In an unprecedented response to the events in Syria and Iraq, Imams from across the UK, of various denominations of Sunni and Shia Muslims, have come together to support a single unified cause; to urge British Muslims not to fall prey to sectarian divisions and to call on people not to travel to Syria or Iraq to fight in the escalating conflicts.
An open letter signed by more than 100 Imams from across major theological backgrounds and cultural groups urges “British Muslim communities to continue the generous and tireless effort to support all of those affected by the crisis in Syria and unfolding events in Iraq, but to do so from the UK in a safe and responsible way.”
Qari Mohammed Asim, Imam at Leeds Makka Mosque, who played a key role in developing the letter, comments: “The scale of the humanitarian disaster in Syria and the escalating violence in Iraq calls for an unprecedented response. As we near the end of the first week of Ramadan our message is simple, we have come together to urge British Muslim communities not to fall prey to any form of sectarian divisions or social discord.
“Here in the UK we are Sunnis and Shias, brothers in Islam – and brothers in Britain too. The conflict in Syria and Iraq can never change that no matter how bitter the fighting. We urge members of the community to echo this sentiment by adding their signature to this letter, joining the many others that have done so already.”
The letter, which comes as Muslim communities celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, commends the incredible work that British Muslim communities have already done to raise money for the plight of the Syrian people and pledges further support but reminds communities that any support they give should be from the UK in a safe and responsible way.
The open letter is gathering a huge amount of support from within Muslim communities as they look to their Imams for guidance on how best to support the efforts to help the Syrian and Iraqi people during the ongoing crises.
Imam Shahid Raza (OBE) from Leicester Central Mosque comments: “Like everyone I am immensely proud of the response to the humanitarian crisis from communities across the UK. As the scale of the crisis escalates we need to appeal to our communities to ensure they are helping Syria and Iraq in the safest possible way and that sectarian divisions do not divide us here in the UK.”
The collective action between the Imams was facilitated by Faith Associates, an organisation which works with Imams and mosques across the UK and abroad. Chief Executive of Faith Associates and editor of www.imamsonline.com, Shaukat Warraich, commented:
“Today is an historic occasion with representatives from across British Muslim communities coming together to show a united front and commit to engaging with their communities to advise and protect our young people who might be thinking about going to Iraq or Syria. We are proud to have played a role in supporting this important initiative.”