Some comments from Shiekh Muhammad Amin Evans of the Britslam Partnership regarding a few issues that came up during the AOBM / NUPSA conference, United for Pakistan held on Monday at Portcullis House in Westminster. The Association of British Muslims will shortly be releasing an official statement.
At AoBM’s conference ‘United for Pakistan?’, in the House of Commons yesterday, Deputy High Commissioner Asif Durrani stated that the most common experience of crime for Pakistanis is that perpetrated by near relatives. While this would be a poor reason for not dealing with the extremism, torture and extra-judicial killings that have disabled Pakistan’s society and marred its international reputation it is a valid observation that endorses my own work experience, sharing and implementing shari’ah rulings, of many Pakistani, although not exclusively, families. A functional family unit is the essential building-block of a wholesome society and it is clear that where dysfunctional families abound social order suffers. Even where families are apparently stable the customary use of force and torture are injustices that spread from the shelter of the home to undermine a nation’s social and humanitarian values.
The Islamic model of the family is a structure built with rights, duties and obligations applied to and respected by all its members. It is the nature of this structure that human dignity and status are not merely recognised but also enhanced. Even a servant may become a member of such a household. However, all too often rights and duties are applied selectively and obligations are held to be duties to serve the needs of a rigidly unjust patriarchal family structure dominated by a male-gaze.
Male and female heads of families feel entitled to excessively misuse the limited Islamic right to use corporal punishment, conceived to deter immoral behaviour, as a means to enforce their own sense of importance and interests upon weaker or vulnerable relatives. Children are brainwashed and brow-beaten into believing that such hierarchical and gender based injustice is ‘Islamic’ and acceptable. Thus, in extreme cases, as adults they are coerced into unsuitable marriages, or to maintain loveless or violent marriages, inheritance rights are voided, inter-sibling violence erupts, self-respect is destroyed and with it the respect for law and humanity. Although, these are extreme cases the belief culture that relies upon misinterpretations of Islamic texts and false honour values to spawn them is all too common.
Parents and elder relatives do not have the right to be obeyed absolutely. Parents do have the right to be respected and not treated rudely but this does not extend to their bad guidance being followed or their wrong deeds being praiseworthy. Muslim children should remember that on the last of days they will be called upon to give evidence against themselves and their loved ones. It is our belief that if they have aided and enabled their parents to do wrong, they will all be accountable before a Judge who sees through the cloaks of lies and false honour.
The aim of the conference was to see how British Muslims might help and support our brothers and sisters in and from Pakistan. While we can, and should, talk about a fairer and more prosperous economy to promote peaceful and law-abiding societies free from the threats of corruption and terrorism there is little that we can do as voluntary organisations or as individuals to implement such sound advice. Where we can have an immediate and important effect is in our homes and neighbourhoods by conducting our family affairs according to moral Islamic principles rather than feudal customs, expecting this of our friends and demanding that our governments, like good parents, do the same.
The Association of British Muslims regards a ban on any form of clothing as a somewhat extreme and rather undesirable course of action to take. We recognise and respect the human right of people to wear whatever they want. However, this goes both ways, and applies to someone who wants to wear a miniskirt as much as someone who wants to wear a burqa.
The vast majority of Muslim scholars do not regard the burqa as being sanctioned by Islam. Only a few small groups of muslims, who adhere to certain specific sectarian or ideological beliefs, consider the burqa to be part of Islam. While the Holy Qur’an calls for men and women to dress modestly, it doesn’t mention the need for women to wear a burqa or niqab. The Holy Qur’an needs to be interpreted in a particular non-mainstream manner, for anyone to find anything that could be seen as supporting the burqa. One in every four people on this planet are muslims, around half of whom are women. The vast majority of these muslim women, whether living in majority muslim countries or elsewhere, do not wear the burqa. While hijabs/headscarves are popular, even the vast majority of very religious muslim women do not wear the burqa, niqab or any other form of face veil. Thus, the belief that veiling the face is a part of Islam, cannot be substantiated.
Of concern, is the fact that while people should be free to wear whatever they want, many of the groups who sanction the burqa believe this is something every woman should wear. We believe it is quite wrong to use the concept of human rights in such a hypocritical manner. Either a person accepts it’s a woman’s right to wear whatever she wants, be that a burqa or shorts and a tank top, or they do not. If they don’t, then they surely have no right to invoke the principles of universal human rights to support their own agendas, as such a stance is in itself blatantly hypocritical!
Every day the magnitude of this flood disaster in Pakistan is increasing. Some 20 million people have now been effected. Pakistan and its people are going through a terrible time, especially with this flood. The images speak for themselves. They are so difficult to watch and think about what it must be like, to experience this sort of thing… Natural disasters affect all of us, it could be us next time…
Please forward this video to friends and send money to some reputable charity, to help the flood afflicted people of Pakistan, many of whom have lost everything…
Donate now online or call 0370 60 60 900
Over 1,000 people are reported to have died with that number likely to rise as more information becomes available. About 2.5 million people are believed to have been affected by the floods which may worsen as further rain falls and water moves downstream. In the aftermath of the floods there is a serious risk to survivors from potentially deadly diseases which will spread as a result of contaminated surface and drinking water.
The Disaster Emergency Committee has opened the ‘DEC Pakistan Floods Appeal’ and special broadcasts will run from Thursday (05.08.10) on the BBC, ITV, Sky, Channel 4, Channel Five and independent radio stations.
The money raised will help fund the life saving work in Pakistan of the DEC’s Members and their partners. The money raised will support the efforts in Pakistan of the DEC’s members which are the leading UK aid agencies.