Good News from the Muslim Community

Welcome to Fresh Air, a Muslim community bulletin that brings you the good news you never seem to hear in the media.

We welcome stories of positive community engagement, humanitarian and voluntary work, responsible reporting and well researched publications, documentaries and other pieces.

We want to inspire you to do more by hearing about others’ example whether they be Muslim or Non-Muslim. We also want to put a smile on your face when you read about people striving to make the world a better place.Finally we are committed to centralising communication within the Muslim community so that you know about the good work of both Muslim and Non-Muslim organisations and can support them spiritually and financially.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Responsible reporting

Multi-award winning investigative journalist John Pilger has just released his new hard-hitting film documentary 'The War You Don't See'.  Featuring an interview with Julian Assange on Wikileaks, somewhat embarassing interviews with a variety of journalists (including the BBC) on media coverage around the Iraq War and on Israel/Palestine, Pilger calmly exposes remarkable inconsistencies and ineptitude in media reporting.  The film also, unusually, allows the audience to connect emotionally with some of the vast suffering inflicted on civilians during the American invasion of Iraq.  Interspersed with facts and figures such as the 500,000 Iraqi children now dead as a result of US led sanctions from 1990, the documentary paints an uneasy picture for Western viewers on the decisions governments make with taxpayers' money.
The film which premiered at the Barbican on 7th December and on ITV on 14th December and is available via the ITV website and You Tube at

Echoing a narration from the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) who is reported as saying 'It is enough for a person to be a liar that he repeats everything that he hears' (Sahih Muslim), Pilger has separately been quoted as saying 'It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and myths that surround it'.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Tackling Gang Culture and Youth Crime

With reports of rising violent crime in Britain, drug addiction and imprisonment it is easy to feel  despondant.  Roadside to Islam is an inspiring website made by the youth for the youth.  With graphics designed to attract a younger audience, it features pages of real life stories on how Islam has turned around people's lives, taking them from the streets and drug houses, from the deepest of depression to a real sense of purpose and meaning in life and enriching their relationships with family.

The video page opens with UK Apache, who reached infamy in the Jungle music scene for his big Club hit 'Original Nuttah' in 1994.  Sporting full beard and now a practising muslim, Abdul Wahab describes how he made the choice to move away from the Club scene and all its attractions towards the beauty of Islam.  He advises the youth that 'everything has a price to pay...and gang life has a price to pay' 'you may think I'm in a gang and its like a family...but there's no family in it...when the real thing kicks off they won't have your back...and when it does kick off it kicks off seriously nowadays...'

In the video below, a convert originally called Brady, now Nabeel Abdullah, tells his story.
Deadpan,  he narrates doing burglaries at 13, prison at 14 and a father and crack cocaine seller at 17.  Over the next few years he found Islam through a number of strange twists of fate.  He advises the youth that gang culture just can't go on.  Now aged 40 he describes that there's no-one left of his generation 'you'll either get killed or you'll end up in jail...'

For more information on current projects and access to these You Tube videos go to:


Mercy Mission has just launched its new support service for practising Muslims wishing to find a like-minded soul mate to marry.  Specifically tailored to those who wish to practice their faith authentically, Pure Matrimony enables people to meet and come to know one another keeping fully to Islamic principles and maintaining the dignity of both parties by the inclusion of a guardian/wali/mahram.
Its database recruits from educational institutes such as Al Kauthar, ensuring that those who join are on a path of self-improvement.  Mercy Mission have vowed to put at least half of profits made towards their ongoing charity community projects.
For more information go to

Interfaith respect

Muslims round the country fasted on Thursday in a show of solidarity with Jewish tradition.  Inspired by the example of the Prophet Mohammad(pbuh) who would fast this day and the one preceding it, it is reported that he declared this an optional day of fasting out of sincere respect and closeness to the Prophet Moses.  This special day commemorates the liberation of the people of Moses from the oppression of Pharoah as described in the Qur'an, Torah and Bible.  Jews annually fast for 25 hours on Yom Kippur as part of these commemorations.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Community Projects and Engagement

Mercy Mission invited over 500 young muslims to donate their bone marrow to Anthony Nolan as part of an Islamic conference this weekend gone.  Following great success at Al Kauthar institute's previous conference 'Purification of the Heart' where Antony Nolan were said to be 'overwhelmed by the positive response' of the muslim community, volunteers manned a stall at the 'World of the Unseen' course on 11th December.

