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Imam warns against compromise on standards

Imam Shadeed Muhammad: message on standards (Photograph supplied)

One Love Bermuda Ummah of the Islamic community hosted guest speaker Imam Shadeed Muhammad.

His lectures, held at their Masjid Muhammad Open House from Thursday, June 6 through Saturday, June 8, profoundly impacted the community.

On behalf of One Love Bermuda Ummah, Ishmael Steede and his wife, Ameenah Steede, shared the inspiration behind inviting Imam Shadeed.

“One Love Bermuda Ummah brought Imam Shadeed Muhammad to Bermuda in January 2019 and then again in December 2019,” Mr and Mrs Steede said. “He came highly recommended as someone who can relate to the Muslim experience, especially the youth.

“Imam Shadeed has knowledge and expertise in addressing social ills from an Islamic perspective. After meeting Imam Shadeed in person, Ishmael Steede connected with him because they shared similar life experiences, and he believed the Imam would be a perfect fit for Bermuda to address the social ills such as gang violence.

“As an educator, he brings a wealth of Islamic knowledge and experience in counselling; we are blessed to have him. Lastly, Imam Muhammad was brought back to Bermuda to enhance the progress that has already been made in Somerset with the youth by Imam Saleem Talbot of the Bermuda Islamic Cultural Centre. The aim is to have Imam Shadeed return to train the youth in Islamic knowledge.”

Imam Shadeed Muhammad is the religious leader of the Rawdah Islamic Centre of Delaware community. He travels through the states and internationally to share messages to other communities of his faith, focusing on the youth and solutions for social ills.

When speaking about why Imam Shadeed was willing to come and contribute to the solutions in Bermuda, he said: “I’m not that old, and I’m not that young. I think my age bracket or demographic puts me right in the middle, a unique place because I can appeal to the elders within my age bracket and older, and then I can appeal to the younger generation because I am not too far removed from that.

“In addition, the fact I have teenage, young adult sons keeps me in the loop of what’s happening. By raising them and being around them, I am constantly exposed to what the youth are exposed to.

“This message is an extension of my parenting. It puts me in a unique place to appeal to and hear young people.

“I’m not so radical in my preaching and teaching that I don’t understand what the youth need, what they are demanding, and what they are requesting.

“And what they are requesting is inclusion. They want to be a part of something, they want to be involved, and they want to be able to take the energy that they have and use it positively.

“Still, if we don’t provide them with positive outlets, they will take that energy and use it negatively. And we are seeing that here in Bermuda.

“Bermudians, from my limited knowledge and interaction with the Bermudian people, are not violent people; they’re some of the most well-mannered people I have come in contact with in my experience.

“So then you have to ask yourself where did we go wrong that the youth are now finding like-minded youth that is doing things, committing criminal acts, acts of violence against others. You have to say what triggered this behaviour, where this is coming from, and a lot of it has to do with them not having a positive outlet whereby they can utilise that energy.”

Over the three-day event, the titled lecture “Man in the Mirror” was explored, as well as Islam’s uncompromising belief that “God is the greatest and comes before everything and everyone.

Contributing to one of the main messages taken from his series, Imam Shadeed said: “The message was about drawing parallels and setting boundaries and standards. Bermuda, here you have a standard; why are we compromising that standard?

“You have a standard in the church; you have a standard in the mosque; why are we compromising our standards?

“And the compromise comes in because of political correctness, not afraid of what we call in America being ‘cancelled’. So if you tell someone no, it goes against the norms of political correctness, and therefore, you are going to be isolated and shamed, blamed, and condemned, so everybody conforms.

“Even though we all know it’s wrong, we conform. I think that was the main message that resonated with everyone, and that is the standards that used to be the standard of Bermudian society that we have compromised.

“The compromise starts subtly and slowly, and you don’t realise until you’ve gone so far and turned around and looked. You say, ‘How did we end up here?’ Bermuda didn’t used to be like this.”

When asked what message of inspiration he would give to the youth in Bermuda, Imam Shadeed said: “For Bermuda’s youth, no different than our youth in America, and that is to continue to utilise your energy in ways that will create positive change, in ways that will contribute to positive change in your environment, because change will always come from the youth.

“The elders are very settled in where they are; they worked hard, purchased a house and car, and were content.

“However, the youth use their energy to foster positive change in their environment. That is an uphill battle, but you have the energy and the time to do it.”

Speaking with Mr and Mrs Steede on their hopes for future events like this, they said: “The Bermuda Hijab Dawah Team organised its second annual Open House at Masjid Muhammad Hamilton.

“This year was better organised, and the attendance was better. This year, we expanded it by adding a kids' corner and vendors to enhance our guests’ experience and a Hijab table for our female guests to see what it feels like to don the Islamic head covering.

“We aim to educate and bring awareness about Islam from Dockyard to St George’s. We also hope to have an open-air Islamic expo at some point.”

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Published June 22, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated June 24, 2024 at 8:08 am)

Imam warns against compromise on standards

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