpet. It is no stereotype to say that many Muslims today do not understand the complex issues of addiction and the knock on effects, not only for the user but for family members. This could be because of social norms within the community,
If you are facing or need help or advice around substance misuse or want us to facilitate workshops in the UK, then please contact Lynne or Amar at firstname.lastname@example.org
that I craved that feeling again that would dissolve my troubles and give me a feeling of calm and tranquility. As I began to smoke the heroin the feeling that I was searching for enveloped me. It was like falling in love. I could see why so many people became hooked on this substance. It was like having a new friend that offered so many promises and helped me forget about all my problems. In the morning the gravity of what I had done the previous night sunk in. I realized something. I could not wait to take heroin again even though I had promised myself it would just be the once. I felt I was standing at a junction that lead to two paths. Knowing myself so well I knew that if I took it again I would be on a road to destruction and pain. The other path was a path of hope. It was then that I realized it was time to seek a clean way of life. And this is when I began to practice Islam. Allah does not change a person until they are ready to change themselves. And at this point in my life I was more than ready to grasp onto the path of Allah. I held onto the Quran and every book I could get my hands on. Some might say I began to practice Islam addictively, but it was the very thing I needed to keep me from returning to my downward spiral of addiction. I soon realized that the medicine I was
looking for was there in the Remembrance of Allah. And that through my addiction I had only exacerbated my pain. As Almighty Allah says: “They ask you [O’ Muhammad] about intoxicants and gambling. Say, ‘In them is great harm, as well as benefit, but the harm outweighs the benefits”. The feeling of relief that is attained after crying out to Allah is the sweetest cure and lasts forever, eternally benefiting me in this life and in the next. This feeling of complete contentment can never be found at the end of a wine bottle or through smoking a drug. One of my favourite verses in the Quran reminds me of this. Those who believe and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah. Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” Through hanging onto the rope of Allah I never returned to substances to medicate my pain and insecurities Alhamdulillah. And through modeling the behaviour of our beloved Prophet (saws) I have found ways to change the way I feel about myself and learn to love myself as a complete person, to manage my emotions and to seek help through patience and prayer. For me, this is the answer to addiction. Through seeking Allah’s help we can begin to understand that which seems impossible can be made easy.
feelings of shame a user brings to the household or lack of education around substance misuse to name a few. Means such as, sending them ‘Back Home’ and getting them married off so they will ‘face their responsibilities and stop using’ just exacerbate the problem and usually means a life of hell for the newly wed partner (in nearly all cases female). Experience and evidence has shown that this type of intervention does not work. On the contrary, drug use usually increases and more hostility towards family members also increases thus ensuring the user has a blame mechanism to justify his or her continued drug use, continuing the cycle of addiction in which users and family members are locked in. One of our objectives was to ensure that each attendee was empowered with enough knowledge to then become ambassadors of the same message, for our brothers and sisters who are taking drugs to turn towards the relevant drug agencies for support. It is not enough for us to ‘just make dua’ (supplication) hoping that the individual will stop using drugs. A proactive attitude must be taken to ensure support is sought for user and family members alike. We believe Muslims are at a crossroads today for the future generations. We must all take steps to empower ourselves and develop services which will not only benefit us, but will benefit coming generations so they do not struggle to find an identity or try to ‘fit in’ and in the process of doing so get caught up in the vice of drugs.
POLICE CADETS - YES MUSLIMS ARE ALLOWED!
ARFY MAJEED Three of the top aims of the police cadets are to encourage good citizenship, enable young people to develop personal qualities and skills, and to create a uniformed group of diverse young men and women. It’s therefore no surprise that young Muslims are eagerly joining the cadets as the ethos are well and truly in line with Islam. PC Tim Beaumont who currently heads Redbridge cadets is particularly proud of the diversity amongst his 75 cadets, “We’re 50:50 gender wise, and evenly split between religion” he said. All Redbridge cadets claim to be far more confident and mature than their peers at school due to the training provided at police cadets. Areeva Naeem, 19 said, “I joined the cadets
three years ago, and its become like a second family to me. I’ve become so much more confident, and the activities we do have really built my character.” Another young Muslim cadet said, “The media doesn’t concentrate on what ordinary Muslims are like. The media tries to separate us from the rest of the community. If you join cadets you show that not all Muslims are extremists. For example when we go camping in Wales, people are shocked to see us. They come up to us and ask us who we are. What they see is not the image the media shows.” The police cadets offer young people aged 14-21 training to become police officers, the opportunity to complete the Duke of Edinburgh award, life skills and much more. All the Muslim cadets strongly recommend more Muslims join police cadets.
