Wednesday, August 12, 2009 By Maryam
More than 1,000 young Muslims attend 3-day retreat
Tahirul Qadri says saving the younger generation from radicalisation his duty
Scholar seeks to combat extremism with spirituality
COVENTRY: Like any rousing Islamic preacher, Muhammed Tahirul Qadri's voice rises to a shout and his index finger jabs as he hammers home a point.
But rather than angry calls for jihad (holy war) or a vitriolic denunciation of the West and its aggressions against Islam, Qadri's message, equally forcefully delivered, is about moderation, peace, inclusion and understanding.
Addressing a packed auditorium from a raised platform, his words beamed onto large screen behind him, more than 1,000 young followers hang on his every word, even as his lecture moves into its fourth uninterrupted hour.
"Islam is not a religion of seclusion, it is not a religion of detachment," he thunders from the dais, occasionally pausing to wipe the sweat from his brow or adjust his spectacles. "Any killer of a non-Muslim citizen, he will go to hell. Those who are committing terroristic acts from Pakistan and Afghanistan and claiming it is jihad – they do not know what jihad is. It is forbidden," he hollers, to shouts of approval from his listeners.
Qadri is a renowned scholar of Sufism, a long tradition within Islam that focuses on spirituality, emphasising peace and moderation. The author of more than 400 books on Islamic scholarship and law, Qadri travels the world delivering sermons to Sufis, while his organisation, called Minhajul Quran, has spread to 80 countries, from Greece to Fiji, since its founding in 1981.