You would have been forgiven if, in the course of the past few months, you found yourself emotionally distraught or angry, given the recent events and global incidents around the world. With strife continuing to hold grip over the political landscape of the Middle East and as Europe struggles to counter the spate of terrorist attacks it is important not to let sinister forces succeed in trying to derail your mission and lead you away from the path of success.
History has long had its fair share of characters and groups who sought to tear our social fabric. We saw it with the Holocaust, in Rwanda, Bosnia, and, today, Iraq, Syria, and Myanmar.
Here at home, in the UK, we are witnessing the meteoric rise of sentiments conspicuously supportive of violence and extremist actions championed by the Far Right and Daesh-inspired actors. It is well known that both types of groups seek to threaten our way of life and shatter our communal spirits and strong bonds of social coexistence. Ironically these groups, who dislike the spirit of debate and show disdain towards diversity, are extremely comfortable using social media platforms for the purposes of promoting their toxic ideologies and to win impressionable recruits.
We saw after the attacks Manchester, London Bridge, and Finsbury Park how communities came together in defiance of the unrelenting attempts to divide us. I visited the site of the attack in Manchester the morning after, and it was incredibly emotional to see the Mancunian people come together. We know that these extremist groups rarely succeed in dividing a community; rather, what they help us achieve, inadvertently, is unity and togetherness.
The tragic murder of Jo Cox in 2016 at the hands of a far-right extremist transformed the fallen parliamentarian into a national symbol of unity that has enabled us to celebrate her memory and achievements in bringing communities together.
Although the memory of Jo Cox has given rise to many symbols and actions of defiance against extremist groups, our adversaries' efforts to divide us continue unabated. They seek to split friends apart, break families up and to create a wedge between them, to fool the young and manipulate them into accepting a new life of intolerance and belligerence. A friend of mine recalls the abrupt changes he witnessed in the behaviour of an individual with whom he was close. He saw how the friend began espousing extremist views and engaging in sectarian rhetoric all the while spewing ideas that are grossly misinterpreted Islam through the promoting of hatred and divisive language.
This is not only sad for the families involved, it also fosters hate and mistrust between different sections of the community. We have a responsibility to help put an end to this and prevent it from getting out of control before it is too late. We cannot let the Daesh or the far right mind-set alienate us and continue the breaking up of our communities and families.
When extremist do succeed in sowing the seeds of division, they follow up by preying on young, angry, and lonely voices who become recruitment targets to later serve as foot soldiers and avid defenders of their cause. The rise of violent radicalisation has been a hot topic in the media and this plays into extremists' hands as they know that those without strong community foundations or those with broken families will be more susceptible.
Because of this, there is a chance that someone you know could be falling victim for their rhetoric. Daesh relish young Muslims who isolate themselves and grow disillusioned.
If you do know someone struggling to keep true to the paths of moderation and tolerance, you should make an intervention. Reach out to them and let them know that though times are difficult, faith in God and their reliance on family will always be a more fulfilling course of action.
However, interventions can be difficult and sensitive subjects to broach. But you, like them, are never alone. There will always be someone from the community - or external groups - who can help you with advice or support. Help will always be available.
It is always worth remembering the example set by the Prophet Muhammed, who was able to inspire the youth of his times with his egalitarian teachings and messages of love. The Prophet Muhammad succeeded in bringing the youth together and went on to empower them, to lend them a voice, and inspire them to lasting actions to the benefit of wider society.
Countless traditions and numerous prophetic dictums emphatically remind the faithful of good citizenry, of abiding to the law of the land, of privileging peaceful action over violence, and to act as the bulwark against violent propaganda and sectarian hatred which results in violence.
We have seen this happen before, in Bosnia in the 1990s. Muslims were targeted by aggressive forces and their communities were separated. Those who have been on the ground and know what is really going on have stories that could frighten anybody. But now Bosnia is once again prospering, as is, though to a lesser extent, Baghdad in Iraq, we see the faithful paying heed to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad when communities of all faith act as the bulwark against extremism. Manchester, too, is a glaring example of the triumph of community cohesiveness. The city refused to let the attack divide its people and, if anything, they have pulled together in a way that has been even stronger than before.
We must serve each other to make this world a better place for us and our future children, for surely if we stick together we will be able to rid ourselves of this awful affliction.