Why Sufis are not Jihadists?

International Criminal Court warns against destroying Shrines

ICC threatens Mali Islamists with war crimes – Africa – Al Jazeera English

The International Criminal Court has threatened Islamist fighters in Mali with legal action if they do not halt their destruction of ancient Islamic monuments.”My message to those involved in these criminal acts is clear: stop the destruction of the religious buildings now,” Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the AFP news agency in an interview. “This is a war crime which my office has authority to fully investigate.”
“This includes attacks against historical monuments as well as destruction of buildings dedicated to religion,” Bensouda said.She said that Mali was a signatory to the Rome Statute, a document that established the ICC and states that deliberate attacks against undefended civilian buildings which are not military objectives are a war crime.Members of the group Ansar Dine have destroyed the mausoleums of Sufi saints in historic Timbuktu for two straight days.Yaya Tandina, a local journalist, told the Reuters news agency that about 30 members of the group, armed with Kalashnikovs and pickaxes destroyed three mausoleums of saints on Sunday.

“They had armed men guarding the door. Just like yesterday, the population did not react. They said we need to let them do what they want, hoping that someday we will rebuild the tombs,” Tandina said.

Seven ancient tombs have been smashed by Ansar Dine since Saturday. The group’s strict interpretation of Islam considers such places unholy and calls for their destruction.

The demolitions began on Saturday with Timbuktu’s independence monument, which depicts Al Farouk, a symbol of the ancient city on a horse.

Ansar Dine have also threatened to destroy the city’s three ancient mosques, one of which dates back to 1327.

Sanda Ould Boumama, an Ansar Dine spokesman, has said the group was acting in the name of God and would “destroy every mausoleum in the city. All of them, without exception”.

The destruction comes after UNESCO listed the city as an endangered site because of the continuing violence in northern Mali and in the wake of an attack on a fifteenth century tomb in May.

“God is unique. All of this is haram [forbidden]. We are all Muslims. UNESCO is what,” said Boumama.

The government of Mali has urged the outside world to take concrete steps to stop the destruction of the sites.

“Those who are destroying religious buildings in Timbuktu should do so in full knowledge that they will be held accountable and justice will prevail,” she said.

Published in: on July 3, 2012 at 6:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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gulfnews : Salafist Egyptian MP assails teaching English as foreign plot

gulfnews : Salafist Egyptian MP assails teaching English as foreign plot.

 Cairo: A Salafist (ultra-conservative) Egyptian lawmaker has lashed out at Egyptian government for expanding the teaching of the English language in the schools, calling it a foreign plot.
“The aim of teaching English is to change the culture of our children since their early years,” Mohammad Al Kurdi, an MP belonging to the Salafist Al Nour Party, told the parliament in a televised session.
He was commenting on an Egyptian-US cooperation agreement to improve elementary education.
“This agreement seeks to start teaching the English language in the second grade, instead of the fourth grade as is the case now, in governmental schools,” he said.
“There is no other nation that makes a foreign language the main language of teaching in its schools. May be the only subject that is not taught in English now [in Egypt] is religion.”
Al Nour controls 26 per cent of the newly-elected Egyptian parliament where Islamists hold more than two-thirds of the seats.
Nader Bakar, the spokesman for Al Nour, dismissed Al Kurdi’s argument as superficial, and “not based on the Sharia [Islamic law] or science”.
“The comment made by Al Kurdi was inappropriate too. It does not represent the party’s view. We have referred him to a probe,” added Bakar on his Twitter account on Tuesday.

Published in: on February 29, 2012 at 4:06 am  Comments (1)  
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Glittering Lines around the Blessed Chamber

Visitors of the Holy Prophet (Peace and Blessing be Upon Him) cannot miss the inscriptions on the wall of his blessed Chamber. Reading those lines, one would be amazed to feel the emotion of that great soul whose expressions got inscribed there with golden letters.
On the other hand visitors are embarrassed to see the tampering of these inscriptions as well.  Many lines have been painted in a way that it makes them literally unreadable.  The ridiculous excuse was they did not suit to the new version of Monotheism. In other words those lines convey polytheism!. God Forbid!!!
What is more astonishing after all that those lines are still kept elevated to sanctum sanatorium and it is not a problem ! This very fact is more than enough to expose the hypocrisy of the so-called proponents of pseudo monotheism and the inconsistency of their arguments. If they really think of these lines speaking polytheistic what a disgrace  to keep them on the wall!!  If they don’t, what is the substance of covering up those beautiful and wonderful piece of an heartfelt expression?

