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BBC: Michele’s Quest

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Michele Nicolle is a Muslim born and raised in Jersey who chose to follow Islam as an adult.  She says she had always been confused about religion although she knew she believed in God. She says she was always confused about her Catholic faith but wanted to try to find out the truth about God.

“I always was very confused about certain issues of the Catholic faith; of the Christian belief. The fact that on the one hand they would say “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and then they would say “Who is the Son of God.” and the two didn’t quite make sense because of course how could God be a Son and at the same time be the Almighty? And how could God be a Man? These kind of questions, very naive questions that a child would ask themselves.”

She found herself on a spiritual quest which led her to study the history of Christianity and into Eastern Philosophies including Budhism and Hindusim. But this didn’t fulfil her quest to establish the truth about God.

“I’d really been through every religion that you could think of and really gone into it in great depth.”

In all this time and despite living next to a mosque in Birmingham Michelle had still never met a Muslim.

Feeling lost and as though she had come to the end of the line, she found to her surprise when she read the Qur’an she agreed with everything it said.

“For me it really hit me between the eyes.” There was nothing there to equate God with a human being; God was almighty, nobody knows what God looks like, nobody has heard God speaking to them. This is what the Qur’an said and I thought ‘well this is fantastic’ because certainly if there was an almighty God then who are we as mere mortals to think that we can see him, or to think that we could hear Him?”

The experience proved life changing and within a few months she had taken the decision to dress in the hijab and jilbab the Muslim scarf and dress. As for her family’s reaction, well they had seen her go from being a Christian to a Buddhist to a Hindu, was this to be another passing phase in her life?

“My mother, she understood better because she’s quite a religious person anyway; my father perhaps felt this was taking things a bit too far!”

Although there have been Muslims living in Jersey for several decades, as Michele reports there’s still a lack of awareness about them but steps are being taken to change this. Now Jersey’s Muslims are finding a voice, they’ve set up an Islamic trust and are creating a website for information for anyone wanting an introduction to yet another one of the diverse communities living in this multi-cultural island.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/jersey/content/articles/2005/03/03/islam_in_jersey_6_feature.shtml

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BBC: Moya’s Journey

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Looking back, Moya Grady can remember when she first felt that her life would eventually lead her to embrace Islam;
Moya Grady
Moya feels Islam has given her control of her life

“I can remember seeing a Muslim lady walking down the road, obviously going from house to house and dressed from head to foot in black, and the wind actually catching her jilbab and on the bottom it was sort of billowing out along the sand, and looking at that and thinking; one of these days I’m actually going to be like that’.”

The image was to stay in Moya’s mind but it would take another 14 years for her to become a Muslim. It wasn’t until years later when suffering from a serious illness that she turned again to Islam.

Off work and will time on her hands she read the whole of the Qur’an in English, eventually her health returned and she went back to work forgetting about the religion. But that wasn’t the end of it, during what she describes as one of the hardest times in her life, Moya found she instinctively reached out to Islam.

“I had to find an inner-most strength to work out why on earth all this was happening.”

So she boarded a plane for London and took her declaration at a rather large mosque. She felt the experience was a bit impersonal and was disappointed but before returning decided to give another smaller mosque a try.

“I came out of there feeling totally different. I felt really spiritually moved, I actually sat in the car and sobbed my heart out.”

On a high from her experience Moya then spent some time in Tunisia and felt very at home in as Islamic country but when she came home to Jersey she found leading her daily life was difficult.

Moya continues to work in Jersey, which means some of her prayers have to be made up at the end of the day. (Salat, the second pillar of Islam, requires Muslims to pray five times a day. Inevitably some of these times fall within working hours.) As a woman she feels her religion has made her feel more liberated and is proud of her Muslim identity.

As Moya sees it Muslim women are treated as equals and protected throughout their lives. For her following Islam makes her feel she is finally in control of her life and the Qu’ran provides practical guidelines for living in an honest and peaceful way.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/jersey/content/articles/2005/03/03/islam_in_jersey_5_feature.shtml

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BBC: Muslim women spread peace message

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A group of disabled Muslim women have been spreading the message of peace in the wake of the London bomb attacks.

About 50 members of the Muslim Disabled Association (MDA) took part in a peace rally, handing out 5,000 leaflets condemning violence.

The event started outside Ilford Town Hall and headed to Waltham Forest via Barking and Newham in east London.

Abida Iqval, chair of the MDA, said the group wanted to spread the message of love and peace for each other.

“We don’t want any terror, we don’t want any racialism and we don’t want any hate.

“We are against terrorism and violence, Islam does not allow the killing of innocent people,” she added.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/4168662.stm

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BBC: Edward to Ibrahim

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Ibrahim Danby was brought up in a traditional Christian household but has now embraced Islam.

