Muslim Culture on English Football Pitches
OnIslam & News Agencies
Friday, 05 July 2013 00:00
LONDON – Craving their names as stars in the premier league, Muslim players are increasingly affecting the English football culture, with fasting the holy month of Ramadna and prayer accommodation taking growing attention of fans.
"Arsenal would prefer me to not fast, but they understand this is a special moment for me and they try to accommodate things to make me better," Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby, 27, told BBC Sport on Friday, July 5.
Newcastle United footballer Demba Ba, 28, admits he has had some issues with managers about Ramadan, but says he has been steadfast.
"Every time I had a manager that was not happy with it, I've said: 'Listen, I'll do it. If my performance is still good, I'll keep playing; if it's bad you drop me on the bench, that's it,'"
Diaby and Ba were among 40 other Muslim stars in the English Premier league.
The Muslim existence on English football pitches dated back to 1992 Tottenham's Spanish midfielder Nayim was the only Muslim player in the league.
Seeking new talented players for the league, scouts brought new players from West Africa and Paris to become global stars.
The growing influx of Muslim players has been fuelled by the internationalization of football.
On 5 February, 2012, Newcastle United played Aston Villa at St James' Park.
Scoring his team’s goal after thirty minutes, Ba raced to the corner flag and was joined by Senegalese compatriot Papiss Cisse to prostrate to Allah.
Named as the best player in a game, Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure politely refused a Champagne bottle award saying he does not drink because he is a Muslim.
When Liverpool won the League Cup final in 2012, players had the sensitivity to move the clothes of their team doctor, a devout Muslim, out of the changing rooms so that alcohol wasn't sprayed over them.
Moreover, Muslims footballers are provided with halal food, have the option to shower separately from the rest of the team and are given time and space for prayer.
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
Ramadan this year ends on 7 August, 10 days before the start of the Premier League season.
Along with Ramadan fasting, Muslim players in the English league were facing difficulties with sponsorship.
Crewe striker Nathan Ellington, 32, who has also played for Wigan and West Brom, takes the view that he cannot affect which sponsor his club chooses.
"I think that's usually out of the hands of the Muslim. Although he's not allowed to gamble, that's something you cannot affect really."
Wigan keeper Ali Al-Habsi, 31, agrees.
“We are players and these are things that are coming from the football club. We can't do anything about it, we just do our job."
Earlier this month, Newcastle Muslim striker Papiss Cisse has objected on religious and ethical grounds to wear a shirt that carries the logo of the club’s new sponsor; a sky-high interest rates loan company.
Seeing all those Muslim stars, fans were also getting an education in Muslim practices.
Children playing football in the parks of Newcastle have been spotted falling to their knees as if in prayer themselves after scoring a goal.
Though many kids do not know what it means, many saw it as a sign that Muslim practices are becoming a more familiar part of popular British culture.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million.
UK Muslims Share Ramadan With Homeless
OnIslam & News Agencies
Friday, 12 July 2013 00:00
LONDON – Connecting London people on a humanitarian level, a group of Muslim volunteers have organized special iftars for the homeless and people of other communities to break barriers and correct misconceptions about Islam.
"We want this Ramadan campaign to challenge some of the misconceptions people have about Islam,” Omar Salha, an alumnus of the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), told The BBC on Thursday, July 11.
"But it's also about connecting with all communities on a more humanistic level.
"It's only right that as Muslims and Londoners we serve the wider London community in the spirit of Ramadan," he added.
The special iftars, held at Ramadan Tent in SOAS in Bloomsbury, central London, were first suggested by Salha, an activist in Muslim volunteer activities across Britain.
His experience in hosting iftar dates back to 2011 when he organized an iftar for SOAS students.
At this iftar, participants gave out meals to the homeless in Lincoln's Inn Fields, a large public square in Holborn, central London.
This experience spurred Salha to create a more organized campaign this year for the entirety of Ramadan, with the support of individual donors and various restaurants, such as homeless charity St Mungo's.
For him, these iftar were important to remove the negative portrayals of Islam and for Muslims to understand how to contribute positively to London.
