24 September 2017 / 2. Muharram 1439

Posted by assistantwebmaster on August 31, 2014

The spread of injustice across the globe is worrying to say the very least; whichever part of the world you face, innocent lives are being lost and blood is being inexplicably spilt. The feeling of helplessness to aid those suffering is bruising to many a heart, particularly for those of us living in the west. However, there is one unanimous act that each and every one of us can unite in performing in order to provide solace to the victims; that is prayer. Essentially, this ‘prayer for peace’ event wanted to emphasise that regardless of faith and background, God is universal and listens to all his creation.

The diversity of faiths coming together to this event was refreshing. Representatives of Islam – both Sunni and Shia – joined Christian Reverends, Jewish Rabbis and Hindu representatives to unite in condemning the vile atrocities occurring on a daily basis; something religious leaders have been criticised for doing a lack thereof in the past. To hold hands in prayer to a supernatural deity to alleviate the troubles of the oppressed, is a simple, yet powerful action which defies the oppressors.

We were blessed with the presence of The Mayor of Harrow, Ajay Maru, and the President of Hujjat, Sheikh Mustafa Jaffer, who commenced proceedings with a short ‘thank you’ speech. This was shortly followed by a brief talk from our resident speaker, Sheikh Muhammad Abbas Panju. Unsurprisingly, he gave a thought-provoking talk, focusing on the acts of terror taking place in Iraq. Perhaps the underlying message from Sheikh’s speech was his emphasis on disassociating Islam from the vulgar crimes of ISIS, an important point that everyone took away. With the media continuing to label ISIS ‘Islamic extremist’, whilst also claiming to portray the conflict as ‘sectarian war’, little is being done to clear the name of Islam from these acts of violence. In fact, Sheikh made a beautiful point in saying that the result of following the book of Allah, to be a 'fundamentalist', to its absolute maximum is a moderate, respectful Muslim. The members of the ISIS group use Islam as nothing more than a disguise for their despicable, selfish acts, and their actions are in stark contrast with the peaceful values outlined in the Quran, and by the Holy Prophet.

Lastly, Sheikh demonstrated the deep effect that prayer has on the soul, refuting any idea that they are merely hopeful words uttered to a supreme being. Ultimately, it is God’s plan that will always be final, so what could be better than trusting Him to restore justice in this seemingly gloomy world we are currently in?

Jack Lynes, a representative of the Jewish faith and member of the Harrow Interfaith council echoed Sheikh’s words, distancing religion from any acts of terror, and called upon important figures from respective religions to come out and publicly denounce these humanitarian crimes. Another vital warning made by Mr Lynes was “to not confuse moderation with silence”. Whilst prayer is fundamental in attempting to stop these acts of terror, it is not an excuse to remain idle. It is our duty to help ourselves first before being helped by God, something heavily stressed in Islam. We must all raise awareness against the oppressors and their actions, for only then can the humanist values of all faiths unite.

Between these two talks was a quite beautiful poem on a man revered by all Muslims throughout the world – Ali ibn Abi Talib (as). Brother Nouri Sardar used the art of poetry to praise Imam Ali’s (as) justice, in an attempt to portray him as role model for leaders in a world marred with tyranny and injustice. After speaking to various dignitaries following the event, they were left inspired by Ali’s (as) character – it only takes five minutes to be left in awe of this great man!

Mrs Sonoo Malkani and Reverend Tuck, who represented the Hindu and Jewish faiths respectively, gave further speeches. These echoed the points made by the figures who preceded them. Mrs Malkani shed light on the suffering of humans from a mother’s perspective, claiming that as a mother herself, suffering to such innocent was unfathomable. This was a heart-melting point when thinking about the sheer number of innocent children undergoing merciless torture at the hands of the enemies of humanity. Both the Reverend and Mrs Malkani stressed the significance of prayer, stating that it ‘has the power to move mountains’, and that prayer as part of religion ‘unites us as opposed to dividing us.’

 

Mohamedali Gokal, who leads the Stanmore Jaffery’s youth group, reiterated the importance of uniting, using events such as these - the Prayer for Peace event held in Stanmore can act as a microcosm of the unanimity that should be amplified round the world. Perhaps fittingly, the gathering culminated in a candle lighting ceremony. Each community leader stood to light a candle - this represented both compassion for those suffering as well as the harmony of all faiths present. Hopefully, this humble show of solidarity will be replicated by others, to spread awareness and to pray for those affected by the injustices of this world.

Mohamedali then read out a prayer for those gathered, a copy of which is below. It was ended by a minute’s silence. After lunch, all guests were handed copies of Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah.

"All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing": never have these words been more relevant to the world today.

We would like to thank all those attending and participating in this pioneering event, as well as the organisers and the volunteers who made the Prayer for Peace possible. Hopefully, this modest yet significant event is the first step to humanity overcoming evil.

‘Prayer for Peace’ was held at Hujjat, Stanmore on 17 August 2014.

Ali-Reza Daya, Kumail Jaffer

 

The Prayer

 

Mr Mayor, elders, community leaders, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon and welcome to our centre.

           

We gather here today to pray for peace and condemn human suffering - wherever it exists.

 

Historians will remember the last one hundred years of human civilisation as the time when man split the atom, sent probes into the secret expanses of space and explored the depths of the oceans. Scientists have discovered penicillin and engineers manufactured artificial intelligence.

 

But they will also remember this as the time when humanity tore itself apart at its very seams. Wars have scarred our achievements; conflict blemished our advances; violence belittled our very humanity.

 

As well as our expanding knowledge in public health, technology and the world around us, we have also become more adept at inflicting pain and suffering on one another. The premium on weapons systems rises every day and the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological warfare is a constant reminder of the evil at bay.

 

Barely a day passes by when newspapers are not filled with columns reporting the horrors of violence around and television cameras do not seek to capture the grief of the innocent.

 

Those places where animosities have taken lives are all too easy to list. Gaza and Iraq, Syria and Myanmar, Bahrain and Eastern Europe, Congo and Sudan and many, many more. We deplore this endless, senseless cycle of tragedy. It must not continue.

 

100 years after the advent of the first Great War, we, together, affirm our commitment to compassion, peace and togetherness. The ties that bind us are greater than the things that divide us. We commit to using our voices and expending our energy to advocate peace and harmony.

 

And we gather together in this centre, in Harrow – one the most diverse boroughs in one of the world’s most multicultural cities – we pledge that we will make this a place of brotherhood and unity. For a man is indeed either your brother in faith, or equal in humanity.

 

We urge Her Majesty’s Government to commit to intervening wherever violence and suffering exists and as consequence of conflict. Britain is a leader in the international community and has a moral obligation not to remain idle but to take a firm and proactive stance on these issues.

 

As our community leaders light these candles today, we demonstrate our commitment to harmony and reconciliation, and affirm our solidarity with the innocent men, women and children in warzones around the world.

 

We pray, together, that the next 100 years are a time of great prosperity and dignity. We pray that we can show the compassion that the 21st Century needs. We pray for the strength of our leaders, and the courage to follow them as they seek to bridge the divides and resolve the differences that have shrouded us.

 

We will now observe a minute’s silence in honour of this prayer and in solidarity with the innocent victims, wherever they reside.


 

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