Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada

Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada, is someone I have known for the better part of 25 years, he is a dear friend to my father and I have had immense love and respect for him ever since. A no nonsense man and a very principled man. His sermons are a reflection of this and never once have I heard a speech from him that was not relevant to the conditions in which, we as Muslims, find ourselves in.

From the early days when Jamia al-Karam was a small school in New Bradwell in Milton Keynes, he used to visit my father’s shop regularly for our halal meat supplies, which we used to slaughter with our own hands (my father and uncle actually). Ever since he has been held in high honour and esteem in our families.

The Shaykh has just recently launched his website http://www.mihpirzada.com which I encourage everyone to visit.

wa’as-salam

Mas’ud
www.masud.co.uk

Int. Herald & Tribune: Looking for converts to Islam

From: International Herald Tribune


Looking for converts to Islam


THURSDAY, AUGUST 17, 2006

LONDON When he converted to Islam six years ago, Nicholas Lock, now 24, said he faced two immediate difficulties. One was the aggressive skepticism of his father, an English professor and Oxford graduate who mockingly asked, “Do we have a convert on our hands?” and then proceeded to cook pork for dinner – bacon, sausages, chops – every night for a week.

The other, more potentially troubling in its way, was the greedily opportunistic reaction of various Muslim groups to Lock when he arrived at the University of Leeds to begin his studies that autumn.

They fell upon him as if he were a prodigal son.

“As a new convert, when you first become a Muslim, a lot of people try things out on you,” said Lock, who also uses the Muslim given name Mahdi and runs a support network for Muslim converts in Nottingham. “They want you to come to this meeting, this talk.

“Certain radical groups want you because you’re impressionable, and it looks good to get white guys.”

Lock likened some of the organizations that approached him to cults, like Hizb ut-Tahrir, which says it is nonviolent but preaches the establishment of a caliphate, or pan-Islamic government, and has been banned from some Middle Eastern countries. “They think you don’t know anything, and they pounce.”

The potential vulnerability of converts – especially if they are young men – to extremism is of particular concern now, considering that three of the 24 people arrested last week on suspicion of plotting to use explosives to blow up trans-Atlantic airplanes were converts. Neighbors and friends of the three have said that at least from the outside, it appeared that their transformations from aimless Western youths to highly observant Muslims were bewilderingly thorough.

One of the suspects, Abdul Waheed, whose late father was a local Conservative official, is said to have converted within the last six months, changing his appearance, behavior, and friends, and marrying a Muslim woman.

In addition, Richard Reid, the so- called shoe bomber, was a British-born convert to Islam who discovered religion while serving a prison sentence for a string of petty street crimes and muggings. He is currently serving a life sentence in the United States after being convicted of trying to blow up an airplane over the Atlantic by igniting explosives in his shoe.

There are no official statistics on how many converts to Islam live in Britain. Yahya Birt, a convert who is a research fellow at the Islamic Center in rural Leicestershire, puts the number at slightly more than 14,000, an extrapolation based on the number of people who described themselves as Islamic converts in the Scottish 2001 census (the census for England and Wales did not ask about conversion).

Clearly, only a minuscule percentage of converts turn to active radicalism, and there are many reasons for converting: an admiration of Islamic texts and practices; a desire by women to remove themselves from what they perceive as the aggressive sexualization of Western life; the countercultural rebellion of the younger generation against their parents’ liberalism; and a sense of outrage at Western foreign policy in places like Iraq and Lebanon.

But among young people in Britain, a common theme seems to be adolescent anomie, a longing for answers in a world full of intractable questions.

Myfanwy Franks, a researcher who has studied converts to Islam and is the author of “Women and Revivalism in the West: Choosing Fundamentalism in a Liberal Democracy,” said that “being troubled does not necessarily lead people to conversion – people who aren’t troubled convert – but it could lead to extreme radicalization.”

Britain has a number of well-known converts, including Birt, 38, who is the son of John Birt, the former director general of the British Broadcasting Corporation, and who changed his name from Jonathan when he converted, 16 years ago; Joe Ahmed-Dobson, 30, the son of Frank Dobson, a former Labor health secretary; and the singer and Muslim campaigner Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens. Perhaps the highest-profile woman convert is Yvonne Ridley, a former correspondent for the Sunday Express who began studying Islam after she was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001.

