Tag Archives: muslims

Support MuslimView – reimagining British Muslims

As Muslims in Britain we live in interesting times. Events move fast and unpredictably as recent events have clearly shown. Muslims remain firmly in the spotlight of the media. Not a day goes by when some story or other has at the centre of it our community and you can wager that the next breaking story involving Muslims will be a negative one. This trend is likely to continue well into the future and doesn’t look like changing direction anytime soon.  As Muslims we have allowed ourselves to be defined by both the media and political agenda(s) of the day. We are constantly chasing the news cycle and agendas and in doing so reinforcing the idea in people’s minds that, as a community, the only things that we are concerned with are Prevent, radicalisation and terrorism. As a community, have so much more to offer, but we don’t have our own representation in the media. We all constantly complain about the media and its, mostly, inaccurate and unfair portrayal of Muslims. Well now we can do something about it.

In May 2015, Dr Atif Imtiaz contacted me about an idea that he had been formulating over the last 5 or 6 years.  After reading the book The Jewish Chronicle and Anglo-Jewry 1841-1991 by the late historian David Cesarani, Atif soon realised that the Muslims of Britain do not have an equivalent community newspaper. The JC played an important part in the development of modern Anglo-Jewish life and cementing British Jewry into British society. It also served as an important platform for debate among British Jewry and shaped Jewish identity through the years. Not only this, it has informed wider political and social debate in the corridors of power and is seen as a credible and authoritative source on the Anglo-Jewish community.

On the back of this the idea of MuslimView was hatched by Atif. Very early on he decided that print media was not the way to go because of the start up and running costs involved and the limited reach of print media. With an increasingly digital world, even traditional print media was moving into the digital space and scaling down print operations because of dwindling circulation. It made sense to occupy digital media space.

The first hurdle faced was finding someone to take up the central editorial role and many of the people he approached did not respond positively to the idea. The second hurdle was one of financial support. There was some initial commitment from potential supporters in the business community but this hasn’t developed into the kind of support required for this kind of venture. The project has struggled since.

My involvement with the project came when Atif realised that I had become available for work. My background in technology, the web and the British Muslim community since the early 90s seemed an ideal blend to take up the central editorial role required to drive the project. We also managed to get some financial backing from some business people and some wealthy individuals who saw the value in what we are trying to achieve.  This enabled me to project manage the design and development of the MuslimView website and work full time in developing links with various writers. The website launched in November 2015.

Nearly eight months on we’ve managed to establish MuslimView in the digital media space, we have a small but growing body of volunteer writers from a diverse background writing on a wide range of issues that concern Muslims in Britain. The feedback we’ve received from readers is that MuslimView is needed. Everyone we’ve spoken to about the project sees the value in what we are trying to achieve. Our aims are simple – to be a credible and authoritative source for news about Muslims in Britain. Our objectives are – to develop and stimulate interest in grassroots, community and citizen journalism amongst Muslims in Britain and untap the wealth of writing talent in the Muslim community and uncover the experience of life in Britain. MuslimView to be the platform through which community issues are discussed and debated and become a reference point for mainstream media and in the corridors of power. MuslimView seeks to set the tone and narrative of Muslims in Britain that does not chase media spin or political agendas.

How can you help?

Write

Your support need not only be financial, we are always looking for volunteer writers who have something to say and can write well. There are hundreds and thousands of stories to be uncovered and told. There are issues that need to be debated and discussed. There are key British Muslims whose life and work need to be highlighted and promoted.

Volunteer

We are looking for volunteers who can scour national news sources for stories that are relevant to Muslims in Britain and do weekly roundups of the stories and provide some comment with each story. This is so that we can see what the national narrative is about Britain’s Muslims and be clued up on the issues facing us in the media.

If you have an interest in local and national politics, let us know what is going on. Are there Parliamentary groups discussing issues that Muslims need to be aware of or council chambers in which local issues relevant to Muslims are being debated?

Are you an academic involved in research relevant to Muslims? Let us know, we can promote your work and help your research.

Do you like reading, send us a book review.

Do you attend events, then let us know what’s on, when and where it is on.

Share our content

One of the best ways to raise MuslimView‘s profile is for people to share our content on social media. So if you used Facebook and Twitter, follow MuslimView, like, share and retweet our content. Leave comments on our website and discuss the content on social media.

Donate

MuslimView, whilst not a charity, is a not for profit organisation and is entirely dependent on financial support from generous and visionary individuals and business which has been gained thus far through word of mouth. We are therefore seeking other businesses and individuals who see the value in what we are trying to achieve and come forward and support us. Our target funding amount is £60,000 per year. This will cover salaries, expenses, running costs and will enable us to start offering fees to contributors.

We are at a stage where we need to find additional financial supporters to help make MuslimView a continued success and give us a firm financial footing for the next 3 to 5 years to support our development. We intend to move into video content in later years and present interviews and short video reports and cannot do so without financial support and we are pursuing a distributed, crowd-funding strategy at present.

If you or anyone you know is in a position to support MusilmView financially or otherwise, please get in touch with editor@muslimview.co.uk (that’s me!).

