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interview: abu abdullah

If any Muslim practices Islam and he doesn't feel any pressure upon his shoulders as in persecution, then this person isn't practicing Islam properly. Tell me why you converted to Islam.

I converted to Islam about 12 years ago. The reason that I converted to Islam is because the Western world or the world in general had nothing to offer me other than gambling, sex, killings, etc.

Islam gave me hope. When I heard of Islam, it had a certain amount of effect on me, but there was a portion of my heart that was never, ever satisfied or happy until I came to understand Islam or heard of Islam. And this is what actually pulled me in. I inquired more about it, and the more I inquired, the more I knew that it was for me.

How did you even come across it?

I had an old dear friend that he had his problems in the past, and he eventually became a Muslim, and I didn't know why. There was one time that I was walking down the street, and he was walking towards me -- and I was a person that never fears of any human being -- but I actually felt dirty and unclean when my old friend was approaching me. It seemed that he was wearing a [robe] and a beard. I actually became embarrassed of myself, and I actually crossed over the road, hoping that he hadn't seen me. I was with a particular friend, and he said, "Look at that crazy person who became a Muslim," or an imam, etc.

And glory be to Allah, every Muslim has a beautiful story to tell, because six years later, [with] that same person, the roles was reversed. I was actually with a Muslim in a halal shop getting food for my actual wedding, and the same person actually walked into the halal shop and said the same thing to me, six years later.

What was the attraction then to the Finsbury Park Mosque? How long had you been involved in that?

I've been involved a numerous amount of years, worshipping and etc. I like to feel that every masjid [in Arabic, mosque] has the same rights as Finsbury Park masjid. It wasn't the case of just Finsbury Park because it's Finsbury Park. What attracted me to Finsbury Park is because there was a struggle, and in Islam, one that has belief in Allah, he must incur some hardship or struggles according to his belief. If any Muslim practices Islam and he doesn't feel any pressure upon his shoulders as in persecution, then this person isn't practicing Islam properly. ...

Do you consider yourself first a Muslim, or do you consider yourself an Englishman and then a Muslim?

I always consider myself a Muslim first. ...

People see us as extremists because we don't compromise the religion of Allah. We accept it with every word and every utterance of our beloved prophet Muhammad, that no Muslim can turn away from one ayah of the Quran, one verse of the Quran. If we don't accept this, we actually become disbelievers.

photo of abdullah

Abu Abdullah is the leader of the Finsbury Park Mosque in London. He is a British-born convert to Islam. The mosque, suspected of promoting radical ideals, was raided by police and shut down for a year. Among its patrons were "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid and suspected 9/11 hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui. Abu Hamza al-Masri, its former leader, was recently arrested by British Police and remains in custody. Abdullah tells FRONTLINE, "I was born and bred in this country. I have obviously an amount of feelings for certain people in this country. ... But if my shoes, if my feet was in another land where the country like Britain would be invading, then it becomes [necessary] to do what Allah has told me, and that's to defend the umma of Muhammad, to defend the Muslims, even at the cost of my life." This interview was conducted on Oct. 14, 2004.

And a quick quote -- I'd like to put this as well for a message to my brothers and sisters around the world that calls themselves moderates. I urge them to read the Quran and understand instead of passing a judgment without reading the Quran, because Allah mentioned jihad in the Quran 26 times, and Allah mentioned quital 79 times. Quital is fighting by a physical fighting -- 79 times. ...

Are you prepared to physically fight to defend Islam?

I'm not in a position to physically fight. I was born and bred in this country. I have obviously an amount of feelings for certain people in this country. The everyday person, the layman, the civilian -- I don't point no fingers at the civilian. So it would be completely haram [in Arabic, forbidden; taboo] to wage war against any civilian in this country.

But if my shoes, if my feet was in another land where the country like Britain would be invading, then it becomes [necessary] to do what Allah has told me, and that's to defend the umma [in Arabic, community] of Muhammad, to defend the Muslims, even at the cost of my life.

So this is war. The Western governments are waging war on all of our Muslim countries, and the issue is, when is it going to stop? When?

So what is your sense of what's happening in Iraq today?

My sense of what's happening in Iraq is no different than Afghanistan and Kashmir and Philippine[s] and [Chechnya]. The objective from these people, the Freemasons and the [Illuminati], is to hide behind Christianity. They are waging war on Islam because they cannot have full global domination until they completely eradicate Islam, because Islam is the only religion that accepts and recognizes Allah with no partners.

So therefore a Muslim cannot compromise his religion, no matter what the Western governments bring, where[as] you look at people like the Jews and the Christians and the atheists and the Hindus and the Sikhs and etc., every one of these people, within whatever it is that they worship, has compromised their faith, where Islam will not compromise.

And this is the reason that there's been a war waged on Islam and also government puppets that have been put in our countries to again divide and rule.