TAE KWONDO - LESSONS WE CAN ALL LEARN NAFEESA YOUSEF
Ask the youth of today to do something positive with their spare time, and you’ll be met with a sigh and some renewed dedication towards completing the latest Wii game. If you’re very lucky, maybe they’ll spend a little extra time on Facebook, keeping themselves up to date on ‘current affairs’. Spin this question back around on yourself and does it get any better? As an investment banker, I can admit, somewhat shamefully, it does not. My life until very recently was a Monday to Friday, vigorous routine, of work, gym, and home. The weekends were never long enough to fit in anything which required pre-meditated attendance and were reserved for recovering from the draining working week. It took an 11year-old boy from Denmark, over for his summer holidays to change that. Meet Hassan Mahmood, my nephew likes all the normal things (SuperMario, YouTube, football and chips). But somewhat more surprisingly, he has a passion and dedication for Taekwondo, a martial art which is practised at clubs all over the world. He trains six times a week, for two hours at a time, and when he’s not training, he’s thinking about it. He even practises with his father in the basement at home, tirelessly repeating his sequences that he needs to perfect for his next assessment. And when he heard he was to spend a month in London, his first reaction was to find out which club he could join whilst he was here so he wouldn’t fall behind. Cue ‘Hadri Taekwondo’. A Taekwondo club catering to East London residents, which refuses to accept that an extracurricular activity is a Wii stick masquerading as a tennis racket. It’s run by Master Esrar Ahmed (5th Dan Black Belt), a passionate and enthusiastic martial arts specialist who welcomes all abilities, ages, races, and backgrounds into his club without discretion. Not exactly thrilled about the prospect of chauffeuring my nephew to and from his Taekwondo classes for a month, I embarked upon our first class with scepticism. Amusedly watching my nephew seriously straightening out his uniform and wrestling his (ridiculously heavy) Taekwondo bag from me so he could carry it in like a ‘man’, I resignedly marched in after him, haughtily sporting my blackberry, stilettos and an emergency copy of The Economist. Oddly enough, I didn’t need any of it. From the moment we walked in the door, I was caught up in a whirlwind of characters, children and adults of all ages, kitted out in their uniforms and earnestly warming up whilst they waited for the class to commence. Warmly welcomed by the assistant instructor, Shujahat Fiaz (2nd Dan Black belt), I was invited to stay and watch for the first session and witness what it meant to be part of this club, and dedicated to this ‘way of life’. Because that’s really what this was to many of the students, not just an activity but a discipline, a code of conduct, a culture. There were children studying for the same belt as their parents, sharing something which can’t be achieved over
homework or the dinner table or in front of the television. Having a common goal helped them unite in a way which was remarkable to watch. The child would often remember moves his parent had forgotten, and patiently bear with them in what could only be described as mutual respect. That’s the key word right there, ‘respect’. Something we all love to talk about, how the kids of today just don’t know what the word means, how we fail to show ourselves and others around us the level they deserve, and most importantly, how we fail to recognise its value. The instructors at the club very clearly know what the word means. They just don’t command respect (and believe me, they do!), they offer it. They treat all their students like young adults, asking them to take ownership of their own training, instilling in them the belief that they are the ones that decide their future, and above all else, taking them seriously. And this is exactly what keeps these students coming back again and again. The training itself is a vigorous affair, with plenty of eyebrow-raising kicks, splits and sprinting going on, with some emphatic grunting thrown in for good measure. The class is regularly asked to fall back into line, and do so effortlessly, sliding into their positions based on ranking and assuming a stance of attention and poise. They recite a mantra at the beginning, reminding them of what the martial art represents, their responsibility not to misuse it, and the club’s ethos. There is something remarkable about seeing a group of people, from different races, upbringings and values, solemnly swearing to believe in the same oath. It’s the sort of picture that makes you challenge what you thought you believed about segregation and discrimination. It’s the type of mentality we need the young minds of today to grow up understanding, and advocating. And it’s definitely the very value this club is shouting about. The club combines teaching the
mechanics of the art (traditional taekwondo techniques) in preparation for belt assessments, with direct exposure to sparring. Each session is ended with a period of meditation and whilst you may wonder how a six year old meditates without wanting to pull somebody’s hair, giggle at their toes or let out some well-timed flatulence, you’d revise these doubts as soon as you met the instructors. I personally, would relinquish any urge to scratch my ear if it risked upsetting a meditating Korean-trained black belted martial artist. And when the room is suddenly silent and rebellion is no longer an option, you find you are reflecting and breathing and relaxing. It was at this point I evolved from spectator to participant, and stole one of the most valuable parts of the training away for my own future reference. Students also have the option to take part in regional and national competitions should they demonstrate the necessary drive and passion to earn their place on the team. Hassan was given this very opportunity, and Master Esrar tirelessly worked with the fighting squad on extra training and supplementary sessions to get them ready. When I initially asked him what the point of all the extra sessions was, he replied “I need to spend time with the team so we can gel, and bond as a group. We’re like a big family and we go into the competition, united, as a family.” Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to see my four foot nothing, pint sized nephew getting the living daylights beaten out of him by some brutish overweight, aggressive lout from the other side of the country (You hadn’t forgotten I’m a snobbish, judgemental, opinionated investment banker had you?). I also wasn’t exactly thrilled either about the fact that Hassan needed to keep his weight in the banding he was floating in and out of, or he would be severely disadvantaged. Surely that’s too much pressure to put on a child? But the club, once again, failed to disappoint.