Ibrahim Danby’s mother was a Catholic and he describes his upbringing as ‘traditionally English Christian’.

It was at university that he first became aware of the Islamic faith.

“I wasn’t particularly looking for a new religion… I just happened to stumble across Islam, I had many friends who were Muslims.”

Embraced

Having read a lot more about Islam Ibrahim ended up embracing his new found faith.

“I had no idea that after finding out some information about Islam that I would embrace it so this was a considerable life change for me.

“I was excepted into the mosque having never been in… with such sincerity.

“What I particularly liked about it was there was no hierarchy.”

His parents met the idea with some trepidation.

“All they had heard was about suicide bombers and the rise of militant Islam.”

In time his parents have come to accept his new faith. He says that his mother now understands his decision.

“She’s happy for me to be a Muslim. However, my parents still call me Edward, I have absolutely no problem with that, they gave me that name.”

Enriched

Ibrahim’s faith has given him an enormous amount of contentment.

“When I do fall upon hard times I do find my faith in God really helps me.

“[Being a Muslim] is about putting something back in… which I think society is lacking today.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nottingham/content/articles/2008/04/29/ibrahim_danby_turning_point_feature.shtml

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BBC: Muslim Policemen in Wales

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Subject: Religious Education
Language: English
Topic: Islam
School Level: 11-14,14-16
Sub-Topic: Muslim faith
Duration: 1:17

Content Description
A Muslim policeman from North Wales talks about how he combines his job with his faith. Clip shows him in his office with Qur’an behind him, shows him on his beat and at prayer in the mosque.

Points to note:
Use clip as stimulus for class discussion – can you follow a Muslim lifestyle in Wales?

From A Muslim in Wales:Quran and Country. first broadcast 08/12/05

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/eclips/pages/eng_11to16_re_islam_police.shtml

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CNN: Muslim helps Jews attacked on New York subway

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  • Story Highlights
  • Incident began when man said “Happy Hanukkah”
  • Members of a group of young people allegedly responded with anti-Semitic language
  • One of the Jews was punched during the altercation
  • A Muslim student from Bangladesh jumped to his aid
From Nkechi Nneji
CNN

NEW YORK (CNN) — A Muslim man jumped to the aid of three Jewish subway riders after they were attacked by a group of young people who objected to one of the Jews saying “Happy Hanukkah,” a spokeswoman for the three said Wednesday.

Friday’s altercation on the Q train began when somebody yelled out “Merry Christmas,” to which rider Walter Adler responded, “Happy Hanukkah,” said Toba Hellerstein.

“Almost immediately, you see the look in this guy’s face like I’ve called his mother something,” Adler told CNN affiliate WABC.

Two women who were with a group of 10 rowdy people then began to verbally assault Adler’s companions with anti-Semitic language, Hellerstein said.

One member of the group allegedly yelled, “Oh, Hanukkah. That’s the day that the Jews killed Jesus,” she said.

When Adler tried to intercede, a male member of the group punched him, she said.

Another passenger, Hassan Askari — a Muslim student from Bangladesh — came to Adler’s aid, and the group began physically and verbally assaulting him, Hellerstein said.

“A Muslim-American saved us when our own people were on the train and didn’t do anything,” Adler said.

Adler pulled the emergency brake and the train stopped at DeKalb Avenue station, where police came on board.

The 10 suspects, ages 19 to 20, were taken into custody, said Brooklyn district attorney spokesman Sandy Silverstein.

Askari was first handcuffed alongside them, but he was released when Adler told police he was not an attacker, Hellerstein said.

Alder was treated at Long Island College Hospital for injuries that included a fractured nose and a cut lip that required several stitches, while Askari suffered a black eye, Hellerstein said.

The suspects are to appear in Brooklyn District Court on February 7 on charges that include assault, attempted assault, menacing, harassment, unlawful assembly, riot and disorderly conduct, Silverstein said.

The New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident, and will determine whether the suspects will be charged with hate crimes, Officer Philip Hauser told CNN.

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/US/12/12/subway.attack/index.html

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Islam at a glance

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Minaret of the East London Mosque in Whitechapel, topped with crescent moon

The word Islam means ‘submission to the will of God’.

Islam is the second largest religion in the world with over 1 billion followers. The 2001 census recorded 1,591,000 Muslims in the UK, around 2.7% of the population.

