One community that is responding to the call to end violent extremism is the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in the UK. They embrace both the sanctity of their religion and government by seeking to become righteous souls as well as loyal British citizens. For four years, Ahmadiyyas have been running the buds of a 10-year campaign as a shield against extremism in UK. After the Paris terror attack, they commissioned a series of posters attached to nationwide buses that expressed their commitment to extricating extremism from Islam. Basharat Nazir, spokesperson from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK (AMAUK), said, “Ahmadiyyas are dedicated to correcting this misunderstanding and promoting lasting peace in the world.”
Following the death of Asad Shah in Scotland last week, Nazir said, “This is the first time that an Ahmadi Muslim has lost his life in a faith based attack in the United Kingdom. It sets an extremely dangerous precedent and so the Ahmadiyya Muslim community
urges the government and law enforcement agencies to take all possible measures to root out all forms of religious hatred, intolerance and sectarianism.”
In London, after the Friday prayers, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad led Shah’s funeral prayers, in absentia as the main funeral was in Glasgow. The Khalifa has since continued, “The media and government officials have expressed their condolences and grief following this incident. Certainly, the government and relevant authorities must take action to stop extremism spreading here in the UK. If extremist clerics are given a free hand, we will come to see the same levels of religious hatred and persecution here in the UK that we see in Muslim countries.”
Consequently, the “United Against Extremism” bus poster campaign will be refreshed on 100 buses in Scotland for two weeks from 11 April, and to remove misconceptions about Islam a leaflet entitled Islam’s Response to Extremism quoting “Whosoever killed a person…it shall be as if he had killed all mankind” (Holy Qur’an Ch.5:V.33) will be distributed to every household in every postcode in UK.
In the past, AMAUK appeals for peace and for ending religious wars, by way of fully paid advertisements, have been published in the Times and the Independent and have received an overwhelmingly supportive response from UK residents. In 2014, to celebrate 125 years since the establishment of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Britain, an advertisement was placed in the local Bedfordshire newspaper Luton on Sunday (LoS). After some external pressure from local Muslims, LoS was obliged to apologise and disassociate itself from the advertisement.
The AMAUK is entirely self-supporting through donations from its members. Nazir is careful to point out they receive no government funding from anywhere in the world.
Nazir says, “It’s all happening after the UK Parliamentary debate in February. The public and the media are starting to pick up our message that the vast majority of Muslims are not violent extremists. It is the firm belief of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community that all people should be able to peacefully practice their faith without fear of persecution or violence.”