Master Esrar teaches his students it’s about participation, about a performance you can walk away proud of, that rewards are earned and not taken. Training is designed to be tough, students would go so far as to wear bin-bags under uniforms to make it more intense and help manage their weight. Seniors furthermore looked after the younger members, working endlessly with them on sparring, confidence and mental preparation. And at the end of the day, the club walked away with five medals and the knowledge that what they do, counts. Master Esrar has a unique way of encouraging his students to step up. He rewards his dedicated seniors with responsibility. He recognises their achievements by appointing them to help in the class as unofficial assistant instructors, and whilst you may exclaim this is hardly a reward, for these kids, it’s one of the biggest honours they could hope to receive. They become role models for their junior counterparts, and I have yet to see a student who does not rise to the challenge with pride and enthusiasm. What’s even more astonishing, (and once again I draw your attention to the fact I’m used to a City lifestyle where cash is king and how you appear plays a huge role on how you are treated), was that there were young girls proudly wearing their hijabs with their Taekwondo uniform and fully believing that this had no impact on their standing in the club or in the competition. They were accepted for what they could do and the commitment they showed, and not ostracised or looked down upon for appearing differently. Admittedly the club is hugely multi-cultural and it is easier to be different when everyone is so diverse, but there is something further that is being achieved here which is more to do with empowerment then it is about fitting in. The girls are encouraged to fight and show their strength in levels equivalent and as commendable as their male counterparts. And they can do so with modesty and on their own terms. The most important message I took from this, aside from the knowledge that there is achievement outside of career progression, that there are common goals spanning generations, and that passion lives in the absence of financial reward, was that excellence can be found in the most diverse of disciplines. It doesn’t have to be Taekwondo, I’m confident that engaging today’s youth in any activity where they are working towards a goal with discipline and encouragement in a multi-cultural environment will have similar effects. The necessity is to give them this opportunity and where possible, join them. In a society that’s increasingly obsessed with labels, common objectives serve to blur differences between us and encourage positive relationships. Over the past month, it’s become clear that good moral values and respect towards fellow members of our local community, irrelevant of age, colour and religion, can be fostered in children as young as four. And whilst Taekwondo is all about teaching us to physically fight, this club is clearly fighting for a greater cause, and teaching a lesson we should all learn from. Page 5
I WEAR HIJAB NOW TABBASUM QURESHI Growing up in a predominantly white neighbourhood, I didn’t really have many Muslim friends. The ones I did have were not from practising families. Or they practised a very different form of Islam to that which my family followed. So I was just an Asian kid at school trying to fit in with the other non-Asian kids. Growing up, I was always trying to hide my culture and run away from covering my hair when my mum would try to make me! In fact, I recall one time when I was on my way to the mosque for a special occasion; I was sitting in the back of my father’s Suzuki wearing a headscarf when my best friend, Donna pulled up beside me on her bicycle, and upon seeing me her jaw dropped wide open. She couldn’t take her eyes off me. Needless to say, I was mortified! Wishing that the ground would open and swallow me up was a complete understatement! But to my surprise, when I went to school the following day, Donna told me how pretty she thought my headscarf looked and wanted to find out more about why I had to do that. Kids are great – they always ask the right questions. If only I’d had known the answer. At university and college I started to meet more Muslims. It was only then that I learned to embrace who I was. But it wasn’t until I left University that I really started to learn more and wanted
to expand my knowledge further. A year ago, I considered for the first time what it would be like to start wearing a hijab. It felt like the next natural step for I am a Muslimah after all, and I am proud of that, proud of what Islam stands for and proud of the fact I can be a part of it. Wearing hijab not only meant that I was going to be modest and save my beauty for people who deserve to see me like that, but that I could also please my Creator – who blessed me with all this in the first place. Subhanallah, on March 2009 I decided to do it – I made my decision and walked into work donning my hijab. There I was, the only non – Christian, non-white stepping through the doors of these chic, corporate offices, letting my hijab do the talking. And again, like Donna, they were all so supportive and complimentary that it was truly overwhelming. Above all, it made me even more proud that I could do this form of Dawah and get people asking questions about a concept that seemed so alien to them. Unfortunately outside of work things were not so smooth. I was more than shocked to find that not all of my friends approved of the hijab. One friend in particular who had worked with me in the fashion industry took a particular dislike to it. And given the fact this person was a Buddist and of mixed ethnicity was shocking to me for they of all people should have been able to relate to my beliefs right? Well obviously not... the conversation that took place is recorded on the right:
The Conversation Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahu wabrakatuhu
choice... was nervous at first but it’s all good now!
(name has been omitted and replaced with Friend ... and TQ is me by the way!)
