Student and Muslim volunteers to promote peace with roses

Student and Muslim volunteers to promote peace with rosesVolunteers will be giving out roses to the public today near various MRT stations as part of a ‘Roses of Peace’ event (Photo: Shaik Kadir)

A group of young people in Singapore are making efforts to promote peace and a better understanding of Islam by giving out roses today.

The event, spearheaded by Nadzirah Riduan, an accountancy student at the Singapore Management University, comes at the back of a similar one held in Birmingham, UK, and in Norway.

In recent years, there have been a number of unpleasant incidents that include the burning of copies of the Quran and the ridiculing of Prophet Muhammad through printed words, cartoons and movies, such as the anti-Islam film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ that made news headlines around the world.

There have also been wrongdoings by so-called Muslims, such as revenge terrorist acts, suicide bombings and recently, the attempted killing of a young Pakistani woman who promoted education for girls in Pakistan.

All these ugly acts have greatly angered Muslims all over the world.

Conflict based on religion would always go on from time to time, but should Muslims go out onto the streets to protest at every provocation, sometimes violently resulting in the destruction of vehicles and properties and injuries or even death?

Such wild protests and unruly behaviour do not gain the sympathy of non-Muslims as they wonder if Islam is an aggressive religion.

Muslims get a bad name, yet this is far from truth. The truth is, Islam is a peaceful religion.

Instead of staging disorganised demonstrations, what Muslims ought to do is to have peaceful means to convey the message of Islam emphasising that any destruction of properties and killing of non-Muslims or Muslims is wrong and unIslamic.

This is exactly what is done today by Nadzirah, who said: “From this event, we hope that people who have misconceptions about Islam would understand it and know why Muslims so dearly love Prophet Muhammad. We love the Prophet because he showed love to people, and his teachings involve peace.”

Nadzirah hopes to raise awareness about the teachings of Islam and Prophet Muhammad through this gesture.

Volunteers will freely give away more than 3,000 roses to the public during the event called ‘Roses of Peace’.  A card, bearing quotes of peace and love, and a brief description of the beautiful character of Prophet Muhammad is attached to each stalk of rose, so recipients can learn something about Islam. They will be near various MRT stations, including Orchard Road, City Hall, Tampines, Jurong East and Bishan.

In Norway, the event was called “Roses, not protest – Norwegian Muslims respond to ‘Innocence of Muslims’”. A video of it on YouTube shows a female convert to Islam quoting a Hadith (sayings of the Prophet) about Prophet Muhammad who, one day, found dirt thrown at the door of his house. The culprit was an old woman who did it daily, but the Prophet did not get angry with her.

One day, the Prophet found no dirt at his door and was told that the woman was sick. He immediately went to see her and, instead of asking her why she had daily thrown dirt at his door, took care of her and cleaned her house.  The old woman regretted her action and became his follower.

The story, said the Norwegian convert, touched her heart.

To uphold the good name of Islam, Muslims need to have patience and persevere in doing good works and practise the principles of Islam in public and in private.

They must win hearts by being compassionate, loving and peaceful with all.

(Shaik Kadir is a retired school teacher who has been writing for various publications since 1976. He is also the author of several English books on Islam. He often writes on Islamic culture and issues.)

Hadia Tajik becomes Norway’s first Muslim minister

By Elham Asaad Buaras

Hadia Tajik, 29, became the youngest and first ever Muslim minister in the Norwegian cabinet when she was appointed Minister of Culture as part of a larger cabinet reshuffle on September 21.

The new post also makes Tajik, who is of Pakistani origin, only the second minister with non-Caucasian ethnic background.

The Labour MP announced that her programme will focus on cultural diversity and delve into the protection of minority rights.

Last year, Anders Breivik randomly shot 69 people at a summer camp organised by the Workers’ Youth League of the Labour Party after blowing up a Norwegian state building. During his trial, Breivik reasoned that multi-cultural policies are harming Norway, adding that he considers Islam his enemy.

Born in Bjørheimsbygd, Strand, on July 18 1983, Tajik studied human rights at the University of Kingston in the UK and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in Law, the latter awarded by the University of Oslo this year.

Tajik led the Young Workers Movement between 1999 and 2002. She also worked as a political advisor to Norway’s Minister of Justice, 2008-2009. During this time Norwegian women members of the police were afforded the right to wear the hijab at work. The decision was, however, rescinded due to harsh criticism from conservative parties.

In 2009 she was elected to Parliament as a member of the Labour Party in the Oslo constituency. She was placed on a list of six seats generally considered safe for the party.