Wednesday 28 September 2016

Isil does not represent Muslims and we renounce its terrorism

Muslims must act to stop young people becoming radicalised, says Imam Ibrahim M Noonan

Imam Ibrahim M Noonan

Published 06/12/2015 | 02:30

Iman Ibrahim Noonan at the Mosque in Galway
Iman Ibrahim Noonan at the Mosque in Galway

Muslims must act to stop young people becoming radicalised.

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My dear Irish brethren, I write this piece with deepest sorrow in my heart that once again innocent people have been killed by those who claim to be Muslims and claim to belong to the faith of Islam. Yet I cannot help remembering the many moments not so long ago when, as a young Irishman, I had to bear the brunt of blames and hurtful remarks by the many British people who saw the onslaught of Irish terrorism, as it was known then. During those times, every Irish person was looked upon as an Irish republican terrorist.

I remember on St Patrick's Day in southeast London being asked to remove the Tricolour badge on my lapel, as it was considered offensive by some. I and my Irish friends would hide our accents for fear of being attacked or abused - and each time a bomb went off there was a huge sense of shame. None of us supported the bombings and the killings of innocent men women and children.

But today I see the same pain and anguish in all the Muslims living in Ireland and Europe and even in many Arabs lands, all of whom denounce those who commit acts of barbarism in the name of Islam.

Yet Islam does not allow such actions by its followers. The Quran clearly says: "To take an innocent life for no just cause is like killing the whole of humanity and whoever saves a live it is like saving the whole of humanity."

It teaches that its faithful "must abstain from evil and must do good" and to reach the highest standards of righteousness, its prophet Muhammad said: "If you see an evil act, you must stop it! With your hands." Can fire coexist with water? Indeed not. Therefore can a Muslim be a terrorist? Certainly not!

I was unfortunately away in Mauritius, attending a conference where I was addressing thousands of Ahmadi Muslims on the peaceful character of the Holy Prophet (sa), when we heard the tragic news.

We joined together in a minute's silence on the very day of the tragic incident in Paris and as an Irishman and a European, tears filled my eyes for those who lost their lives.

Yet this Islamic Conference honoured me by flying the Tricolour, the Irish flag, in respect of me and my nation. Therefore, my plea to all my fellow Irishmen and women, and indeed all who live on this great island, please don't blemish the faith of Islam or lay blame on all Muslims for this, as this would be an injustice to the millions upon millions of sincere Muslims who wish no harm to anyone.

We, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community of Ireland, love this country and we will serve it, protect it, fight for it and even die for it.

The recent and shameful attack in San Bernardino is a clear warning of the evil ideology being spread and influencing young Muslims and shows the need for all Muslim communities to stand together and fight such backward ideologies.

Barbaric acts are being carried out by people like this married couple in the US, who, it is alleged, have sworn allegiance to Isil. It is this evil mindset which must be defeated by the whole sincere Muslim world, who have nothing to do such ideologies and want nothing to do with such people.

Will such attacks happen again? I pray and hope not but the reality is that it is most likely until all Imams in Ireland and in Europe stand up and clearly say: "We don't support you! We will not hide you, we will report you and you are not welcome in our Mosques!"

How should this be done? Well, they have to on all Salatul Jumah's, the Friday gatherings, and clearly instruct their membership that they should have nothing to do with such extreme ideologies. This needs to filter down to the grassroots levels, meaning right to the families. Parents must take responsibility for making sure that their children are not being influenced by radical views. They have to ensure that in every educational project and programme they educate youths about the dangers of radical Islam and its evil ideology.

They need to target the 13-21 age groups to safeguard them being influenced.

This is what we are doing in the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Ireland. We are ensuring that youths are not being influenced.

The Imams in Ireland and Europe must not be afraid to stand up and clearly say no! Their voices need to be heard. All the Imams of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are doing this in Europe and around the world our spiritual leader, the supreme leader of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Community, his Holiness Khalifatul Masih V Mirza Masroor Ahmad, has been travelling the world, condemning all forms of extremism for the last 10 years.

In fact, he has been the only Islamic world leader to do so.

Sadly, our community is seeing the signs of anger being directed at Muslims. A week after the Paris attack, we had eggs thrown at our mosque. Our worry is that this time it was eggs, but what will be thrown next time?

Also, members of our community are showing signs of being afraid to attend the mosque, as many walk.

I have noticed after the incident in San Bernardino everyone staring at me, in a way I have not seen since 9/11 and 7/7. I don't blame people. But my worry is for the innocent majority who will be blamed and perhaps, God forbid, someone will get hurt.

But this won't stop me from saying no to evil ideologies like Isil. Hear me clearly I as an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and I denounce these people.

They do not represent me or the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, so please be patient with all the Muslim communities living in Ireland and indeed Europe.

Imam Ibrahim M Noonan is

Imam of Galway Mosque 'Masjid Maryam, Vice National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association Ireland and Missionary In-Charge of Ireland.

Sunday Independent

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