Rob Murphy is calling on the Somali Community in Sheffield to make contact with their people back home and get their stories to Sheffield .
Murphy who is the Green Party Councillor for Central Ward Sheffield said: “It is obvious that the famine in Somalia is a terrible event.”
He believe that getting personal stories from people related to someone we know locally will help our understanding of the situation and will give us a better picture of how terrible the famine in Somalia is.
In his understanding of the drought and famine happening, Murphy said the famine might not be disconnected with the political problems in the country.
According to him, global policies have a role in producing the disaster affecting the region.
He stated that there is a possibility of global warming, soil erosion as well as over exploitation of the land which becomes barren.
Islam and Environment
The Green Party is a party for the environment like wise the religion of Islam.
The Greens are representing a lot of Muslims in their ward here in Sheffield.
Even though there is no any official connection between the Green Party and Muslims community in Sheffield but it seems Muslims are happy with the Greens here.
Murphy said ” but the fact that we represent a lot of Muslims in our Ward shows the connection between us.”
He stated that in his understanding of the religion of Islam through his Muslim friends he can tell how green Islam is.
He further stated that Islam is teaching people about not being wasteful.
” Ramadan is about that because it is through that you can realize what you have and what you don’t need.” said Murphy.
He also called on people to take interest in what is happening in their local areas and to try and follow what the politicians are doing.
By reading their manifestos and finding their views then you would get to know who is representing you.
The Green Party Conference will be hosted here in Sheffield.
Muslims were encouraged in Sheffield to engage in politics in order to make a difference in the society.
The call was made by Dr Azzam Tamimi, Director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought and a regular contributor in the Guardian Newspaper, in a lecture for both Muslims and non-Muslims.
“We did make a difference in opposing war in Iraq.”Said Dr Azzam Tamimi.
He said the most important thing in life is to contribute to something good.
Dr Tamimi, a political activist, and one of the most famous faces in fighting for the cause of the Palestinian people, called on Muslims to avoid sectarianism because is not helping towards the Middle East uprising.
He cited examples where Saudi Arabia supports the Sunni ruling family in Bahrain while Iran and Hisbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah support the Shi’ite ruling family in Syria.
So at the end the sectarianism is undermining the effects of the revolution.
Dr Tamimi said ” what happens in the Arab World affects the entire world.”
Islam and Democracy
Dr Tamimi stated that there is no conflict between Islam and democracy.
He said “I belong to the school of thought that those not see any conflict between Islam and democracy”.
Dr Tamimi further said Muslims should care about the issues happening in this country and said ” Islam is about caring”.
He called on young men and women that so long as they are vigilant then the will be successful.
He said the revolution is not something that can be achieved over night.
But further said only when we force them to respect them they will respect us.
He gave examples like the French Revolution which took them seven years .
It also took a while to stabilize democracy in the world because ” Revolution is about dignity and freedom.”
In his lecture he said Muslims need to penetrate and invest a lot in the media.
Dr Tamimi said Muslims need something like Al-Hiwar TV in English.
We need something to start with in order to influence public opinion.
He further said one should start within the limited resources that are available, with that you should be able to do something significant.
Hundreds of women and children gathered at the Al Mahad -al Islami school premises for the annual fund raising event.
Ameena Khan, a teacher from the school said ” a lot of the stalls were for the school because we need a lot of things for the school and also the school extension.”
And the entrance fee for every adult is £1 and 50p for the children.
There were lots for children to enjoy like ice cream, milkshake, bouncy castle etc.
Umm Ameena from Pakistan brought things from her home and explained all the proceed from the stall is going to Palestine.
She said ”me and my husband pledged £5000 to Palestine so basically I am here to raise money for clean water project”.
Last year the family also raised £2ooo for a mosque in Rotherham
Umm Ameena was provided free stall and also promised to look for donations from friends and families in Ramadan.
She said that the turn out for the yearly fun day was good and there are more stalls this year than the previous.
There were stalls for Islamic Jilbabs, ready made suits, pashminas and scarfs which were displayed by Zora Hassan.
But she said the money is actually hers that’s why she had to pay £10 for the stall.
Siti Issileme from Comoros Island said all the proceed from her stall is going to the school.
