7th July 2006
PEACE AND BLESSINGS OF GOD BE UPON ALL OF YOU
I SEEK REFUGE IN THE ALMIGHTY FROM ALL PERVERSITY AND EVIL
IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE MOST GRACIOUS, THE MOST MERCIFUL
ALL PRAISE IS DUE TO THE CREATOR, THE LORD OF ALL THE WORLDS
I BEAR WITNESS THAT THERE IS NO DEITY EXCEPT ALMIGHTY GOD WHO IS UNIQUE UNTO HIMSELF AND HAS NO ASSOCIATE OR PARTNER
I TESTIFY THAT MUHAMMAD IS HIS SERVANT AND MESSENGER
PEACE AND SALUTATION TO MUHAMMAD AND TO HIS COMMUNITY
Today is a very solemn and somber day. It marks the first anniversary of the horrendous London bombings. A year ago, a co-ordinated attack on London’s transport system led to the death of 52 people and the injury of over 700 people. These bombs which brought such carnage and chaos were the work of four extremely misguided men who claimed that they that they were Muslims and that they subscribed to the Islamic faith. These individuals had taken it upon themselves took to wreak murder, mayhem and havoc in London because of what they perceive to be political injustice and the grossly anti-Islamic foreign policy of the West.
It is clear that these impressionable men from Leeds and Luton acted without regard to the clear and explicit injunctions of the Holy Qur’an. Any close examination of the both the original text and theology of Islam makes it absolutely explicit that there can be no justification for any collective and indiscriminate killing of people. In fact, the sacred scripture of Islam is replete with references, which condemns in no uncertain terms, the unjustified slaughter of civilians, the unlawful murder of people as well as illegitimate mass murder. Actions like these have nothing to do with the pristine teachings of the Holy Qur’an.
We read in Surah al-Ma’idah Chapter 5 Verse 32:
ANYONE WHO MURDERS ANY PERSON WHO HAD NOT COMMITTED MURDER OR HORRENDOUS CRIMES, IT SHALL BE AS IF HE MURDERED ALL THE PEOPLE. AND ANYONE WHO SPARES A LIFE, IT SHALL BE AS IF HE SPARED THE LIVES OF ALL THE PEOPLE.
Here we have it in black and white. This passage denounces in unequivocal terms that no one has an inalienable right or self-assumed prerogative to engage in unjustified killings and mass murder. The Holy Qur’an says in quite categorical terms that no one has the prerogative to take the life of other people. It uses the forceful imagery of declaring that when someone is killed without just cause, without due process and legal proceedings, then it is akin to the killing of the whole of humanity. Such graphic language is deliberately employed to emphasise the gravity of such criminal action. God will hold the perpetrators of such evil accountable for the suffering and slaughter that they have caused. The transcendent Qur’an also goes on to affirm that the reverse is true. When anyone saves the life of another, when someone puts his life on the line to help others, when a person goes out of his or her way to protect the life of even a single individual who is in a perilous and threatened situation, this good deed is tantamount to having saved all of humanity. Such a meritorious effort is deserving of the highest praise and commendation says the Holy Qur’an.
From this verse, we see that it is Qur’anic imperative that no one, however much they wish to cite either fabricated pronouncements of the Prophet Muhammad (ahadith) or rely on the dubious theological rulings (fatwahs) of contemporary clerics, has the right to take the lives of other people. The giving and taking of life is an exclusive divine prerogative and humans are not entitled to kill or murder with impunity or recklessness. And this unambiguous restriction applies to all individuals, groups, states, nations or governments.