"Some residents from St Mungo's saw our advert in their residence and came," said Salha.
"They were reluctant to say who they were at the beginning, but later said they were happy that there are still people reaching out to them."
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, started in Britain on Wednesday, July 10.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur’an and good deeds.
The majority of Muslims prefer to pay Zakah for the poor and needy during the month.
Attending the iftar, many non-Muslims were touched by the warmth of special Muslim traditions in Ramadan.
"The event has allowed people to access a belief and culture that may be alien to them,” David Muller, who is from Switzerland, said.
"I think more people may like to know about it and that's why this gathering is valuable."
Alyna Rogow, who lives in the US, found the experience educating.
"I already knew eating dates was important," said Rogow.
"But I've been learning more about the terminology of Ramadan. I've really liked the atmosphere here today and I've been talking to people about how to volunteer and donate."
Seeing the success of their experience, Salha said he hoped the campaign would grow and have a presence in important London landmarks.
"We have a vision of having iftar in Trafalgar Square with people from all walks of life and all communities.
“It would be a huge compliment to London's diversity."
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million.
Man bailed in Islamic school sex inquiry
8:56am Wednesday 13th March 2013
A BOLTON man, arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and false imprisonment at an Islamic girls' school, has been released on bail, police said.
Officers have also released a man from Blackburn on bail, while a third man, also from Blackburn, who was arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment at the school has been released without charge.
Searches were continuing within the grounds of the Jamea Al Kauthar school in Lancaster as police investigated claims of sexual assault and false imprisonment.
British TV Airs Muslim Adhan on Ramadan
OnIslam & Newspapers
Tuesday, 02 July 2013 00:00
CAIRO – Appealing to the religious minority, the British channel 4 will broadcast the Muslim call to prayer on a daily basis during the holy month of Ramadan, to present a true image for moderate Muslims and challenge those who associate the religion with terrorism.
“Observing the adhan on Channel 4 will act as a nationwide tannoy system, a deliberate ‘provocation’ to all our viewers in the very real sense of the word,” Ralph Lee, head of factual programming, wrote in the Radio Times and was quoted by The Independent on Tuesday, July 2.
Lee said that the “vast majority of people in Britain” would not be aware of the “mass act of personal sacrifice and worship” about to commence during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
By airing the adhan, Channel 4 became the first mainstream British television channel to broadcast the call to prayer (adhan) on a daily basis.
Along with the Muslim call to prayer, the broadcaster will also screen a season of programs around the Muslim period of prayer and fasting, which begins next Tuesday.
The channel’s decision followed a suggestion by senior executives that Ramadan was of greater interest to its viewers than the “blanket coverage” given to the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation by its rivals.
Lee added that video diaries of British Muslims going about their lives during Ramadan will be a hit with younger viewers.
“No doubt Channel 4 will be criticized for focusing attention on a ‘minority’ religion but that’s what we’re here to do – provide space for the alternative and a voice to the under-represented,” he said.
“And let’s not forget that Islam is one of the few religions that’s flourishing, actually increasing in the UK. Like Channel 4’s target audience, its followers are young. It’s recently been reported that half of British Muslims are under 25.”
“Nearly five per cent of the country will actively engage in Ramadan this month – can we say the same of other national events that have received blanket coverage on television such as the Queen’s coronation anniversary?”
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
Channel 4’s pioneering commitment was hailed by the British Muslims.
“This is a very special month for Muslims and its recognition on a mainstream channel is not only symbolic for belonging and solidarity but will hopefully help to portray a more realistic account of Islam and Muslims,” a spokesman of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) told The Independent.
Channel 4 said the prayer will be transmitted “directly into British living rooms at the exact time Muslims prepare for their first prayers and as they begin their fast every morning during Ramadan.”
Yet, some secularists saw the move as giving excessive coverage to the Muslim minority during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
“I wouldn’t object to it as at least it gives some balance to the BBC’s emphasis on Christianity but Channel 4 has to keep it in proportion,” Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said.