The ex-school girls were also present and actively partcipating.
Muminah Hussein said “couple of years back we were the organisers but now is like a reunion for us”.
It was a chance for the girls to meet again and help our school.
The ex girls were contacted by the head teacher of the school to come and help.
It comprises a variety of faith, all working together to bring out understanding and diversity amongst University Staff and students as stated by a former Muslim faith adviser Dr Omar El-hamdoon.
Dr El-hamdoon said there is also collaboration between the centre and Chaplaincy to assist patients in their healing.
The university of Sheffield chaplain and Jewish adviser Deborah Green describes working with the Muslim community as a “fantastic opportunity”, challenging and rewarding.
She works with the Muslims for more than ten years as she is presently the Assistant Director of Student Services.
As a Chaplain adviser, she met several people with different ideologies like the Sunni Muslims and Christians from Anglican, Catholics etc.
According to her, a former Student of the University is currently serving as the Muslim faith adviser.
She feels this will have much impact because he knows the system so he can have a wider picture of handling issues related to Muslims.
Green is not there only for students but the University Staff as well.
She deals with foreign Students; therefore some of the University Staff are coming to her for advice and also asking questions regarding Ramadan etc.
So also part of the Staff training programs include supporting the supporters for the Staff of the University by a Muslim so that they can have the opportunity to ask questions.
She thinks and hope the Students over the years can raise things without fear to their department or any relevant person.
Students need to raise the issues so that the university can be aware of their concern.
She pointed out a case whereby a student had problem because he missed Friday lectures from 1-2.
The Student did not tell the staff about the Friday prayer therefore they are not aware.
But she said the University calendar from 2010 will give Muslims the chance to perform their Friday prayer, as 1-2 will be a lunch time for all the departments of the University.
She said students with problems should contact the chaplaincy as it is part of the Student services department.
But further explains it depends on the issue, “some I discussed with the Muslim chaplain or the Islamic society as they have better understanding of the religion.Some issues are related to prayer rooms, Friday prayers, toilets etc.But despite that, it helps me learn about Islam in small ways.” Said Green.
And she presently has the copy of the Quran and read what it says about the Jews and she can say that Jewish and Muslims are like first cousins.
The religion of Islam is well represented and seems to have become part of Sheffield as effort where being made by the University of Sheffield Islamic Circle in representing all faces of Muslims around the world in its membership.
Wilessy Otten from Trinidad said, the representation of Muslims in the media is mostly about Arabs and Pakistanis but in Sheffield you get to see how diverse Islam is.
Otten said “you feel really comfortable in Sheffield.”
She added also that the USIC is always trying to keep the Muslims together by organising social interaction and Islamic lectures.
Marwa Saeed has been the head sister for USIC for two years.
Saeed said the purpose of organising social gatherings is to get Muslims together to have fun in a halal environment.
Lyazzat Syrlybayeva from Kazakhstan said Islam is so much different here and it also broadens your overall expression of how different Muslims are, and how Islam unites people.
The annual BBQ is open to all females.
Saeed stated that the BBQ is open to all Muslims and non-Muslims, practicing and non-practicing Muslims.
She said students are in charge of making all the efforts to bring all the Muslims together.
The fresher week will be in September where there will be a big welcome dinner for new students.
In previous events organised by USIC, the Education team organises talks, seminars, Quran and Hadith circle etc.
The year’s events include welcoming dinner for fresher’s which was attended by chaplaincy and a comedian prince Abdi.
The talks were delivered by Sheikh Farooq Mulla with a topic titled Wings of a believer: Hope and fear.
And the second is Becomes a Muslim who weighs a nation-characteristics of a true Muslim was delivered by Dr Reda Badeir.
And Ilyas Kirmani presented his talk on fall of the Ummah and how to rise again.
The final talk was you vs Dajjal which was presented by Shafiq Siddiq.
A one day seminar was organised entitled “Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him” by Dr Omar El-hamdoon and another three hour seminar on professionalism in Islam.
There was also a fund raising event for over a week for orphans were over £7000 was raised at the charity week.
The sisters usually have like three events in a week while Men only event include ice skating, football, paintballing etc.
