British Imam leads Eid celebrations in Kandahar

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Imam Asim Hafiz led a 600-strong congregation on Tuesday morning, 16 November, comprising ISAF Muslim troops from a host of nations, including…

Imam Asim Hafiz led a 600-strong congregation on Tuesday morning, 16 November, comprising ISAF Muslim troops from a host of nations, including the UK and the US, and local Afghans, to celebrate Eid ul Adha or ‘Festival of Sacrifice’.

Sermons were delivered by Imam Asim, the Muslim Chaplain to the British Armed Forces, and also by the Imam of the local 205 Corps of the Afghan National Army (ANA), demonstrating the united relationship between ISAF and the ANA.

The sight of ISAF troops and the local community joining together to celebrate their faith offered some respite for the whole camp from the difficulties being faced in Afghanistan.

Eid ul Adha is one of two highly important Muslim festivals in the Islamic calendar. Imam Asim drew his sermon from Abraham’s teachings on loyalty and commitment to duties. The Imam asked those present to concentrate on these principles and draw strength from the teachings.

Imam Asim said:

This service provided an opportunity for ISAF to demonstrate respect for the Muslim faith by providing a service for all Muslims on the base. One young American pilot told me of the sense of unity he felt being able to pray with fellow Muslim soldiers from other countries and with local Afghans, in a celebration that counters the insurgent messages that ISAF are at war with Islam.

Being in theatre is obviously a demanding and taxing time for anyone who is deployed. A visit from a chaplain of your own faith, particularly on a demanding operational tour, can help with boosting the spirits of individuals.

The opportunity to pray and reflect on key issues while on operations can really help people put their lives, tasks and situations into perspective. The Eid service really brought home to me the commitment with which the British and coalition forces serve.

Imam Asim was appointed five years ago as the Muslim Chaplain to the British Armed Forces:

Joining the MOD as a chaplain I had little idea that within a few years I would be leading two Eid prayers at NATO’s largest military base on active operations in southern Afghanistan,” he said.

These events are minor miracles whilst at once being typical examples of the harmony in which Muslims and others live side-by-side in the UK and in the West generally.

This is the second Eid service Imam Asim has led in Kandahar this year, having conducted a service in September during a six-week trip.

Imam Asim continued: