LONDON – As President Trump lowers the otherwise respectable office of the President of the United States once again, this time sharing fabricated, anti-Islam propaganda, whining to the wrong Theresa May, ‘…focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom,’ resulting in a huge backlash across most political divides in the UK and the US, including from the UK’s actual Prime Minister, British Muslims were doing what we do best, being productive members of society.
A fundraising initiative by the British Muslim charity Human Appeal took place on Thursday, November 30, at the restaurant atop of the BT Tower. Ironically, it was ‘Christian’ terrorists, the IRA, who placed a bomb on the 31st floor of the tower in 1971, leading to its closure to the public. The venue is now only open for a handful of events a year, despite having the best views of London from a height.
The event was facilitated by the BT Muslim Network which has over 500 members. Their chair Imran Patel said, “As a network itself, we like to help members learn and grow, creating a thriving and engaging gathering of like-minded individuals, that unite around a common set of goals, and tonight is a display of that unity… Technology has the ability to create positive change through education, and BT has a long-term commitment to building a culture of tech literacy… The money raised here tonight will be used to fund a vital program… A program of ICT facilities and training at some of Pakistan’s most deprived schools.”
British Muslim producer, presenter, and fundraiser Rahim Jung, elaborated on the long-term vision of empowerment that the evening’s fundraising program for ten specifically selected school in Pakistan aims to achieve, “… that magic moment, where something in their qadr, something in their destiny changes, and they are given the chance to work for themselves. That’s what a night like tonight is about.”
Building the Future
Speaking of education, Syed Rahim, who works at HSBC and one of the key team members of the professional Muslim networking organization CUBE, said of education, “For me, education is the opportunity for people to learn more, to understand more, and then inshallah, achieve more.”
The CEO of Human Appeal, Othman Moqbel added, “Education is the future. Education is civilization. Education is very important for all.”
Zaheer Khan, head of fundraising at Human Appeal elaborated on his personal favorite type of charity, “..I look at projects that are what we call sadaqah jariyah, so when you donate, it is an ongoing charity. Things like water wells, like education for children, things that will live way beyond us and our lifetime.”
“For me personally, I love water projects. I believe that water is a source of life, and I believe everyone should have access to clean water. When we imagine there are a billion people, around the world right now who don’t have access to water. That’s something very close to my heart. I believe that every community, every country, every child, every human, should have access to clean, safe, drinking water.”
The evening’s setting included seasonal Christmas trees along with an equally timely menu that included a zabiha Turkey, sourced specifically for the predominantly Muslim diners. Entertainment included renowned British Pakistani comedian Aatif Nawaz, British-Bahraini-Pakistani comedian Salman Malik, and perhaps for the first time ever a Pakistani Qawwali group, all playing at the iconic restaurant on the 34th floor. Epic.
British Muslims are often criticized for not being a part of British society, and certainly, some Muslims do not. However, the vast majority of British Muslims are integrated into different capacities. We hold a diverse range of religious beliefs, and we contribute positively to the society in which we live.
Something attested to by the UK ambassador to the United States, Kim Darroch, who responded to the inaccurate and inflammatory drivel shared by President Trump in his most recent of Tweets:
“British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right, which seeks to divide communities and erode decency, tolerance, and respect. British Muslims are peaceful and law-abiding citizens. And I raised these concerns with the White House yesterday,” he said.
British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right, which seek to divide communities & erode decency, tolerance & respect. British Muslims are peaceful and law abiding citizens. And I raised these concerns with the White House yesterday.
— Kim Darroch (@KimDarroch) November 30, 2017
One of the biggest challenges facing British Muslims today is to represent the positive actions and activities that we as British Muslims undertake in our societies. It is less about improving our image and more a case of making wider society aware of who we are, our diverse points of view, and that we are no different to anyone else in our society.
The evening’s objective was to help deliver education to some schools in Pakistan, but it also serves as a reminder of how all Muslims need to continue to reach out, be visible in the societies we live in, to continue to interact with our non-Muslim friends and neighbors, to honor them, to respect them, very much in the way Prophet Muhammad would do so.
As long as there are the foolish who either abuse Islam, such as terrorists, and as long as there are political leaders draw ugly stereotypes and misrepresent the spirit of the Muslim community, such as President Trump, our duty as human beings, as citizens in the nations we live in, is to live by example, to address misrepresentations, and to educate.
Human Appeal is a politically neutral charity. The opinions shared in this article are those of the author.