This Lal Masjid (Red mosque), actually a converted old Victorian church, built (originally) in Yorkshire stone is just like the inconspicuous buildings lining the Leeds road Bradford moor, an area famous for posh Asian restaurants competing with wimslow road Manchester for the title of curry capital of the north.
But I am talking about this “red mosque on Bradford moor” ,which looks like any other mosque in Bradford, is no ordinary mosque, certainly not like the RED MOSQUE IN ISLAMABAD. The high security door, wired and reinforced windows are unlike the other mosques in Bradford. Not so long ago, actually just before 9/11 when usama bin laden had not attained his current cult celebrity status, some hot headed young Muslim (born again Tableeghi-read evangelical ) lads used to pump up the music while passing this “Red mosque” their car stereos deafening the street with anthems “ Islam’s hero number one, my leader usa-ma bin laden” just to annoy the gate keeper and the administration of the mosque, but other than that isolated incident this red mosque perfectly integrated into Bradford muslim community, no one can tell the difference between those who visit this “red mosque” or other mainstream mosques in Bradford.
The muslim community does not discriminate against those who worship at this Red mosque. Their common cultural, linguistic reference remains Pakistani Punjabi /mirpuri. their relations ,marriage ceremonies and eid celebrations remain focal point of the community.
Before one might be tempted to think that I am talking about “shia” sect, which is constantly in news in iraq and Pakistan, suffering the attacks perpetrated by “terrorist” clan of wahabi (loyalist Paramilitary of Saudi Royals) and Al qaeda operatives, I am not. its another story how supposedly sworn enemies namely bin laden construction crew and al saud clan with its kick backs of defence deals that stretch from Thatcher to blairite era, can cooperate in iraq and Pakistan to pursue the evil agenda of purifying the muslim world of “infidel” shias and Iranian influence.
Well in bradistan shia are not considered a minority they are part of the mainstream. Contrary to what BNP and NF websites propagate; bradistan is a culturally vibrant, ethnically diverse, and socially more integrated than some other cities of the UK.
Getting back to original discussion about “Red mosque”, which belongs to a religious minority within ethnic minority? Ahmadiyya religious sect, who like the African American “nation of Islam” believe in their own messiah prophet, are being persecuted in their native Pakistan for their non-mainstream religious beliefs. Ahmediya community have found a safe haven in UK and bradistan, the fellow Pakistanis have welcomed them with open hearts despite religious differences. The community now runs a 24 hour satellite channel broadcasting their religious programmes world wide which even the Pakistani government cannot block off airwaves, local community leader Mr Bari Malik a former magistrate is a prominent Pakistani representative in local government and charities in Yorkshire.
While back home in Pakistan they fear prosecution in courts because of performing muslim prayer rituals or identifying themselves with muslim names. Punishments under the anti –ahmadiyya ordinance promulgated by military dictator general zia ul haq in 1984 range from 3 years(for Islamic ritual) to death penalty for blasphemy.
Although Ahmediya community themselves practice a ultra orthodox set of beliefs and believe in 19th century Punjabi- British civil servant turned messiah- folklore prophet, but at same time gave Pakistani nation some of the most renowned international celebrities, like the only Nobel laureate that Pakistan produced Dr Abdul Salam who revolutionised the world of physics by discovering the “weak force theory”.
Dr Salam and many war heroes who sacrificed their lives for Pakistani defense forces and pakistan’s first foreign minister sir zafarullah khan and their legacies were officially Disowned by the state after enacting that draconian law of religious bigotry. surprise surprise the current “enlightened “ modernist Dictator Pervaiz musharraf could not find time even in past seven years to strike the draconian law off the statute books.
Its Ironical that the head of pro Taliban mma alliance in parliament and opposition leader in pakistan Mualana Fazal ur Rehman undergoing angioplasty after a heart attack insisted on being treated by one of the world’s best heart surgeons Dr Mubashar Ahmed – a Pakistani expatriate , a Ahmadi by religion. Fazal Ul rehman and his late father mufti mehmood were instrumental in forcing the state to declare Ahmadiyya as non muslim, sometimes its takes medical science to tear the layers of discrimination and bigotry , I hope Mualana at least sends a thank you note to his doctor after recovery.
Sometimes at summer melas lads weaving Pakistani flags and wearing their Burberry designer hooded tops chant “proud to be Bradistani”