Worship the creator and not the creation.

"Anyone can be a Muslim"

Islam is the second largest religion in the world with over 1 billion followers. The 2001 census recorded 1,591,000 Muslims in the UK, around 2.7% of the population. The word Islam means 'submission to the will of God'. Followers of Islam are called Muslims, who believe that there is only One God. The arabic word for God is Allah. We are pleased to present the third in our interview series exploring Islam with Usama Munir from the Iman Trust, who was happy to share his experiences of Islam in St.Helens and how the ups and downs of his own life have helped him to be a stronger Muslim....Islam

What is Islam?

Islam literally means peace through submission to God Almighty. Islam is not a new religion. All the prophets sent by God Almighty and their followers, starting from Prophet Adam, Noah Ibrahim, Isaac, Ishamel, Joshua, Moses, John the Baptist, Jesus and all the way up to Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon them all, were muslims because they submitted to God Almighty and they all came with the same message, your Lord, my Lord, is One God.

How long have you been a Muslim?

I am a born Muslim. But I started practising my religion when I became mature enough to understand it. I read the Holy Quran and Prophet Mohammed's authentic traditions and found it all to make sense to me and to be close to nature. It was at this point that I intentionally decided to follow Islam and reaffirmed my allegiance to my faith.

There is no blind faith in Islam. God almighty wants us to ponder, think, reflect, read and then make a decision and not to have a blind faith.

What is the Quaran?

The Quran is the last testament. It was revealed 1400 years ago. It has never ever been changed or amended so it is the true word of God and hence it does not have any mistake, contradiction or discrepancy.  I believe it is vital that one follows a religion that is authentic and not man made. We know that previous books have been corrupted. They are not in their original form. They have mistakes, contradictions and discrepancies. Moreover, Islam is not a religion of a few rituals. Islam is actually a way of life. It guides us in all matters from the moment we are born till our last breath. It's a true code of life and does not leave us wandering what to do in a particular situation. It gives us a purpose of life.
Who can follow your religion?

Anyone can be a Muslim. To be a Muslim one has to submit to God Almighty, which simply means, one has to accept that there is a God and only He has the right to be worshiped. Only God knows whats best for us as He has created us and hence He knows better whats right and whats wrong for us. There are six articles of faith. Belief in one God, belief in the prophets, belief in the books (old testament, new testament, quran), belief that there are angels who are God's workforce to carry out various tasks, belief that nothing happens except God knows about it and lastly belief that there is a life after death. If someone believes in them then they are a Muslim.

How has being a Muslim had a significant impact on your life in St.Helens?

Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said, one cannot be a Muslim if he has a full stomach while his neighbour is hungry. He further said, one cannot be a Muslim if his neighbours are not safe from his bad behaviour. The neighbours in Islam include a circle of 40 houses around someone's house. Thats a pretty big neighbourhood! Therefore, to help our neighbours and to get the feel of one community, the Muslims of St Helens have participated and initiated quite a few projects such as, helping, supporting and volunteering for the food bank, giving gifts to children in the hospital on eid day, arranging mother's day poster designing competition in local school where thousands of people participate each year, having a close relationship with local churches, schools, college, businesses, MPs, councillors, mayors, police and council. Most of us are doctors and we work at Whiston and St Helens Hospital and perform our best to serve our friends and neighbours in St Helens providing them first class service.

What are the most difficult and rewarding aspects of following Islam?

The increasing Islamophobia is the most difficult part. Islam clearly distances itself from any offensive against innocent people. The Quran is very clear that if you kill one innocent human being, it is as if you have killed the whole humanity and you will never be forgiven. Therefore, those who go out and kill in the name of Islam actually are the biggest enemies of Islam. Unfortunately, the media paints Muslims with the same brush as those who commit atrocities. People often make their opinion after watching the news and then develop hatred against Islam and Muslims.

I urge people to speak to a Muslim or read the Quran and find out for themselves what a Muslim should and should not be doing. Everything that a Muslim does is not necessarily Islam. There can be good Muslims and bad Muslims. Don't blame the religion because of the action of some of it's "so called followers."

The most rewarding aspect is the purpose that Islam has given me in my life. The ability to communicate directly to God at any time, day or night, the ability to submit to God and get inner peace as a result, the strength that I am following the religion that does not have any flaws in it and is not man made.

Has there ever been a point when you have questioned your faith?

I have had lots of ups and downs in life but every time I come out of them as a stronger Muslim. When I achieve something, I thank God Almighty and that strengthens my faith. When I loose something, I surrender to God Almighty that He know whats best for me and I am happy with the way you want me and that further strengthens my faith.
If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?

This life is really short and hence one should strive to make the right choices. Make sure that you follow a religion and make sure that you scrutinise your faith. Make sure that your religion and its teachings make sense. Make sure there is no blind faith and no mysteries in your religion. Make sure you do not have to separate your logical self from your spiritual self when it comes to religion.

What's the main message you want someone to take away from Interfaith Week?

Worship the creator and not the creation.

Do not make an opinion about Islam with what you see in the media or what you see the Muslims doing. Please do some research to find out if those actions are promoted by Islam or condemned by Islam. As a general rule, if there is something that does not make sense or something that is against humanity then it cannot be Islam.

Work with your Muslim neighbours to defeat terrorism.

Where can someone find out more information about your faith?

The best way would be to visit the mosque in St Helens, on Elton Head Road. Everyone is welcome and if the gates are open, you do not need an invitation. Contact numbers of local Muslim community members can be obtained from equality and diversity office of St Helens Council. You can also email: mymnsthelens@gmail.com


If you would like further information, please contact: marketing@sthelens.gov.uk