On Friday, around 500 mosques in Britain delivered khutbahs condemning child sex grooming in response to the conviction of the Oxford grooming gang. This initiative was supported by the Muslim Council of Britain, Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board and the Islamic Society of Britain. The idea was spearheaded by non-profit organization “Together Against Grooming”. However, not all Muslim organisations, mosques and imams supported this initiative. Founder and Director of Ebrahim College, Sheikh Shams Ad-Duha Muhammad explained on Facebook why he decided not to give a khutbah on grooming.
I didn’t deliver that khutbah about child sex grooming yesterday. Here’s why.
We are reacting to the unfair media coverage that has now become part and parcel of any coverage of Muslims. If Muslims are involved, religion is always highlighted as part of the profile of the criminal.
Sometimes when this happens, it is necessary for Muslims to speak out, such as when a crime is perpetrated in the name of Islam and so Islam has to be defended. Woolwich was an obvious example. Child sex grooming is not perpetrated in the name of Islam so why get the mosques involved because of the media? The normal thing to do is to leave the police to do their job.
The question is, should mosques and imams try to tackle this horrible problem and give the police a helping hand? The answer is, yes. However, this has to be in our own time and through our own devices. Reacting to media coverage in an issue such as this sets a really bad precedent. Are we going to get mosques involved every time the media unfairly intimates that Islam is to blame for a crime committed by Muslims? Instead of asking mosques to deliver a khutbah, Muslim groups should focus their attention on taking the media to task and getting them to stop their xenophobia.
Mosques have their own challenges and not dealing with deep rooted community problems actively enough IS one of them. But choosing which ones to get involved in, in response to the media will doom them to only tackling problems when media pressure is applied. That’s a terrible situation to be in. Mosques should be trying to tackle these problems proactively because it is part of their role.
This mass khutbah against sexual grooming is a major own goal as far as I am concerned. But I respect the efforts and understand that it comes from a sincere effort to not allow Islam’s name to be tainted. But strategically speaking, this should not be happening. We need to properly figure out when it is prudent to get the masjids involved and when it isn’t. The pulpit should address everything. If it picks and chooses, it should pick independently. We don’t need the media to dictate our khutbahs.