And there is no payment for membership and don’t normally get profit out of the events organised by the USIC.
And their role is basically to reach out to other national societies like the Pakistani, Malaysian, Saudi, Omanian and others.
There is also an Islamic awareness week every year which aims at educating non –Muslims on the misconceptions about Islam.
Valarie walsh (Umm Kareema) is a British Jamaican leaving in Sheffield, and a mother of four.
She was brought up in a Christian household where they went to church every week.
Umm Kareema said ”My father was not a strong Christian but my mother was very dedicated to the church.She always had some position within the church such as Church Secretary, Church Superintendent or Church Treasurer.They would rotate the posts among the congregation.”
They used to have Bible lessons every evening around the dining room table.
Umm Kareema said they would always start with a few hymns where her mother would play the piano.
And they would have to sing along, after that they would read passages from the Bible and following a lesson plan pamphlet that was brought from the Church.
“There was just myself, younger sister and my older brother at home at this time but my older brother was rebelling at the time so he was never in the house when it was time for Lesson.” said Umm Kareema.
How she accept Islam
She stated how she used to find the lessons quite interesting sometimes most especially If they were stories of the Prophets.
Her favourite story was Daniel in the Lions Den.
It was a weekly routine in their Church to sit and listen through the preaching.
“I could never even as a 12 year old understand or accept how Jesus could be the son of God and be God at the same time as well as a Holy Ghost” said Umm Kareema.
She clearly stated how she found the trinity complicated.
Umm Kareema said “I could not get my head around it even years later or even get a decent explanation that made sense.”
By the time she was 17 she had realised that “Christianity was not the correct religion”.
She explained how she always believed in God, believed in Heaven and Hell and believed there would be a Judgement of some sort .
She said “ I remember saying to myself, when I find the correct religion I will know and I will follow it but for now I will forget about Christianity.”
At the age of 32 the religion of Islam was introduced to Umm Kareema.
“I was working in the City of London and used to park my car near a Mosque (East London Masjid). On my way home after work on many occasions I used to hear something coming over the loudspeaker from the Masjid which I didn’t know at the time was the Athan [ call to prayer video] but I used to love hearing it and it would make me feel kind of peace inside me whilst it was going on”.
She explained how her ex-brother inlaw had embraced Islam after divorcing from her sister.
He decided to go to Jamaica to find himself a young Jamaican Muslim girl as he was told there was a town in Jamaica where Islam was growing and there were many young girls wanting to get married.
She said ”I thought he was going crazy when he embraced Islam but when he told me this I thought he was really losing his marbles” .
When he eventually came back from Jamaica with his wife he asked her if she could show her around sometimes in her free time which she agreed to do.
Umm Kareema went to visit her one day and she had a friend there who gave her two Ahmed Deedat Books.
The first book was ”Is Jesus God, and Crucifiction or Crucifixtion”.
She said “ I didn’t want to take them but not to seem rude I took them home and intended to throw them away but instead put them in my broom cupboard.”
Inspired by the Qur’an
One day she had a strong urge to get them down and read them which she actually did.
Umm Kareema said “I found as I was reading them the verses of Quran quoted was never enough for me, I always wanted more so I went to my ex brother inlaws house and asked his wife if I could borrow a Qur’an”.
She was surprised as I had never shown any real interest in their religion.
“In the end, she gave me the Quraan which I would read over the next couple of weeks.
I used to find myself at work watching the clock as I could not wait to go home and take a shower (which I was told to do before reading the Qur’an). My colleagues would ask me if I was coming with them for a drink after work and I’d say no I was busy and rush home to read the Qur’an” said Umm Kareema
Whilst reading the Quraan she realised that this was the true religion .
She would be phoning her ex brother in law and his wife over the next two weeks asking further questions about the Islamic way of life as she felt embracing Islam is something she will have to do .
She said this is “because the truth was staring me in my face everytime I opened the Quraan.”
“I finished the Quraan in two weeks and was compelled to take my shahadah [ testimony which confirms a person as a Muslim] as I knew there was no other God except Allah (SWA” and that Mohammad is his servant and Messenger”
“Alhamdulillah I have never looked back and still reading and learning about Islam 15 years later Alhamdulillah”, she concluded.
