Murtaza Ali Shah
BIRMINGHAM: More than 30,000 British Pakistanis participated in the biggest ever Milad-un-Nabi (Peace Be Upon Him) rally here at Ashton Park.
Of the thousands who attended the rally here, home to over 250,000 Pakistanis, nearly half were women and the rest included Sunni Muslim religious leaders, young and old of every age. Hazrat Pir Alahuddin Siddiqui, Chairman Mahiuddin Trust, led the rally, which headed towards the Ashton Park where the six hours long sessions of Nasheeds (Naats) and speeches started, which also saw the participation of government ministers Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Andrew Stunnel, Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Tom Watson, Deputy Chairman Labour Party, Liam Byrne MP, Shadow Work and Pension Secretary, President of Al-Azhar University Dr Usama Al Abd, Christian and Jewish faith leaders, including many Muslim leaders who had travelled from Pakistan.
The rally culminated in the wake of increase in anti-Muslims hysteria and a heightened level of activity targeting British Pakistanis by far-right groups such as British National Party (BNP), racist street group English Defence League (EDL) and other anti-Muslim groups.
Allama Siddiqui, while addressing the participants of the rally, highlighted the true image of Islam, he said Islam taught co-existence and love for humanity, irrespective of one's colour of skin and background. He said the rally demonstrated that Muslims were a peace loving community who, while adoringly adhering to the scriptures of their faith, meant friendship and interfaith harmony among all faiths and those of none.
Allama Siddiqui said Muslims in Britain had a duty to be faithful to the country where lived in, showing good character and good citizenship values. He said some misguided people had projected themselves for political agenda and were bringing a bad name to Islam. He said the crowd of thousands had gathered to send a message of interfaith harmony but it was also an occasion for Muslims to reflect upon the amount of work they needed to do to dispel the negative.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi said Conservative Party was serious about tackling issues, which affected communities as a whole but was also keen to make sure that faith communities are protected and helped. She said the government has established to tackle anti-Muslim hatred and the Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks (MAMA) project inspired by a need expressed by Muslim communities in the UK.
She appealed to the community to report violence against them as a way of winning safeguards against Islamophobic attacks. She said the government had fulfilled its promise of introducing single-sex wards in hospital -- a long-standing demand of the faith communities. She said that the coalition government was determined to bring down borrowing and termed this effort as in conjunction with the Islamic economic rule that one should not spend out of their means and be reliant on the available resources. She also talked at length about the consolation the collation government is doing with the help of doctors and scientists on providing non-evasive post mortems, another long-standing demand of the Muslim and Jewish communities.
She said the Hajj working group, she launched last year, was appreciated by all and its focus remains on how to improve standards and support British Hujjaj. Christian and Jewish leaders talked about the common problems faced by the faith communities and how best to come together to deal with these issues. They said the leading faiths had much more in common that generally believed and unity of various faiths was important.