Find out more about MuslimView here  and Dr Atif’s article Why MuslimView?

Richard Dawkins, bigoted fact spinner

I got in a twitter conversation with someone defending Richard Dawkins’ bigoted twitter comments about Islam saying that all Dawkins is doing is stating facts and facts are not bigoted.

True, facts are not bigoted but the bigotry is in the way you spin them to support your bigotry.

For example:

In America, more black men are charged and convicted of crimes compared to white men. This is an undeniable fact, but without looking into causes and reasons, and if we are of a bigoted disposition, we will conclude black men are criminals or are more prone to criminality than white men. We can spin facts to support our bigoted thesis.

The reality of this fact is that America disproportionately incarcerates more black men than white guys for similar or lesser crimes. If we investigate further we see that there is institutional racism in the American legal and penal system and this is a symptom of a wider race problem in America. If we wanted to present a bigoted thesis we would say that all white Americans are racists and hate people of colour and Americans are more prone to racism and hatred of black people than others.

Wishing a Merry Christmas?

First things first. We are Muslims. We don’t believe that Christ is God, the very thought of this is abhorrent to us. We don’t believe that Christ is the literal and begotten Son of God. We do, however, believe that Jesus (may peace be upon him) was a Divinely inspired Prophet and Messenger of God, a devoted and absolute servant of a Just, Merciful and Loving Lord. Like most historians and Christian historians, we know that Jesus wasn’t born on 25th December. We know that celebrations on 25th December were originally a pagan festival upon which Christianity grafted the birthday of Christ on. So, we can safely assume that all of these things we reject out of hand. What we don’t reject is the actual event of the birth of Isa (Jesus) alayhi salam. For Muslims it is as joyous and blessed an occasion as it is for our Christian brethren. It does not matter to us what day it is celebrated upon because the event itself is momentous.

As Muslims, most of us celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) even though the exact date is not agreed upon, it is commonly assumed to be the 12th of the Islamic month of Rabi al-Awwal. What our scholars have said is that the Mawlid, the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, should be celebrated throughout the year as well as on the date commonly believed to be the day the Prophet was born. We find in many Muslim cultural traditions, spontaneous celebrations of the Mawlid on joyous occasions such as the birth of children, marriages or any event that was of good fortune. Islamic dates are based upon the lunar calendar so the Islamic months drift across the solar calendar and seasons, so for me, the argument over the date is a very minor issue.

So with this in mind we can proceed.

As a Muslim living in the West, I interact with people of all faiths and traditions. I also interact with people of no formal faith as well as atheists. In most cases our relationships are cordial and civil and many of my acquaintances respect my religious views. In other cases we make very meaningful friendships with people of other traditions and beliefs and share in each other’s occasions of happiness and grief. When Ramadan or Eid come around my neighbours, friends and colleagues go out of their way to wish me a happy Eid or Ramadan. Wishing someone a Merry Christmas no more makes me a believer in their ways than them wishing me a Happy Eid or Eid Mubarak makes them a believer in Islam, to suggest or think otherwise is ludicrous. It is common courtesy and good manners, is it not, that when my friends, colleagues and neighbours have their moments of joy and happiness that I reciprocate? Can you imagine the impression it would give of Muslims and Islam, if, when such occasions came around for them, I remained silent and mean spirited and not acknowledge their occasion of joy and happiness?

What occasion is more “religious” than a funeral? Did our Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) not stand out of respect for a funeral procession of a Jewish man and acknowledge it? Additionally, the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) adopted the fasting of Ashura when he observed that the Jews were fasting in order to commemorate the deliverance of Moses and the Children of Israel from the tyranny of the Pharaoh. He said that we had more right to this commemoration than the Jews did and the fasting of Ashura was instituted.

I can say that in my personal life, non-Muslims friends and acquaintances have always shown me and my faith respect, they have go out of their way to help me. When I was working for a large pharmaceutical company, I used to use a conference room for prayer. I asked the department secretary to block book 10 minute slots for me so that I could offer my prayers. She did this without hesitation and always notified me of any changes and would accommodate me. The conference room was later turned into offices and I lost my prayer space. I mentioned this to one of the managers, she was an atheist, and I also mentioned it to one of the directors in our building, he was a Christian. Both of these wonderful people went above and beyond the call of duty to find me an alternative space to pray in. They could have turned around and said “sorry Masud, we can’t help you” and that would have been that, but no, they considered it a duty to help me. They eventually found for me a very small area, just large enough to accommodate a prayer mat and they apologised profusely for not being able to find me a space a little larger and a little better. I was, and still am, utterly grateful to them for this incredible generosity of spirit and respect they showed me and my faith. How then can I not have a magnanimity of spirit to people of other faiths?

Many Muslims, in their religiosity, seem to dispense with common sense. This is not as big an issue that many make it out to be. Every year, come Christmas time, we get the usually sombre and stern messages from people warning us not to wish anyone a merry Christmas. In reality though, it boils down to manners and being civil with people and this does not mean that we accept their beliefs, rather, we accept that people have beliefs different to ours and we wish them happiness on their occasions of happiness.