Ride for peace: promoting understanding of Islam

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​Muslim charity can't put a price tag on goodwill despite raising £100,000

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10th June 2014 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

They rode the 600-miles from Glasgow to London and raised over £100,000, but it was one small random act of kindness from a borders café owner which best captured the spirit of the Ahmadi Cycling Club’s recent feat. 

The 25 cyclists, all members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK (AMC), wanted to raise money by cycling south while also promoting the community’s message of peace. Their aim was to help tackle negative stereotypes of Islam which they feel are too common across the UK.

Evidence their work is having an effect came before they even left Scotland when near disaster was averted by two strangers. 

“When we were in the heart of the Scottish Borders, without a signal for 40 miles, one of the cyclists took a wrong turn,” said Dr Hammad Khan.

“He found himself in a village with no money or signal and unable to reach the main group.

“It took several hours to find the cyclist. As you can imagine, it was a very worrying situation for us.”

Scotland’s spectacular scenery was only matched by the warmth and kindness of its amazing people

When the team found him, however, he was warm and well. A local couple had invited him into their cafe, fed him for free and stayed with him after they closed the shop and until he was picked up.

“Scotland’s spectacular scenery was only matched by the warmth and kindness of its amazing people,” said Dr Khan.

The cycle is one of a number of fundraisers carried out by the community in the past month. The events, run to mark the organisation’s centenary, have seen it raise close to half a million pounds for good causes.

The charities benefitting from the cycle, the British Heart Foundation and Humanity First, were chosen because of their work with people regardless of race or religion – symbolic of what Islam is about, said Scottish organiser Ahmed Wusu-Konadu.

He said public understanding of Islam has been challenged by press coverage of atrocities including the murder of soldier Lee Rigby, Nigeria’s Boko Haram and the ongoing outrage over ‘honour killing’ in Pakistan.

Mr Wusu-Konadu said: “We understand some so called Muslims have highjacked Islam for their own personal gain.

“But we are Muslims too and we know the true meaning that is in the holy Quran and it is not what they are doing.

“The true Islam stands for peace.

“Part of our faith is to serve humanity, the needy and the poor, and give service to our nation.

“As proud British Muslims we felt it would be a good idea to do something for charity to show this, to bring out the true image of Islam and let people know we also stand against the atrocities.”

The riders pedalled from Glasgow’s Bait-ul-Rehman mosque, following a dinner attended by the local dignitaries and members of the public, to the biggest mosque in western Europe, Baitul Futuh mosque in London.

Part of our faith is to serve humanity, the needy and the poor, and give service to our nation

Along the way, the group, made up of amateur cyclists from across the UK, visited 13 mosques where they were met by faith and civic leaders, sports enthusiasts and members of the public.

On arriving in London, they were accompanied by 200 cyclists and a number of London Metropolitan Police officers.

Rafiq Hayat, national president of the AMC UK, added: “Our ride for peace took us through the length of Britain and reflected our commitment to serving this country and humanity through our devotion to peace, loyalty, charity and tolerance.

“In pushing themselves to the very limit for charity, the cyclists showed that the majority of Muslims in the UK cannot be defined by the actions of a minority of extremists.”

A final figure for the total amount raised through donations to the riders has yet to be confirmed but it is expected to top £100,000.

Paul Charge, community fundraising manager for the British Heart Foundation, said his organisation was delighted to be chosen as one of the beneficiaries of the ride.

He added: “Our heartfelt thanks to the Ahmadiyya Cycling Club members for getting in the saddle to help save lives.”

To donate, simply go to the website ride4peace.org.

About the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
London is the worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the larger of two communities that arose from the Ahmadiyya movement founded in 1889 in India, and is known globally for its commitment to peace by helping and engaging with others. Launching in 1913 the community for the past 100 years has gone from strength to strength with over 30 Mosques and mission houses now established in the UK and more than 40,000 members. The Ride4Peace cycle is similar to a ride the held in 1989 from Bradford to London to mark 100 years of the Ahmadiyya movement.