Although he is still only 33 years old, Imam Abdus-Samad Siddeeq has been teaching at the Crawley Islamic Cultural Centre and Mosque for the last eight years and has adopted what he calls a ‘forward thinking’ approach.
He is setting up a YouTube channel to promote peaceful teachings, has helped organise weekly meetings for mothers with young children and wants to open the doors of the mosque to the whole community.
Following on from the recent Paris Attacks, he has also called for the Muslim community to be more open. He said,
We cannot allow our religion of mercy, love and compassion to be taken over by a handful of crazy lunatics. These people are not ambassadors of Islam, there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and we are the ambassadors.
Imam Siddeeq, also talks about how he is fearful of the rise of Islamophobia but thinks Muslims need to speak out rather than hideaway.
People have grievances that our religion is unfairly linked to terrorist attacks and that we are asked to apologise for them, but that isn’t an excuse for Muslims to alienate ourselves from the rest of society. We must do more to communicate and work with everyone to allay any fears they may have. Saying nothing in the hope we will not be targeted does not work, as the increase in Islamophobic attacks shows.
I make sure women are welcome in the mosque whenever possible, I put dividers up so they can pray with the men in the same room, and my wife has set up a weekly social meeting for mothers with pre-school aged children.
He is also setting up a YouTube channel which will be a first for their mosque. In this way, he wants to be able to record the teachings when scholars visit and the discussions held on topics such as the challenges facing the Muslim community.
Imam Siddeeq, who has lived in Crawley for the last 12 years, is worried a lack of strong leadership has been a factor in people turning to the internet – and being brainwashed by radical preachers – in the past.
Imam means leader, not just in prayer but in society as a whole. Islam is a complete way of life so an Imam has an important role in guiding people throughout their daily life. We are in a moment of crisis because there are not enough leaders doing this across the UK for people to look up to. This in turn leads people to go to the internet.