Friend But how about jobs??? You might not get a job cos of it....esp in fashion! Well i don’t know but i reckon so. Like ppl are always stereotyping and blah...not to say...u should fit in...But really??? u can still be modest without one. And YOU are sooo pretty....i guess u can always take it off....
Friend How are u? What’s new in your life? TQ I’m good thx ... what’s new? Well, ummm… I got a new image thang going on - i look completely different now....! (cue the questions…) Friend Why the new image? What u been changing? Show me! Got new pics? TQ I’ve taken all my pics down... most of them, well basically... I am donning the veil now! I.e. Hijab!!!! I know – you were not expecting that were you. I love it though... Friend Why??? Why do u wanna wear one of those? And u got nice hair! It needs the sun and air.... TQ Lol - bless your crazy mohican... i have done it for religious reasons... was thinking about it for months so wasn’t an easy decision... i still rock it my unique Tabsy style though! Friend Yeah...i guess....but don’t get why when u don’t have to...you’re pretty as well...not to say you look ugly with a thing around your head but imagine in summer!!!!!!!!!! Gonna have tan lines and be sweating all day. u should’ve thought about it in summer time... anyways...why do Muslim’s wear head scarves??xx TQ Dude, it’s not just Muslims who wear it as part of their religion, Christianity and Judaism calls for it too. It is a sign of modesty really and bottom line, it’s an order from God... the view is that women are held very highly and are seen to be precious and to avoid being objectified, its best to observe modesty ... there so much homework I have done around it and at first i thought it was unnecessary as well but i guess when i learned more about it and after I questioned everything, i felt that it made sense for me... i dunno if you believe in God but i think sometimes when you believe in a supreme being you just have to accept that they know better than you do! don’t worry, I’m not being forced into it, my own
TQ Yeah i know they are friend, but you know what? At least i know that any job i DO get is based is based on merit rather than the way i look. At work i am known as the trendy chick with the hair and the make -up and sadly that is all that defines me. I had a conf call a few months ago and the team on the other end was asking how my team would describe me in one word and guess what everyone said ‘stylish’ and that’s it. Everyone else got intelligent, witty, even joker… and I got a superficial word! But I am in a pretty prominent position in my current role and so far the response towards my hijab has been nothing less than positive! Sounds like you really are against the whole covering thing! Thx for the compliment and I guess i can always take it off but i wont... I’m still me, still Tabsy, still have the same passions and personality, ain’t changed, guess now there is just a more real visual display of what makes me, me! Friend Yeah.....merit is all fine and well but if you got looks...show them off and grab the job??? Or at least take it off for the interview and then put it back on....i dunno...I just get protective of my friends and want the best of them...like you’re changing your WHOLE life doing this....won’t you feel insecure when no dudes look at u? That will affect your psyche????????? TQ Looooooool - HELL to the NO! I am comfortable in myself not to feel insecure when no dudes look at me! Lol, why would you even say that Friend... Im not that superficial…!! Anyway, I am sorted on that front so I don’t need to be looked at by any other man thanks very much. The conversation that I had with this person did not offend me, just surprised. But I think over time they can see how important it has been to me.. In fact , these reactions actually strengthen my resolve and when I talk to them and explain my side, I know then that Allah is with me and I made the right decision.
RAMADAN RETREAT WITH UTRUJJ FOUNDATION
RAMADAN IS THE MONTH OF PATIENCE AYESHA MIAN Every year, we eagerly await Ramadan and find that, just as we are settling into the rhythm of fasting, extra night prayers and Qur’an recitation, the month is already coming to an end. If we were to prepare ourselves before the month started, both spiritually and practically, the hope is that we would be more ready, and likely to gain extra benefit from these precious thirty days. It is with this aim of preparing us for Ramadan that Utrujj Foundation, as part of its Summer Beehive programme organised a weekend retreat in Buckinghamshire. The Utrujj Foundation, the leading Islamic educational institution in the UK, seeks not just to spread knowledge but more importantly to inspire change, applying this knowledge to improve our character and spirituality, and in turn our society and closeness to our Creator. Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the chairman and founder of Utrujj, providing a principal vision for Islamic learning which has influenced the way Islamic
knowledge is disseminated in the UK. While responsible for orchestrating the design and delivery of over 290 different courses, Shaykh Haytham Tamim’s vast teaching experience has manifested in changing many lives. Utrujj offer’s the students an experience that will produce an everlasting scent in our lives and those around them. The leafy surroundings and idyllic atmosphere served as a fitting location to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and facilitate a highly spiritual experience. The weekend began with a beautiful recitation of the Qur’an, reminding us of the verses of fasting [2:183-187], and moved on to a schedule packed with a mixture of sessions on the rulings on fasting, spiritual reflections, and group workshops aimed at developing skills on how to approach the verses of fasting in the Qur’an and practically apply them to our lives. The evening was filled with a powerful reminder by Shaykh Haytham on the spiritual aspect of Ramadan, inspiring students to try and attain higher levels of closeness to and remembrance of Allah through fasting. Students learnt of Imam Al Ghazali’s
three levels of distinction in fasting: The ordinary fast, observed through the abstention of eating, drinking and sexual intercourse during daylight hours A level above this, the fasting of the limbs in abstaining from sins, where the hearing, sight, tongue, and rest of the body abstain from taking part in anything disliked or unlawful. The highest level, which is the fasting of the heart from everything else besides Allah. We learnt that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said “Ramadan is the month of patience” [Ahmad]. Patience was defined by Shaykh Haytham as “being in control”, and this is an integral feature of Ramadan, where we try to control not only our desire for food, drink and sexual intercourse but also our eyes, ears, tongue and temper. The practical ways in which to prepare ourselves in the month of Sha’ban are by increasing our voluntary fasts in this month increasing our daily recitation of the Qur’an. )Teaching on the second day was focused on our eating and drinking habits during Ramadan, with Hakim Salim Khan speaking about the importance of
healthy and balanced eating. One of the highlights of the retreat were the congregational prayers throughout the day and night, which refreshed our souls and took us to even further away from our worldly concerns.
