Around 500 people have attended a three-day training camp designed to help Muslims oppose and counter extremism and terrorism within their community.
Organisers said the event, run by moderate Sufi group Minhaj-ul-Quran International, said the event was part of an “intellectual and spiritual war against extremism and terrorism”.
It comes after a spate of deadly Islamist attacks in the UK and a number of Conservative and UK Independence Party (UKIP) politicians calling on Muslims to do more to actively fight terror.
The residential camp was held at Keele University, Staffordshire, and talks and workshops focused on “the fundamental ideas that form the ideological pathway to extremism”, according to a press release.
Topics included theological ideas about jihad, so-called “misinterpretation of the Qur’anic verses of the ‘sword'”, and the concept of establishing a global Islamic Caliphate.
— Al-Hidayah (@AlHidayahMQI) August 28, 2017
Many of the talks were broadcast on social media, and the keynote speaker was Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri (pictured), the founder of Minhaj-ul-Quran and author of a 600-page fatwa on terrorism and suicide bombings.
“I have announced an intellectual and spiritual war against extremism and terrorism. It is vital to train young people how [Islamic State] and other groups are giving them the wrong interpretations of Islamic concepts such as jihad,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Tahir-ul-Qadri’s 2010 fatwa condemned suicide bombings and Islamist terror. He also launched a so-called “counter-terrorism curriculum” in June 2015 that is being taught in some British mosques.
Those attending were drawn from across Britain and ranged in age from 15 to 40. They were mainly from moderate Sufi groups inspired by Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri.
— Al-Hidayah (@AlHidayahMQI) August 26, 2017
Many other, more hardline, UK Muslim groups have argued that Muslims have no more responsibility to tackle terror than wider society as terror is not Islamic and it is bigoted to suggest attacks could be linked to the faith.
In June, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid called on British Muslims to do more than simply condemn terror as he said they have a “unique burden” to tackle extremism after the London Bridge attack.
He wrote in The Times: “As British Muslims, we rightly condemn terror attacks. But we must go further. It is not enough to condemn. Muslims must challenge too. This will take courage.”