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Unity of the Ummah in the Perspective of Modern Challenges Conference

On Sunday 30th April 2017, UK Islamic Mission Sparkbrook, Jamia Masjid and Islamic Centre Birmingham hosted a critically important conference on the the Unity of the Ummah in the Perspective of Modern Challenges. Eminent Ulama and Scholars belonging to all Muslim schools of thought spoke eloquently and passionately about the myriad of factors influencing our ability to become a united Ummah.
The Conference opened with a beautiful recitation of the Holy Qur’an by one of Britain’s leading Qaris, Qari Mahmood Hasan Bukhari; a graduate from Al-Azhar University, an expert in the science of Tajweed and a world-renowned expert in seven Qiraat. This was followed by an introductory speech by the organiser of the Conference Mufti Muhammad Farooq Alwi, the Chief Imam of Sparkbrook Jamia Masjid and Islamic Centre and a prominent Mufti and research Scholar in the UK focused on Intra-Faith dialogue. The key message from this opening speech can be summarised by the Quranic chapter al-Anfal “And obey God and His Messenger, and (do) not dispute lest you lose courage and (would) depart your strength, and be patient. Indeed, God (is) with the patient ones.”
Addressing the topic ‘Importance of Unity in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah’, Shaykh Abdul Hadi Umri, President Jamiat Ahle Hadith UK, highlighted the importance of dialogue and open communication between Muslims from all schools of thought. He also emphasised how we should concentrate on how much Shi‘a and Sunnis have in common – especially with respect to Aqeedah [belief system] and that differences in opinion should be accepted as they will never be eliminated. Here, Ulama and Scholars have a major responsibility to ensure vile hatred is not preached from our pulpits misleading our congregations, allowing us to move towards unity, at least at a local level, as repeatedly encouraged within the Qur’an.
The importance of Tawheed, respect and breaking down barriers between different Madhabs to work towards the common good were themes expounded by many speakers including Dr Muhammad Khalid (Distinguished Research Scholar and facilitator for Shi‘a/Sunni Intra-Faith dialogue), Dr Zahid Parvez (Director, Markfield Institute for Higher Education, Leicester, UK), Shaykh Aymen Yaqub Al Azhari (Director, Babul Ilm Birmingham), Maulana Amir Hussain Naqvi (Prominent Shi‘a Scholar and active Intra-Faith worker), Maulana Ashraf Qureshi (Inspirational orator and Author of Fiqh and History books), Pir Shabzada Misbah-ul-Malik (Scholar and Secretary General, Jamaat Ahle Sunnat UK), Mufti Abdul Majeed Nadeem (Scholar, Educationalist and Imam of UKIM Alum Rock Islamic Centre, Birmingham).
The chief guest speaker, Dr Sheikh Muhammad Ali Shomali (Eminent Scholar, Author and advocate of Unity of Ulama) addressed the important topic of ‘Unity in the Perspective of Modern Challenges in this Society’. His illuminating speech accepted that Muslims from different schools of thought may not agree on all aspects of the religion and challenged if we all need to be the same. Dr Shomali insisted that to achieve unity we must have a purity of heart (qalb-e-saleem) and differences in opinion should not stop us from being sincere. Additionally, we must value the instructions of the Qur’an to dedicate ourselves to God and it is imperative that we respect each other and work together with brotherliness to address common challenges.
Dr Shomali also emphasised that the most important attribute we must have is total submission to God. This core value will help us to work for unity, sacrifice for unity, sit with others for unity, collaborate with others for unity and ultimately love each other for the sake of God.
This Unity Conference was concluded by the President of UK Islamic Mission, Br Sikander Zulqarnain Mirza who congratulated all the speakers and attendees on delivering an excellent Conference and recommended three practical steps to be adopted; firstly, the formation of a multi-disciplinary action committee from the speakers panel which will meet quarterly; secondly, the removal of hateful literature destroying Intra-Faith Unity amongst Muslims from the public domain; and finally working with relevant authorities to seek bans for hate preachers and hard-line scholars either in the UK or visiting the UK.

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