UK Closer to Islam than Muslim World: Scholar

CAIRO – Sitting next to a cardinal and a rabbi in an interfaith discussion, a prominent British Muslim scholar has argued he feels London is a more Islamic city than much of the Muslim world.

“I feel that London has more Islamic values than many of the Muslim countries put together,” Maulana Syed Ali Raza Rizvi, a prominent Muslim scholar who was born in Pakistan and studied in Iran before moving to the UK, was quoted by The Telegraph on Wednesday, March 9.

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“There are many different communities living together in peace and harmony, giving respect to the others and loving others and that is what Islam is all about – and unfortunately [much] of the Muslim political leadership has failed to provide that.

Rizvi was speaking alongside the Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, and the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis at the annual Benedict XVI Lecture, an interfaith discussion event in London.

The scholar asserted that Islam was basically about “love and justice”, regretting that the “Muslim political leadership” around the world was failing to foster this.

The three leaders discussed how members of their own faiths had, in different ways, lived as “creative minorities”.

While Christian and Jewish communities were long established in the UK, Rizvi said that the Muslim community was relatively new and had a “lot to learn” from other religious groups.

Nevertheless, the freedom of religion he was granted in the UK was remarkable.

“I feel more Islamic living here because I can easily practice my faith and give respect to all other members of the community belonging to different faiths and not even belonging to a faith, to anything,” he said.

“Because that is what Islam is all about, respecting and giving to others … if in one line I could say what Islam is all about, it is all about love and justice.”

Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.8 million, according to last census published in 2011.

A 2014 survey by Hossein Askari, an Iranian-born professor of International Business and International Affairs at George Washington University, found that Ireland leads the world in embodying Qur’an teachings of justice and Islamic values.

The unexpected results showed that the top countries in both economic achievement and social values are Ireland, Demark, Luxembourg and New Zealand. Britain also ranked in the top ten.