British Muslims Monthly Survey for August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8

 

 

Contents

 

 

Features

The Economist: A Survey of Islam

UN Conference on Population and Development

Labour Party applications, Manchester

Reactions to the Khilafah Conference

UK Islamic Mission conference

 

 

Short Reports

Interpreter alleges discrimination

"Islam versus Freedom and Democracy"

Celebrating the Prophet's birthday

Spreading the word in Wales

YMO: "Reaching new frontiers"

Waltham Forest letterhead

Islam: misunderstood faith

2,000 mourn imam

Mobile health team for Tipton

Police payout for teenager

Young Muslim women and employment

American basketball super-star

Bullying and racism in schools

Luton mosque dispute

Disappointment for the Devil's Advocate

YM: leader interviewed

Waltham Forest grant enquiry

Days off at Ford

Recruiting minority community members

Community Centre in debt

Southampton imam may stay

Clash over sex education

Muslim Parliament to the rescue

Media image of Islam

Leader fined over glue sale

Racism in the police

Ismaili businesses in decline

Slough PWA: election call

Investment trust for Muslims

South Asian theatre conference

King's Cross stabbing

Relief work for Bosnia

Cambridge exhibition

Muslims in Lancaster

London housing development

Islam and the West

Algerian speaker banned

Women united with Libyan children

Holiday fun in Luton

Gift of lamb rejected

TV star on da'wah tour

BCCI: Virani to buy prison?

Control of Immigration Statistics

Rochester reflects on Pakistan

Pop star profile

Islamic Management Training

Leeds prison attack

Banned for timetable offence

Women converts to Islam

Complaints over new immigration rules

Ismaili community gathers

Seminar on sex and sexuality

Islamic Relief Women's Games

CRE: religious discrimination

Brent: holiday playscheme

Reflections: by women, for women

Grant for development project

European Drug Prevention Week

Churches' Commission for Racial Justice

Updates

Education

"Women only" engineers

Section 11 funding cuts

Muslim girls' school in Halifax?

Hijaz College

Larger premises for prep. school

Grants for language courses

Newark school seeks expansion

Islamia and VA status

Preston girls' school seeks permission

Master's in banking and finance

Mosques

Aberdeen

Aberystwyth

Bolton

Bury

High Wycombe

Hyde

Manchester

Stevenage

Tipton

 

 

Features

The Economist: A Survey of Islam

One of the most influential English-language specialist magazines, The Economist, published a 20-page survey of Islam with its edition of 06.08.94. The magazine has a massive circulation worldwide and its taken as an influential source by people involved in any form of business and many in international relations. This was one of an occasional series produced by the magazine which surveys countries, industries or financial organisations. The fact that it should publish a special survey devoted exclusively to Islam is itself noteworthy. It is the tradition of The Economist not to acknowledge its authors or sources which often increases the candour and authority of their contributions.

The survey began by setting a scene of confusion over Islam in the West. This confusion leads some commentators to predict future unrest between the world of Islam and the capitalist, free-market economies of the West. The history of conflict between Islam and Christendom was traced through the 14 centuries during which they have co-existed. This culminated in a special report on the situation in Algeria where elections were cancelled in 1992 when it became clear that an Islamic government was likely to gain power. This cancellation was backed by the government of France. The particular antecedents of the Franco-Algerian interface and possible future consequences were explored.

There followed three essays devoted to the three areas which were considered to need attention in the Muslim world's progress into the 21st century. The first looked at Islam's potential to handle a modern economy. Many aspects were indicated as needing further research in developing an Islamic methodology of economic management but the prohibition on riba [interest] in Islam was seen as a positive contribution to a possible economic modus vivendi which Islam could offer the other economic systems. The second essay addressed the question of sexual equality and this focused on the Sisters in Islam group in Malaysia. It was generally held that one must distinguish between the elements of the current situation of women in the Muslim world which are genuinely due to Islam and those which trace their origins to the time, place and economic situations of the relevant Muslim societies. The third essay looked at Islam's potential to absorb principles of democracy within society. The general conclusion was that there is a democratic deficiency in almost all Muslim societies today.

An important parallel was drawn between the 15th century in the Christian era and the current 15th century in the Islamic calendar. Within the Christian experience, the 15th century was seen to be the launchpad of the Renaissance which in turn led to the individuality of the Reformation and thus to the development of principles of democracy within the European system. It took 300 years for Europe to make this transition but the opinion was expressed that the rate of societal change was now immeasurably faster due to mass communication and the fact that much pioneering work had already been done in the West where many Muslim leaders have received their education in the physical and social sciences.

