The Islamic Garden
Deen Riders UK - Muslim Biker Gang with a Mission!
Richards was born in the
a man with a conscience, Richards sees that being apathetic is
counter-productive. He recalls, “I have been involved in the Muslim
for years. A few years ago, there was a notorious and quite prominent
called Abdullah Faisal. As part of the controversy surrounding him, the
actually went on trial in the Old Bailey. I believed this was unjust so
an organization called ‘Concerned Muslim Citizens’ and covered the
seeking to raise awareness and support. This was about seven years
notes that in his community he and his friends try to help out whenever
see injustices. For this reason he has been involved in the Masjid
project as this is important to provide a place for young Muslims, as
breaking down the ethnic barriers that negatively affect many mosques
While growing up Richards learned a lot about Black history and in his teens he studied the story of Malcolm X. It was this that put him on the path to find Islam. Then in his late teens, a few of his friends became Muslims and taught him about the religion. Since a young age, Richards has been interested in empowering people. Following the trend of his hero, Malcolm X, Richards finally realized that taking a radical approach is not necessary and has continually sought to be proactive and find ways to give back to society. He remembers with great feeling the story of Roots and how many African American and British people have discovered that their ancestors were Muslims. “It is important that we take pride in who we are,” observes Richards. It is this way of thinking that has led him to seek innovative ways to empower the Muslim community with faith and solidarity while integrating with the mainstream society and building bridges between the two.
Richards believes that the Muslim community is becoming more involved in the mainstream and that Muslims are reaching out to others to teach them about Islam.
Counteracting Loss of Muslim Identity
Richards is the founder and mastermind of Deen Riders, and seeks to round up Muslims and non-Muslims providing an outlet for young and old to travel together, learn about Islam and observe each other in everyday situations. “It’s all about raising awareness about Islam. We have many non-Muslims riding with us and there is a code of ethics for everyone,” Richards says. When the non-Muslims ride with Deen Riders they do not swear, or speak about women, alcohol, drugs and so on. Richards comments, “When non-Muslims are with us they respect us for what we are doing. We stop off to pray and they see that. We stop in scenic places, and they watch us and ask questions and we tell them about Islam. They see us laughing, having fun and also praying and being responsible and serious.”
Deen Riders has strict policies that include no speeding but they do have days at the race track so the riders can enjoy the thrill of speed and racing.
he also observes that many Muslims are losing their identity.
Riders is his attempt to counteract this and he hopes this will also be
for Muslims and non-Muslims to get to know each other, learn more about
and share in the bond of the first Muslim biker gang in the
Off to Hajj – By Bike!
Deen Riders plans to ride to Hajj. The idea behind this journey is to create awareness. “We’re calling it ‘Enduring Hardship for Allah’s Pleasure’,’ says Richards. Indeed, it sounds like enjoyable hardship; it will be difficult but very exciting. Deen Riders needs sponsorship and as with all their activities, they help some of the charities they are affiliated with like Chariots for Children. “We believe we’ll attract world media attention,” comments Richards. “Traveling to Hajj these days is easy but in the olden days, getting to Hajj was always difficult. So on our way, we’ll deliver aid to wherever it’s needed and raise awareness about the needs of the orphans we sponsor and in doing this we’ll be teaching people about Islam in a practical way.”
plan to take a route through
More Than Just a Biker Gang
become a member, the person does not need to have a motorbike, he or
pillion ride. The organization is also known as ‘Riding for the
Straight Path’ and
people are encouraged to utilize their time in a constructive way. Deen
will travel to conferences in different parts of the
can join to; not just guys. When riding long distances, the men will
around the girls,” comments Richards. Even though it is still early
even have members in
Jalaal ibn Sa’id, from Al Fitra is a biker and is on board with Deen Riders and he, among others, will deliver lectures to the members of Deen Riders.
Richards believes that Muslims need to be doing more to help themselves and that being apologetic about Islam and making excuses does not command people’s respect. He sees that we should live Islam and show by our actions that we are a people who seek to uphold good morals, interact with others and have fun as well.
He sees that it is vital that Muslims are a good example to others and make positive change wherever we are. “Our conduct should be positive, not apologetic,” he says. Richards sees that the events of 9/11 and 7/7 had nothing to do with Islam and that Muslims should speak out against such things. “We should show people that Islam is there for everyone. We have to do something and have to speak out in a positive way. Ironically, these sad events were somehow good for the Muslim community in the UK because it made us stand up more, speak out and be more positive,” says Richards.
In the words of the founder of Deen Riders, ‘we need to freshen up and feel a sense of freedom’. Deen Riders has no age limit, men and women are welcome, and it is open to people of all religions. Historically bikers have often been known to be the bad guys, but with Deen Riders, the good guys are coming to town.
Life on the Streets Young people end up living on the streets for many reasons but the result is that the youth are forced to become someone other than their real selves in order to survive.
UK Girls’ Clubs The coordinator of one such club, Um Abdullah, along with her friend, Naima Anniche, focus on girls between the ages of 13 and 16 but she will accept any girl who would like to attend.