In my recent visit to the blessed site, I snapped some pictures of the wall along with the door of the chamber where one of the most famous lines from Qaseeda Burda has been engraved.

It reads: هو الحبيب الذي ترجى شفاعته لكل هول من الاهوال مقتحم [He is (Allah’s) most beloved, whose intercession is hoped for every fear that comes at once]

Here is the poem in full and   its English translation by G.F Haddad along with his introduction.

Poem of Tawassul and Praise
by Sh. G. F. Haddad

Sultan `Abd al-Hamid’s poem in praise of the Prophet upon him blessings and peace was engraved in the year 1191 (1777 C.E.) on the walls of the Prophet’s hujra in his mosque in Madina. The possessors of specious adab with the Prophet upon him blessings and peace covered up several of the verses with paint so that they could not be read, sparing what suited them, but the poem has been preserved in other ways. It can be found in the book of our late teacher Shaykh al-Islam fil-Balad al-Haram al-Sharif al-Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Alawi al-Maliki titled Shifa’ al-Fu’ad bi-Ziyarati Khayr al-`Ibad (Healing the heart with the visitation of the best of Allah’s servants) (Dubai: Da’irat al-awqaf, n.d.) p. 203. Here is the text in full, with an asterisk indicating each verse that was painted over.

1*

يا سيدي يا رسول الله خذ بيدي
مالي سواك ولا ألوي على أحد 

O my master, O Messenger of Allah, take my hand:
I have none besides you, nor will I pause to rely on anyone but you.

2*

فأنت نور الهدى في كل كائنة
وأنت سر الندى يا خير معتمد 

For you are the light of guidance in everything that exists
and you are the secret of munificence and the best reliance.

3*

وأنت حقا غياث الخلق أجمعهم
وأنت هادي الورى لله ذي السدد

And you are in truth the helper of all creation,
and you are the guide of mortals to Allah, Owner of help.

4

يا من يقوم مقام الحمد منفردا
للواحد الفرد لم يولد ولم يلد 

O you who stand on the Station of Praise, singled out
by the One Who is Single, Who is not begotten and does not beget.

5

يا من تفجرت الأنهار نابعة
من أصبعيه فروى الجيش بالمدد

O you from whose fingers rivers burst forth
so that he quenched the thirst of the numerous army.

6*

إني إذا سامني ضيم يروعني
أقول يا سيد السادات يا سندي

Verily, if I am faced with harm and fearful injustice
I say: O Master of masters, O my support!

7*

كن لي شفيعا من الرحمن من زلل
وأمنن علي بما لا كان في خلدي

Be my intercessor with the Merciful regarding my mistakes
and grace me with what eludes my heart.

8*

وانظر بعين الرضا لي دائما أبدا
واستر بفضلك تقصيري إلى الأمد 

And look upon me always and ever with kind eyes,
and cover with your favor my shortcomings all my life.

9*

واعطف علي بعفو منك يشملني
فإنني عنك يا مولاي لم أحد 

Kindly bestow on me encompassing forgiveness
for from you, O my master, I was never separated.

10*

إني توسلت بالمختار أفضل من
رقَّى السموات سر الواحد الأحد 

I have sought as my means the elect one, the noblest of any
that ascended the heavens, the secret of the Unique One.

11

رب الجمال تعالى الله خالقه
فمثله في جميع الخلق لم أجد 

O Lord of beauty! Exalted is Allah Who created him,
for such as him in all creation I have never seen.

12

خير الخلائق أعلى المرسلين ذرى
ذخر الأنام وهاديهم إلى الرشد 

The best of creatures, the apex of Messengers,
the treasure of humankind and their guide to integrity!

13*

به التجأت لعل الله يغفر لي
هذا الذي هو في ظني ومعتقدي 

In him I have taken refuge: perhaps Allah will forgive me.
This is what I count on and firmly believe.

14

فمدحه لم يزل دأبي مدى عمري
وحبه عند رب العرش مستندي

Therefore his tireless praise shall never cease to be my task
and love of him sustains me in the presence of the Lord of the Throne.

