Muslims in Britain Come Together and Confirm their Commitment to Unity, and Working for a Just and Fair Society for all

15 Jun 2011

On Sunday 12th June 2011, the Muslim Council of Britain held its fourteenth Annual General Meeting in Birmingham, attracting Muslims from around the UK to discuss the way forward to achieving unity and a just, fair society for all.

Delivering his keynote speech, Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the MCB, assured those gathered that “we have responsibilities and we have opportunities. Focussing on these is our way forward to securing a better future.” He said, “MCB will work to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood and mutual understanding between the different communities of Muslims in Britain. It will represent Muslims in an authentic, independent, competent and well informed manner in British National conversations”. In a session chaired by Amjad Ahmed, Chair of the Association of Muslim Schools, Farooq Murad also gave an overview of the state of the Muslim community in the current political and economic climate.

Presenting his financial statement, the Treasurer of MCB, Harun Rashid Khan, strongly rebutted the repeatedly wilful misreporting that the MCB was in receipt of PREVENT funding. He also stressed that the MCB does not take any funding from the government for its core work. He thanked the member affiliates and the community for sustaining the MCB to date with their tremendous contributions and support.

Over the past year, the MCB has focussed on two key pieces of work – an overall strategic review and a more specific review of MCB’s constitution – to ensure that MCB is fit for purpose and working towards its agreed objectives. Judge Khurshid Drabu CBE reported on wide and varied submissions made from all sections of the community and emphasised that there was still time for additional feedback to be given and encouraged everyone to play their part.

Yasin Rahim, of the World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna Ashari Muslim Communities, highlighted the need to respect difference and unite – that “unity is not uniformity”. This was reinforced by Dr Omer El Hamdoon, President of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), who reminded the delegates that for the sake of working together, we need to put aside our differences and learn to sacrifice our own opinions for the sake of common good.

In his annual report to the AGM, the Secretary General called for “robust action in recording, monitoring and analysing anti-Muslim hate crimes”. This was a theme discussed in the workshop ‘Effective Responses to Islamophobia’, which emphasised the need to ensure Islamophobic crimes are always reported to the police and that sections of the media are brought to account for their contribution to the rising problem. Taskin Tan Soykan, from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Europe, provided an international perspective and encouraged Islamophobia to be combated at all levels – local, national and international. The workshop also highlighted the need to voice our concerns and be proactive ambassadors for the Muslim community – putting our hearts and the values of Islam into everything we do.

Another breakout session, ‘Halal and Moon Sighting Issues’, chaired by Sir Iqbal Sacranie OBE, a former Secretary General of the MCB, called for standardisation of an agreed Muslim calendar for observance of rituals and festivals. The ‘Best Practices in Mosques’ workshop urged Mosques to achieve excellence in all affairs by following the best practices set by some of the exemplar Mosques. In particular, the areas of hygiene and child protection were highlighted as well as the need for open and democratic engagement.
During the AGM, the MCB were delighted to award Sher Azam, a founding member of the Bradford Council for Mosques, ‘MCB Award for Life-Long Service to the British Muslim Community’. Mr Azam played a key role in the setting up of MCB as the Co-Convenor of National Interim Consultation for Muslim Unity (NICMU), the predecessor body of the Muslim Council of Britain.

During the final session ‘Britain’s Islamic Futures – unity in diversity’, Maulana Shahid Raza, Chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB), reiterated that “despite our diversity, we are one Muslim ummah (nation) and there are fundamental beliefs and practices that make us one; MCB is one of the strongest expressions of that unity in this country”.