Peace Education Programme - Peace & Counter Extremism Workshop
Saturday 01 October 2016 – ACM Community Centre (Ashton-Under-Lyne)
Minhaj Women League (Ashton) arranged a workshop and seminar under the Peace Education Programme on the subject of Peace & Counter Extremism.
The event was arranged at the ACM Community Centre, which is within the complex of the recently built Ashton Central Mosque. Attendance was open to all and the workshop was arranged to allow some initial discussion and thoughts on identifying extremism and clarifying how this has no connection whatsoever with Islam. The Peace Curriculum and supporting books of Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri would also be promoted as being an ideal aid for all, irrespective of religious or cultural background.
MWL (Ashton) prepared for the programme with coordination and support from the local MQI(Ashton) branch executive and the local community. The venue hall was set up with seating for 80 people and projector and AV facilities for the workshop facilitators to utilise. Dr Zahid Iqbal (President - Peace Education Programme) and brother Rafiq Ahmed (Facilitator – Peace Education Programme) arrived shortly before the scheduled start of the workshop and appreciated the efforts made by MWL (Ashton) in promoting and facilitating matters.
Sister Waseema Daji (Membership Secretary MWL Ashton) commenced the programme with a brief introduction of the workshop and the also for the two workshop facilitators. Following which br Zafar Iqbal was called forward for recitation from the Holy Quran. Then Dr Zahid Iqbal was welcomed to commence the workshop.
Dr Zahid Iqbal explained briefly the purpose of the workshop and how he wanted participants to participate rather than just observing. This was followed by a very interactive session of discussion, presentation and exchange of views on perceptions about extremism and how individuals can identify situations clearly and for the benefit of their local communities, societies and environments.
The audience participated with great enthusiasm and exchanged views on various areas of the presentation.
Iain Linsdell (a local School Headmaster) expressed his view that a better understanding was needed in society to avoid generalisations and stereotypes. He thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and participated throughout.
Maneer Malik (Portfolio Analyst – British Gas) commented on the need to also work on counter extremism initiatives for younger children via games and software presently in wide use across the world. As these children may be influenced by violence and other extreme behaviour characteristics from computer and console games, before they get to the age of being able to read and understand books and literature on peace and counter extremism.
Many other participants male and female from various backgrounds participated in the interactive session. The session was concluded with a summary by Dr Zahid Iqbal of the areas discussed and conclusions reached. He explained how important dialogue and engagement are for communities, in order to understand the challenges and hurdles in the way of peaceful and tolerant societies.
Br Rafiq Ahmed then presented a classical background to peaceful teachings given in all classical Islamic literature, and how recent distortions and fabrications cannot be considered to be representative of true Islam. His short presentation was very concise and kept the audience’s attention throughout. He also explained briefly some of the main text books authored by Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri in understanding and combatting extremism.
Sister Uzma Akhtar (Ashton) along with Sister Asifa Malik (President MWL Ashton) thanked all attendees and in particular Mr Iain Lindsell (Headmaster) for participating in the event. Then the executive of Minhaj-ul-Quran (Ashton) presented a full set of nine books from the Peace Curriculum and associated text of Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri along with the Fatwa on terrorism, to Mr Lindsell as a sign of appreciation and also to circulate amongst his school teaching and support staff.
Br Shahbaz Hassan Qadri (renowned UK born Nasheed artist & MQI Ashton) was invited by MWL Ashton to conclude the event with a melodious rendition of Salutations on the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWW). Approximately 42 female and 26 male participants attended and made the workshop an effective and much needed success. Minhaj Publications books were displayed for viewing and sale throughout the event and sandwiches and refreshments were offered to all participants at the end.
On conclusion of the event, MWL (Ashton) President Asifa Malik and General Secretary Fozia Farooq thanked Dr Zahid Iqbal and br Rafiq Ahmed for providing this workshop and encouraging the attendees to participate effectively and with great enthusiasm. They also personally thanked the Ashton Central Mosque management for their facilitation as well as Minhaj-ul-Quran (Ashton) Executive and their President Haji Ashfaque Warsi sb for their encouragement, support and assistance throughout. MWL (Ashton) executive members Sisters Nazia Farooq (Media Secretary), Waseema Daji (Membership Secretary) and Farhat Iqbal (Welfare Secretary) also thanked all attendees and MWL UK (Northern Region) for their support.
Report by Haleema Malik for MWL (Ashton)