15

عليه أزكى صلاة لم تزل أبدا
مع السلام بلا حصر ولا عدد 

Upon him the purest of endless blessings without cease
together with greetings that cannot be stemmed nor counted

16

والآل والصحب أهل المجد قاطبة
وتابعيهم بإحسان إلى الأبد 

And upon his Family and Companions, a glorious folk all,
The ocean of forgiveness, the people of generosity and aid!

You can download it in PDF Format prepared by Taqwa.sg from this link  Qasseeda Tawassul PDF

Taybah, The Sweetest City on the Planet!

Ever since I returned from Madina Al Munawara two weeks ago , I’ve  tried to post on that sweet city. Despite plenty of pleasant memoirs and experiences, I feel really hard to express them! Madeena is a sensation and it triggers a great inflow of overwhelming emotions. What I can say simply now is that it is the sweetest of all the cities on the planet. I express my obligation to the great geniuses of the past who eternalized their evergreen expressions of prophetic love to be lip-synched by the less privileged lovers in the future.

Previously I have written in my post on Qaseedah Burdah of Imam Al Busiri: “Can we pen down a single line, worthier or dearer than those sacred lines, even if we spend all of our life span?? Never! O’ Imam Al Busiri!!, May Allah reward you with the best of rewards. May Allah join us with our Beloved Master. Ameen”

Here is one of the most famous songs on Madina recently presented by renowned Quran reciter and popular Kuwaiti Singer Mashary Al Afasy followed by Its lyrics and translation.

 

يـــا طيبـــــة O Tayba,
يا طيبة يا طيبة
يا دوا العيانا
اشتقنالك والهوى نادانا
والهوى نادانا
O Tayba, O Tayba,
O cure of the helpless
we missed you,
and the passion has called us
لما سار المركب نسانى
ساروا والدمع ما جفانى
أخذوا قلبى مع جنانى
يا طيبة ياتيم الولهانا
بااتيم الولهانا
As the ship departed, it forgot me
they sailed away and my tears never dried up
they took my heart and my soul with them
O Tayba, you’re love of the bewildered
you’re love of the bewildered
قبلتى بيت الله صابر
علنى يوما لك زائر
ياترى هل ترانى ناظر
للكعبة وتغمرنى بأمانا
تغمرنى بأمانا
My direction of prayer is the house of Allah,
I’m patient perhaps
a day will come to visit you
I wonder, Will I be looking upon Kaaba
and being overwhelmed with its safety..
نبينا أغلى أمنياتى
أزورك لو مرة بحياتى
وبجوارك صلى صلاتى
واذكر ربى واتلو القرآنا
واتلو القرآنا
Our prophet, the dearest of my ambitions
is to visit u,At least once in my life
and next to you, to perform my prayers
to praise my Lord, and to recite Qur’an
and to recite Qur’an
بشراك .. المدينة بشراك
بقدوم الهادي يا بشراك
فهل لى مأوى فى حماك
أتمنى .. فالنور سبانا
نوركم سبانا
O Madina, How lucky you are
for the coming of the Guiding Star
May I take a refuge in your shelter
I wish, the light has enchanted us
your light has enchanted us

Some extremists Like so called “Salafi” Mufti Obaid al Jabiri raised voice against this extremely popular song saying it is polytheistic to call O Tybah and to seek cure from it. In fact it is a reference for Love. Also they cannot digest the poet’s “dearest” ambition to visit the Prophet as well as  to pray and recite Quran beside His sacred tomb. All these stand against the so called Salafist ideology which is abandoned by the mainstream, the lion share of, Islamic scholars.

Welcome to the Spring of Soul

طلع البدر علينا من ثنيات الوداع  – وجب الشكر علينا ما دعا لله داع
أيها المبعوث فينا جئت بالأمر المطاع جئت شرفت المدينة مرحبا يا خير داع

With his charming touch famous singer Mr. Yusuf Islam renders these lines as below:
O’ the White Moon rose over us,
from the valley of Wada’
and we owe it to show gratefulness
where the call is to Allah.
O you who were raised amongst us
coming with a work to be obeyed
You have brought to this city nobleness
Welcome, best caller to God’s way

Title: Ta’ala al Badru Alayna ,Album: The Life of the Last Prophet ,Artist: Yusuf Islam

Since the outset of Rabeeu the Muslim world prepares to celebrate the birth of its beloved Messenger, The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Some ill-fated fellows have been deprived off the glory of this Season. But they are terribly few.  Compare the maps below to see the popularity and wide acceptance of the Celebration across the globe.

