More than 100 Muslim leaders today make an unprecedented joint appeal to the kidnappers of Alan Henning to release the aid worker unharmed or commit the “worst condemnable sin” against Islam.
The statement to The Independent has been signed by dozens of Imams from across the UK as well as community leaders and other prominent Muslims. It has been passed on to Mr Henning’s family.
It pleads with those holding the British hostage to accept that he was on a mission to Syria to help innocent civilians and to see the errors of their ways.
“In Islam, concern for fellow humans and the duty to help everyone is a religious obligation,” they write. “Anyone undertaking a humanitarian act is paving his or her way to receive help from heaven.
“In contrast, the senseless kidnapping and despicable threats to Mr Henning cannot be justified.”
Using Koranic references the letter says that if they are true Muslims the kidnappers – including the British man dubbed Jihadi John – must release him “immediately”.
The leaders also express their “horror and revulsion” at the “senseless murder” of the previous three hostages, including the Briton David Haines.
And they are categorical in their condemnation of Isis – which is believed to have attracted several hundred British fighters to its cause.
“The un-Islamic fanatics are not acting as Muslims, but as the Prime Minister has said, they are acting as monsters,” they say.
Among those signing the letter are representatives of all strands of Islam.
The Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella body with more than 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, including mosques, charities and schools, is also a signatory.
It has been endorsed by prominent politicians including Britain’s first Muslim Cabinet minister Sayeeda Warsi and Labour’s shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan.
Mustafa Field, director of Faith Forums for London and adviser to the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, who helped compile the letter, said: “British Muslims are joining hands with fellow Britons in categorically denouncing the fanaticism of the great evil that is the un-Islamic State. This letter shows that British Muslim leaders are not prepared to let these lunatics hijack our faith.”
Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters and the Tell Mama anti-Muslim hate monitoring project, added: “This is sending out a clear message that Isis is a threat to all of us in this country.
“We stand squarely against them, their actions and their abuse of Islam.”
Letter by British Imams and Muslim Leaders appealing for release of Alan Henning
We, the undersigned British Muslim Imams, organisations and individuals, wish to express our horror and revulsion at the senseless murder of David Haines and the threat to the life of our fellow British citizen, Alan Henning.
Mr Henning was a volunteer who travelled to Syria to help innocent civilians.
Acts of humanitarianism are an essential element of religious practice for all Muslims, and of course they are just as significant to other people too. Islamic teachings call for charity and selflessness. Most importantly, acts of beneficence do not, and cannot, exclude non-Muslims.
In Islam, concern for fellow humans and the duty to help everyone is a religious obligation. Anyone undertaking a humanitarian act is paving his or her way to receive help from heaven, should be commended and held in the highest esteem.
In contrast, the senseless kidnapping, murder and now the despicable threats to Mr Henning at the hands of so-called ‘Muslims’ cannot be justified anywhere in the Quran and the Sunnah (Prophetic traditions).
The un-Islamic fanatics are not acting as Muslims, but as the Prime Minister has said, they are acting as monsters. They are perpetrating the worst crimes against humanity. This is not Jihad - it is a war against all humanity.
The Holy Quran says that:
"Whosoever kills a human being... it is as if killing the entire human race; and whosoever saves a life, saves the entire human race."
We plead with those holding Alan Henning to see the errors of their ways. To embrace the word of the Quran and accept that what they are now doing constitutes the worst condemnable sin.
We appeal to them to release Mr Henning immediately. The Quran states that “repentance is not accepted from those who continue to do evil deeds”.
In the name of the Almighty All Merciful God, we beseech Mr Henning's kidnappers with the words of our Prophet Muhammad - "Show mercy to those on earth, the One in the Heavens will have mercy on you.
British Muslim communities have done a great deal to speak out over the evils of terrorism over many years. We will continue to do everything within our power to prevent any other young man or woman getting caught up in this poisonous ideology.