On the subject of killing and the taking of life, the Holy Qur’an instructs Muslims to desist from all such action without valid reasons and due legal process: In this connection, we read in Surah al-Furqan 25:68:
THEY NEVER IMPLORE BESIDE GOD ANY OTHER GOD, NOR DO THEY TAKE THE LIFE OF ANYONE WHICH GOD HAS FORBIDDEN – EXCEPT IN THE COURSE OF JUSTICE AND TRUTH
This Qur’anic verse reiterates the dictum that humans have no right to kill and murder anyone for unlawful reasons. There can be no indiscriminate killing or premeditated murder. This is a firm and uncompromising Islamic precept. It is a fundamental bedrock of Islam that people do not have an automatic or unilateral right to take the life of others. Murder and killing, in other words, is condemned without reservation in Islam. No one has the right to play God, to assume the powers of God, to kill others with impunity. This is an Islamic injunction that cannot be compromised or curtailed in any way. We read in Surah Bani-Isra’il, Chapter 17:33:
AND DO NOT KILL ANY ONE WHOM GOD HAS FORBIDDEN, EXCEPT FOR A JUST CAUSE, AND WHOEVER IS SLAIN UNJUSTLY, WE HAVE INDEED GIVEN TO HIS KIN AUTHORITY, SO LET HIM NOT EXCEED THE JUST LIMITS IN SLAYING; SURELY HE IS HELPED
In this passage, the Holy Qur’an reminds believers that they cannot take the law into their own hands, that they cannot be judge, jury and executioner. This verse, like the others, reinforces the notion that the taking of life is an extremely serious matter and that no one can do so without just cause, without due process and without proper legal proceedings.
So, here we have a brief selection of Qur’anic extracts that renders it crystal clear that murder and killing is not tolerated in Islam. No matter how sublime the reason, no matter how compelling the cause, life is sacred and that is a fixed Islamic principle, which cannot be compromised by any religious authority or any theological ruling from the ulama (clerics) or fuqahah (jurists). Irrespective of their self-assumed religious status, they cannot impose their supplemental man-made opinions and judgements, which clearly violates the transcendent principles of the Holy Qur’an. Their subordinate ‘rulings’ are synthetic and artificial, contrary to the transcendent Islamic precepts, which are derived from the immutable text of God. The word of man cannot take precedence over the unalterable word of God.
What must be stressed is that Islam and the Holy Qur’an values all human life. Life is God’s gift to humanity, and is not to be squandered or abused. Therefore, those four misguided Muslim men who rationalised that they were doing what Islam condones in slaughtering innocent civilians and killing people at random cannot claim that they were acting in accordance of the original teaching of the Holy Qur’an. Even their assertions that they were engaging in jihad are spurious and have no substance. Jihad is primarily a justified struggle to combat personal egotism and the negative inner demons as a means to intensify individual spirituality and righteousness. It is not a license to kill nor can it be used to condone indiscriminate violent reaction to perceived injustices or legitimate grievances.
The latest video broadcast by one of the bombers yesterday seeks to justify that their reaction to iniquitous Anglo-American imperialism and British foreign policy. Even then, nothing can validate or excuse the taking of lives of innocent people as it violates both the Qur’an and the inspirational practices of the Holy Prophet. The Prophet Muhammad warned his followers that all innocent civilians, women, children, the elderly and the disabled should never be harmed during war let alone during peacetime. In any declared and legitimate conflict, only the enemy fighters can be engaged, all others must be spared in accordance with the specific commandments of the Holy Qur’an.
What cannot be stressed enough is that the ill-advised four bombers cannot claim any Qur’anic legitimacy whatsoever for their acts of random terrorism and indiscriminate bloodshed. As Muslims we must condemn their actions in no uncertain terms and work with all our neighbours, colleagues, friends and the rest of the general public to ensure that these actions are not repeated in this country.Inshallah.
The loss of every life is precious. It causes heart-rending grief and turmoil to all those who are left behind. Just last week, a long time member of MECO suffered an irreplaceable loss. And we have each in our own small way also experienced first hand, this devastating loss, when Hassan, the son of Bashir Hussain tragically drowned in the River Cherwell while playing with his friends in the Oxford University park. This small but sad incident has produced an outpouring of emotion and sadness that only serves to reinforce the fragility and beauty of life. For this reason alone, we must always treasure each person’s humanity.
As we remember the tremendous loss of Hassan, so we should also mourn the great loss of each of the 52 victims of the bombings in London last year. In Islam, the death of every individual is lamented and mourned and we are commanded to say when someone has died: INNA LI ILAHI AND INNA ILAYHI RA’JI’UN. SURELY, TO GOD WE BELONG, AND TO GOD WE SHALL RETURN.
