Speech Given at the Association of Muslim Police Officers AGM 2007

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Every child is born upon a natural disposition.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

All people share a certain amount of knowledge regarding their relationships and dealings with others. They relate to each other in a purely natural and spontaneous way. Islam came to govern and refine this web of relationships, not to bar people from them. Islam does not seek to cut people off from each other. Indeed, the Qur’an declares that cutting off one’s ties to others is a characteristic of people who are astray. It never declares it a mistake or a crime to uphold one’s ties with others.

Allah says: “Those who break Allah's Covenant after it is ratified, and who sunder what Allah Has ordered to be joined, and do mischief on earth: These cause loss (only) to themselves.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 27]

The love that one feel’s for a relative, a spouse, or a friend – or for one’s country or people – constitute part of the general, natural loyalties that a person has. This does not contradict the loyalty in faith that Muslims have regarding their religion. The first generation of Muslims used to interact with others according to what was natural and with complete liberality.

Their behaviour was a far cry form the strictness that some people adopted in later generations, people whose norms of behaviour were an admixture of misconceptions, a blend of extremes in both harshness and liberalism.
We should consider the ideas of support, mutual attachment, and loyalty conveyed by the following words of the Prophet (peace be upon him):

“The believers, in their love and compassion for each other, are like a single body. When one part of the body is in pain, the whole body feels feverish and restless.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

This is the loyalty between the Muslims that is an essential aspect of Islamic monotheism. This loyalty is a spiritual meaning that exists in the heart, comprising love, mutual affection, and mercy. It is also a practical, vital meaning comprising support, assistance, and awareness. The support that our loyalty requires from us is to assist our fellows in doing what is right and to prevent them from doing wrong. This is made clear to us in the Hadith where the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Help your brother whether he is doing wrong or he has been wronged.” His Companions asked: “We understand to help him when he is wronged, but how do we help him when he is the one doing wrong?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) answered: “By stopping him from doing wrong.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî ]

This shows us that the bond of Islamic loyalty is founded upon religious belief. It is not a bigoted loyalty. It binds people together on the basis of principles that transcend the people themselves. Whenever a person goes against these principles, the greatest way to express loyalty is to prevent that person from wrongdoing. It is never right to support that person in committing injustice.
This point is further emphasised by Ibn `Abbâs (ra), he said: “If Pharaoh were to say to me: ‘May Allah bless you’ I would say ‘And you too.’ because Islamic manners teaches us to respond to a salutation with one that is equal to it. And the reward of exhibiting goodness is none other than goodness.” [Sahih al-Bukhârî]

This then brings me to the theme of justice, Allah says:

“O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned is rich or poor, God's claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either of them. Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort [the truth], behold, God is indeed aware of all that you do!”
[Surah an-Nisa: 135]

“BEHOLD, God enjoins justice, and the doing of good, and generosity towards [one's] fellow men…” [Surah Nahl: 90]

It is clear from these two verses the centrality of Justice and Equity in Islam. Indeed the entire purpose of the Shari’ah is to allow for Justice and Equity to permeate for the benefit of mankind. And the greatest benefit that mankind has is the ability to worship God.

So the work of the Muslim Officers sits comfortably with the ethos and vision of Islam and its primary texts and teachings and there should be no doubt about that. We have a saying that a 100 years of oppression or tyranny is more tolerable than a days worth of anarchy!

So the role that you all play for the society as a whole is fundamental and one that in all essence is what holds the fabric of civil society.

So with this responsibility I want to add one more that you perhaps are aware of, that of a duty to promote engagement and justice. The community, and the Muslim community in particular, are looking for role models, they are looking for Muslims, who are proud of their religion, who practice their religion, who study their religion and who are willing ambassadors for their religion, to take the centre stage. They look towards you and you should know that they see in you a potential friend, helper, protector and role model.

But be mindful of what you promote and on what terms you make your arguments. Do not be boxed, or operate on the premise of anyone else’s agenda, operate on what you know and understand to be right, set your own framework for debate and discussion. An example of this will be to promote or bring about the crystallisation of divisions between one Muslim against another. Or focus your efforts on the symptoms rather than the disease.

So in the case of the first I am referring to promoting the importance of one school of thought over another. That can be whether women can choose to wear the Niqab according to one school of thought or not according to another. In the second instance, it is focusing on Islam rather than the motivation, i.e. the sense of injustice and double standards.

An example from our Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) will further illustrate what I am trying to say. He said, "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" [Luke 6:41-42]

So with that you have to strive to be excellent in all matters, excellence in maintaining your way of life, excellence in policing, excellence in moral conduct and excellence in upholding Justice and Equity, whether that be against your selves, your parents, your relatives, your fellow Muslims, your fellow Police officers, politicians or anyone.

For you to be successful in this you will need to be authentic, you will need to have sincerity, you will need to have the best of moral character and a moral compass that is rooted in Islam, you will need to have knowledge, but most of all you will need to believe that you can do this. Indeed, you are the future leaders of this community, and I do not restrict that to Muslims.

In this task of yours I am confident that you have elected a leader who can help guide and lead you in bringing about what I have outlined. I would also like to pledge that the Muslim Safety Forum would be honoured to be partners with you in helping to achieve this.

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