Monday, June 4, 2007

Funding to train Imams in UK

Funding to train Imams in UK
Blair appeal for moderate Muslims

Mr Blair hosted a breakfast meeting with Islamic leaders
Tony Blair says he wants the "voice of moderation" among Muslims to be heard, as £1m funding was announced to boost Islamic studies at UK universities. Ministers hope the money, announced as a report criticised teaching quality, will help train more imams in the UK.

At a conference on Islam, Mr Blair also called for closer links between Islamic schools and mainstream state schools.

Critics said the London conference had excluded Muslim groups opposed to government policies.

In a speech at the conference, hosted by Cambridge University, Mr Blair said British politicians must listen harder to the "calm voice of moderation and reason" of the majority of the country's Muslims.

'Small voice'

"Those willing to come on television and articulate extreme and violent views make so much more impact than those who use the still, small voice of reason and moderation," he said.

The voices of extremism are no more representative of Islam than the use in times gone by of torture to force conversion to Christianity represented the teachings of Christ

Tony Blair

Islam courses 'outdated'

He said the conference had been organised to "let the authentic voices of Islam, in their various schools and manifestations, speak for themselves".

"Some of the most distinguished scholars and religious leaders the world over are gathered here. And I ask people in the country and wider to listen to them. They are the authentic voices of Islam," he said.

"The voices of extremism are no more representative of Islam than the use in times gone by of torture to force conversion to Christianity represented the teachings of Christ."

Islamic studies

The extra £1m was to go to British universities which teach Islamic studies courses - which were important to challenge extremism.

These are the issues which are radicalising young people and he did not talk about that

Ahmed Versi
Editor, Muslim News

Full text: Blair speech

It came as a government-commissioned report by leading scholar Dr Ataullah Siddiqui said teaching of Islam in English universities was based on "out-of-date and irrelevant issues".

Higher education minister Bill Rammell announced that Islamic Studies would be designated a strategically important subject, which the government hopes will help prevent extremism and improve community relations.

'Welcoming' language

Mr Blair also mentioned Iraq and Afghanistan, saying the invasions had been opposed by many Christians and should not be seen as being driven by religion.

Muslim News editor Ahmed Versi was among those at the conference, he told BBC News that overall, the language used by Mr Blair was "quite welcoming".

But he said he did not properly address the most important issue to Muslims - what he called the "double standards" of foreign policy in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

It will be for the relevant academic community to debate any future changes to the teaching of Islamic studies

Professor Drummond Bone
President, Universities UK

"These are the issues which are radicalising young people and he did not talk about that," he said.

Among those attending the two-day conference are clerics including the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shaykh Ali Gomaa, and the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Mustafa Ceric.

Labour peer Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, a critic of the government's foreign policy, told the BBC the conference was "fronted" by Cambridge University, but had been organised by the government which had "deliberately chosen to exclude those Muslims who disagree with government policy."

'Divide and rule'

He accused Mr Blair of using "divide and rule" tactics and said the university was being used "to see off a last speech" before Mr Blair steps down on 27 June.

If this benefits the communities of the UK it can only be a good thing

Dick, Coventry

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Catriona Laing, of Cambridge University's Interfaith Programme, denied there had been any political interference and said the conference had been planned for a long time.

Meanwhile university vice chancellors said Islamic Studies had been carefully developed and it was important all academic disciplines followed the same procedures to "ensure critical intellectual rigour and openness".

Professor Drummond Bone, president of Universities UK, said: "It will be for the relevant academic community to debate any future changes to the teaching of Islamic studies."

Last week the University and College Union voted to urge lecturers not to meet government demands to inform on pupils suspected of extremism.

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.