“The percentage of Muslims in the UK is very small so few people will be interested in it. It may be a novelty and Channel 4 is good at causing a sensation. We don’t want to see any broadcaster becoming a platform for religious proselytizing.”
Lee defended the channel’s decision as correcting a misrepresented image of British Muslims.
“Not surprising when you consider its (Ramadan) near invisibility on mainstream TV. Contrast this with the way most Muslims are represented on television – nearly always appearing in contexts related to extremism or terrorism,” he wrote.
“Even when moderate Muslims do appear, it’s often only to provide a counterpoint to these issues.
“Following the horrific events in Woolwich and subsequent reprisals against British Muslims, there has surely never been a more pressing need to give a voice to the moderate mainstream majority.”
Hostility against British Muslims, estimated at nearly 2.7 million, has been on the rise since the soldier’s killing, which Muslims condemned as running against the basic Islamic teachings.
According to Tell Mama project, which monitors anti-Muslim attacks in Britain, 212 “anti-Muslim incidents” have been reported after the Woolwich attack.
The figure included at least 11 attacks on mosques, in a series manifestation of anti-Muslim sentiments.
Muslim helpline reveals majority of faith attacks on women
Tell MAMA, for victims of Islamophobia, logged more than 630 incidents during its first 12 months
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 9 March 2013 18.34 GMT
The majority of Muslims physically attacked, harassed or intimidated because of their faith are women, according to the first results from the UK's official helpline for victims of Islamophobia.
More than 630 incidents were logged during the first 12 months of the helpline, launched in an attempt to quantify the scale and nature of anti-Muslim violence in Britain.
Some of the most egregious attacks recorded include a family being forced from their Nottinghamshire home, a five-year-old girl knocked over by a hit-and-run driver and a Somali lady who had dog faeces placed on her head by a white man while shopping in south London.
The attacks, collated by the helpline, Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks), show that Muslim women were targeted in 58% of all incidents.
The majority of physical assaults committed in the street were on women wearing Islamic clothing, with most victims describing the nature of the attacks as seemingly "random".
High-profile female targets have included communities minister Lady Warsi who was threatened online by an English Defence League (EDL) member and journalist Jemima Khan, whose 14-year-old son received anti-Muslim comments on Twitter.
Of the perpetrators, the majority were subsequently found to have had links to recognised far-right groups such as the British National Party (BNP) or the EDL. So far, information provided to the helpline has led to the arrests of 21 far-right EDL supporters, with more than 40 incidents reported against EDL leader Tommy Robinson alone.
Members of the BNP or EDL were involved in 54% of all incidents, of which three-quarters were committed by men. The average age of perpetrators were between 21 and 30.
The results follow a report by think-tank Chatham House which identified a considerable Islamophobic sentiment in the UK, detecting a "wide reservoir of public sympathy for claims that Islam and the growth of settled, Muslim communities pose a fundamental threat to the native group and nation."
The majority of incidents received by the helpline related to what it described as "abusive behaviour" with 74% of recorded incidents occurring online. However, experts agree that even non-violent incidents have a profound adverse impact on peoples' lives.
Fiyaz Mughal, co-ordinator of Tell MAMA and director of non-profit group Faith Matters said he was "shocked" by the amount of racial hatred they had detected in their first year of monitoring, particularly online.
Mughal, a former advisor to the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, added: "We are calling on police and politicians to do more to tackle this shameful wave of fear and prejudice. From the internet, to the workplace, the street and even houses of worship, too often Muslim women and men are becoming the target of vicious, sometimes violent, abuse.
He added: "Recent history shows us what happens if we allow our fears to run unchecked. Demonisation of 'the other', misguided beliefs that Muslims are somehow a monolithic block, unchecked lies that Islam is a violent religion or that British Muslims wish to abuse white girls must be challenged."
He is now calling on police forces to drastically improve their recording of Islamophobic crimes. At the moment just two forces, the Metropolitan police and City of London police, currently record anti-Muslim crimes separately. Mughal also wants the Home Office to take over monitoring of online hate and far-right groups from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Other areas that the Muslim community believe could be improved include more prosecutions against online-based hatred.
