Youth from the breadth and depth of London gathered at Westminster University in Northwick Park on Wednesday 7th April 2004 for an enlightening presentation addressing how the Muslim people could strive to progress for a better future in the western world. Appropriately, its title was “Striving for a better tomorrow”.
This event marked the debut of AIM – the AhlulBayt Islamic Mission – a newly
formed organisation working within the Muslim community living in this country.
More than 350 guests from different backgrounds and religions including renowned
clerics, delegates from Islamic Institutions and professionals assembled to gain
an insight on a wide range of topics.
In the light of current affairs, the speakers focused on practical dilemmas that
face the Muslims of today such as the "Jihad, a Misunderstood Concept",
Terrorism, the importance of the Islamic veil, the Islamic view of Mel Gibson’s
movie "Passion of the Christ" and "Our Responsibilities towards Mankind".
The event began with a talk by Ayatollah Sayyid Fadhil Milani, one of the
highest ranking clerics in Britain and a professor at the Islamic college in
London. He spoke of the misconception of Jihad, addressing the negative view of
Jihad in the world today. He stated that it is a misused concept, and the
problem of it being used as a defence against certain acts is one which gives
people a dark vision of Islam.
When referring to the declaration of Jihad, he said "we must understand that
only qualified authorities can issue such rulings after firm knowledge in
relation to the ethics of war and peace according to Islam." He concluded on
the following point "one is not permitted to present Islam and Jihad in a way
that harms Islam or the Muslims".
Sheikh Mahmood Abdullah, a prominent speaker and author of the book on Human
Rights and State Terror, in his talk "Islam vs. terrorism" elucidated Islam’s
stance on terrorism and its proud history of fighting against terrorism. He
pointed out the misapplication of the term "Terrorism" by today’s media and how
they have used it to give a negative impression of the Muslims. This is
particularly relevant in the modern day with the acts of terrorists who proclaim
themselves to be Muslims, and linking these acts to the teachings of Islam.
The wearing of the Islamic veil has also been a subject of great media focus,
with citizens of certain countries, most famously France. Sukaina Panjwani, who
represented the Islamic Human Rights Commission, took the stage to discuss the
issue of Hijab in today’s "modern" world. She emphasised on the importance of
being active in the movement against such violations of the rights of the
Muslims throughout the world. She urged the audience to act by filling out
questionnaires and sending out condemnation letters in a stance to speak against
the suppression of the Hijaab in countries seeking to impose such laws.
The recent resurgence of Christianity has been exemplified by the production of
Mel Gibson’s "Passion of the Christ". An in depth analysis was delivered by
Sheikh Mohammed Bahmanpour, a well-known cleric renowned for writing the script
for the famous film "The Honourable Saint Mary". He stated that while Islam does
give importance to Jesus, as a Prophet of Allah the Exalted, it is not in the
same order as Christianity, using verses of the Holy Qur’an to illustrate this
point. That clearly drained out all the misconceptions widely held.
Fittingly, the concluding talk by Hassanain Rajabali – a lecturer and debater of
Islam in New York – put forward the notion of "Our Responsibility towards
Mankind" as Muslims and ambassadors in the communities we live in. He pointed
out the need for each of us as individuals to play a part in the progression of
humanity guiding Mankind through the teachings of spiritual enlightenment. He
stated that our mission as the representatives of God on Earth is to propagate
His most eloquent and perfected word to those whom are yet to discover its full
Although aimed at students, the conference was much more far reaching in its
effect. At this time, the world is full of confusion and misunderstanding which
made the timing of the conference relevant to the audience.
The AhlulBayt Islamic Mission works to adopt Islam as a source of enlightenment
and to promote those values that bring about a healthy society.