The Muslim Council of Wales was recently contacted in relation to a news story published by the Daily Mail regarding a young Imam in Cardiff. We investigated the story, and found that the Daily Mail’s article was misleading and did not reflect the teachings of the Imam, Ali Hammuda, in question. Subsequently, many other Welsh Imams and scholars contacted us expressing their concern. The following public letter, signed jointly by many Imams and scholars, represents our unified voice on the issue.
We, the undersigned, have a commitment towards working for the common good in Wales for those from all backgrounds. Towards this end, we have worked to build relationships between mosques, civic institutions and the government, believing a united Wales can help foster a society in which all forms of extremism and violence are rejected.
We, the Imams of all mosques in Wales condemn all forms of extremism and reaffirm our strong commitment to work together with all members of our communities, civic society and the Welsh Government to counter extremism and building a cohesive, unified and progressive Welsh society.
We are concerned by a recent Daily Mail article accusing a young Imam, Ali Hammuda, of promoting “sex slaves”. Not only is this slanderous and untrue, as Ali Hammuda has himself clarified clearly and unequivocally, it undermines mosques as spaces where counter-narratives to extremism can be delivered. All our mosques are open to all members of the society, and all Imams can be approached for any scholarly and academic discourse and understanding of Islam and its values. The journalist’s covert recordings were wholly unnecessary, as we are happy for anyone to attend.
One of our affiliates, the Al-Manar Centre of Glynrhoddna Street, has come under intense scrutiny since Nasser and Aseel Muthanna and Reyaad Khan were discovered to have joined the so-called Islamic State in summer 2014. Naturally, this news was a shock for all Muslims in Wales. The three individuals worshipped at a number of mosques in Cardiff, including the Al-Manar Centre. Some journalists considered this as enough evidence to incriminate Al-Manar as a centre of radicalisation, despite the mosque being a vocal and committed partner in both countering the ideology of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (Da’esh), and the social factors that lead to radicalisation.Moreover, it was in fact staff atAl-ManarMosque who first alerted the authorities with concerns about the three boys’ disappearance.
The leaflet, “What Islam Really Says,” produced and launched by the community-led Cardiff Prevent Stakeholders Group, is another example of an anti-radicalisation project which the Al-Manar Centre, along with the MCW and Imams from all Cardiff mosques, were involved in. The leaflet is aimed at young Muslims, challenging the messages of violent extremists.
This scrutiny of Al-Manar has continued sadly, with the Daily Mail and others insinuating that Shaykh Ali Hammuda is a “radical,” and even a persona non grata within Wales. This accusation is bizarre and certainly unfounded. He is a well respected young knowledgeable Imam. His vocal position against not only religious extremism but also political extremism, racism and bigotry is well known, recognised, and respected by those within the Welsh Muslim community and by all mosques.
Countering extremism requires all partners in society to work together, not just Muslim communities and mosques, but equally the government, statutory partners and indeed the media. Vital to neutralising the message of extremism is having the safe space to discuss sensitive issues which extremists exploit to bolster their message. These safe spaces must exist in mosques, schools, Universities and all institutions.
All mosques and Muslim institutions in Wales are committed to teaching morals and values of the Islamic tradition, compassion, forgiveness, the sacredness of all human life, and the equality and personhood of every individual, male and female. The work of Imams and religious leaders is to bring these values and teachings to the world.
We all affirm our rejection of extremism, which seeks political change through violence legitimised through a pseudo-religious rhetoric. All mosques, Muslim institutions and religious leaders are involved in protecting young Muslims from extremist influences.However,extremism is a social and political problem, not a ‘Muslim’ problem, and we extend our hand to the government and other partners to work with us in tackling this cancer.
The Muslim Council of Wales and its affiliates reaffirm their commitment to building a Welsh society free of hatred, based on respect, tolerance and proud of its diversity.
Qari Ghulam Nabi Saheb Masjid e Bilal
Mufti Taher Saheb Masjid Uthman
Mufti Bilal Saheb Masjid e Abu Bakar
Mufti Suhayl Khawer Saheb Masjid e Bilal
Shaykh Daoud Salaman South Wales Islamic Centre
Hafiz Muhammed Siddique Masjid e Abu Bakar
Molana Mushtaq Khan Dar ul-Isra
Shaykh Yaqoub Kutkut Dar ul-Isra
Dr Munir Ashi Dar ul-Isra
Molana Mohammed Abid Chishti Alnoor Mosque Newport
Dr Muzaffar Jilani Imaan Islamic Society Berea Mosque
Dr Mustafa Baig Abrahamic Faith
Molana Haider Zaman Madni Masjid
Qari Ferozuddin Saheb Madni Masjid
Shaykh Abdelati Fergani Al-Manar/ Al-Ikhlaas
Shaykh Morad Eladnany Taqwa Mosque Newport
Molana Arif Saheb Barry Masjid
Imam Kamal Idrisy HMP Cardiff Prison
Mohammed Afzal Madina Mosque
Shaykh Barak Al Bayaty Al-Manar Centre
Hafiz Ahtisham Ali Masjid Umar
Molana Tariq Zaman Masjid Uthman
Mohammed Saqib Dar ul-Isra
Molana Qasim Ali Masjid e Umar
Dr M Gaber ElSharoud MAB Wales
Dr Baba M Gana West Wales Islamic Centre
Mohammed Abdullah West Wales Islamic Centre
Mrs Amina Shabaan Cardiff University
Ali Akbar JP Shah Jalal Mosque
Mufti Javed Kachhalia Swansea Mosque
Abdur Rehman Mujahid Alnoor Mosque Newport
Arshid Rahman Jamia Mosque Newport
Saleem Bidat Iqra Trust Newport
Molana Ashraf Ali Port Talbot Mosque
Dr Meraj Hasan MBE Ihsaan Social Support Association
Abdul Azim Ahmed Muslim Youth Wales (MY Wales)
Saleem Kidwai OBE Muslim Council of Wales