The Muslim welfare House of Sheffield for some time runs regular open days to allow individuals from the community of any faith background to come and understand Islam, to see the Mosque and ask any questions.
The event looks colourful and interactive and gives room for interaction between Men and Women attending the open day.
The Christian Science Church
As part of a mutual relationship between Muslims and other faiths a Church in Sheffield is always happy to provide free parking to Muslims in Ramadan, which make the Muslims happy.
Ramadan is a month of fasting and seeking for forgiveness from the Lord Almighty.
The Mosque is on Severn road adjacent to the Christian Science Church Sheffield.
Mrs Sheila Hayes said the Church provide Muslims free parking in the busy time of Ramadan.
Mrs Hayes added that, during the day they rented the car park for hospital Staff to help pay their bills.
But in the evening in Ramadan they are providing it free for their Muslims neighbours.
She described Muslims as very sincere and dedicated people and the church maintained a very good relationship with the Mosque.
She has visited the mosque and appeared to her to be very interesting and impressive.
Speakers from Muslim Welfare House Sheffield receive invitation from different Churches to come and deliver or share Islam with the congregation.
They also engage in multi faith dialogue where avenues permit such activities.
This is done over many platforms according to the needs as explained by Dr Omar El-hamdoon a former manager of the centre.
He further stated that one such platform was shared by United Reform Church in sharing broad subjects on both Islam and Christianity.
New Muslim Project
The new Muslim project is one of the regular weekly events in Sheffield.
Ameenah Blake a secondary school teacher in Sheffield who has been a Muslim for eighteen years said the NMP is about providing new Muslims with support and social activities and basic Islamic education.
The project helps the new converts in learning the basics of Islam, prayers, hadiths etc.
Duties of Imam
Imams are those chosen to help Muslims with counselling as well as leading prayers in congregations.
Young people see those Imams as their role models.
In Sheffield previous Imams described the work as challenging.
A challenge in the sense of giving time for those that need assistance and direction.
There is also challenge in motivating others in becoming good individuals as part of the society at large.
The president of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) who was a former Sheffield University student, Imam of the MWHS Mosque and former Muslim chaplain, Dr Omar El –Hamdoon advised the young Muslims who sees him as their role model.
Dr El-hamdoon said “my advice is that sit in a quiet environment, free from any distraction and ask yourself what I want to achieve in life. Then to put aims and goals in your life and to work towards achieving those aims is becoming a successful individual.”
Women were urged to emulate Tariq Jahan who was described today in Sheffield as a person with an unshakable faith (Iman).
Mrs Fiyza Awan made the call today in women only Tafsir class at the Muslim Welfare House of Sheffield.
Awan who is a British Pakistani said Mr Jahan’s action is a da’awah (Islamic propagation) that will take decades for da’awah stores to achieve.
Because Islam is about action not just talking.
She further said by being patient he has elavated his status in the sight of Allah.
And Allah will put blessings in his life.
She quoted a verse in the qur’an were Allah says in Qur’an Chapter 94 verses 5-6
“So verily, with every difficulty, there is relief:
Verily, with every difficulty there is relief”.
Mr Jahan whose son Haroon was killed along side two others in Birmingham said:
“I believe that people can stay calm. If you look around here, there are black, brown, white and yellow people, they are all my community. We live together and we can stay together. Our three boys have died. I hear that another person, a 68-year-old man, has died in London after he tried to help stop a fire. There should be no more deaths, and I hope and pray that message has got through.”
Dozens of people gathered in Sheffield’s Spectrum Center in an open day to help raise funds for the young people in Yemen.
The idea for the open day is to raise money so that young people in Yemen can have the basics.
This is because of the political turbalence happening in Yemen and other Arab Countries.
Abdullah Whitney who was also helping said “ladies are always getting things started”.
He came with his friend to support his wife Fatima whitney who organise the fund raising event.
Mr Mika’il Brown, an Engish said “I am here to support my friend to help the Yemeni community.”
According to Mrs Whitney the idea basically is to help children because of the bombing taking place in Yemen.
