Manchester Muslims joined thousands across the UK today as part of a three-day event to denounce the extremist group ISIS’ campaign of ‘un-Islamic’ terror.
Imams at mosques around the UK united in an effort to discourage people from fighting in Syria and Iraq for the group, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
Representing the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who have spearheaded a national anti-extremism advertising campaign, was the Darul Amaan mosque in Hulme.
The mosque was opened by supreme religious leader, the fifth Caliph and worldwide head of the AMC, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, in 2012.
Abdul Lodhi, northwest regional co-ordinator based at the mosque and regional youth leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, told MM: “If someone wants to go out to the Middle East and fight then that is fine but it has nothing to do with Islam; it is absolutely untrue that it does.
He explained that the AMYA reached out to vulnerable and impressionable young Muslims who might form incorrect ideas about what they should do in the name of their religion as well as to non-Muslims who wrongly believed such fighting was recommended by the religion.
He said: “If you ask any Ahmadiyya Muslims across the world, none of them will have a different view of extremism, it is wrong.”
Mr Lodhi said there will be discussions over the weekend about how to counter extremism and that open discussion groups at the mosque every Tuesday that people from all faiths are welcome to participate in.
As well as his work for Ahmadiyya Muslim youths, a group that covers those aged 16-40, he is currently busy collecting funds for the British Red Cross.
Islamic jihadist group ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) is thought to have recently recruited around 500 young men from the UK to fight the governments in Iraq and Syria.
Monday marks the beginning of the Islamic holy month, Ramadan, and there are worries that this could lead to more people travelling to the Middle East to fight.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are appealing to ISIS to view the month, traditionally a time of reflection, as an opportunity to put an end to the current hostilities and violence.
Ahmadis advocate the peaceful propagation of Islam and were among the first Muslims to arrive in Britain.
Adam Walker, national youth leader for the community, spoke about the importance of deterring young people from joining the jihad.
He told MM: “It is never acceptable to use cruelty to deal with cruelty.”
He also stressed the importance of trust and understanding between people of different religions.
“It is really important to break down the barriers that people have about ‘the other’ because ‘the other’ is in fact something that people know very well,” he said.
The Caliph, His Holiness Mr Masroor, who has led the way in the condemnation of ISIS’s terror campaign, delivers sermons broadcast live every Friday from Western Europe’s largest mosque in Morden, Surrey.
Commenting on the terror group, Mr Masroor said: “The actions and statements of ISIS and other extremists who pretend to represent Islam, whilst all the while spreading hatred and violence, run entirely contrary to the peaceful teachings of Islam.”
He added: “Islam teaches us to be loyal to the country in which we reside and as Ahmadi Muslims we believe it is our duty to serve the country, to contribute to society and promote peace and good citizenship.”
The Caliph is the spiritual leader to tens of millions of Muslims spread across 204 countries with more than 30,000 UK Muslims pledging allegiance to the Caliphate.
Prime Minister David Cameron has given his full backing to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
Addressing them recently, he said: “Your tremendous charitable services that you have delivered to young and old alike, your care for the environment by planting thousands of trees each year, your feed the homeless project and blood donation drives are just a few of the many reasons that Britain can be proud of you.
“This is true faith in action.”