Remembrance Day: Will Muslims go to hell for wearing poppies?

Published: November 9, 2013
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To share grief within a community only makes it stronger. British Muslims should wear the poppy to show their respect to the fallen soldiers of World War I and II. PHOTO: REUTERS

“Muslims who sell poppies today will burn in hellfire tomorrow.”

These were the words of the radical British religious fundamentalist Anjem Choudary, as news was out regarding the ever increasing British Muslim support for Remembrance Day.

Statistics show that over a million Muslims residing in Britain will be sporting a poppy on Sunday, honouring the departed soldiers during the two World Wars, who fought for the crown.

Now here is the dilemma: Should the Pakistani British community participate in this remembrance or not?

Especially in times like these when Pakistan’s relations with the Western world are tainted to a great extent. We accuse their media of wrongly exploiting us, blame their leaders for not cooperating with us and believe strongly that this modern era is nothing but a war against the Western superpowers and the Islamic world.

So why should we wear these poppies in the memory of the fallen war men who fought for the enemy?

We claim to be devout Muslims and patriotic Pakistanis, but at the end of the day, we are all God’s creation; human beings. Has religious intolerance surpassed all laws of humanity? Is our sympathy and respect only applicable to Muslim deaths from now on?

This is utter nonsense.

We blame the West for casually supporting the American drone attacks but what difference is there between us and them if we refuse to recognise the loss of their people? It’s like the value of life has been divided into certain sects, out of which only a few are to be paid heed.

Another misconception in the masses is that Armistice Day is only for fallen white soldiers. Countless soldiers from the subcontinent too, participated in both world wars. However, I shall refrain from segregating the early 1900s British army, for that would contradict my statement of equality.

The main point that should not be forgotten is that these armies were fighting against a much crueller regime; the Nazis. Had they not sacrificed their lives for the bigger picture, we would probably be living in a world full of hatred right now, where only the perfect (Aryan) race would succeed.

If we are to bring in change, peace and tolerance are the way to go.

Yes, we should rue the drone attacks and bombings, and even protest against them, but that does not mean we must close our eyes when other communities are participating in such solemn activities.

The Pakistani community in the UK is a massive one and all its members are in fact representing their nation abroad, whether they like it or not.

Does it really make sense to spread hate by refusing to wear a poppy?

Is that how we want to make ourselves heard? We complain about racism all the time and blame the West for having a superiority complex. How is it any different if we refuse to commemorate war heroes because we are Muslims and not white?

Fighting fire with fire will only increase the tension, resulting in an even more hostile relationship between the two communities. And if we do boycott poppies, we should not expect others to like us. We will be depicting an image of an indifferent community that only cares about itself, always stuck in its own shell, complaining.

Buddha is quoted to have said,

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burnt.”

It is important for us to ponder upon Buddha’s words, and start acting in the right direction rather than continuing our banter about how the world is against us and is unfair.

It makes me very proud indeed to know that such a large number of Muslims in the UK share my point of view and will be coming out on Sunday, wearing their poppies.

To share grief within a community only makes it stronger. In my opinion, the parameters to condole death should not be those of religion, region or colour of skin, but simply those of good and bad. There is no crime in remembering the fallen, who fought for the right cause.

Erase the hate and help bring about a positive change by forming a strong global community.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

Go get your poppies!

behram.qazi

Behram Qazi

The author is a Management Engineering graduate from the University of Waterloo. Patriotic Pakistani, devoted sports fanatic and part-time sports analyst on PTV World. He tweets as @Behram22 (twitter.com/Behram22)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.