“And of course the suffering is going to be worst in Ramadan because of hike in food prices.” said Mrs Whitney.
Helping the needy
Ladies help by cooking food from their homes like pokoras, rice, chicken, salad, samosas as well as Arabic dishes.
According to Ahlam Al-elbi the money raised will be used to help those families flared from their houses and currently taking shelter in a school in Zanjibar Abyan.
She said”my sister inlaw is now leaving in a school in Kurmaser in abyan”.
She stated how her sister left her home together with her children.
The money will be used to buy clothes, medicine, blankets etc.
According to her also, they were sent a fax on all the things needed and what they are trying to do now is to make sure they fulfil their needs.
Children were also helping and made different things and all the proceeds will be use to support the Yemeni children.
Mrs Whitney said they felt really happy with the help rendered by the children and promise that the money will also be split between orphanage.
Abdullah Whitney’s most favourable and memorable moment in Islam is kneeling in front of Allah the Almighty when performing five daily prayers.
“And fasting for me also is the most enjoyable thing in Islam. It gives appreciation of your life especially we that lived in the West” added Mr Whitney.
A graduate from the department of English and Drama from the University of Sheffield, Mr Whitney 50, who is married to a Yemeni lady Fatima, said “prayer (Sallah) is the natural, humble and lovely way for a man to kneel in front of his creator”.
Mr Whitney accepted Islam at the age of twenty in Sheffield.
He said that “he had always believed in God and therefore read different books on Hinduism, Buddhism and the Bible, and then I finally came across Islam and that “is the best decision I have ever made in my life”.
My conversion to Islam
Mr Whitney learnt about Islam through the Muslim Welfare House of Sheffield (MWHS) mosque.
He made friends with some good Muslim brothers like Mr Bujaiami from Syria, Mr Gaceb, Dawood Musa and Muhammad Rasheed from Scotland.
He kept in touch with them and they never pushed him into accepting their religion as taught in the Quran Chapter 2 Verse 256 – no compulsion in religion.
His acceptance of Islam was further strengthened after watching a documentary on BBC about Islam in London.
Learning about the basics of Islam
Mr Whitney engaged in learning about Islam, he attended Islamic circles, where he learnt about the manners in Islam, the Islamic history, alongside memorising short chapters of the Quran.
A significant part of his learning process was aided much by his friend Mr Gaceb and also, his steadfastness in reading the English translation of the Quran.
He is fascinated by the simplicity and purity of the message of the Quran.
Relationship with parents
In Islam, once you follow the injunction then, respecting your parents and others are necessary.
It is very clear how one should behave in Islam said Mr Whitney.
He was happy when he accepted Islam because people were very kind to him.
According to the teachings of Islam being kind and obedient to parents is next to worshipping of Allah.
According to the Qur’an Chapter 17 verses23-24
|Your lord has ordered you to worship none except him, and to be good to your parents. If either or both of them attain old age with you, do not say: “fie on you”, nor rebuke them, but speak to them with words of respect. (23)||
وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلاَّ تَعْبُدُواْ إِلاَّ إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلاَهُمَا فَلاَ تَقُل لَّهُمَآ أُفٍّ وَلاَ تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا﴿23﴾
|And lower to them the wing of humbleness out of mercy and say: ‘my lord, be merciful to them, as they raised me since I was little. ‘ (24)||
وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا﴿24﴾
In a hadith, Asma bint Abu Bakr relates that her mother had come from Makkah to Madinah to meet her.
Her mother was not a Muslim and followed pagan tribal customs and beliefs.
Asma enquired from the holy Prophet how she was supposed to treat her.
The holy Prophet told her to be kind and considerate and to behave towards her as was a mother’s due from a daughter.
Simplicity of Islam
According to Mr Whitney people used to like the prophet SAW because of his good character. The religion of Islam “is a beautifully simple thing”.
Mr Whitney said if you asked any police officer or a medical doctor the biggest cause of social or medical problem, the answer will be alcohol.
But according to him the beauty of Islam is that it dealt with internal and also society rules and values 1400 years back.
When Mr Whitney performed Umrah (lesser hajj) he said it was fantastic, humble and you felt a very much member of the humanity because in Islam everyone is the same.