www.utrujj.org Page 7
BOSNIA - A PERSONAL JOURNEY
Nothing could have prepared me for this. Here I am at the mass grave site- just thousands and thousands of graves many of them unmarked. Here I was looking at some of the date of births of the victims some young as 13 years old when their lives were so brutally taken. This experience has had a massive affect on me. I had no idea this photograph had been taken.
With Tobias Ellwood MP for Bournemouth East, William Hague Shadow Foreign Minister, myself and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi Shadow Minister for Social Action and Community Cohesion. Here I was really keen to show William some of the toys that I had managed to get local businesses to donate in the UK so I could take them over to schools in Bosnia. My suitcase was more over the baggage allowance than it ever has been before! Page 8
I remember hearing about the massive massacre when I was in school. Nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed with a further 25,000 Muslim women and children deported and I thought at the time - how can this be allowed to happen in this day and age with democratic neighbours so close by. Having spent the past week talking to local businesses about the trip and gathering contributions from them, to reading as much as I can about what happened in the region, I still wasn’t even close to being able to imagine what these communities have had to suffer. After a two-hour drive to Gatwick and two flights, Lady Nott who set up the Fund for Refugees in Slovenia in 1992 with Baroness Thatcher as Patron, met us at Sarajevo airport. Myself, Baroness Warsi and Lady Nott shared a car to Srebrenicia (approximately a four-hour drive). As we drove through the hills I could see so many building – shelled and
everywhere signs of massacre. Such a beautiful country had been forced to endure such torment. The car journey was particularly emotional: I recall asking Lady Nott what drove her to set up the charity and she told me of an area she visited with some girls as young as 11 who had been raped- all waiting for abortions at least 40 packed into one room. In many cases she told of how fathers and brothers of these girls had been forced to rape them at gun point and were then taken and shot, with the girls left to deal with the aftermath. Many who weren’t waiting for abortions had indeed taken their own lives and hung themselves. After the four-hour drive to Srebrenicia I thought we would go and meet our host families in the area and have an early night to start our work fresh the following day but that was not to be the case. Baroness Warsi had other ideas for us. She took us to a mass grave site she had visited on a trip to Bosnia a few weeks earlier - the very site of the Dutch UN ‘safe area’ where there were thousands of unmarked graves. In July 1995 it was the Serb troops and paramilitaries led by Ratko Mladic that descended
This gorgeous little boy is Suleman, Here he is at nursery playing with some of the toys we took in.
on Srebrenica and began shelling it. The scars are very much still evident, buildings still shelled, schools covered in bullet holes, factories abandoned not to mention the torment of those left behind desperately trying to piece together just what happened to their loved ones. We watched a video in the ‘peace camp’ telling of the horrors of ethnic cleansing - the fight to stay alive and the sheer brutality of the killings. When the video finished our group walked out from the darkened room and none of us said a word for sometime. We all walked across to the other part of the room where items that had been recovered from victim’s bodies were placed with a photograph of them and a brief history of their life, just normal people living a very normal life faced with such tragedy. Fifteen years on from this brutal genocide and many Muslims are still not at peace - of course how can they be they are still desperately waiting for news on whether bodies of their men have been identified. (A sad fact a body may only be buried here once and only 70% of the remains have been recovered). One lady who had lost over a hundred family members spoke of her joy at having recovered her husbands body, well at least part of it. He was decapitated. She was forced to bury him without his head but it gave her some closure at the very least. As part of this project we undertook three major tasks constructing a football pitch, refurbishing an IT suite in a local secondary school and building a house for a refugee family. Day one saw me working on the school, painting the walls, scrubbing the floors and getting really stuck into the work. We were very lucky to have the most amazing translator that day, Arminka, whose family had been affected by the events in the 90’s. It was amazing to hear her recollections from the time - all I could think was what crime did these people commit? Why was being Muslim seen as such an offence? After a very long hard day all three project teams got back together for our evening meal, some of the local youngsters put on a dance for us which we all ended up taking part in. The following days saw us working on the local house project and the football pitch. One of the most rewarding experiences was certainly just talking to locals and hearing their experiences. I cannot believe that such an awful tragedy happened in my own lifetime.