"The police frequently fail to take victim statements, fail to appreciate the terrifying effects of these incidents upon women and vulnerable children. Few police forces even bother to record Islamophobia as part of their reporting systems. More training is needed at a time when police are facing budget cuts; we need more leadership too from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which, unhelpfully, has talked about fewer rather than more social media prosecutions," added Mughal.
During 2011 2,000 hate crimes were recorded against different faiths in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by police with officers at the time admitting that they were unclear how many were against Muslims because separate figures were not recorded.
'Traces of pork' found in prison food served as halal
Supplier of meat pies and pasties to prisons suspended after FSA informed of contamination
guardian.co.uk, Friday 1 February 2013 21.53 GMT
The Ministry of Justice is suspending one of the suppliers of meat to prisons after it discovered that halal pies and pasties sourced from a properly halal certificated supplier may contain traces of non-halal meat.
The products concerned have been withdrawn immediately, a spokesman said.
He added: "All prisons have been informed about this very regrettable incident and we reported this issue to the Food Standards Agency immediately.
"We are taking immediate steps to suspend the contract with the relevant subcontractor."
Justice minister Jeremy Wright said: "This is an absolutely unacceptable situation and one which we regret greatly. Clearly this must be distressing for those affected and they can be reassured we are doing everything we can to resolve the situation. The prison service is investigating this as a matter of urgency.
The FSA said the incident involved traces of pork.
A spokeswoman said: "The FSA has been informed that a number of meat pies and pasties supplied to UK prisons which were labelled and served as halal contained traces of pork DNA. The local authority is investigating how this contamination came about and whether these products have been distributed further across the UK."
This related to the local authority where the supplier is based, she said. She declined to say which one it was.
On a more general theme relating to recent stories about mis-description of food, she said: "People have a right to expect that the food they are eating is correctly described. We have called an urgent meeting of major retailers and suppliers on Monday to ensure that everyone is fully aware of their responsibilities.
"It is the responsibility of food businesses to ensure the food they sell contains what it says on the label. We are considering, with relevant local authorities, whether legal action is appropriate following the investigation."
The Prison Reform Trust said it welcomed the immediate apology and investigation.
Its director Juliet Lyon said: "This is not a matter of dietary preference but of Islamic law.
"There are clear hospital and prison rules that halal meat must be on the menu.
"This lapse will have offended and distressed high numbers of Muslim prisoners and their families so apologising, suspending the supplier and investigating the incident are the right steps for the Ministry of Justice to take."
Food and farming minister David Heath said: "People have a right to expect that the food they are eating is correctly described. I have made it clear that I want an urgent meeting with major retailers and suppliers first thing next week to get to the bottom of this completely unacceptable situation."
Imam speaks out against Muslim ‘vigilantes’
East London group that hounds people on the streets are branded ‘complete bigots’
JEROME TAYLOR SUNDAY 27 JANUARY 2013
Vigilante patrols by a handful of fundamentalist Muslim men in East London targeting women, gays and public drinkers have sparked a committed fight-back over the past week from locals and imams, who say the groups are abhorrent.
Videos of the patrols, which showed young men hounding people for behaviour that they deemed “unIslamic”, caused widespread anger when they were placed online. But locals say the patrols have failed to spark the kind of inter-communal animosity they were hoping to achieve with their attacks.
Shaikh Shams Ad Duha, a young British imam who runs the Ebrahim College in Whitechapel, was one of those leading the charge against the fundamentalists, issuing a stinging critique of the vigilante groups.
In a sermon at East London Mosque, which was placed on YouTube and has already garnered 20,000 views in less than a week, Shaikh Shams railed against the men in the video for being “complete bigots” who were contravening Islamic law, not enforcing it.
The sermon is significant because it tackles the vigilante group’s actions from an Islamic perspective.
“When things like this happen Muslims tend to privately voice their opposition,” he said. “But nobody wants to address this perspective from an Islamic or Sharia point of view to simply articulate that this is actually wrong Islamically.”
