My name is Abid Quereshi. I am a Canadian British 46-year-old Muslim of South Asian origin. I am husband and father of 3. I have been living in London for 18 years, working as a software developer and consultant.
I’m raising awareness for the plight of the Uyghurs because I am forever in love with the Prophet Muhammad -peace be upon him - and shaken to my core about the concern he had for us, his Ummah. From a young age my parents taught me that all Muslims are brothers and sisters. I feel privileged to be part of such a diverse global community. I have visited and worked in over 30 countries and in every country, I have been greeted with As-salaamu Alaykum – Peace be unto you. I am amazed that such a large and diverse community can still be bound together by two things: accountability to our Creator and by our mutual love for the Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him.
It is this accountability and love that drives us to take action. You, the Uyghurs are an important part of our global cultural mosaic and history. Your ancestors were at the cross-roads between east and west. You are the original Turks, and your land was the hub of the silk road where not only goods were exchanged but ideas, culture and religion. It is under these conditions of tolerance and diversity that Islam thrived for over a thousand years.
Now a ruthless and unrelenting regime is trying to rub out that part of our Islamic mosaic. I have had a chance to meet my Uyghur brothers and sisters in London. There are so few of you here in the UK, so I feel very fortunate to have met some of you and hear your stories first hand. My daughter is studying World War 2 now in preparation for her GCSE exams along with thousands of other students across the UK. She prepared and presented a speech in her school about the Uyghurs. People were surprised by the parallels of what happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany 80 years ago and what is happening today. They say that those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. I will add that we who study history are doomed to repeat it if we don’t open our eyes and realise that the same atrocities of 1939 are happening right now.
We often think that we have no power to do anything.
That is true. All power and strengths lie with Allah our Creator. He elevates and debases whomever His wills, and He tests those whom He loves. He only wants us to make dua and struggle in his cause. We know from the teachings of our beloved Prophet Muhammad that speaking the truth to tyrant is an act of struggle for His cause. We were also taught by our Prophet that if we can’t change something with our actions then we should try to change it with our words. If we can’t change it with our words, then should hate it in our hearts. At the very least we can make dua. In the past two decades we have seen several mighty regimes fail and fall by the will of Allah. Who knows whose prayer was answered, causing their reign to come to an end. It is my hope that more Muslims become aware of the Uyghur and include them by name in their daily dua.
We all have the ability to do something. Clearly, there are many problems I the world that we are not responsible for -but we can take responsibility by choosing to respond. In exercising our ability to respond, by the will of Allah, we become more empowered. When I talk about the Uyghurs, I often hear people blaming a lack of leadership. If you want to be a leader - then lead!
I started taking part in amateur sports events, like triathlons, distance running, cycling and swimming marathons to raise funds charities. Through these events, I have come to learn of many struggles and personal missions. I am touched by what people go through to raise awareness and money for more causes than I can keep track of. Being more aware of the human condition, I have also become more grateful for my own health and circumstances. I want to make good use of my health, time and freedom while I have it. These events are a great place to get the conversation going within the general public about the Uyghurs.
For this reason, I will be entering myself in every running, swimming and cycling event my body can handle for as long as I can to help raise funds for the Uyghur school in London. I hope others will join me.
For now, I can just about run a half-Marathon (21 km) and do a 5 km Swim. Insha Allah, my next even will be the “London Challenge” on August 6th. It is an Olympic Triathlon involving 1.5 km swim in the Thames, 40 km cycle across London and then a 10 km Run. God willing, I will gradually move up to 25 km runs, 90 km cycling and 10 km swims.
Eventually I hope to do 15 km swims and full running marathons of 42 km and then the half and full “Iron-Man” events. A full Iron-Man race involves a full marathon (42 km), 180 km cycle and 4 km swim all in one day. I will never really know what I am capable of unless I try. One thing I learned from my last 5 km swim is that sometimes you just have to stick with something and be patient. It might seem like the struggle will never end but if you put your trust in Allah – you can only get better. Even if I don’t finish the race, if I do it for the right reason, I can’t lose. The least we can do is make dua. The freedom to make dua and be heard by our Creator is the greatest blessing.
May Allah preserve the Uyghur and turn their oppressors in to their helpers. And this is not difficult for Allah, Lord of all the Worlds. May Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad and help us to see what he saw.