This led to an identification of four positive signs of future change within the Muslim world. There is a general disillusionment with the old religious and political order and thus a quest for something better which can be seen in the rise of Islamic movements throughout the Muslim world. There is an overwhelming sense of despair in the Muslim perspective as post-colonial societies see themselves as having been humiliated and having lost touch with their cultural inheritance. This is coupled with a sense of despair at the decline in global society. The dominant response to this in the Muslim world is to go back to the religious roots and search again for what Islam has to offer for a new order in society. Finally, there are external influences which are having a major impact such as the new-found wealth brought by oil revenues and the importation of Western culture and technology.

Two major challenges were identified as facing the Western world in its response to resurgent Islam. Firstly, there must be a recognition of the political instability which is bound to follow and thus a need for a considered reaction to this instability especially as it effects the new world order. Secondly, there is the challenge which Islam brings to consider the atomist and nihilist trends within western society by comparison to the dominant sense of communalism which still exists in the Muslim world. The challenge here is to discover a new moral order in global affairs. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 1/2]

 

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UN Conference on Population and Development

Muslims in Britain have joined their voices to many Muslim leaders around the world in condemning the draft policy document of the UN Conference on Population and Development. Dr Abdul Majid Katme, the president of the Islamic Medical Association, has spoken of "devious attempts at population control by the haves of this world against the have-nots" (Q News 12.08.94). Dr Katme called upon Britain's Muslims to unite with those who oppose the conference and to write to the embassies of Muslim countries expressing their concern and calling on them to vote against the measures.

The thrust of the Muslim concerns are that the proposals undermine religious morality as the basis for human development. Whilst many accept that the population of the world cannot grow in an undisciplined way, they point to the UN proposals as a form of cultural imperialism which aims to limit the population growth in particular of the developing countries. The relationship between population density and raw numbers is highlighted. Often the greatest population density occurs in countries which are already developed and which consume a grossly disproportionate share of the world's resources. It is this inequality in consumption which demands attention equally as much as the simple growth in population.

A joint declaration was issued by a widely representative group of Muslim leaders and scholars in Britain. The declaration said that, "The draft proposals... are totally unacceptable in their underlying philosophy, objectives and suggested plan of action" (Weekly Journal 01.09.94). Further, "The plan is a masterpiece of deception cunningly camouflaged in the language of 'progressive' lifestyles. It hopes to deceive by using catchy phrases like 'the empowerment of women' when, in reality, the proposals will lead to the enslavement of women as 'safe-sex objects', to be used by, and in turn use, others for self-gratification" (Caribbean Times 03.09.94).

An alternative conference on the population issue has been planned for 10th September to be held in Glasgow under the title "People Count". It will aim to address the issue from another perspective and speakers include "Green" politicians and religious leaders including Prof Khurshid Ahmad, the renowned Pakistani economist and Chairman of the Islamic Foundation in Leicester.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 2/3]

 

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Labour Party applications, Manchester

Two of the approximately 600 Muslim applicants for membership of the Labour Party in the Manchester Gorton constituency who have been unable to get their applications approved in close to two years (see British Muslims Monthly Survey for July 1994) have been given legal aid to "pursue a claim under the Race Relations Act to the effect that the Labour Party has denied membership rights to some 600 Asian applicants in an attempt to save the sitting MP and former shadow Foreign Secretary Mr Gerald Kaufman, from deselection" (Daily Jang 26.08.94). The matter has been pursued with some vigour by the Daily Jang who commented in an editorial (26.08.94) that if the recruitment is intended to increase the Muslim membership of the local party in order to deselect Kaufman and select a candidate of their choice, then this is the way in which democracy works in Britain. Rather than attempt to block their membership, those who support Kaufman ought themselves to be recruiting new members to the party who would vote for him.

The editorial went on, "The Gorton case highlights the classic catch 22 dilemma for Asians trying to integrate themselves into mainstream British life. They are sidelined if they build their own little economic, social and cultural ghettos and yet, if they come forward to join the mainstream, every attempt is made to fob them off. Somewhere there has to be a breakthrough and all said and done, it is the Labour Party which gives them the best chance of this breakthrough. The party would do itself no harm if it proclaimed this with pride."