The Shaikh, whose background is the comparatively orthodox Tablighi Jamaat movement, went on to explain how, even in Islamic countries, Muslims are not permitted to damage “the wine and pork stocks” of a non-Muslim, according to key scholars from Hanafi school of Islamic law.
“Islam was celebrated for allowing [non-Muslim] people who lived in an Islamic state to live according to their principles, their religion, their Sharia,” he said, later adding: “This is in the Muslim lands, in the time of the Caliphate. And we saw this video where, in the streets of Tower Hamlets, in the streets of England. Enough said right?”
In comments underneath the YouTube video the sermon won praise from Muslims and non-Muslims alike. “I’m not a Muslim,” wrote Andy Harely. “But I have to say that this outstanding sermon has done a lot to create a better understanding.”
Another Muslim commentor wrote: “We can only apologise to our non-Muslim brothers and sisters for what these idiotic people have done.” Fiyaz Mughal from Faith Matters, a conflict resolution charity which works in the area, said he had in fact been “given hope” by the response to the videos because the chorus of opposition from Muslim leaders was so “quick and unanimous” while the media response recognised that the vigilante groups were an unpleasant minority.
“I think it’s something of a turning point because this could have turned into something much worse,” he said. “Local leaders weren’t afraid to tackle the problem head on while the press did a pretty responsible job of recognising that these guys are such a minority.”
Police have arrested two men and on Thursday released a picture of a man who was subjected to a homophobic attack by the gang in one of the videos. The Independent understands locals in Tower Hamlets are helping police with their enquiries in attempting to identify the members of groups which are most likely behind the vigilante patrols.
‘Muslim Patrol’ Infuriates UK Muslims
OnIslam & Newspapers
Friday, 18 January 2013 14:29
CAIRO – A group of hooded vigilantes claiming to be Muslims has been widely criticized by British Muslims after releasing a video in London streets demanding passers-by to give up alcohol and women to cover themselves up.
“We live in the UK and we are governed by UK law, there should be no mob rule,” Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim organization which campaigns for a peaceful co-existence among communities, told The Daily Mail.
“If people are involved in this behavior then it is worrying but it is an isolated incident.”
The men, who operate hooded calling themselves 'Muslim Patrol', have uploaded videos of their actions on the YouTube.
The three-minute video labeled 'The Truth About Saturday Night' has caused a stir online and shows the men walking London's streets and forcing a passerby to put a can of lager away, telling him they are the Muslim Patrol and that alcohol is a 'forbidden evil'.
The video also filmed a cyclist being treated after a road accident, claiming he was injured because of alcohol.
It was shot on a mobile phone at night in what is said to be Waltham Forest, London, with a number of men seen shouting 'this is a Muslim area'.
The hooded men also told a group of women to dress modestly.
“From women walking the street dressed like complete naked animals with no self respect, to drunk people carrying alcohol, to drunks being killed in the middle of the road, we try our best to capture and forbid it all,” the video, which first appeared on The Commentator, stated.
An earlier clip made by the group showed them spraying and burning adverts for some products which they rejected as immoral.
Scotland Yard says it is investigating the case as the Muslim Council of Britain condemned the group actions as un-Islamic.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.5 million.
The majority of the multi-ethnic minority has Indian, Bengali and Pakistani backgrounds.
In 2011, think tank Demo found that Muslims in the United Kingdom are more patriotic than the rest of population.
Responding to the statement “I am proud to be a British citizen”, 83% of Muslims said they are proud of being British.
Islam takes an uncompromising stand in prohibiting intoxicants. It forbids Muslims from drinking or even selling alcohol.
The general rule in Islam is that any beverage that get people intoxicated when taken is unlawful, both in small and large quantities, whether it is alcohol, drugs, fermented raisin drink or something else.
According to surveys, a quarter of people in England aged 16 and over is classified as hazardous drinkers.
Alcohol abuses is also causing up to 40,000 killings in England and Wales and £55bn costs of economy every year.