More Muslims need to “stand up” and condemn acts of terrorism to counter radicalisation and prevent further terror attacks.
That’s the message from Gillingham Imam Safeer Khan, who has spoken out on behalf of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
After last Saturday’s London attacks Mr Khan said the community was deeply saddened and shocked at the “brutal and barbaric attacks” and condemned all forms of terrorism.
But, while he admitted it was sometimes frustrating to have to defend his faith in the wake of such attacks, he said it was vital for Muslims to speak out about extremism and spread the true message of Islam.
At the Nasir Mosque in Gillingham, Mr Khan said he and other leaders were working hard to engage with the community through open days, but that not all mosques were so open.
“We regularly hold open days and invite the community into the mosque to talk about issues and how we can remove misconceptions about Islam,” he said.
“In terms of battling terrorism, the important thing is to teach about the true message of Islam.
“We talk about that in depth with the youth in our community. Islam teaches you have no right to kill another human.
“Saving another human’s life is a virtue in the Islamic religion and an obligation as a human being, but taking someone’s life is completely against the teaching of Islam.”
“Islam teaches you have no right to kill another human” – Imam Safeer Khan
He said spreading that message was vital in countering the message of hate preachers.
“There are verses talking about how Muslims can defend themselves,” he added. “But these hate preachers target youngsters and present these verses out of context.”
He also said police should be given further powers, echoing the thoughts of worldwide leader of the Ahmadiyya community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad.
“The police should be given more power,” he added. “They should be more armed, and intelligence organisations should be able to monitor mosques and make sure preachers are not preaching hate. There needs to be more transparency within the mosques – we’re all about that.”
He agreed it often felt unfair that peaceful Muslims were left to answer for the violent actions of extremists.
But he added: “In the world we live in right now there’s so much confusion – I’m on social media and every time something like this happens you see so much hate.
“We don’t have to be answerable and have to apologise, but it’s important to come out and speak about it because dialogue is the best way to counter misconceptions.”
A peace vigil, organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, will be held in Gillingham High Street tonight.
Prayers will be said for the victims of the recent terror attacks in Manchester, London, and around the world. The event will take place from 5pm until 6pm by WHSmith.