MEND’s Losing My Religion Conference
Categories: Latest News
Thursday July 18 2019
Between 21st-24th June, MEND were delighted to host their ‘Losing My Religion Conference’ (LMRC) tour. Over 2000 people attended events in London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Cardiff to see fantastic guest speakers discussing issues facing British Muslim communities today. Speakers included Dr Yasir Qadhi, Shaykh Sulaiman Moola, Shaykhh Zahir Mahmoud, Tez Ilyas, Lowkey, Linda Sarsour, Latifa Abouchakra, and Dr Saliha Mahmood. Meanwhile, the generosity and enthusiasm of attendees enabled us to raise over £100,000 to support Muslim communities and ensure we can continue our work in challenging Islamophobia
Comedian and actor Tez Ilyas kept the audience entertained with jokes and parodies about the experiences of British Muslims, whilst Latifa Abuouchakra, an officer for the National Union of Students, discussed the challenges of PREVENT and the impact of this policy on children’s education and welfare. Rapper and activist, Lowkey, also discussed PREVENT during his powerful talk about the Islamophobia Industry, discussing how it encompasses “policy-based evidence not evidence-based policy”. His speech also included an analysis of the state and media as powerful structures through which Islamophobia is propagated and maintained.
Shaykh Zahir Mahmoud spoke about the use of labels applied to individuals that originate from both inside and outside of their communities. He argued that we must collectively reject labels that seek to reduce and divide us such as “moderate”, “extremist”, or “Salafist” and told the audience “don’t buy into these labels – people are given labels so they don’t take you seriously.” The onus is on individuals to define for themselves who and what they believe in and how they conduct themselves for the betterment of society.
Another inspirational speech came from the scholar, lecturer, and author of Islamic sciences, Shaykh Sulaiman Moola. During his uplifting talk, he urged the audience to consider how their behaviour and conduct can be used to challenge islamophobia. As Muslims around the world are under increased scrutiny and surveillance, it is imperative for Muslims to take this as an opportunity to showcase the values and principles that Islam teaches such as piety, respect, generosity, and compassion for all of humanity.
Winner of the ninth series of MasterChef, Dr Saliha Mahmoud, spoke about her own experiences as the target of Islamophobic abuse, particularly from online trolls, since winning the show in 2017.
Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour also led an empowering speech encouraging Muslims to use their Islamic faith to guide them in their political activism. She highlighted the responsibility of this generation to ensure that future generations of Muslims still have access to their basic human and civil rights, such as accessing mosques and wearing religious dress.
The Muslim scholar Dr Yasir Qadhi ended the event by talking about how Muslims must hold on to divine morality and conduct oneself accordingly. He urged the audience to live with conviction and not allow other people to undermine them, or make them feel inadequate for being pious and having God consciousness.
MEND would like to thank all the staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly to ensure the success of our Losing My Religion Conference 2019 and thank everyone who attended and kindly donated to support our cause. We would also like to give thanks to the speakers who helped make the events informative and engaging.