So, to conclude this portion of the khutbah, let us recognise and pray for each of the 52 victims of the London bombings, including the four innocent Muslims killed that day. Let us then as Muslims send messages of sympathy, support and solidarity to all the bereaved and their families. We will now read the names of those who were killed. Will you please say the Islamic prayer of: INNA LI ILAHI AND INNA ILAYHI RA’JI’UN. SURELY, TO GOD WE BELONG, AND TO GOD WE SHALL RETURN.
|THE DECEASED OF THE LONDON BOMBINGS
(in alphabetical order)
|1.||JAMES ADAMS,||32,||a mortgage broker|
|2.||SAMANTHA BADHAM,||36,||business executive|
|3.||LEE BAISDEN,||34,||an accountant|
|4.||PHIL BEER,||22||a hair stylist|
|5.||ANNA BRANDT,||42,||a Polish cleaner|
|6.||MICHAEL STANLEY BREWSTER,||52,||highways engineer|
|7.||BERNADETTA CIACCIA,||30,||an Italian-born business analyst|
|8.||CIARAN CASSIDY,||22,||office secretary|
|9.||ELIZABETH DAPLYN,||26,||business administrator|
|10.||JONATHAN DOWNEY,||34,||Human Resources systems development officer|
|11.||RICHARD ELLERY,||21,||Jessops store manager|
|12.||ANTHONY FATAYI-WILLIAMS,||26,||a Nigerian-born executive|
|13.||DAVID FOULKES,||22,||media sales worker|
|14.||ARTHUR EDLIN FREDERICK,||60,||retired senior citizen|
|15.||KAROLINA GLUCK,||29||IT consultant|
|16.||JAMIE GORDON,||30,||worker for City Asset Management|
|17.||RICHARD GRAY,||41,||a tax manager|
|18.||GANZE GUNORAL,||24,||a Turkish student|
|19.||LEE HARRIS,||30,||an architect|
|20.||GILES HART,||55,||a BT engineer|
|21.||MARIE HARTLEY,||34,||Lancashire visitor to London|
|22.||MIRIAM HYMAN,||31,||a picture researcher|
|23.||OJARA IKEAGWU,||55,||a social worker|
|24.||SHAHARA AKTHER ISLAM,||20,||a bank cashier|
|25.||NEETU JAIN,||37,||a computer analyst|
|26.||EMILY JENKINS,||24,||office assistant|
|27.||ADRIAN JOHNSON,||37,||product technical manager|
|28.||HELEN JONES||28,||a London-based accountant|
|29.||SUSAN LEVY,||53,||office manager|
|30.||SAM LY,||28,||from Melbourne, Australia|
|31.||SHELLEY MATHER,||26,||from New Zealand|
|32.||MICHAEL MATSUSHITA,||37,||a tour guide|
|33.||JAMES MAYES,||28,||a Healthcare Commission analyst|
|34.||ANNE MOFFAT,||48,||head of marketing and communications|
|35.||COLIN MORLEY,||52,||a building engineer|
|36.||BEHNAZ MOZAKKA,||47,||a biomedical records officer|
|37.||JENNY NICHOLSON,||24,||company PA|
|38.||MIHAELA OTTO,||46,||a dental technician|
|39.||SHYANUJA PARATHASANGARY,||30,||a Post Office worker|
|40.||ANAT ROSENBURG,||39,||an Israeli-born charity worker|
|41.||PHILIP RUSSELL,||28,||finance worker|
|42.||ATIQUE SHARIFI,||24,||an Afghan refugee|
|43.||IHAB SLIMANE,||19,||French-Tunisian waiter|
|44.||CHRISTIAN ‘NJOYA’ SMALL,||28,||an advertising salesman|
|45.||FIONA STEVENSON,||29,||a solicitor|
|46.||MONIKA SUCHOCKA,||23,||trainee accountant from Poland|
|47.||CARRIE TAYLOR,||24,||graduate assistant|
|48.||MALA TRIVEDI,||38,||a nurse|
|49.||WILLIAM WISE,||54,||business manager|
|50.||LAURA WEBB,||29,||an office PA|
|51.||GLADYS WUNDOWA,||50,||a cleaner at University College London|
|52.||RACHELLE CHUNGFOR YUEN,||27,||an accountant|
May God Almighty have mercy on the souls of all those who lost their lives in the horrific bombings last year and may the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth forgive their sins and grant them felicity and success in the Hereafter for having their lives cut short by brutal acts of violent extremism. Inshallah. And let us pray that there is no repetition of such illegal killings in Britain and that British Muslims use legitimate channels and democratic means to direct their opposition to government policy.
