How Croydon’s Ahmadiyya Muslim community responded to the terrorist attack in Westminster

By - Monday 3rd April, 2017

Young Muslims from Croydon remember the victims of the recent Westminster attack

Photo author’s own.

On Wednesday 29th March, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) took part in a large remembrance gathering on Westminster Bridge in central London. One week earlier, the bridge had been the location for a horrifying atrocity later identified as the work of an extremist claiming to be a Muslim, Khalid Masood, aged fifty-two, from Kent. Four people died in the attack and more than fifty were injured.

Hundreds of members of the AMYA, the UK’s largest Muslim Youth organisation, held banners carrying the slogans: ‘love for all, hatred for none’ and ‘Muslims for humanity’. We were among them.

Photo author’s own.

We also went a step further in our wish to engage with our fellow Londoners. Although our presence and our banners sent out our message, we wanted to connect directly with people. Participants were therefore also wearing tee-shirts with ‘I am a Muslim – ask me anything’ printed on them. These invited the general public to share their thoughts and concerns about Islam with us as young Muslims.

Regional director of AMYA South, Muhammad Shoaib Ali, said:

“By turning out in such large numbers, we Ahmadi Muslims hope to demonstrate the true, peaceful teachings of Islam and the commitment of British Muslims to peace and harmony”.

The prophet Muhammad, peace and blessing of God be on him, called on Muslims to be loyal to their nations and to always treat all people, of all backgrounds, with equal love and humanity. With our tee-shirts, we sought to engage with the general public and foster greater unity through open and honest dialogue. We wanted to show people the peaceful Islam that we follow and denounce the perverted version of Islam promoted by hate preachers.

Throughout the day, we were happy to receive positive feedback from the general public, with many shaking the hands of everyone present at the vigil and some even giving hugs. Many press members were also present and took a keen interest in what we were doing.

“It was great to see that the general public appreciated our actions. We received handshakes and hugs. People were assuring us that we should not worry about those who shout false slogans towards us”, said Kamran Adnan, a member of AMYA South.

Anas Majeed, assistant director AMYA South, added: “We will always be at the forefront whenever the situation demands us to. It is core to our teachings to help humanity whenever and wherever we can”.

AMYA South is regularly involved in humanitarian projects throughout Croydon. Members actively take part in blood donation drives, work to feed the homeless, tree planting sessions, visiting the sick and elderly in hospital and care homes, litter picking and much more.

We can see that a small number of extremists are seeking to drive a wedge between us as believers in Islam and our fellow Brits, some of other religions and some of none. We do not believe that in a city like London, famed for its inclusiveness, tolerance and diversity, this can be successful in the long term. We believe that communication is vital at this time, and that we as a community can play a part in this by reaching out to those around us.

We seek to play a full, constructive and supportive role in national life and to be of service to the national and also to the local community. We are proud that Croydon’s Ahmadiyya community was able to take part in this event in such numbers.

Adeel Shah

Adeel Shah

Adeel Shah is a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association. Educated in Croydon, he's now studying Modern Languages and Theology at Jamia Ahmadiyya. He is training to become a British Imam who aims to promote peace, love, brotherhood, cohesion and serenity within the community. He enjoys working in the community here whenever he has the opportunity and is part of AMYA Croydon who actively take part in litter picking, blood drives, homeless feeding, tree planting, visiting the sick and elderly in hospitals and care homes and much more.

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