I would like to welcome you all to the House of Lords.
We are here today to recognise the courage of Muslims during the Holocaust. The Jews and the Muslims belong to the Abrahamic faiths and Muslims regard the Jews as the people of the book. We also regard Torah as a book of Allah.
Throughout the history when there were Muslims dynasties which included the Abbasids and Umayyad’s the Jews were always treated well and furthermore during waves of persecution in Europe many Jews found refuge in the Muslim lands. For example the Jews who were expelled from Spain were invited to settle in various parts of the Ottoman Empire. They would form a prosperous model minority of merchants acting as intermediaries for their Muslim rulers.
When Saladin conquered Jerusalem he allowed all the religious groups to live in peace and before that time when Caliph Umar came to Jerusalem he proclaimed the Jerusalem declaration which allowed all the inhabitants of Jerusalem whether they were Jews, Christians or Muslims to live in peace.
During the Holocaust there are numerous incidents where Muslims protected the Jews during the Nazi evil regime. I understand that Yad Vashem which is the official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, honours nearly 25,000 righteous persons and over 70 Muslims have been added to this list.
There is also a wonderful story of a Muslim Imam who hid a very old Jewish manuscript in the floor of the mosque until the end of the Second World War. This document is over 600 year old manuscript which narrates the exodus from Egypt every Passover.
Through history there has been a bond linking the Jews and the Muslims together and we must always appreciate this and continue with this bond. There are many commonalities between the Jewish and Islamic faiths.
A few months ago the practices of Halal and Shechita were been criticised and I formed a bond with Lord Palmer to fight this threat. We both went to see the Minister and I had a letter from the Prime Minister David Cameron that under his watch the practice of Jewish and Muslim slaughters will be preserved. The threat to our practices is still there and both the communities must join hands and combat the problems.
I believe in interfaith dialogue and I am a Patron of several Muslim and non-Muslim charities. I would like to emphasise that when I was growing up in Uganda my best friend was a Jewish boy whose family came from Cochin in India. When we visited each other’s house I did find that the attitude of our mothers was very similar and it strengthened our friendship.
I would now like to say that it is written in the Holy Quran that if anyone kills a person it would be as if he killed all mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved all of humanity. This is very similar to what is written in the Talmud which is: If you save one life, it is as if you have saved the world. Both these sayings therefore emphasise and underline the sanctity of life.
There is anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic practices in UK and elsewhere and we must get together to combat these actions.
I am looking forward to this meeting and very much hope that we learn from what is discussed here today and we should all work together to bring harmony and brotherhood between various racial and religious groups.