Bone marrow donations which help save the lives of children afflicted with cancers such as leukaemia are greatly needed by the Anthony Nolan.  For more information on donating go to


Reminders of tolerance, generosity and self-confident humility were given to over 500 young muslim students of knowledge at Al Kauthar institute this weekend in London.  Ustadh Yahya Ibrahim, a Canadian Egyptian teacher lectured on the subject of the 'World of the Unseen' at a 2 day conference, captivating an audience with the secrets of what happens after we die and divine justice according to authentic Islamic texts.

Muslims were reminded of the importance of non-judgement of other people of the same and different faiths and the fallacy of assuming all who are non muslim would not enter heaven.  The decision belongs with Allah (god) and not with humans to judge, students were told.

Young men were reminded of the great importance of interacting with their wives and families with kindness - indeed how other people we have wronged, including family, will stand between a person and entering heaven and that it is only once any injustices have been put right that a believer can enter.

Arrogance about one's piety, money or skills was also criticised with reference to a story from the Qur'an of a man who believed these were all his work, forgetting Allah.  When his garden was taken away from him, he knew who he should really have been grateful to.  Indeed students were reminded that gratitude is to give thanks to God by using one's skills, be it money, intelligence or strength for good deeds that benefit others and please our creator.

Monday, 6 December 2010


• Mercy Mission has recently distributed celebratory Eid Mubarak packs to all its sponsors with a summary of the year’s work.  This has included a postcard and powerful video campaign – Just Go Do It! – reminding those from a Muslim background of the importance of Salah in enriching their lives.  Mercy Mission also successful pulled off a mass publicity Dawah campaign on a scale and subtlety never seen before in the UK and Abroad.  Posters on national underground and buses link to a website - which offers an altogether refreshing approach to dawah, focusing on the purpose of life.  Educational information packs on Islam were also distributed to commuters at key underground stations such as Liverpool Street in a relaxed and welcoming manner.
• IERA, a convert led dawah research organisation which has been running for over a year also celebrates a good innings.  Its flagship research ‘Perceptions on Islam and Muslims’ was released by press conference in July and is available at for viewing.  Surveying 500 Non-Muslims, who were interviewed by a paid Non-Muslim surveying agency, statistics were collated on a range of topical issues.  Answers to questions such as ‘Have you ever spoken to a Muslim about their religion?’ and ‘Do you think Muslims are the major cause of community tension?’ proved interesting. IERA encourages all those with an interest in Dawah to consider a research led approach in guiding the way forwards.  Future goals of the organisation include a paper on Muslims and the Media - a synthesis of Western thought into how the media impact perception and numerical analysis on the case for Media misrepresentation.  IERA’s Hamza Tzortzis  single handedly wins the prize for most number of debates attended within the shortest period of time!

Alternative Media

Democracy Now - - The reality behind the headlines, Democracy now is a national daily, independent, award winning news programme hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.  Running since 1996, it has long recognised the need for a truly independent voice that is not heard in the now corporate-sponsored US media.  Easy to access online videos are available for the British viewer.  Recent pieces have included Author and Activist Derrick Jensen on ‘the dominant culture is killing the planet, it’s very important for us to start to build a culture of resistance’ and Dr Gabor Mate on ADHD and the destruction of American childhood.  Islamophobia and issues relating to Muslims in America are intelligently and carefully presented and can be accessed from the ‘Muslims in America’ tab on the left of the website.