So the beheadings of [British hostage] Ken Bigley and others -- I mean, what's your position on that?

Allah says in the Quran: "Fight them as they fight you. Lay in wait for them and smite them at their necks." But if it be upon you that you would show mercy, that you might hold them as prisoners and may even ransom them, as in a life for a life, as in trade them, Allah gives this right. ...

[Do you believe Sheikh Abu Hamza should be in jail?]

Absolutely not. He faced these charges many years ago, and there was no evidence whatsoever. Because now America has somehow gained some kind of information through torturing Muslims over in Guantanamo Bay and in other prisons, they now say that they have evidence on the man, so obviously for him to face trial.

But if this country, which not too long ago was held in high respect by many, many countries all around the world for its judicial system and the way the law is run, but now all of a sudden that's completely lost. And let's not forget not too long ago, obviously Britain lost America to America as well. So there's many depths that we can go to, but obviously we don't have that time. ...

What about the Finsbury Park Mosque? It has been accused of fostering extremist views. Some of the people from 9/11 are said to have traveled there or visited there. What's your view of that?

My view on that is that a Muslim can travel to any masjid that he pleases. Because people may have visited Finsbury Park masjid doesn't mean that they was affiliated to Sheikh Abu Hamza and Abu Hamza gave them some kind of instructions, as it's been portrayed to the media.

We visit many, many mosques all around the country, so it's not particularly to do with Finsbury Park Mosque. And at the same time, I don't even have any evidence that they did visit Finsbury Park Mosque, only other than what the media's actually saying. I have been there for a few years, and I didn't have the privilege of meeting these people, so where's the evidence for this?

It's been said that a couple of the people involved in the Beslan [Russian school massacre] atrocity had come through the Finsbury Park Mosque. Are you familiar with any of them?

No, absolutely not. It's the same scenario that whenever something's done in Europe or around the world, it's tied to things with [the mosque] and Sheikh Abu Hamza. And I think the man has been demonized further than he can be demonized, and it's a time where the public take a step back and think about what their actual governments are doing.

As I said, Abu Hamza has become another political pawn to justify Blair and Bush's war on Islam, and this is their way of showing the public that "We're here for you; we need to put these people away and lock them away for your safety." ...

How widespread are your views held in just the mosque there?

There are many people that accept what we're saying. The only thing is that they're scared. They're scared to come out into the open and support; they're scared to stand shoulder to shoulder and voice the truth. I make excuse for these people. No human being can carry the burdens of another, and nor should a human being burden another. So there are many, many Muslims in this country that accept this way of Islam is the truth because there is only one Islam. There is not 72 or 73 Islams.

And this is why that nullifies [what] the Muslim Council of Britain does. They have invented their own religion and [are] brainwashing the ignorant Muslim that doesn't fully understand the Quran. And this is how they're going, with the support of Tony Blair, to turn fellow Muslims against me or against the likes of Osama bin Laden and etc. and etc. and etc. The ultimate thing is that they're turning them away from the prophet, peace be upon him. ...

Tell me more about your personal story, your personal journey to come to Islam. Were you brought up Christian?

No. I was brought up as in some of Allah's names. I thought I was a Muslim. That's all I knew. Obviously Allah doesn't compel somebody to seek [Him], so if that's what I thought I was in that state, then I'm sure that Allah would have taken me as a Muslim.

But I only knew to utter a few words of Allah. I didn't know how to pray. I didn't know you had to pray. I lived in this society all of my life.

From my early ages, I was already disheartened by the system and the way things was. There was a portion of my heart that wasn't happy, even though this country gives you many opportunities to earn money or better yourself, and etc.

But it's not all about money and material things. It's something else that you're yearning for -- hope. And the only hope is the everlasting, the hereafter, which [is] where you can be put into paradise to live for all eternity, never to suffer stomachache, never to defecate, never to get bored. This is the goal of every Muslim that -- or any, every human being, not just Muslims. This is the goal we should all be chasing.

Allah created human beings to serve Him and Him alone, not for us to serve money or man or our desires.

I was a person that was full of desires, from gambling to other things. There was a stage when I was involved with heavy people. I'm talking about seriously heavy people. ... I refuse to name their names only because I don't want to do them any --

Criminal?

Yeah. That way I was never happy. I used to have money. I just wasn't happy. It wasn't right.

And then 12 years ago, when I heard about Islam, it had an effect on me. It was recited in Arabic, and then from there I investigated, and it was just like my heart kept melting every time I was being told about Islam.

I just knew there and then that this is it. There's nothing, no example -- it doesn't even come close. I don't know if you've ever felt the -- you fell in love with a woman at first sight, and you think, wow. This doesn't even come close to when you understand Islam. Doesn't come close, because that feeling is all the time.

Your feeling for that woman may wear out, but for Allah it doesn't. It continues, and Allah increases that feeling. The more you practice, the more Allah increases that feeling.

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posted jan. 25, 2005

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