What are you doing on Good Friday and Passover?
Imam Qari Asim
Senior Imam, Makkah Masjid, Leeds
Below is an extract of an interview that Imam Qari Muhammad Asim MBE gave about Good Friday and Passover:
How aware are you are Christian beliefs about the significance of Easter?
‘I have attended lectures on Christian beliefs by local Christian ministers and have read books about the beliefs of
Christianity’. When I talk about Christian beliefs I describe what Christians believe without ridicule. There are clearly areas where Muslim beliefs differ from Christian and .’
Could you comment on the Jewish festival of Passover/Pesach?
‘The story of the Passover/escape from Egypt is told in the Qur’an in detail. It has important messages about freedom of belief and standing up to tyrants. Struggles may be different but challenges are still the same. There are many tyrant states that are still terrorising its citizens or neighbouring countries. There are many states that are infringing ordinary people’s ability to practice their faith. There are many countries in which people of faith suffer because they are a minority faith community in that country The list goes on… the story of the Passover inspires people to have firm faith in the Lord, who will alleviate their sufferings, and liberate them from tyrants and bullies.’
How is the story narrated in the Glorious Qur’an?
It is particularly noteworthy that in the Quran, there is no story that is recounted as many times and with as much emphasis, as the story of the bondage of the Children of Israel and their subsequent deliverance from Egypt’s Pharaoh. The Quran quotes Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) as saying to his people:
“O my people! Remember the blessings which God bestowed upon you when he raised up prophets among you, and made you your own masters, and granted unto you favors such as He had not granted to anyone else in the world.” (Quran 5:20)
It was Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), with the help and guidance of Allah Almighty, who led them out of troubled land of Egypt towards a land of promise. God in the Quran says:
“O children of Israel! Remember those blessings of Mine with which I graced you, and how I favored you above all other people. And guard yourselves against a day when no soul will in aught avail another, nor will intercession be accepted from it, nor will compensation be received from it, nor will they be helped. And remember the time when We saved you from Pharaoh’s people, who afflicted you with cruel suffering, slaughtering your sons and sparing only your women — which was an awesome trial from your Sustainer; and when We cleft the sea before you, and thus saved you and caused Pharaoh’s people to drown before your very eyes.” (Quran 2:47-50)
The story is narrated elsewhere in the Quran, where we may read these verses:
“And We took the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his soldiers pursued them in tyranny and enmity until, when drowning overtook him, he said, “I believe that there is no deity except that in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of the Muslims.” Now? And you had disobeyed [Him] before and were of the corrupters? So today We will save you in body that you may be to those who succeed you a sign. And indeed, many among the people, of Our signs, are heedless. And We had certainty settled the Children of Israel in an agreeable settlement and provided them with good things. And they did not differ until [after] knowledge had come to them. Indeed, your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that over which they used to differ” (Quran 10:90-93)
How important is it fin Multi-faith Britain for people to learn about others beliefs and their practices?
‘It’s extremely important for Muslims to understand Christian beliefs and for Christians to understand Muslim beliefs; some is the case with Jews and Muslims. Fear of the unknown creates tension and barriers and people can be excluvisists. If we understand where people are coming from we can be more peaceful and harmonious. Diversity is part of the Divine plan, we should be confident in our own faith, not fearful, and be prepared to listen. I would say that if we know where we differ and understand each other’s beliefs we can be more objective and form an impression of the faith itself, rather than be misled by people’s actions. Then we can move on to open and frank dialogue.
How does your congregation react to inter faith initiatives?
‘People are open-minded, especially when they have encountered Christianity through RE teaching in school. The congregation are supportive and do not have apprehensions about inter faith initiatives. We have worked together with local churches on many inter-faith initiatives, ranging from scriptural reasoning to environmental issues to feeding the homeless.’