KARACHI: Media guide on British Muslims launched -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

KARACHI: Media guide on British Muslims launched

By Our Reporter

KARACHI, Sept 16: The significance of inter-faith dialogue in the present turbulent world order was emphasized on the launching of a media guide on the British Muslims on Saturday. The British Council and the British Alumni Association were behind the launching of “British Muslims: A media guide” which had taken three years to develop for the people, particularly the journalists, in the UK. Introducing the book, Marcus Gilbert, Director, British Council, Karachi, said that an attempt has been made through this publication to strengthen better international understanding and said the stress was mainly on dialogue.

It is a dispassionate explanation of who British Muslims are, what they care about and what they do. Co-published by the British Council think-tank Counterpoint and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS), it provides sufficient information, as well as directory of contacts in Muslim Organizations. The book describes Britain’s Muslim communities, their history, present and future. The book is designed to build bridges in a world where the trust is fractured and is for the mutual advantage to build understanding between people and culture through the process of a dialogue.

The British Deputy High Commissioner, Hamish Daniel, underscored the significance of dialogue and said despite the fact all the problems cannot be resolved “we need to try to go about them and try to resolve them.” He referred to the diversity of the British society and said that after events of 7/7 a debate has been set in motion. He said that despite all the hiccups there was a considerable increase in visa applications from Pakistan.Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid, chairperson of the Council of Religious and Racial Harmony, UK, and Mrs Jamila Sajid, chair of Sussex Muslim Women Circle UK were keynote speakers. Imam Sajid, while referring to the recent incidents of violence in Britain in which the Muslims have been implicated and hounded, said this could be the work of a very negligible criminals and they should be “named and shamed” as it has nothing to do with Islam or Muslims. The community should not be discriminated against on the basis of religion.

Today the Muslim community in Britain is relatively settled community. As far as the youth are concerned, there are two tendencies: one who associated with the religious ethos and the other more inclined to “Bhangra” culture. The two tendencies though have one thing in common: they both are agitated groups. The future course of Muslims in Britain largely depends upon their choice of future directions, he said. External factors, such as the Gulf crisis, the massacre of Muslims in Bosnia, and the issue of wearing the head scarf (hijab) in France strengthen their case. He pointed out that British policy in this regard was flexible as compared to France. In his paper, he presented an overview of British Muslims and traced historical process of immigration and the consequent concerns of the local community on the integration of the immigrant community.

He maintained that Islam and Muslims were part and parcel of the British society and they had played significant role in building bridges and inter-faith dialogue. He was of the view that “increasing use of imams from the Indian sub-continent and the reliance of the congregation of a mosque on day-to-day fiqh issues seems then, a problem rather than a cure. Theological issues, rather than the jurisprudential issues of living in Britain, have hardly been touched upon by imams.” The community, he said, has recognized this gap and opened up seminaries to train their imams. But the tragedy is that the syllabus of these seminaries hardly reflects contemporary challenges and needs.

He also appreciated the Government’s financial input in the community’s development. Mrs Jamila Sajid dealt with the issues pertaining to the British Muslim women. Mr Shahid Aziz Siddiqui, President British Alumni Association Sindh and Balochistan, presented a vote of thanks.
Source: Dawn
Date:9/17/2006