by Ahmed Kouta – President, Leeds University Union Islamic Society

“Dear Muslim,

Dear Muslim who’s identity has been victimised;

Dear Muslim who’s hesitant to practice, afraid to pray, scared to dress a certain way;

Dear Muslim who’s cool because of Mo Salah, but not cool when performing Salah;

Dear Muslim who’s… just a Muslim;

Dear Muslim, I have a message.

Identity is what makes us who we are; it’s what gives us power, purpose and belonging. Today, the Muslim identity has been challenged: challenged by hatred, challenged by fear, challenged by misunderstanding.

The Prophet ﷺ said

“There shall come upon the people a time in which the one who is patient upon his religion will be like the one holding onto a burning coal”. [Tirmidhi]

That time might not have come upon us, but it may certainly feel like so.

So, at a time where you feel vulnerable, I wanted to remind you that you belong to a colony. The example of the Muslim community is like that of a colony of bees. The bees represent the Muslims, the honeycomb represents a structure; a structure that integrates our brotherhood and sisterhood, our principles, our religion, in one continuous lattice, unbroken, undivided. And that, that represents our unity.

Now, we are all brothers and sisters right? Or are we? Are we more than a handshake, more than a hug, more than “How’s work, how’s the family, how’s uni”? Let’s work on being kinder, more sincere and more acceptant of each other in order to strengthen the bonds of unity that make the Muslim community so tight-knit.

The media has eluded to the fact that the Muslim committee has opened its doors, but the reality is these doors have always been open, for me, for you, for everyone, but the media had dimmed the lights that lit these entrances.

So, if you ever felt that you didn’t belong in the Islamic society, that you don’t ‘fit in’, or that you’re out of place, know that your place has always been there. There is a unique cell for every Muslim in our hive, no exceptions, no expectations.

And just like the bees wear their distinct colours so brightly, even though they are suppressed by the influences of toxins and environmental change, wear you Islam proudly in the face of hate, suppression and oppression.

The name ‘Islamic Society’ doesn’t give justice to what an ISoc represents. It is not a society, but rather it is the presence of an inclusive community, with permanently unlocked doors, a protective honeycomb, a homely hive and a communal colony.

And so my dear Muslim,

My dear Muslim who’s identity has been victimised;

My dear Muslim who’s hesitant to practice, afraid to pray, scared to dress a certain way;

My dear Muslim who’s cool because of Mo Salah, but not cool when he does Salah;

My dear Muslim who’s just a Muslim;

My dear Muslim, welcome!”

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The Islamic Society at Leeds University is a platform for students to gather, organise and participate in social, cultural and educational activities as well as providing a united voice in expressing views and aspirations of the Muslim student community of the University. The primary aim of the Islamic Society is to create an atmosphere at the university where Muslim students can feel comfortable.

The Islamic Society like any other organisation, is a reflection of its Membership – it is run by students for students. The Islamic Society is not there just for the select few students who want to get involved, but all Muslim students regardless of whether they are members. We make an effort to make sure our events and activities cater to all Muslims.

We welcome everyone from different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs – You don’t have to be Muslim to join OR come to any of our events.

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