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Are Refugees More Welcome in Churches than Mosques?

Refugees welcome here!

The Guardian newspaper recently ran a story about the Reverend Sally Smith,[i] a vicar from Stoke-on-Trent, hailing her as a present-day Good Samaritan. The vicar is indeed worthy of such praise as she has wholeheartedly welcomed refugees into her parish and into the Christian community. She has provided the newcomers with basic needs: food, shelter, clothes and medicine, as well as emotional and spiritual support. The newspaper reports her as saying:

“Well, this is what I am meant to be doing and you’re meant to be doing it with me. We should be doing this together.”

It is a heart-warming story as it unfolds to show the empathy, kindness and generosity of the vicar. The refugees have been so moved by this outpouring of friendship and generosity that some have even embraced the faith of their benefactor and converted to Christianity. Thus, the demographic of those at St Marks has been transformed, much to the dismay of some of her congregation who have left appalled at the growing number of multiracial attendees in their little church in the heart of England.

The newspaper reports that mass baptisms are taking place as refugees adopt a new religion. But, where are their Muslim brethren? This, indeed, is the most telling part of the story; one refugee describes being homeless, cold, hungry and penniless. When he approached a mosque and begged to stay the night, he was turned away. This story and the resulting disappointment felt by the refugees is shared by others in the group.

As an Ummah, we feel for our Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world. We are hurt at the plight and anguish of those caught up in conflicts or burdened by poverty. We give donations freely to help ease the misery of those who are subjected to oppression and help bring comfort and hope to those who are destitute and weak. We pour millions of pounds to help relieve the situation of those who are in limbo – stranded refugees – swelling the numbers of UDPs around the world. But, what happens when those same people we are desperate to help arrive on our shores and stand helpless at our doorsteps?

Of course, mosques are first and foremost places of worship and there are rules to be adhered to. However, let us not forget the functions of the original mosques: the mosque of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was, amongst other things, a sanctuary for travellers, a religious school for knowledge seekers, a court (a place for arbitration) and a community centre.

Mosques in the UK have to deal with tight budgets and sometimes even tighter-lipped committee members and it is common to see a stolid attitude as to the allocation of funds. It is apparent that mosques are not as appealing, outside of prayer times, as they could be, but this is a two-way dialogue in which Muslim community members have to be more actively involved in their local mosque. Many complain about mosques from the comfort of their own armchairs. But those that approach those involved in mosque administration, those who proactively find out about their initiatives, get up and volunteer time and resources to bring these plans and ideas to fruition are few and far between.

There are a growing number of mosques around the UK that act as distribution centres for food banks.[ii] Sufra organisers say many Muslims now “increasingly feel they have a responsibility to the wider community and the problems here in Britain”.[iii] A shining example of this is when Birmingham Central Mosque opened its doors to the homeless on Christmas Eve last year. One of the organisers of the charity drive said:

“We are open anyway and it’s nice to be able to help when it’s needed most […] Birmingham is an amazing city that thrives on diversity and together as one community we can unite as one to tackle poverty.”[iv]

The mosque now boasts a permanent food bank thanks to a bequest. This is a small token acknowledging the needs of the local people but, inshaAllāh, it will go a long way in developing community spirit and demonstrating the Muslim community in a positive light.

 

Over fourteen hundred years ago, the Anṣār welcomed the Muhājirūn with open arms and Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) praises their brotherly love in the Qur’ān:

“Allāh has forgiven the Prophet, the Muhājirīn and the Anṣār who followed him in the time of distress.’[v]

So, let us be like the Anṣār and welcome our Muslim brothers and sisters who have fled from their homelands in hopes of a better life and let the masājid adopt the slogan popping up outside churches around the country: Refugees Welcome Here!

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[i] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/18/this-is-what-im-meant-to-be-doing-the-vicar-welcoming-muslims-to-church

[ii] http://www.isb.org.uk/foodbank/

[iii]

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/apr/02/muslim-groups-food-banks-tackle-poverty

[iv] http://indy100.independent.co.uk/article/birmingham-central-mosque-has-set-up-a-permanent-food-bank-to-help-the-citys-homeless–Zkgl7Tn1tPW

[v] Al-Qur’ān, 9:117

About Amera Farooq

Amera Farooq studied Biochemistry at Bedford College, University of London and is currently studying for a BA Islamic Studies degree from the Islamic Online University. She has been involved in education for a number of years, most recently in an SEN school. She is active in the community, trying to portray a positive image of Muslim women caring for and being engaged in their local communities. She currently participates in Dawah projects and Qur'an circles.

9 comments

  1. I had to interject!
    Please,please do not say these words
    ‘soon to be a disbeliever’.
    May Allaah Ta’aalaa forbid.
    Na’oothu billaah minashaytaan al rajeem
    Whatever wrongs Muslims may be doing,make du,aa for Allaah to guide them and correct them and have certainty that after hardship there WILL be ease.
    If the evil actions of some Muslims are making you despondent,and doubt your faith, shaytaan is having a field day!
    May Allaah reward you numerously,for being neglected by the community. Try and also give a thought to the practising sister’s who have been neglected and forsaken and have had to take shelter in the chuch.