PART TWO – SECOND KHUTHBAH
ALL PRAISE IS DUE TO GOD, PEACE AND GREETINGS TO THE MESSENGER OF GOD, ON MUHAMMAD, THE SEAL OF THE PROPHETS AND THE NOBLEST OF GOD’S MESSENGERS. BLESSINGS TO MUHAMMAD’S COMPANIONS AND COMMUNITY.
Those who attend this Jumu’ah (Friday prayers) regularly, knows that in common with the practice of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, the first portion of the khutbah (sermon) deals with matters relating to din, the spiritual and theological dimensions of Islam, while the second part of the khutbah focuses on dunya, the world around us and what the informed Muslim response should be to current events and world affairs.
Given the solemnity of the day, it is important that we analyse and devote some time as to why the London bombings occurred. When we do so, we find that there is a state of denial all round. There is denial within the British establishment and there is equivalent denial within the Muslim community.
There is willful denial by the British Government that its foreign policy has nothing to do with the burgeoning of international terrorism. While Tony Blair’s rightwing Labour government may be delusional and living in an abject state of denial, there is no denying that this pro-US stooge in blindly supporting America in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine is directly responsible for the London bombings. No amount of intellectual sophistry, linguistic gymnastics or political subterfuge can minimise the ideological links that influences New Labour’s subservience to the ultra-conservative neo-cons in the US. Blair lives in cloud-cuckoo land to maintain, as he did three days ago, that there is no authentic Muslim grievance against his subservient pro-American policies. The videotapes of two of the four bombers now confirm that there is an undoubted connection between Blair’s pro-American policies and the London bombings. This does not justify such atrocities, but it certainly explains it.
Since Blair likes to claim that he is tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime, he must also be tough on terrorism and tough on the causes of terrorism. By not dealing with the root causes of contemporary terrorism, Blair has made it inevitable that by transforming the UK into the 51st state of the US and uncritically supporting neo-con politics as enunciated in the Project for the new American century, we in Britain will always remain vulnerable to violent extremism. If Blair had heeded the collective voice of 2 million people who protested in February 2003 against the illegal war he and his American boss were contemplating, we would not be in such a dire situation today. By conducting the illegitimate invasion and occupation of a sovereign Muslim country, Blair and Bush has boosted the rationale for extremists and radicals to pursue their murderous acts in places like London, Madrid, Istanbul and elsewhere. The British electorate must recognise this unholy alliance between New Labour and the US neo-cons and the culpability of Blair’s government in fueling international terrorism by aligning himself so fully with the present deranged incumbent of the White House. The sooner they do this and remove rightwing Labour from power and institute a fair and just British foreign policy, the sooner we will return to some semblance of global normality and witness an inevitable decrease in international violence.
While the British government is in a deliberate state of denial regarding the London bombings and refuses to permit a public inquiry into this atrocity, the Muslim community itself is culpable and also in a state of woeful denial. We therefore have an invidious state ofdouble denials on the part of Blair’s craven government and the British Muslim community.
For far too long Muslims have been content to be on the margins of society instead of being an integral part of the mainstream. This self-imposed apartheid mentality is largely the product of theological fanaticism, if not religious fascism, pedaled by foreign-inspired ultra-conservative clerics and out-of-touch ulama in Britain today. With the encouragement of the mullahs, we as Muslims, as a rule, do not mix and mingle freely with society at large. There is little productive socialisation with non-Muslims and no real integration with the British mainstream. Even the head of the London Mosque believes that there is no need for any real integration or genuine interfaith dialogue. While he gives lip service to these goals, this Wahhabi employee of the Saudi Embassy in the UK who is the director of Britain’s leading mosque, has instructed his imams not to mention or comment on last year’s bombings in today’s first anniversary Friday prayer service.
