Written by Student Rights on 10 July 2012 at 6pm

London Met Islamic Society and the 'Month of Mercy'

As we approach Ramadan this month, a number of events celebrating the ‘Month of Mercy’ will be taking place across the UK.

One of these, organised by Al Muntada Al Islami and promoted by Ilm Events, was supposed to have taken place this weekend amid some confusion after it was announced that it had been cancelled.

Campaigners who had contacted the original venue of the ‘Month of Mercy Conference’ claimed victory at the end of June when the event was called off, and Ilm Event’s website also posted a statement saying “This event organised by Al Muntada Al Islami planned to take place on the 8th of July has officially been cancelled”.

To add to the confusion this statement continued, saying that “there is a rumour that the event is taking place at Water Lily (Mile End), this is untrue and we apologise for any miscommunication

However, since then there has been considerable activity on the Facebook page of London Metropolitan University Islamic Society which suggests that the event had in fact been moved to the venue in Mile End.

On Saturday, the Islamic Society told its members via Facebook “Message to All: @IlmEvents is still going ahead inshaAllah...Water Lilly, Mile End is the new place. #MonthOfMercy - spread the word”.

When pointed in the direction of the Ilm Events statement an individual claimed that the website had been hacked by the EDL and that the event would be going ahead.

The Islamic Society then posted “Holla Me If You Want To Attend The Month Of Mercy Conference Right Now, Got A Spare Ticket! (Brothers Only)”.

Following this they then posted “Alhamdulilah The Month Of Mercy Conference Was Excellent! Great Lectures From Our Amazing Shuyukhs”.

Since then the Islamic Society Facebook account has also shared a video of one of the speakers at the conference, Muhammad Al-Arifi, and commented that “he was awesome yesterday”.

In this video Al-Arifi says of the conflict in Syria that “permission is granted to fight for those who are being persecuted” and “fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness”.

He has also been criticised for saying that “devotion to Jihad for the sake of Allah, and the desire to shed blood, to smash skulls and to sever limbs for the sake of Allah and in defence of His religion, is, undoubtedly, an honour for the believer”. 

As well as this, he has claimed that “the Koranic verses that deal with fighting the infidels and conquering their countries say that they should convert to Islam, pay the jizya poll tax, or be killed. If the Muslims had implemented this, we would not have reached the humiliation in which we find ourselves today”.

It was not just Al-Arifi who was present at this conference though. Haitham Al-Haddad, highlighted by Student Rights on a number of occasions was also listed as giving a speech.

Haddad has been accused of extreme anti-Semitism and has been barred from appearing at a number of UK universities. 

He believes that homosexuality is a “criminal act” and a “scourge”, writing a deeply homophobic article called ‘Standing up against homosexuality and LGBTs’ for his online magazine ‘Islam21C’.

He has also been filmed defending Hamas, stating that the reason that they are opposed by the West is because “there is a high level of enmity and hatred against Hamas as a Muslim group”.

His views on the Middle East conflict have also included him saying that the Israeli Defence Force Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9 was a good thing as “many Muslims who left their religion became more convinced that they have to go back to their religion”.  

A London council member, jurist and judge for the Islamic Sharia Council, Al-Haddad has also supported the idea of Islam as a socio-political system, writing that “it is obligatory for those Muslims living under the shadow of man-made law to take all the necessary steps and means to make the law of Allah, the Creator and the Sustainer, supreme and manifest in all aspects of life”.

Appearing on the bill alongside Haddad was Assim Al-Hakeem, another preacher that Student Rights have campaigned against in the past.

Al-Hakeem has stated that “It is not permissible for a wife to refuse fulfilling her husband’s desire. You should answer his calls as this is not physically hurting you. If you can’t do that for no legitimate reason you are sinful”.

In the Q&A section on his website he answers a number of questions on the topic of homosexuality, stating in one that it turns LGBT people into “animals that seek only their sexual satisfaction through their weird ways”.

He responds to another question which asks “how can I deal with this problem homosexual? I can’t stop or control it” by saying that “homosexuality is an illness and something that Allah despises” and that the individual should “try and stay away from whatever reminds you of this filth”.

That the Islamic Society at London Metropolitan University is encouraging students to attend an event with speakers like this is deeply concerning.

Given that Student Rights has already highlighted the posting of videos featuring the now deceased Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki on Facebook, we feel that the authorities at the university should be meeting with the Islamic Society to discuss these issues.

As we said in our recent report, this problem must be addressed by students to avoid any chilling effect on freedom of expression that top-down edicts may cause.

However, in cases where student societies are themselves posting material featuring violent extremists the university and Student Unions must make societies aware of their responsibilities.