This lady is here with her grandaughter - I visited their house earlier in the week- here they had come up to watch us open the football pitch that the team had constructed. This little girls mum was Serbian and her father Muslim.
This is just a building I was walking past- right by the school I wanted to capture this as the building had been completely shelled. Also you can see where there are bullet holes all across the building partly masked by grafiti. It is tragic that nearly fifteen years on from the massacre this is what children have to walk past just to get to school
This was one of the most amazing moments of this trip although there have been many. The Grand Mufti agreed to meet with us. He was such a calm and learned man it was an absolute honor to sit with him and hear his experiences. Here I am with him, Baroness Warsi and some of the other parliamentary candidates.
Politicians have not been popular in recent times but this social action project has really proved to me that it is time for change. We must get involved in issues at a grass roots level both nationally and internationally. I feel it is imperative that we help Bosnia get back on track. Helping Bosnia become stable would set it on the perfect path to EU membership. Lord Ashcroft also joined us on our trip - it just goes to show that everyone is prepared to work together for a common purpose. The importance of social action cannot be denied. It is only by working together now that we can ever learn from the mistakes of the past and move forward. What has struck me most about this experience is the willingness of the Bosnian Muslims to forgive - I cannot imagine how big their hearts are to be so determined to stay in Srebrenica, forgive the horrors they have seen and try and build a better future for their children. I would hope that we never see another disaster like the one in Srebrenicia ever again. Educating children and young people to be tolerant and to embrace
each other’s differences is surely the way for the future. As a British Muslim going to Bosnia was all the more poignant - we can’t hide from the fact that it was indeed the failure of the international community that led to this atrocity-taking place. Under David Cameron however, I really do feel part of a very exciting new type of politics. It’s a politics which sees everyone from members of the shadow cabinet, the House of Lords and party activists such as myself getting involved on the ground level, rolling our sleeves up to make a real and lasting contribution to change. The Conservative Party’s Social Action Project in Bosnia was headed up by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi in her capacity as Shadow Minister for Social action and Community Cohesion. Editors NOTE: The Muslim Paper is not affiliated with any political party. The Muslim Paper endeavours to publish articles from prominent members of various political parties in future publications.
Here is the final photo of the trip landing safe and sound with Baroness Warsi at Heathrow airport. I really don’t think we realised how tired we all were. Adrenalin had kept us going through the trip some nights we only managed 3 hours sleep. This was emotional saying farewells to all of the team. Baroness Warsi and I have both fallen in love with Bosnia and I hope we get to go back and do this project in years to come.
Katun’s Kitchen CREATIVE COOKING MADE EASY
Salmon Salsa with Dolmio Masala This dish is inspired by Mexican cuisine where a lot of tomatoes and peppers are used with a tomato-based spicy sauce. This dish can be eaten with rice or in a tortilla wrap. I have chosen to use salmon instead of chicken to add a little variety. Eating fish is better than poultry or red meat as Salmon contains omega three fats and vitamin D and is and an excellent source of B6 and magnesium. Ingredients 4 pieces Salmon fillets ½ red onion chopped ½ red pepper chopped ½ yellow pepper chopped 2 clove garlic chopped ½ tsp curry powder ½ tsp coriander powder ½ tsp cumin seeds 4 tbs Dolmio or any tomato based sauce 2tbs olive oil Salt and pepper to taste Method In order to make the salsa sauce, first fry the garlic and cumin seeds until golden brown. Page 10
Then add the onion and pepper and season with salt. Fry for 10 minutes until the onions and pepper are soft. Then add the curry powder and coriander powder and fry for two minutes. Then add the Dolmio sauce and let it simmer for 10 minutes. If the
masala dries up then add a little water. In a separate bowl marinate the salmon with salt and pepper and one tbs of olive oil. Heat a griddle pan until hot. Then add the salmon (no need to add oil in the pan). Cook each side
for approximately five minutes each. Add the salmon with the masala turning the salmon a few times so that it mixes nicely with the masala. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top and serve with boiled rice or tortilla wraps.