    • silver/gold..stone or not..all becomes dust...so who we gonna trust

      salaam alaikom sistar uthamaniyah…you truly are…wise and kind.

      with that mentioned ..please do not look too deeply. coz i respond now in the sabeel of shaytan and myself….but i truly do appreciate your interjected response, as your heart must have hurt n thus you wrote n spoke…..as to against my own evil words actions and thoughts.

      you mentioned the neglected ones…sorry as much as it is selfish of me…you are them too, as much as anybody reading this too…..and as not too give the bigger satans field days even more…like i think sistar maryam mentioned what affects us as a community will eventually affect the confused whether from amonsgt or external too….

      as to version of events and as just mentioned…i.e. one body one world…..is God Himself going to break the Law…..

      suppose we all have stories to tell..as to the unfolding or fears or what may or not come
      i was contenmplating making a stand..but its ending is not guaranteed. so i pray either way God sends the gift..of gaining the first step of happiness by any means and any way necessary. now twist that any way you want…that is obviously not directed at you.

      if just to be a little bit hopeful or optimistic,,,if the words exist….in a way everybody is a moses and/ or a khidr….as when not too down…after a bit of silence… contemplation… and…. reflection, glimpses if can be called such of God’s plan manifest and the wisdom behind everything can be seen…..but then may be it sneaks in again and questions whether being right or wrong over powers yet again, but it is God who heals all wounds!

      btw….im still a disbeliever. ( i have not followed satanic ways too much as of yet, but to them if that was the case, would they make things better or promise to?! just in case anybody thinks such…..promises are given and liabilities are dead|) but thank you, so i hope i find the way to the ….

      yours truly like us all something inside so strong, yet i am still not dead

      p.s on and on…truly sorry.its me too..but if we are all going to continue to be selfish….then………the whole world is.

      • i love m thatcher ..n with the reset n reverse n despite..may t i personaly have love for u i.e her too

        just in case…*

        like a dove..love wins in the end…it is a fact.

        peace and .love

  2. There is no time and no body has time

    What the prophet contemplated I do to.and in a way I hope to succeed if it means being a Uganda refugee myself. Then what I mentioned about affecting community deal by yourselves and let it be on the shoulders of those whom help was sought from.

    But God is here isn’t He?..so la howl with la quwa ila Him.may be when He descends at the latter part of the night He’ll decide to become a man incarnate like they say and solve humanities problems …..not that I go to Him anymore….my be ill make du a and keep saying in sha Allah. Kurtbaat. ..hahaha

    As to the time.like a is ha reported everybody is busy with self .Al amr akbar min zaluk

  3. talking is good

    Salaam alaikom

    Nice article sister ameera. Ma share Allah.

    It is great encouragement to promote approaching the committees…etc. but for some sometimes fleeing from people not for their own sake but for the sake of those approached is probably best option.

    Hadiths state something like if you go to those who have no power or influence to help you with your problem then you have betrayed them and also the one who says that the people are destroyed ie he/she is the most destroyed of them…etc.

    With that said, and as to add to despair firstly of my own but I am ashamed to be part of this ummah. So after approaching and trying to reach out numerous times to this so called blessed ummah for personal reasons and problems that I am totally sure will be affecting the community one way or the other. ..etc. What point is there? Churches ie the non Muslims are helping…Muslims? Have good suspicion of…?…..

    Everybody is alone.there is no such thing as community any more. Unfortunately suicide is disallowed. He’s us may have prayed to be part of this ummah.but I think he won’t be coming back anytime soon.

    Apologies.(I understand no one owes no one anything)

    Yours truly

    Soon if not a disbeliever already.

    Good luck and peace

  4. Unfortunately,yes!
    The masaajid definitely need to play a more activer role- the majority.
    We are in fact losing our religion by not being as caring,hospitable…
    Its what our religion, teaches us

  5. Naved Siddiqi

    Thank you for this reminder, reminding myself and reminding us all.

    It shouldn’t be about welcoming “Muslims” but about embracing anyone seeking refuge – though I am sure that is what you meant.

    I went to the Solidarity With Refugees walk this weekend in the centre of London. This wasn’t one of those “Muslim rights” or “pro-Muslim” marches, and as I looked around I saw a great many churches, Christian charities, Jewish groups, environmental groups and local residents groups, but noticeably (and you can guess what I’m going to say), very few Muslims by comparison. Hardly any I’d say, given how many Muslims live in London. What does that tell us about our outlook or thinking? [What needs to change?]

    Mosques can play a huge part in the social wellbeing of anyblocality. I look forward to a time when mosques are familiar to local residents who aren’t Muslim, and not something (seemingly) fenced off and uninviting. A place where people turn to for all kinds of small kindness, support and assistance.

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