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, 23 May 2011

Tea and Trading

If your idea of a Business woman is a smart blonde in a pinstriped power suit then think again.  Many Hijab and Niqab wearing women are working their way into the Business world with zeal.  Taking their values and their families with them, Business and life coach Farzana describes how aspiring sisters meet at her all female events, swapping tips on how to succeed financially, as well as spiritually ‘Sisters are incredibly supportive of one another and there is a really great atmosphere’.  From Hijabs and Jilbabs to Cake making and card decorating Farzana supports sisters in setting goals, product design and even website creation.  In itself a great business, Farzana’s life coaching service ‘The Muslim Coach’ grew under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammad Al Shareef (director of Al Maghrib institute).  Of course none of this should surprise us when we realise that a great Muslim female role model is none other than the Prophet’s (pbuh) wife Khadijah – a successful, intelligent and beautiful woman who ran her own business and took on the young Mohammad (pbuh) as her employee.  If you are a Muslimah wishing to combine money with morality and want to know more about such networking events then visit Farzana’s website at

Call of Duty

On Saturday 14th May, IERA, the Islamic Education and Research Academy, treated North London to an all day course on how to give Dawah.  Call of Duty which has been running up and down the country for a couple  of years now aims to establish a mass movement in Dawah and build networks of trained individuals across Britain.  Saturday’s course was hosted by the dynamic Hamza Tzortzis and took attendees through the infamous GORAP process – a tauhid based approach. 
Interjected with bursts of Hamza’s ‘Greek Humour’ we enjoyed pretend role plays with Non-Muslims and structured logic.  Hamza reminded us of the importance of empathy in engaging with Non-Muslims as well as sharing a few of his tips.  The Muslim Association of Britain were kind enough to provide lunch and the mosque venue was very comfortable and accessible.
Overall attendees were pleased to have picked up some new techniques and congratulate IERA on being the first organisation to have formalised and centrally supported the Dawah.  Of course though, this is only the beginning and the techniques will need testing out and reviewing. IERA’s approach is a step in the right direction and now depends on you, the reader, to put to work. Insha Allah – Practice Makes Perfect!

Witness to Guantanamo - Witness to Guantanamo

With the release of a number of Wiki-leaked documents on Guantanamo Bay recently providing evidence that the majority of detainees were innocent, statements had been extracted under torture and that children and the elderly with Dementia were amongst those held,  pressure on President Obama to close the facility once and for all is mounting. 
Witness to Guantanamo is another strike in the battle against injustice and is a must see for all Muslims and people interested in Guantanamo.
The website is part of a project founded by Professor Honigsberg, an American law professor who began teaching about the War on Terror shortly after September 11th.  The questions raised by the class led him to visit Guantanamo and he authored a number of articles and a book on the subject.  Following his experiences with inmates and prisoners at the facility and in response to the Public’s desire for information, Professor Honigsberg felt compelled to set up the Witness to Guantanamo project.  The model, based on Spielberg’s response to Holocaust denial in which accounts of Holocaust survivors were filmed, aims to create an archive of the prisoner’s accounts for wider research and teaching.
To log on and listen visit

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


I have been aware of the existence of MPAC for some time but it was only when I met a volunteer handing out leaflets in favour of the Alternative Vote that I was triggered to review their website.  MPAC or the Muslim Public Affairs Committee is a not-for-profit organisation set up to address the issue of Muslim under-representation in Politics.  Founded by the young outspoken Asghar Bukhari and with convert Catherine Heseltine as its CEO, MPAC  encourages British Muslims to make full use of lobbying, writing and voting to legitimately impact upon government policy.  As British Muslims, it is argued that we have as much right as anyone to allow our voices to be heard.  Asghar and Catherine on many an occasion have relieved the Muslim masses by appearing on BBC and ITV as eloquent representatives of the faith. 
Historically MPAC has focused on defending civil liberties, campaigning against Islamophobia and foreign policy and more recently against the Niqab ban.
Although the organisation’s work seems largely political rather than spiritual in orientation, and whether this is best is a matter for the scholarly debate, MPAC should be congratulated for having a proactive stance and believing that injustice is to be changed with one’s hand.
Provocative at times and willing to speak frankly to those who do not want to hear it, MPAC knows that sometimes you have to ruffle a few feathers in order to stand up for justice.
For more information visit

Why Freedom Makes You Miserable

If you are sick to the back teeth of debates against Muslims being won on the point of how important it is to be ‘free’ and how great it is to have ‘lifestyle choices’ - If you have heard enough times the statement ‘I can do whatever I like as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone ’ and you know that all of the above is empty rhetoric but you just cannot prove or articulate why I have just the thing for you.
Barry Schwarz, American Psychologist and author of ‘The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less’ challenges what he calls ‘the official dogma of all Western societies’ – This is the idea that if we want to maximise the welfare of all citizens, the way to do so is to maximise individual freedom and thus choice.  He argues that this is an appealing concept because it gives individuals the licence to choose as they please and in so doing make themselves happier.  But he has found evidence that it actually makes people miserable.
Firstly studies have demonstrated that when you give people more choices, they are less likely to bother choosing at all.  This means that they miss out on great opportunities.  Secondly once people have chosen they are less likely to be satisfied with their choice as the grass will always seem greener with greater options.  Thirdly having so many ways to spend our time leaves us very busy mentally and it becomes harder to switch off e.g. enjoy a relaxing walk when we could have been playing computer games.  Finally, whereas in the olden days when there were fewer choices, if we were not satisfied with our product, we could simply blame the world.  Nowadays if we are dissatisfied with our choice, given that we were the ones who chose it, we tend to blame ourselves.  Schwarz interestingly goes on to make the point that this could account for some of the rising levels of depression and suicidality in society despite the improvements of quality of life.
To hear more from Schwarz you can search for his talks on You Tube.


Avaaz, the online lobbying and campaigning group, has this week released news on a number of success stories it has had, many of which directly affect the Muslim community.  Standing strong with 8.2 million members online Avaaz campaigns against injustice and oppression worldwide.  Through use of petitioning, fundraising and advertising campaigns Avaaz has successfully frozen Mubarak’s looted millions and equipped Libyans, Yemenis and Syrians with high tech phones and satellite communications to bypass state censorship.  Avaaz has also delayed Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of BSkyB and lobbied for an end to Bradley Manning’s torture (Wikileaks reported source), which has resulted in his movement to a medium security prison.  The organisation is active in many countries and speaks many languages.  It represents a real change in the way that democracy now works in the modern age.  A fantastic model that the Muslims would do well to emulate