The tragic conflict in Syria and the resulting refugee crisis has culminated in the now sadly iconic image of Aylan Kurdi on the beach in Bodrum. It has caused much soul searching; for individuals, communities, and nations, about how best to support the millions of people desperately searching for safety.
All religions teach that we have a moral duty to help save our fellow human beings from suffering. It is uplifting to see such a call to action from across Britain.
The current refugee crisis is one captured by heart-wrenching images that have motivated people throughout Europe to act. Throughout the summer it has dominated the news with headlines such as; 'the greatest movement of people since the second world war.' Images of crowded and sinking boats, distraught children in parent's arms, too many lives lost, too many futures destroyed, have stayed with us.
To my mind the crisis has major implications for the claims of ISIS or 'Daesh' that they are creating an Islamic state; the movement of millions of people entirely exposes the absurdity of the claims made by al-Baghdadi's gang.
Certainly Syria has been torn apart by the Assad regime, which has denied its people their aspirations and met their calls for change with brutality. In its propaganda, ISIS claimed to be a panacea for all Muslims. But, as those in the region know, it is instead a parasite. A malign gang feeding off and compounding the suffering of both Syrians and Iraqis.
If Daesh/ISIS had created the utopia it claims to have, why are there thousands of Sunni Muslims, the people ISIS claim to be the saviours and protectors of, currently crowding boats, trains, buses and roads, risking not only their lives but those of their children too, to seek a better life elsewhere?
The very notion of a better life in the so-called 'Islamic State' is nothing more than a sick joke to those who have seen it firsthand. This is demonstrated by the stories of those who, having bought into the propaganda and lies, are now desperately seeking to leave.
The reality of ISIS is a war zone. The cries from within the territory Daesh occupies speak of the violent death squads, the oppression of women, the pillaging and starvation of ordinary Syrians to feed foreign recruits, the slavery and rape. . . the list of crimes tell of the collapse of society and the destruction of ancient civilization. The horror is far from the life any of us would wish to be part of, for us or our children.
Though Daesh may hate it, they cannot deny the images of people in the West opening their arms to welcome refugees - opening doors of their homes and emptying their pockets for Muslim refugees. The aid and support offered by British people, through charity, and the offering of homes and rooms for families fleeing fear and violence, will infuriate ISIL and their sympathizers.
Just as Muslims in the time of the Prophet Muhammed (SAW) found safety from persecution through their flight to Christian-ruled Ethiopia (known as the first hijra), so too today we see those who have suffered violence and persecution in their own lands are seeking sanctuary amongst us here in Britain. We can only do what we can to welcome them, and reassure them that they are now safe from harm.
Britain can only be proud of the efforts of charities and faith groups to support refugees, of the sanctuary we are providing those most in need and of the £1 billion this country has committed to supporting Syrians affected by the conflict.
I continue to be amazed and inspired by how communities across our country have shown our common humanity and the values that contrast so sharply with the destructive evil of ISIS. The action of Britons have demonstrated how closely British values and Islamic values align - it shows that while Daesh may seek to destroy and divide, the values that Muslims hold dear, of justice, decency and compassion, can bring us all together in the UK.