Friday, December 1

Global Peace and Unity

Last weekend was the second spectacularly annual Global Peace and Unity event. People came from far and wide (well, Hounslow anyway) and everyone who was anyone went. Except for me - I was too busy doing other things.

It didn't take long before someone told me how great it was, what I had missed and how it was my Islamic duty to support such events (the corollary being that anyone who didn't wasn't a good Muslim). Of course, that last bit was like waving a red rag to a bull (but I suspect my friend knew exactly what he was doing).

Don't get me wrong. I do think that the GPU event is a good thing. It sometimes gets criticised for being disorganised, or not providing what people actually want, but for something that's been going on for just two years it's pretty darn impressive. From what I've seen there's enough for even the least interested to have a passing look at, and even for someone of another or no faith it could be a nice day out. So yes, it's officially A Good Thing in my eyes, and long may it prosper.

But I still didn't want to go. And so, more importantly, I shouldn't be forced to go.

I've written before how broad Islam is, and therefore anything described as "Islamic" may not actually be that to all Muslims. And even if it was, Muslims shouldn't be expected to support everything and anything described as such. It's why we're not all members of the MCB or MPAC or FOSIS even though we may agree with what they say. In fact, to think that we should all Muslims should homogeneously act the same smacks of the particular Governmental policy or media opinion some of us take issue with.

Apart from this identity issue, there's something unsettling for me about overtly Islamic entertainment of this type. I don't need to celebrate my faith just like I don't need to celebrate the fact that I'm a man or that I develop software. Sport, music, videogames and television all don't have to have been "islamicised" to be more acceptable for a Muslim audience, so why do family days out?

And apparently it's spiritually beneficial to attend these things. However, in my opinion, £15 to charity and two days worth of private prayer/study will provide much more benefit than GPU ever will. Of course events like these are more accessible, easier to take part in and possibly even more fashionable than other traditional things. I'm sure that more than a few feel that they've done their duty after watching a nasheed concert - it's almost similar to offsetting Home And Away with an hour of Islam channel each day. At best it almost smells of over-compensation and at worst for many it's an easy-to-swallow McIslam.

And don't get me started on nasheeds. I really don't like them and they give me the creeps. I don't think it's my duty as a Muslim to like them either. And so I probably won't leave my house to listen to them. Oasis, on the other hand, I would (they rocked at Wembley in 2000, by the way).

Ok, I'm ranting now. And this isn't really about GPU, it's about being preached to. But this post is already five paragraphs too long, and so I'll leave that particular gem for another time. For now, spare encouraging me to go to GPU. I honestly, truly, have better things to do, thanks. But hey: if you feel the need to spend a weekend listening to nasheed concerts and eating halal hot dogs then please, do go nuts. I certainly don't think it's my place to stop you.