Click to see interactive map

It is noteworthy that many non-Islāmic countries like India and Philippines join with Islamic countries marking Meelad Day as Holiday. Other than some new central Asian republics of old USSR, the only visible exception on this map is kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar where, as in other secular countries celebrations are in full swing but without Governmental promotion. You can easily follow it with a simple search on internet. What happened in KSA after the bloody and violent invasion of Najdians in Hejaz is well-known. For centuries, Hejaz was in the forefront of celebration and in particular, the special event was held at the Prophet’s Birth Place on Meelad Day- See Mawlid at The Birth Place

It is a time to listen to and to speak of the marvellous personality of the holy Prophet as well as to renew the commitment to follow His way of life. A time to come closer to His great self and to His Lord, the Almighty Allah. Youngsters get introduced and elders get reminded of the humanity’s obligation towards its Saviour. We need to set up personal relationship with him and to be close to him all the time.
May Allah bless us with his sweetest and glorified companionship! Aameen

Heretics’ Tampering With Traditional Texts

Extinction of honesty counts one of the signs of the Last Day as The Holy Prophet (PBUH) precisely predicted. We can see all of His prophecies being realized and this is one of them. How sad to see people who are visibly pious and religious deceiving their followers and that is too in the name of Religion!?

Deviant sects are being caught tampering classic traditional books of great scholars because these texts reject their made-up ideologies. They have tried to destroy the history as their new innovations cannot stand up in the presence of those historical evidences. The worst example is that occurred in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia during Wahabi onslaught.

Recently I have been asked about Imam Nawawis (R) stand on constructing and maintaining structures upon the graves of prophets and saints. I went through his famous book Rawdha Talibeen through an e-library called Makthbah Shamilah which offers thousands of classic books and is widely used by students.  I was shocked to see the sentence has been tampered with. I went online to get the correct version, but to be shocked again to see it distorted. Praise to Almighty Allah as I continued my search until I found the exact text.

What is striking is the divine dignity of Imam Nawawi (R). Those deceivers could not erase the sentence altogether but left behind crystal clear traces to inform the reader of a mischievous deletion! Subhan Allah. See the links and compare with the image below:

  1. http://www.al-eman.com/Islamlib/viewchp.asp?BID=162&CID=62#s3
  2. http://islamport.com/d/2/shf/1/26/1782.html?zoom_highlightsub=%DE%C8%E6%D1+%C7%E1%CA%C8%D1%DF+%C8%E5%C7+%DD%D1%DA+%ED%CC%E6%D2+%E1%E6%D5%ED (2/339)

 But it was very upsetting and shocking for me to be convinced of the widening deception  and distortion in religious texts. My simple search yielded horrible results.  Many books of Imam Nawawi (R)  has been attacked including Al Adhkar where he asks to seek prophet’s intercession upon visiting His Rawdha in Madina . (See the image below that contains the confession from Wahabi scholars of altering and deleting Imam Nawawis (R) Texts!)

Click

Great works of other scholars’ like Bin Abideen Al Hanfi, Abu Hayyan Nahwi and Imam Allama Swavi(R) have also been played with. It is in additional to the misinterpretations, mistranslations and badly informed notes on hundreds of traditional religious texts.

It is interesting to know that these people have tampered with the texts of even Ibnu Thaimiyya when he comes against their extremist views; it is done in case they failed to keep them in the hideouts as they have done with some other books. His well-known fatwa of Mardin which is used by terrorists to kill innocent people is considered to be a tampered text otherwise a writing error. See http://www.mardin-fatwa.com
So I just want my friends to be well aware of this danger not to be fooled by those heretical fanatics. May Almighty Allah save us all!