Such is the alienation, anger, antipathy and animosity towards mainstream Britain, that a recent poll reveals that over 10% of British Muslims regard the four London bombers as martyrs, deserving of the highest spiritual reward. In this context therefore, it is not surprising that Muslims have a particularly jaundiced view of themselves. They feel proud how they have integrated and contributed to British society, but this is clearly a based on a figment of their collective imagination as the reality is quite different. We British Muslims require fewer platitudes and much more practical action and psychological changes to evolve from an immigrant mindset to become fully fledged and integrated citizens. Muslims are past masters of conspiracy politics, the politics of fear, the mania of victimhood and the yearnings of nostalgia. But all of this, in the final analysis, is irrelevant to the future.
To deal with the enormous problems facing the British Muslim community, we must engage in a theological battle for the hearts and minds of the believers. The old, reactionary and ultra-conservative ideology, which has given rise to intolerance and an outmoded perspective of Islam, must be resisted by a re-emphasis on the Holy Qur’an and the restoration of ijtihad, logic and reason to Islam. Unless we do so, we will remain schizoid and hypocritical. On the one level we will be successful in secular life but on the other hand we will foster isolationist and irrelevant perspectives of Islam.
It is time that Muslims in Britain see themselves as permanent citizens and work toward making the whole society as a better place. We need to cut the theological umbilical cord that makes us dependent on religious extremism that emanates from the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent. Muslims must eliminate detrimental Wahhabi, Ikhwani, Salafi and Deobandi dogmas and produce a revised Islamic jurisprudence that is rooted in and relevant to 21st century Britain.
The distorted theological monopoly that is exerted by the ulama and fuqahah on British Muslims is stifling all creativity and only serves to increase their alienation and antipathy to Britain, Why is it that in terms of employment, education, health, criminality, housing and other socio-economic indicators that Muslims in this country are generally at the bottom of the ladder.
These issues need serious answers and we need to embrace new solutions while remaining true to the original teachings of the Holy Qur’an. If we embark on honest introspection and self-criticism, we will not only secure our future in this country but will also create the theological foundation and social climate that will make violent extremism and religious radicalism a thing of the past. But to do so, we need to be robust and realistic and be willing to adopt revolutionary changes and modifications in every walk of life. Anything else will be witness further alienation, anger and violence. The ball is in our court as well as in the governments!
In conclusion therefore let us ask Almighty God that we always remain true to the Islamic teachings of justice, equity, compassion and mercy. And in this vein, let us turn our thoughts and prayers to all those, Muslim and non-Muslim, who are in ill in hospitals and clinics today. Let us remember those who are in prisons and most particularly all those who are detained without just cause, be they asylum seekers or prisoners of conscious the world over. Let us also pray for all Muslims and non-Muslims who are afflicted and in crisis, and those who are in trouble and difficulty. Let us show solidarity with all those who pursue fairness, equality, tolerance, peace and goodwill. As Muslims we have a duty to support and encourage all those who work towards making this world a better and peaceful place for everyone.
Let us also send our prayers and support to the global Muslim community, especially those who are brutally oppressed in occupied Iraq and in occupied Palestine. And do not forget our subjugated Muslim brothers and sisters in Afghanistan, Kashmir and Chechnya. But let us also pray for African Muslims in Dar Fur who are persecuted by fellow Arab Muslims in the Sudan. May God help us to bring an end to this senseless violence there and elsewhere, replacing it with justice and peace for everyone.
So let of all us raise our hands together in prayer to request Almighty God to:
GRANT US WISDOM AND PERSEVERANCE IN ALL OF OUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS
MAY GOD GUIDE US TO DO GOOD, PROMOTE JUSTICE AND PREVENT EVIL
MAY THE CREATOR PROTECT US FROM HARM AND WRONG-DOING AND MAY THE LORD FORGIVE OUR SINS AND FOSTER LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN US ALL
MAY GOD ACCEPT AND INTENSIFY OUR WORSHIP & CHARITABLE DEEDS
MAY ALLAH GIVE US THE STRENGTH, COURAGE AND PERSERVERANCE TO PURSUE VIRTUE AND TO ELIMINATE INJUSTICE AND EVIL. AMIN