THERE IS NO WORSE VESSEL THAN OUR STOMACHS
A PERSPECTIVE OF FASTING IN RAMADAN TAHIR ALI
Fasting gives us the opportunity for self-awareness With the Holy Month of Ramadan coming to an end, I thought it might be beneficial to mention a few things about this Blessed month. The Quran says regarding fasting “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you” (2:183). The word in Arabic for fasting is Siyam whose root word means to be at rest. But rest from what is the question? Rest from our habits to eat or drink and constantly consume one thing or another. We Muslims unfortunately have amongst the worst diets in spite of the teachings of the Quran and Sunna. For example, most diseases we suffer from in the west are diseases of excess, e.g. diabetes, obesity and so on, and in third world countries, diseases are due to a lack or malnutrition. The holy Prophet (S.A.W.A) has said, “There is no worse vessel filled than the stomach” He also said, “Paradise has a gate named Rayyan. None except a fasting person will enter Paradise by that gate”. From a health perspective, fasting is purification; it helps remove toxins from the body, which have been caused by over indulgence. Psychologically it makes us aware of bad habits, addictions we may have and may other vices we may have. This new awareness, initiated by fasting, gives us the opportunity to make changes in our attitudes, and lifestyles. In the Prophetic model we have the
perfect guidelines to eating, e.g. He said “Do not make your stomachs a tomb for dead animals” and “Your stomach should have 1/3 water, 1/3 dhikr”. It is reported that the Holy Prophet would only have two types of food in a meal. This is one of the many advantages of fasting, the sudden withdrawal from the normal routine suddenly highlights those habits upon which we have fixed our emotional and psychological dependencies, over and above the real needs of our bodies sustenance. Addictions to tea, coffee, cigarettes and other substances become glaringly evident. In my practice, I see many people with eating disorders, which are caused by emotional imbalances. Fasting gives us the opportunity for selfawareness to make those changes and incites compassion for those who are less fortunate than we are. There are many people in the world, who survive on less than a Pound a day. Just imagine when we go to fast food restaurants or coffee shops how much we spend. Let us try to eat and drink in moderation and have awareness of what we put into our bodies, this action alone would start to improve our health and hopefully the health of others.
Tahir Ali is a practicing Iridologist, Master Herbalist and Naturopath based in east London, He can be reached on 07931 961 500 or heathcoteclinic@hotmail Page 11
REVIEWS THEATRE REVIEW
THE LEGEND OF KUNG FU
The women scholars in Islam, by Mohammed Akram Nadwi
al-Muhaddithat ARFY MAJEED There are very few authentic books on prominent women that inspire generations to come. To find one on Muslim women is very rare, but to read one on many Muslim women is a treasure trove. This book is a preface of the compilation of a decades work during which A Nadwi documented biographical accounts of 8,000 female scholars of hadith (Muhaddithat). Before he began his research the scholar, a fellow of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies was
The general assumption that this book is women’s studies or a portrayal of feminist agenda’s must not be made as mentioned by the author in the preface. There is no campaign to win rights from men to women. The book makes clear that from the time of the death of the Prophet, (peace and blessings of God be on him), there was no period during which men had certain privileges to act or think or speak over women, but it was the duty of both men and women to teach and interpret the religion. The women were called upon for advice during the time of the Prophet, and were sought for fiqh and fatwas due to their extensive knowledge from later generations.
..men were sometimes students to their wives.. ARFY MAJEED The story of Chu Yi Is now a famous international one. The young boy, an exceptional student with only his overwhelming ego holding him back, has to learn the final lessons on inner peace and enlightenment. Here the story is presented under the direction of Su Shijin and Ray Roderick. Both exceptional entertainers, spared no tricks in creating the most dazzling displays of martial arts, acrobatics and dance routines. The overall choreography is an outstanding display of masterful, physical talent.
However in telling the story of Chun Yi is where the show fails. Unless your familiar with the tale its very easy to wonder what exactly is going on amongst all the fancy footwork. For those of us just wanting some great martial art displays, this is one of the best shows you’re ever likely to watch, but for those of us wanting something more of a deeper story line, its rather disappointing.
(Currently showing at the Coliseum, London).
The overall choreography is an outstanding display of masterful, physical talent. Page 12
not aware of the number of scholars he would uncover. That women were able to attain a high rank in all fields of knowledge, that they were actually preferred over men to teach fiqh and tafsir due to their longer lifespan, that after Hajj students would flock to Medina to learn from the Muhaddithat, and that men were sometimes students to their wives, is an unknown fact. During the course of the book, the author documents extracts from the biographies. Each story can take one’s understanding of the history of Islam, and turn it on its head. For example, Fatimah bint Sa’d al Khayr, a scholar who studied from a very young age in Isfahan, Baghdad and Cairo. Her teaching career spanned mainly these last two cities, and many scholars travelled there expressly to study with her. Her students went on to be prominent scholars and jurists who spread her knowledge to Damascus, Tinnis in Egypt and Jit (near Nablus). The front cover of the book is a map of her study journeys and that of her principal teachers and students.
Bearing this in mind, this book is highly recommended for both men and women.
DOES ORIGIN REALLY MATTER?