• Journey to Mecca – an IMAX film -  a wonderful cinematic experience that uses the medium of Ibn Battuta’s (An infamous 14th Century Moroccan traveller) story to convey the powerful experience of Hajj/Muslim Pilgrimage.  Directed by Bruce Neibaur and produced by Jonathan Barker and Dominic Cunningham-Reid, this awe-inspiring short film shares the majesty of mass pilgrimage and synchronised prostration to and at this most special mosque in Makkah.  The film makers’ goal was to improve understanding of Islam in the West.  By happy coincidence the concepts of IMAX and Hajj came together magically to make an absolute must see for every frustrated Muslim who wishes that the beauty of Islam be expressed in the public domain.  Showing in December at London’s IMAX cinema on Sundays
• 1001 Inventions – Muslim Heritage in Our World – Salim Al-Hassani – The accompanying guide book to the Science Museum’s recent exhibition celebrating the vast contribution that Muslim scholars of the past made to Western civilisation today.  This multicoloured, easy-to-read hard-back book goes beyond the exhibition taking readers on a journey from the discovery of coffee, clocks and chess through to schools, teaching hospitals, running water and architecture that we see at the houses of parliament.  Suitable for school children and adults, fully referenced and written in quality English from a Western perspective the book is worth every penny (in the editor’s humble opinion)!  See for more information and to order your copy.
Media Engagement

• IERA (Islamic Education and Research Academy) responds to Panorama documentary broadcast on 22nd November on Islamic Schools – a carefully considered statement was issued within 24 hours of broadcasting and emailed out to the organisation’s mailing list.  It refers to the largely positive impact of Muslim schooling upon society and the historical Islamic tradition of peaceful co-existence with Jews in refuting the claims of the documentary. It is available to view at - iera plan to distribute educational CDs and leaflets at stalls throughout the UK as well as at the BBC offices on the morning of Monday 29th November.  If successful, video footage of this event will be available from You Tube ia.
• Al-Ansar Islamic Education Centre, Seven Kings, Essex also hosted a response to the Panorama programme on Saturday 27th November at 7pm which was also live streamed over the internet.  Al-Ansar welcomed the CEO of i ENGAGE an organisation that aims to encourage Muslims to make their voice heard in ensuring that Islamophobia is regarded as just as unacceptable as any other group discrimination by the public and media at large.  See for a pocket guidebook on how to engage with the media diplomatically.
• MTEC – the Muslim Teachers and Educators Committee have also responded by writing a statement to the BBC: It describes the documentary as ‘sensational’ and outlines some key points including the absence of Muslim schools from Oldham and Burnley (the area where the riots took place that the documentary described as the consequences of social segregation).  It also points out that the Saudi text on Jews was actually mistranslated from the Arabic and raises questions about some of the interviewees competing interests in making the documentary.  See for details.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Community Projects and Engagement

• Mercy Mission, a registered charity which aims to encourage Muslims to live out Islam through positive community action, is piloting a ‘Cancer Buddy’ project.  If successful this may be extended to the Non-Muslim community.  Having recruited a team of volunteers it will train them to offer a special patient advocacy service to Muslim patients diagnosed with Cancer in one of the main London Hospitals.  Volunteers will free up an hour per week to sit with patients and talk through any concerns that they have socially, medically or spiritually.  Volunteers act as a support for the patient to the healthcare staff giving people a clear voice at a time of distress.
• Doris Richards, a member of EAPPI, a group that aims to bring internationals to the West Bank for 4-6 month stints so that they can experience life under occupation and protect vulnerable communities, gave a picture presentation to a largely non-Muslim audience in Sutton on Friday 12th November.  Hosted by Sutton for Peace and Justice, the group offer a powerful example that the Muslim Community can sit up and take notice of.  The Question and Answer session that followed gave an indication of the great awareness that attendees had of the reality of the conflict.  With work like this there remains hope for the Muslim community that Muslims and non-Muslims can indeed work together to achieve justice.