On the 18th of January, on a cold Sunday in London, over 20 individuals gathered at Oxford Circus to give red roses to pedestrians walking by, hoping to lift their spirits with a smile and wise words.
The beautiful and fragrant roses were tagged with quotes from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The initiative, which has now become global, has been replicated in over 12 cities across North America and Europe for the past two years. Islamic Unity Society (IUS) and Love Muhammad have collaborated in this initiative to celebrate Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) birth in the true spirit of Islam, by spreading peace and love, especially in light of recent tragic events occurring around the world.
“The message is simple,” says Muhammad Araghi, an executive committee member of the Love Muhammad campaign, “What we are saying today is, we are not Charlie, we are Muhammad. We condemn any murder which takes place all around the world, we are aware that any insult towards any religious sanctity is uncalled for, and has nothing to do with free speech. Yet we stand here today with the true message of the Prophet (PBUH) by gifting roses to pedestrians.”[pullquote]“This movement is beautiful and has come in the best time, as you Muslims are representing the true beauty and peace of Islam. Thank you” exclaimed a pedestrian.[/pullquote]The volunteers spread around Oxford Circus handing out the red roses to the old and young, from diverse cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds. “I am Hungarian, from my country we don’t really get concerned with these problems like Charlie Hebdo in France, but I am aware, and [being gifted a rose] is a very warm feeling, and it is a symbol of sharing, because we have to share everything in this world, we are all one race.” Many volunteers joined the rose event, as our society today has become increasingly devoid of patience for others’ belief systems, cultures, and ideologies; opinions are getting formed without complete knowledge and understanding, which has effected many Muslims in the West. Hence, the spread of this initiative has become significant for Muslims, and we witnessed a change with more then one pedestrian. Many were surprised to see Muslims gifting roses in the heart of London; “When I first saw you in Islamic dress with roses I was worried, however when I saw your smile and you took the time to explain why you’re sharing these roses, I felt really warm and noticed the beauty of your religion” a pedestrian from Leicester expressed.
As peace-loving people, the recent stream of hateful Islamophobia has, unfortunately, become a regular part of today’s media, which naturally upsets Muslims worldwide. A pedestrian said that unfortunately, when he “sees the name of Prophet Muhammad” it has a “negative connotation”, which is disappointing as the media and an extreme group have shaped the wrong understanding of the Islamic religion. Hence two years ago IUS came to the decision to spread love and peace on the streets of England, handing out thousands of roses with the Prophet’s wise and inspirational sayings, and aiming to follow the footsteps of our beloved Messenger (PBUH). Our beloved Prophet (PBUH) has said;
“True forbearance is when you pardon a person who acts badly with you and opposes you, while you have the power to take revenge.”
With the recent events, which took place in France, and with the cartoons being re-printed, IUS and Love Muhammad sought a different approach, and responded to this sort of hate with love and patience. “Our holy Prophet (PBUH), forgave the people of Makkah for their injustices to him and, eventually they came towards Islam, and Imam Hussain (AS) forgave Hur, who eventually died defending the Imam’s mission, which still lives on today. The Ahlulbayt have taught us to lead by example,” stated Zahra Hussain an IUS organiser.
“This movement is beautiful and has come in the best time, as you Muslims are representing the true beauty and peace of Islam. Thank you” exclaimed a pedestrian. The volunteers smiled, they nodded, and best of all, some opened their minds to have a conversation about Islam, with complete strangers. The volunteers set a great example through peaceful demonstration with acts of kindness in order to provide a more accurate representation of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). “As Muslims, we will stand under the banner of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and show our unity by portraying the true picture of Islam, which is what we are doing today”, Muhammad Araghi said. Overall, people left feeling cheerful with a rose in their hand, a little token of wisdom to take home, and a smile to share with others for the rest of the day!