10 Reasons To Abstain From The Two Minute Silence On Remembrance Day
The following are 10 reasons why one should abstain from the two minute silence on Remembrance Day 11 November. This practice was initiated by King George V in 1919 so that “the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead” from World War I. King George further said, “The hush is not solely an act of remembrance; it is also a moment of dedication, when those who still live undertake to be worthy of those who died.”
(1) World War I resulted in the end of the unified Muslim rule under the Ottoman leadership. Allied forces invaded the Muslim world and colluded with different tribes to divide the Muslims.
(2) Over 1 million Muslims were killed during this period. Many of these martyrs fought hard to protect the Muslim land.
(3) The Muslim land was divided into many different parts and colonised. The dissolution of the Ottoman rule after World War I was a significant blow to Islam and Muslims worldwide, the effects of which remain visible today.
(4) Palestine was colonised and the Balfour declaration was signed in the UK in 1917. This eventually paved the way for Zionist control of Palestine.
(5) Other Muslim lands were divided and gifted to puppets and tyrants. Many of their descendants continue to rule over these lands today, suppressing Islam and Muslims.
(6) Our scholars from as far as India such as Shaykhul Hind Moulana Mahmoodul Hasan Sahib (May Allah have mercy on him) was instrumental in supporting the Ottoman rule. The Silk Letter Movement and his arrest from Makkah Mukarramah and subsequently his imprisonment in Malta are all well documented. The suggestion that some Muslims fought for the Allied forces in World War I does not in any way justify their actions and necessitate honouring them. It is rather reflective of the colonial exploitation that was prevalent at the time.
(7) Remembrance Day is also used to remember those soldiers who died in other wars such as both the Iraq Wars and the war in Afghanistan. These wars have resulted in the death of millions of innocent people and the torture and abuse of many others. Consider how their families would feel if they learnt that their brethren are honouring some of the very perpetrators who may have committed those crimes. Where would this leave the concept of brotherhood and the notion of one Ummah?
(8) Participating in the Remembrance Day is to honour the colonial forces who spearheaded the divide and rule policy and defeated Muslims. What is happening in Palestine, Iraq and Syria today is not disconnected to World War I. Participating in the Remembrance Day and accepting the so called ‘freedom’ narrative implies that the Ottoman rule was restrictive and repressive and what followed was superior.
(9) It is not permissible to honour the memory of aggressors and endorse their aggression. Almighty Allah says, “Cooperate in righteousness and piety, and do not cooperate in sin and aggression” (Qur’an, 5:2). Almighty Allah also says, “O those who believe, stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin” (Qur’an, 4: 135).
(10) Exemplifying good behaviour and showing respect to non Muslim neighbours and colleagues is at the heart of Islamic teachings. There is no harm in recognising the work of those who champion humanity, charity, justice and equity, though they may not share our faith. It is worth noting that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and the companions would never honour the memory of aggressors, Muslim or otherwise. In fact, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one”. People asked, “O Allah’s Messenger. It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” He replied, “By preventing him from oppressing others” (Sahih Bukhari, 2312). This is the message of Islam, and this should be our hallmark every day, not just on Remembrance Day. Highlight the injustices of the past and present and become a champion of justice, peace and humanity. These values are what the vast majority of our peace loving British friends and neighbours cherish and this should permeate our approach to such national events.
May Almighty Allah unite the Ummah and make us from among those who stand up for justice and righteousness.
Yusuf Shabbir, Blackburn, UK
27 Muharram 1437 H. – 10 November 2015