‘Suicide is un-Islamic, educate yourself instead’ (Lead)

November 25th, 2008 - 3:55 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 25 (IANS) Fresh from a unique British exercise in bringing Muslim and Jewish students together, Indian-born inter-faith champion Lord Khalid Hameed says Muslim youths in both countries should reject terrorism and instead go in for education.”There is absolutely no room for suicide (bombing) in Islam,” said Hameed who has been visiting top British universities along with a group of like-minded parliamentarians, addressing challenging religious issues - an exercise he felt held important lessons for India too.

“I’d say the same thing to Muslim youth audiences in Britain and in India,” the Lucknow-born Hameed, who was honoured with a Padma Shri in 1992 for services in the field of medicine, told IANS in an interview.

“You need to come out of the margins and participate in nation-building. Be non-violent, go in for education and put in hard work. At the end of the day the solution is: education, education, education.

“The problem is that Muslims lack credible, sincere and honest leadership. There are no leaders - the community is like a ship with no anchor and no captain, travelling in all directions in turbulent water.”

Hameed, a successful medical entrepreneur who is chairman of the Alpha Hospital Group and CEO of the planned super-speciality London International Hospital, said he was frank in his exchanges with the youth he met.

“I told them that all these young people (who support terrorism) are totally un-Islamic. There is a blanket prohibition of suicide under Islam. And just as the Upanishads (Hindu scriptures) talk about the world as a single family, so Islam says that noble people look after strangers as they would look after themselves,” he said.

One problem, according to Hameed, was that the Quran has been heavily edited by “various sides to their own advantage”.

“Once you start editing a holy book, you risk losing the gist of the message, which includes, ‘You shall not kill, you shall not take innocent life and you shall not take your own life’.”

Hameed, who has so far who visited the universities of Middlesex, Oxford and Birmingham with other peers and MPs belonging to the Co-Existence Trust, a cross-party NGO, said Muslim youths also suffered from a “phobia of strangers” among host cultures.

“Everything about them is seen as ‘different’ - their clothes, rituals, food, skin colour. Therefore you have people saying, ‘They are taking over our jobs, hospital beds, education’,” he explained.

Hameed said one question he has been asked repeatedly by students is how democracy protects citizens from what are seen as deliberate provocations, such as cartoons about Prophet Mohammed.

“My reply is that here you have the freedom to practise your own faith. In return, because you love democracy, you have to exercise your democratic rights and protest. The bomb is not the answer.”

The tour, which takes in some of Britain’s biggest universities, is aimed at addressing campus tensions flowing chiefly from the Middle East conflict.

The conflict has led to Jewish and Muslim students in Britain leaving hostile message on internet sites, putting up inflammatory posters on campuses and Muslim youth joining extremist groups.

Hostilities are reported to have intensified during the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon, when police were alerted.

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