It is about time British Muslims proved their loyalty to Britain
In the wake of the recent London attack, nearly 500 imams refused to offer funeral prayers for the terrorists responsible for the atrocity that took numerous innocent lives.
While the British public was coming to terms with the tragedy in Manchester, only a couple of weeks ago, they woke up to another inhumane attack. And sadly enough, it was done in the name of Islam once again.
The Muslim community in Britain has long been facing struggles in the name of culture and religion; they have been facing ethnic divides within the community itself, identity dilemmas and growing levels of anti-social behaviour amongst their youth. The two tragic events that occurred recently have put the Muslim community into the global spotlight yet again and perhaps through a more rigorous scrutiny.
The call from the British imams has come at a time when everyone is still in a state of shock. This announcement is in response to the mounting pressure on the Muslim community as they are often thought to not be doing enough to root out the cancer of extremism.
Security levels are on high alert, community relations have been severely affected and numerous Islamophobic hate crimes have been reported. The British public in general is completely awestruck. The blasts changed the dynamic of the election campaign, so much so that the security situation of the country dominated the election debate, amongst various other issues.
Amidst all this, the current situation poses some soul searching questions for the Muslim community. The common Muslims are questioning themselves about what they can do to avoid their religion from being attached to any such heinous crimes, because the right-wing media outlets are inadvertently blaming the Muslims en masse.
There are over three million Muslims residing in the UK with over 1,200 mosques. Issues relating to the Muslim community make headlines quite often, which is why the conduct of the community as a whole is often at the centre of criticism and attacks. From being considered as a security risk to being disloyal to the country, Muslims are seen as the boogeymen of society in the UK.
The challenges facing the Muslims in the UK are multi-faceted. For starters, the British government and the media treat them as a homogenous group, whereas in reality, they are a conglomerate of fragmented multi-ethnicities. In many cases, they hardly have any strong connections amongst each other.
A majority of Muslims living in the UK are from the subcontinent and have brought their own religion and culture along with them. Over the years, their businesses, families and personal wealth have flourished but their mosques, however, have not. Regrettably, many mosques in the UK are not a true representation of Islam. In fact, they are more of a representation of their own respective cultures. You can walk into a mosque and point out whether it is a Pakistani, Bangladeshi or an Indian Gujrati mosque. As a result, the mosque curriculum is mainly focused on the basic religious education or teachings of the local language without any emphasis on civic knowledge.
Being a Muslim in a society like the UK comes with a huge responsibility. At times like these, when Muslims are the focal point of negative attention, it is absolutely pivotal for them to acknowledge that they need to step up their game. They need to prepare themselves for the political and social challenges and must be well equipped in order to engage with a wider public discourse.
Moreover, it is about time they wholeheartedly embraced Britain as their home because unfortunately, the Muslim youth still faces identity dilemmas. The first generation has brought them up with a religious/cultural amalgamation of values which has left them in a limbo and they cannot differentiate religion from culture or vice versa. This has subsequently made them outcasts in society. Furthermore, due to the lack of proper patronship, young Muslims are often unnecessarily drawn into global issues whereby their commitment to the country and society is compromised.
This further fans the growing narrative from the far-right groups accusing Muslims for not being loyal to Britain. After the recent attacks, this propaganda has been exacerbated and if it continues, it would put the future Muslim generations at risk.
To counter this, Muslims from across the board will have to get together and come up with a national narrative condemning the acts of violence in all forms and shapes. Moreover, the youth must be taught civic sense from an Islamic point of view and it must begin right from the place of worship. They must be taught to put the interest of the country before anything else.
In a nutshell, a loud and clear message should be heard globally: Islam means peace and Muslims are proud citizens of the UK. We must not let them commit any evil actions in the name of Muslims or Islam.
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