Related  links:  1. Wikipedia 2. N.Keller 3.Maktoobblob

Terrorism and Dr. Zakir Naik

Dr. Zakir Naik has been quoted saying that secularism is a big threat to Islam. http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/general/secularism-a-threat-to-islam-naik-says-1.671819

The Real threat to Islam is, neither secularism nor Christianity but the preachers like Dr. Naik , who argues to “argue with people’ without knowing the basic principle of the religion. According to him, “if you know just one word” you can go for preaching Islam and no further qualification is needed and it is the order from the God!

Strangely enough he suggests as sole solution for Muslim unity is to go directly to Quran and ‘Hadith Saheeh’ which is the central argument of Islamic (sic) terrorists. For them the widely accepted four schools of thought (Madhab) and overwhelming majority of Islamic scholars who followed these schools are ‘on the wrong track’.

The very hadith he intended to cite for his argument says that the one who goes to heaven is the one who follows the ‘way of the  prophet and his companions’ (Ma Ana Alaihi wa Ashabee) Not the Holy Quran and Hadeeth Saheeh as he says! It is a factual mistake if not a deliberate misleading. What else we can expect from a speaker who stands on someone else’s PhDs in his organization.

The way to the unity is to follow the rich tradition of Islam. The Holy Quran and Sunnah need sound and profound scholarship to understand and interpret correctly. To reject the accepted interpretations and to go directly into them is the great danger of the modern times that gave birth to Muslim terrorists in the contemporary world.

It is so shocking to hear him saying “I said that a terrorist is a person who causes terror. Whenever a criminal sees a policeman he is terrified. So for the criminal a policeman is a terrorist. In this context, every Muslim should be a terrorist to the anti-Muslim racist,”

It is wild logic. It is not Islamic at all and goes straightly against the teaching of the holy prophet – ‘Mercy to All Worlds’ as described by the Holy Quran – who was always appealing and never appalling. None should be terrified to see a Muslim. But everyone should be captivated and attracted by his noble character. Islam has spread across the world by sublime qualities of its followers , neither by hateful words nor by dreadful swords.

“YOU & I-To my `Fundamentalist’ Friends

Wonderful contrast between  traditional Sufis  and Muslim extremists
– A  poetic perception.

You want to speak of War
I want to speak of Peace.

You say Punish
I say Forgive

You speak of God’s Wrath
I speak of His Mercy

Your Quran is a Weapon
My Quran is a Gift

You speak of the Muslim brotherhood
I speak of the brotherhood of Man

You like to Warn others
I like to Welcome them

You like to speak of Hell
I like to speak of Heaven.

You talk of Lamentation
I talk of Celebration.

You worship the Law
I worship the Divine.

You want Silence
I want Music*

You want Death
I want Life

You speak of Power
I speak of Love.

You search out Evil
I warm to the Good

You dream of the Sword
I sing of the Rose petal

You say the world is a Desert
I say the world is a Garden

You prefer the Plain
I prefer the Adorned

You want to Destroy
I want to Build

You want to go Back
I want to move Forward

You are busy Denying
I am busy Affirming

Yet there might be one thing
on which we see eye to eye

You want Justice
So do I.

Mahmood Jamal

* See this Comment

Suicide and Bombing – Two Heinous Crimes in Islam

Today we read the sad story of explosions in Russia. This carnage has been already linked to the “terrorist groups related to the North Caucasus” which includes the troubled nation of Chechnya. Muslims are once again on defense. BBC today published another story on preventing extremism with photo of a prostrating Muslim! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8593862.stm

Here we need to reiterate our position. It has nothing to do with our great religion Islam which advocates but Peace. Suicide is a serious crime and bombing against innocent civilians is another much more condemnable one. None of these justifies  the other at all.

I feel it is quite timely to read again what Sayyid Habeeb Ali Jifri told to Washington Post in its interview. The Question was:

What is Jihad? Under what circumstances does Islam sanction the use of violence? What would you tell would be suicide bombers who would invoke Islam to justify their actions?

“….The Islamic tradition forbids suicide; it forbids any form of harm to innocent people. The Islamic tradition advocates the rule of law in the strongest terms…..”

Read More

Published in: on March 30, 2010 at 7:47 am  Comments (2)  
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Islam is Peace and Ease

I felt quite interesting to read these lines and hope the same to you too! 

Islam is peace, Islam is ease,
Islam’s not danger or disease.
Islam is love and prosperity.
Islam’s not hatred or adversity 

Islam is salvation through repentance.
Islam has love for all in abundance.
Islam means no harm or affliction.
Islam implores you with affection. 