* Muslims believe that Islam was revealed over 1400 years ago in Mecca, Arabia.
* Followers of Islam are called Muslims.
* Muslims believe that there is only One God.
* The Arabic word for God is Allah.
* According to Muslims, God sent a number of prophets to mankind to teach them how to live according to His law.
* Jesus, Moses and Abraham are respected as prophets of God.
* They believe that the final Prophet was Muhammad.
* Muslims believe that Islam has always existed, but for practical purposes, date their religion from the time of the migration of Muhammad.
* Muslims base their laws on their holy book the Qur’an, and the Sunnah.
* Muslims believe the Sunnah is the practical example of Prophet Muhammad and that there are five basic Pillars of Islam.
* These pillars are the declaration of faith, praying five times a day, giving money to charity, fasting and a pilgrimage to Mecca (atleast once).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/ataglance/glance.shtml

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FOX: Dalai Lama Defends Islam

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Dalai Lama Defends Islam, Looks Toward ‘Complete’ Retirement

BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania —

The Dalai Lama said that “it’s totally wrong, unfair” to call Islam a violent religion.

The Tibetan spiritual leader, appearing Sunday at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, offered a defense of Islam in response to a question about the rise of violent religious fundamentalism. He added that he has made a point of reaching out to Muslims since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The Dalai Lama arrived at Lehigh on Thursday for a series of talks on a 600-year-old Buddhist text. He took a break Sunday to lecture on “Generating a Good Heart,” and afterward took questions from Lehigh President Alice P. Gast that had been submitted in advance by the public.

Asked why so many Americans are depressed and anxious, he joked: “I’m the wrong person to ask. You should ask Americans.” Then he answered that U.S. society is too competitive and that people always want “something more, something more, something more.”

The Dalai Lama, who attracted a capacity crowd of about 5,000, did not mention next month’s Beijing Olympics. The Chinese government has demanded that the Dalai Lama express support for the Olympics and repudiate efforts to disrupt them as a condition for continued talks.

China has ruled Tibet since the 1950s. The Dalai Lama, who fled to India amid a failed uprising in 1959, has said he wants some form of autonomy that would allow Tibetans to freely practice their culture, language and religion.

The Dalai Lama, who turned 73 on July 6, said Sunday that he’s looking forward to “complete retirement.” He joked that he’s now considered a “senior most respected adviser” to Tibet’s government in exile.

He is scheduled to speak at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,381522,00.html

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BBC: Muslims in anti-terror campaign

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British Muslims are leading a new campaign condemning the recent attempted car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow.

The campaign, titled “Not in Our Name”, will be launched across the UK with adverts in newspapers.

It emphasises “the Muslim community’s rejection of any attempts to link any such criminal attacks to the teachings of Islam”, organisers said.

Muslims from various professions have backed the campaign, including doctors.

The advert, accredited to “Muslims United”, also carries a quotation from Koran reading: “Whoever kills an innocent soul, it is as if he killed the whole of mankind.

“And whoever saves one, it is as if he saved the whole of mankind.”

‘Calm response’

The emergency services have been praised for “working tirelessly and courageously” while the government has been commended for handling the crisis “calmly and proportionately”.

The advert, which will also appear on billboards, buses and underground trains, calls for the community to stand united against terrorism.

The campaign has received support from Conservative Muslim Forum, Islamic Relief, the Islamic Society of Britain and Muslim Doctors and Dentists Association among others.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/6275772.stm

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BBC: Muslim ‘peace’ adverts launched

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An advertising campaign promoting British Muslims as integrated citizens who reject extremism has been launched.

Islam is Peace – formed after the bombings in London in July 2005 – has initially placed adverts on the capital’s buses and Underground trains.

They show a range of Muslims – including a policewoman, a Scout group and the chef Michael Barry – with the slogan “Proud to be a British Muslim”.

Organisers say research shows many Britons associate Islam with terrorism.

Nationwide tour

The group insists that the religion demands that its followers live in peace with their neighbours within non-Muslim societies.

But it says it recognises that Muslims have a duty to show that the vast majority of them wish to do so.

After the initial London campaign, Islam Is Peace intends to launch a nationwide tour.

Ifhat Shaheen-Smith, one of the campaign organisers, said: “In the current atmosphere of suspicion and fear about Islam and British Muslims, truth is often confused with fabrications and stereotypes.

“Prejudice has become entrenched and sensationalistic media reporting is creating a climate of paranoia.

“There is a desperate need for openness, mutual understanding and a mature debate.”

‘Bust myths’

Following the 7 July bombings, the group has spent tens of thousands of pounds placing adverts in national newspapers in which Muslims reject extremism.

Sadiq Khan MP said: “This is a fantastic initiative. Islam is a faith whose primary focus is peace and submission to one God.

“This campaign will help to bust some of the myths about Islam and allow the true face of Islam to reach all parts of our country.”

Secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain Muhammad Abdul Bari said: “The silent majority of Muslims are coming forward and now challenging the islamophobia in sections of our media – it is a brave undertaking.”

The campaign is launched as a new law banning incitement to religious hatred comes into force.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/7021323.stm

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