This section of the interview below can probably be applied universally in this day and age:”They [children] suffer from the lack of parental care and failure of sound Islamic teaching and upbringing.
British Muslims: cultural clash and loss of direction
By Dr Abdul-Hadi Al-Timimi, Abu Dhabi Editor
Published: October 03, 2008, 23:42
London: The golden dome and the tall minaret of the London Central Mosque have been overlooking one of the most favourable and attractive parks in the British capital, Regent's Park, and attracting members of the faith into the tranquillity of religion for the past thirty years.
They have been a landmark of Islamic presence in central London, the heart of the British Empire which used to stretch all over the world where Muslims had constituted the majority of its subjects.
When King George VI inaugurated the site of the mosque in 1944, there were plans for integrating followers of Islam into the British society through lectures, sermons and guidance as well as serving their religious requirements.
However, cultural and social integration have always been as major and problematic as they were when the first large wave of Muslims arrived into the United Kingdom from India in the 17th Century.
To shed light on the life and difficulties facing British Muslims, who are estimated by the Foreign Office to be two million, Gulf News visited Shaikh Mohammad Fathullah, the Grand Shaikh, at his offices in the London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre. He is one of five shaikhs who have been assigned to the mosque by the Al Azhar Al Sharif, one of the highest religious authorities in Islam.GULF NEWS: What are the major problems encountered by British Muslims?
Shaikh Mohammad Fathullah: They are mainly related to their ignorance and misunderstanding of their Islamic religion. They are also from different ethnic origins and different cultures. This has created conflicts and lack of orientation. We have realised that and have been running courses and seminars to educate Muslims and lead them through the right path. We have attracted hundreds of them to the mosque and cultural centres. Those courses are directed to both the new imams and the general public.How is that ignorance and cultural clash manifested in real life?
It has created social disturbance and undermined the family life and cohesion. Family and marriage life have been greatly affected. Cases of Muslim divorce have increased remarkably. This applies to Muslims from various ethnic and national backgrounds whether they are Pakistanis, Afghans, Iranians or Arabs. Actually it is noticeable that Arab Muslims who come to live in Britain encounter many problems and difficulties. A large proportion of them get swayed by the British way of life and indulge in all sorts of entertainment and similar worldly pleasures that they end up damaging their family unit and undermine their religious duties and responsibilities.Do you have statistics of cases of divorce?
Approximately four to five couples divorce each week in our offices in the London Central Mosque alone. The figure is shocking if we add up the cases of divorce from over 500 hundred mosques and Islamic centres all over the United Kingdom. Men and women get themselves attracted by the availability of sex, alcohol and sometimes drugs.
That is relevant to families and couples. British statistics show that there are about two million Muslims living in the UK, and 50% of them are young people who are born here. What are the problems facing young Muslims and the new generation whether they are born in the UK or coming from abroad?
They suffer from the lack of parental care and failure of sound Islamic teaching and upbringing. Parents will be occupied with work whilst the young ones go to British schools where they mix with other youngsters from other faiths. Unfortunately many Muslims fail to benefit from the positive parts of the culture and society and get attracted to the negative ones. There are several cases of Muslims involved in drug and alcohol addiction and violent crimes.Since the September 11 attacks, there have been clashes and stressful relations among religious communities. Have you encountered any security problems?
Yes, many of them that range from attacks to abuse. One of our shaikhs, Mohammad Al Salamoni, lost his sight to a violent attack inside the mosque by a person who came to the mosque pretending to convert to Islam. Unfortunately the court judgment was "not guilty" and transferred him to a secure hospital ward for treatment whilst our shaikh lost his sight completely. That is very upsetting.Does the British government provide you with security?
Actually Scotland Yard has an office inside the mosque and there are policemen here and we have our own security. However we encounter abuse, hatred and attacks from some of the radicals and extremists of the other religions here in the UK. There are religious and racial attacks against Muslims.But the British government has announced several measures and calls for tolerance?
They did but that is not sufficient to stem the violence against Muslims. Attitudes should change and they should accept us as a tolerant, peaceful religion. We also would like to call upon Islamic and Arabic countries to assist us and support us so that we can perform our religious duties peacefully and without fear of reprisals.I understand that you are seconded by Al Azhar Al Sharif along with other Sheikhs to perform religious duties to serve the Muslim community in such incriminating atmosphere. Does the British government facilitate your entry and work?
No, Not really. There are several restrictions and difficulties. The British government does not favour Sheikhs and Imams who come from Arab or Islamic countries. It prefers British-educated and trained Imams and sheikhs. For that reason if the visa expires British authorities do not usually renew it. When we go back home and re-apply they do not grant such an entry visa any more. http://archive.gulfnews.com/world/United_Kingdom/10249629.html