From: Ismail Syed, Honorary Chaplain, St James’s Hospital, Leeds.
I AM a South African national and have lived in the UK for five years. I am a Muslim with an Islamic theological background and spent many years amongst Eastern and Middle Eastern Islamic scholars.
I am married into an English catholic family. Currently I am actively involved with inter-faith work and I am an honorary chaplain at St James’s Hospital, Leeds. My remit is responding to the spiritual needs of both patients and staff of all religious non-religious denominations. I work full time as a mentor/behavioural support worker in an inner city multi-cultural school.
Through my personal life, professional life and pastoral role alongside my admiration and respect for British values and culture, I consider myself a fully integrated member of this society.
I was as shocked and appalled as any person in the UK to hear of the terrorist attacks in neighbouring France.
The Paris incident is a diabolical act and against the teachings of Islam.
This is indeed not the true reflection of Islam.
The word Islam means peace, peace that encompasses everyone and everything in this world.
Islam advocates integration and embraces all cultures within the concept of diversity. Islam promotes freedom of conscience – the Koran explicitly states in Chapter 2 Verse 256: “There is no compulsion in Islam.”
This reflects the rights and the freedom of an individual irrespective of religious denomination or belief system. Freedom to choose, freedom to express and above all freedom to be yourself and not what others say you should be.
The question arises what kind of ‘Islam’ are the perpetrators of this heinous crime against humanity depicting?
Indeed such people cannot be called Muslims or be affiliated to the sublime religion of Islam. Such a group or organisation has no place in the civilised society in which we dwell.
Muslim leaders, as well as community members worldwide, must come out in force to speak out against such atrocities against humanity.
The actions of these terror groups have to be stopped and this can only be achieved if we are united in valuing and safeguarding the society in which we live.
Islamic extremism is a moral pestilence which ultimately destroys the fabric of a loving, peaceful, tolerant society that Islam advocates – wherever we reside in the world.