Islam is neither maze nor craze.
Islam is giving Allah all praise.
Islam is acing through the race.
Islam will be on everyone’s face. 

Islam is worshipping only the Creator.
Islam’s following the Great Messenger
Islam gives you power when you surrender.
Islam’s not a terrorist or a pretender. 

Islam is winning hearts through honesty
Islam is giving openly in charity
Islam makes you wholesome and trustworthy
Islam is in wealth as well as in poverty. 

Islam is your shield against all evil.
Islam is for your soul’s retrieval.
Islam not fundamentalism or fanaticism.
Islam’s not nationalism or racism. 

Islam is patience and perseverance.
Islam eases your vengeance through tolerance.
Islam is life for all eternity.
Islam gives you respect, moreover dignity. 

wake up, people, Islam is here.
Islam is here, so have no fear.
courtesy : newera@ikenya.com

Published in: on March 14, 2010 at 8:24 am  Comments (25)  
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Islam Vs Terrorism

According to BBC News Today, one of the the influential Sufi scholars of UK  Dr Tahir ul-Qadri  has issued a global ruling against terrorism and suicide bombing. It a 600-page judgement, known as a fatwa, completely dismantles al-Qaeda’s violent ideology.”  See the full report below:

Islamic scholar Tahir ul-Qadri to issue terrorism fatwa

 

By Dominic Casciani – BBC News
The dome of a mosque in the UK
Hearts and minds: Communities divided over how to tackle extremists

 An influential Muslim scholar is to issue in London a global ruling against terrorism and suicide bombing. 

Dr Tahir ul-Qadri, from Pakistan, says his 600-page judgement, known as a fatwa, completely dismantles al-Qaeda’s violent ideology. 

The scholar describes al-Qaeda as an “old evil with a new name” which has not been sufficiently challenged. 

The scholar’s movement is growing in the UK and has attracted the interest of policymakers and security chiefs. 

In his religious ruling, Dr Qadri says that Islam forbids the massacre of innocent citizens and suicide bombings. 

Although many scholars have made similar rulings in the past, Dr Qadri’s followers argue that the massive document being launched in London goes much further. 


Extremist groups based in Britain recruit the youth by brainwashing them that they will be rewarded in the next life

 

Shahid Mursaleen

They say it sets out point-by-point theological arguments against the rhetoric used by al-Qaeda inspired recruiters. 

The fatwa also challenges the religious motivations of would-be suicide bombers who are inspired by promises of an afterlife. 

The populist scholar developed his document last year as a response to the increase in bombings across Pakistan by militants. 

The basic text has been extended to 600 pages to cover global issues, in an attempt to get its theological arguments taken up by Muslims in western nations. It will be promoted in the UK by Dr Qadri’s organisation, Minhaj ul-Quran International. 

Shahid Mursaleen, spokesman for Minhaj-ul-Quran in the UK, said the fatwa was hard-hitting. 

“This fatwa injects doubt into the minds of potential suicide bombers,” he said. 

“Extremist groups based in Britain recruit the youth by brainwashing them that they will ‘with certainty’ be rewarded in the next life. 

“Dr Qadri’s fatwa has removed this key intellectual factor from their minds.” 

Religious rulings 

The document is not the first to condemn terrorism and suicide bombing to be launched in the UK. 

MINHAJ UL-QURAN
Islamic organisation from the Sufi tradition
Active in 70 countries
5,000 members in UK

 

Scholars from across the UK came together in the wake of the 7 July London attacks to denounce the bombers and urge communities to root out extremists. 

But some scholarly rulings in the Middle East have argued that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is an exceptional situation where “martyrdom” attacks can be justified. 

Although Dr Qadri has a large following in Pakistan, Minhaj ul-Quran International remained largely unknown in the UK until relatively recently. 

It now has 10 mosques in the British cities with significant Muslim communities and says it is targeting younger generations it believes have been let down by traditional leaders. 

The organisation is attracting the attention of policymakers and security chiefs who are continuing to look for allies in the fight against extremists. 

The Department for Communities, which runs most of the government’s “Preventing Violent Extremism” strategy, has tried building bridges with a variety of liberal-minded groups, but often found that they have limited actual influence at the grassroots.