On Sunday 22 June the streets around Beeston (LS11) were once again full of colourful flags, vibrancy and a joyful atmosphere as locals and people from around the UK came together to celebrate the Peaceful teachings of Holy Prophet of Islam (Peace Be Upon Him).
As the procession made its way from Tempest Road to John Charles Sports (JCS) centre, local residents, whether on foot or in cars, lined the streets to witness the parade and encouraged the procession with their cheers. The event once again brought together peoples of all faith and no faith and was a practical demonstration of the true message of Islam – peace, love and solidarity.
Once the procession reached JCS, afternoon prayers were read in congregation, discourse and rest of the programme got underway.
Abu Bakr, who travelled from Gateshead Newcastle, played a pivotal role as the Master of Ceremony (MC).
After his introductory remarks Reverend Lindsey Pearson, the Vicar of Beeston, offered her own thoughts on the procession.
She was thrilled to have taken part in the procession and in her remarks highlighted that “it is good to walk together, as when we walk together, we see things through the eyes of others, which brings people together.”
Reverend Pearson acknowledged that there will have been people in her own Christian community and those who profess to represent the Muslim community who did not want her to be there but she said that:
“There is a lot more that unites us all and we must continue to work together to reach out to each other, regardless of the narrow views of the few on all sides.”
It was a very humbling speech and was appreciated and recognised by those in attendance.
That point was more so evident when people from all walks of life sat down together on the floor to enjoy the food that had been prepared by Madina Catering.
Afterwards, Chief Superintendent Paul Money from West Yorkshire Police addressed the congregation. He set out the vision and said “policing has seen massive changes over the last 12 months in Leeds” but the ambition remains the same –
“to keep all communities’ safe and feelings of being safe. We all want the same thing; we all want to forge ever stronger communities.”
The Chief Superintendent said that the elements that make communities even stronger are comprised of four practices. He said “four things we all; Police, Faith Groups, Communities and our partners must aspire to do” which will make our communities stronger. These are:
- Common purpose vision and belonging;
- One where diversity is valued positively and no one community is viewed with suspicion, hatred or mis-trust;
- Where everyone from all communities has the same or very similar opportunities; and
- Where people from all communities are developing stronger and stronger relationships.
For these reasons the Chief Superintendent was pleased that he and his officers were part of the procession and that he had the opportunity to directly address the congregation at the JCS Centre.
The rest of the programme then heard from a number of speakers whose messages were directed primarily at the Muslim community and especially young Muslims.
Given recent events of how young people are being given disinformation about Islam which leads to them turning to extremist ideology, the speakers highlighted the importance of friendship that was based on the ways of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).
The Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) always emphasised the importance of the rights of others and how Muslims must recognise their roles and responsibilities in civic society to ensure the message of peace and love is propagated.
The Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) always highlighted how having good company allows one to become a better person and away from those who seek to spread disunity and create hatred amongst people.
The speakers emphasised how young people in particular must embrace the ways of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), learn about the true messages of Islam and reject the ideology of hatred and disunity that is being spread by extremists on all sides.
Abu Bakr, the MC, gave a very beautiful account of the friendship that existed between the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and Abu Bakr as Siddiq (God Be Pleased With Him), the first leaders of the Muslims after the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), which was based on trust, truth and the principles of Islam. It was a very poignant reminder for all and very inspiring.
One of the Directors of Aspiring Communities, Mr Zeb Ahmed said that he was really pleased how the whole event was managed.
He stated: “behind the scenes a lot of hard work and commitment had gone into the planning and successful implementation by the Aspiring Communities and its partner organisation N.A.Y.A.”
He paid tribute to the many volunteers from all the teams for their hard work and said that “without our partners, sponsors, local volunteers and their hard work it would have been a real challenge to deliver such a successful event where many things have to be considered.”
He also thanked the police, community officers and the local council and the staff at JCS for their continued support.
Naz and Ash, Aspiring Communities Directors for Community Engagement said that acting on the feedback from last year; we made a lot of changes to how the event was delivered this year. We improved our traffic management and security plan to ensure a safe & pleasant environment for all to enjoy. Changes were also made at the JSC to ensure the event passed without incident.
Naz highlighted that as one successful event has ended, it doesn’t mean we can now sit back and wait till next year.
“On the contrary, we are now approaching the summer holidays and in a month’s time schools will be out and we want to ensure kids have something to do.
Aspiring Communities is already working with a number of other local organisations to ensure we have other events in Leeds during the summer period where people can come together and enjoy family days out and have some fun in the process.”
He highlighted that the aim is to attract people from all walks of life and “we will shortly announce the programme of events of the Aspiring Communities website, so keep an eye out for that.”
This article was written by Naz Maroof using the Create an article for South Leeds Life page.