Now the host of a daily current-affairs talk show on the Islamic Channel, Ridley, who wears a hijab that covers her hair and neck, said that Islam for her is a welcome antidote to Western libertinism. “What’s more liberating – being judged on the size of your IQ, or on the size of your bust?” Divorced, with a 13-year-old daughter, she has stopped drinking and having flings. “I never sit in, waiting for the telephone to ring,” she said, “and I’m never dragged into immaterial rows by inconsiderate, useless men.”

Many converts are apolitical, but for people like Ridley, who says that “this war on terror is a war on Islam,” religion is inextricably bound with politics. Increasingly, that seems to be the case, among Muslims in general, and among converts.

“It’s become much more political since 9/11,” Franks, the researcher, said.

Before Sept. 11, converts tended to discuss spiritualism and personal choice, she said, “but now they’re not talking like that.” She added: “I think there’s this polarization now. It’s like the middle ground has disappeared.”

Do you know Aftab?

as-salamu ‘alaykum,

Whilst at a wedding last week in Luton, two young (Pakistani) boys, classic fat-kid and skinny-kid combo, of about 13 and 11 were deep in conversation “that f___ing pr__k, wait ’till I f___ing catch him f___ing pr__k”, I turned around and confronted them and said “oi! stop swearing, what is your problem, why do you need to swear?”, sheepishly they looked at one another and seemed embarrassed. So I let them be and went about the business of shepherding my kids to the wedding. As we started to walk towards the wedding hall the little gits started up their expletive riddled conversation again, and once again I gave them a telling off. My cousin saw this and came across and gave them a piece of his mind too but mentioning the fact they have had not been raised properly and that he will be complaining to their father(s) (not really knowing who their fathers actually are).

The kids looked at each other and the older fat-kid quietly said to his compadre “shall we call him? Go on call him” whilst looking at their mobile phone and debating amongst themselves whether to call “him” the skinny kid showed us his mobile phone and pointed to a picture and said rather smugly “do you know who that is? that’s Aftab!”, my cousin said to them, “is he some bad boy you are gonna call to shoot us or something? Go on call him” and we fell about laughing. “I’m gonna call Aftab” is now one of those phrases that raises a few laughs in our family! [NOTE: this is not Aftab Malik of Amal Press who can get quite scary when he is angry and I will call him if anyone gives me any trouble!]

Aside from the comedy of the situation, there is a serious issue here. I am not sure about the other Muslim communities but there is definitely this problem with a lot of Pakistani boys who descend into bad manners, foul language, machismo posturing, disrespect for age and authority and overall celebration and idealising (idolising?) of violence, drugs, crime and “bling”/gansta bad boys. This is a serious problem for now and the future, but how do we tackle it?

It may be a simplistic analysis but based on my experience as I see it, it is of fathers not being good role models for their sons, they are too busy working 18 hours shifts in taxis, restuarants and other work. In many cases their offspring is from a wife that they didn’t want in the first place and for whom they have no respect or love but were coerced into marriage by familial pressure. Quite often some of these men are “playing away from home” and so what little time they do have, they spend a lot of it with girlfriends away from home. The mothers of these children are usually from the villages of the Indian sub-continent, poorly educated (if at all). They are treated with contempt and disrespect by the fathers of these children and this feeds into the psyche of the children and they themselves see their mothers as not being worthy of respect.

Even when someone pulls up one of these unruly children and complains to their fathers, the fathers generally get defensive and offended that you even had the nerve and audacity to complain about their kids and the kids usually seem to get away with it. I think subconsciously they see it as a challenge to their parental authority which they have not really been exercising and to see someone else exercise this on their children is hard to take.

Is this a generalisation? Personally I don’t think so having known families of this description. I really think a lot of time and effort needs to be invested by various social support groups, social services, the education department etc to research this phenomenon and come up with practical solutions, because this is a breeding ground for serious criminals and sociopaths of the future.

wa’as-salam

Mas’ud
www.masud.co.uk