Young Muslims living in London’s multicultural society tend to have friends from a range of ethnic backgrounds. As a result they often leave their culture at home when they are out with their mates. However, the individual’s origin – ancestry, roots, parentage, background and culture – is still something that is important to them when building a network of friends. Knowing a person’s culture and lifestyle helps to cement the foundations of friendships. But problems can arise when friendship turns to love. In the South Asian community during childhood, quite often, instead of being treated to sunny beach resorts during the summer holidays parents take their kids back to their homeland (Pakistan, Bangladesh, India etc.) The aim is to make youngsters aware of our roots, traditions, and culture through visiting
extended family. Never-the-less, many young Asians fall in love with people from other origins. What is all the fuss about I wonder? For many British Muslims the character of a potential partner becomes irrelevant as long as they are Muslim. Would it be fair to say that seeking a suitable partner for marriage has become increasingly difficult, since some of us Brits choose to reject proposals from back home or we are obsessed with physical attributes such as height and complexion, or perhaps material wealth and status is very important to us?
Many people fall in love with people of other origins. What is all the fuss about I wonder? However, over recent years, singletons have succumbed to the fact that perfection does not exist. Islamic teachings suggest that we should not decline a potential marriage proposal because of a person’s ethnic origin. A Muslim matrimonial website for singles globally recently revealed through an on-going singles poll, the importance of marrying someone with the same nationality. Results reveal that 24% agreed that it is very important that their partner shares the same nationality: 36% felt that nationality
is a consideration, but not an essential one. However, a staggering 40% felt that nationality doesn’t matter when looking for a marriage partner. Typically, with the exception of a few, the Muslim bride joins the groom’s family and makes adjustments to her lifestyle, by moving out of her parents’ home. She also carries forward his family lineage. Because of this, the children are usually taught the father’s language and therefore, it is believed that diverse origins are welcomed by the male more openly than the female. However, people still have their reservations about marrying someone from a different origin. These include concerns of family culture clashes, losing one’s cultural identity, concerns that only father’s language would be taught to future children and some feel that it would be unfair on their future children to be brought up with a mixed background. Furthermore, the communication between two families joined in matrimony and them getting on well is something that is desired by most. Thus, quite often, Brits barricade themselves from looking further than their own origin and this has contributed to the increasing number of single people, as they are restricting their options. Language barriers can easily be overcome by the use of common languages, i.e. English. It also depends
on the individual and their flexibility and the type of lifestyle one is willing to lead. For example, if a couple live their life according to Islamic teachings and not culture, they would probably find it easier to mix.
When seeking a marriage partner, it would be wise to discuss issues such as lifestyle, culture, traditions, religious views, expectations and future upbringing of children beforehand to establish a common ground for a potential mixed marriage. This would in essence, enhance the success of a potential marriage. Well go on…ask yourself, does origin really matter? Page 13
SHARKS ARE HERE!! MEET NAMERA TANJEEM AZIZ
BABY SHARK OF THE MONTH
I am nine years old and in Y4 at Barley Lane Primary School. I have a baby brother who is one year old and his name is
Q. What is your favourite book? A. I read a lot, and so it is difficult to choose a book. However, I would say I liked The Taggerung by Brian Jaques. Q. Why do you like writing? A. I like writing because I
DO YOU WANT TO JOIN THE BABY SHARKS WRITING CLUB? The Baby Sharks will be given the chance to interview various prominent personalities, write articles, and learn how to improve their writing skills through journalism. If you want to join the BABY SHARKS please email babysharks@ themuslimpaper.com with your name and age. Make sure you ask for your parents’ permission first.
email@example.com Page 14
always have good story and poem ideas. Q. What do you like about Redbridge? A. I like the library because it is full of books. Q. What don’t you like about Redbridge? A. I don’t think I dislike
anything about Redbridge. Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to write but finds it hard? A. If there was someone finding writing difficult I would say, “Use your imagination. “It might help if you pictured all the adventures you would like to have, then write them down.
MARY HAD A LITTLE CAKE Mary had a little cake She really found it nice. She wouldn’t have a stomach ache If she didn’t do it twice. Mary had a water gun She squirted everyone in the park. She got arrested by the government And the gun got eaten by a lark. Mary had a monster It ate everyone it could see. But when she saw the lamb in the dumpster She flung the monster to Scotland, Dundee.
Berrylicious Smoothie Summer berries may be at their best while they are in season but most supermarkets carry an acceptable alternative in their freezer sections. They are excellent source of antioxidants and one of the richest sources of vitamin C. Fruit smoothies are one way of getting children to have their fivea-day. Get them involved and try this recipe with them. This way they will be getting nutrition they need and keep them preoccupied. This recipe is also quite filling and provides a lot of energy after they have tired you and themselves out in the kitchen. . Nutritional Value: Vitamin C,
Calcium, Antioxidants and full of fibre. Ingredients ½ cup of strawberries ½ cup of raspberries ½ cup of blueberries 1 cup of natural yogurt 2 tbs apple juice Method Mix all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve with straw.
NASIMA KATUN Page 15
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