Six leading Muslims from the constituency, including three councillors, wrote to the Daily Jang (09.09.94) to defend Kaufman's reputation as a constituency MP. Over the 24 years that he has represented the constituency he has shown himself to be "a tireless worker on behalf of all his constituents, paying especial attention to the Asians amongst them..." He has been active in immigration cases, in combatting racism and in supporting local appeals concerning housing and benefits. Four particular areas of initiative in parliament were noted, three of which concerned the subcontinent, with the addition of moving an amendment to create an offence of racial harassment.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 3]

 

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Reactions to the Khilafah Conference

The general opinion of commentators has been that the Khilafah Conference held at Wembley Arena on 7th August (see BMMS for May and July 1994) was something of an anti-climax given the build-up which took place in the light of the Israeli bombings and the calls for the conference to be banned. This report will focus only on the considered reaction to the conference in the Muslim, Jewish and Christian press.

The Daily Jang (12.08.94) confined itself to a 17 column-inch report of the actual events of the conference itself. It did reproduce the six-point declaration which was approved by the conference:

a. To establish the Khilafah system under which

b. One Khalifah would rule over the entire Muslim world.

c. All regimes in the Muslim world are neither Islamic nor approved by the Muslim people and therefore illegitimate.

d. All negotiations conducted and signed by organisations in the Muslim world with Israel are null and void and therefore not binding upon the Muslim people.

e. All Muslims are to be liberated and no Muslim lands are to left in the hands of non-Muslims.

f. The UN, World Bank, IMF and the Arab League are not acceptable to Muslims.

The only comment was contained in the last paragraph which concluded that "the media hype about the likelihood of physical confrontation was exaggerated".

By contrast, the Q News issue (12.08.94) ran to over 130 column-inches plus letters. The general report was under the front-page headline "Much Ado About Nothing". The first paragraph contained an apt summary of the report, "Even if judged by its own pre-conference press briefings and literature, the event failed to live up to its own stated goals". One interesting theory as to why the number present was several thousand down on the number expected was attributed to a Hizb ut-Tahrir member, "Hostile groups or government has bought a lot of tickets and destroyed them just to embarrass our conference by ensuring empty seats".

The report gave a synopsis of several of the speakers and noted that the general theme of the re-establishing of the caliphate was laboriously followed with much rhetoric but few practical suggestions for the way in which it could be brought about. It was noted that the question session was the only timetabled element which was cancelled. The report could be summarised by the comment that, "Again there was much generalisation and very little offered was of any real intellectual substance". It was noted that both at the conference and in general literature, Hizb ut-Tahrir had not called for the caliphate to be established in Europe.

A good insight into this particular response to the conference was contained in the comment that "despite Mr Bakri's [the leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain]

call for unity and tolerance amongst Muslims working towards instituting a khalifah few people who had prior contact with the HT believed his words. A major criticism of the group has been its overaggressive and confrontational nature particularly when dealing with fellow Muslims irrespective of the nobility of their message. One particularly obnoxious trait associated with the members of the group is their inability to be tolerant of any alternative viewpoint and the speed and eagerness with which they confer a "kafir" [unbeliever] label on anybody unwilling to swallow their sometimes rather shallow and naive polemic".

A second article in Q News explored some of the paucity of thought involved in the Hizb ut-Tahrir position under the headline "A bridge too far from Wembley" reminding readers of the Allies' offensive in the re-conquest of Europe during the 1939-1945 war which failed because they attempted to take a series of bridges in an over-ambitious campaign. The analogy to the Hizb ut-Tahrir position is clear. They proclaim a goal of a single caliph ruling over a global Islamic state but fail to provide any intellectual infrastructure to deal with the many Muslim nation states which already exist and the Islamic movements who would seek to establish Islamic states within existing boundaries.

Finally, a third report gave a catalogue of the press reports and public statements of various people in the lead-up to the conference which led to "a media-fuelled crisis which almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy".

A similar reaction to the lack of intellectual strategy in the Khilafah Conference was recorded in the letters to Q News in the subsequent issue (19.08.94). The lack of a plan to deal with the integration of the economies of the current Muslim states and the practical issues of statecraft were illustrated.

The Jewish press breathed a sigh of relief that the conference had passed off without incident. There were renewed calls for any statements issued by Hizb ut-Tahrir which were likely to incite racial hatred to be the matter of prosecutions in the British courts and it was noted that moderate Muslims in Britain had more to fear from the group than had the Jews (Jewish Telegraph 12.08.94). The same newspaper carried a call for an extended Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogue to combat extremism and work together for spiritual values.

The Jewish Chronicle (12.08.94) carried a report of the conference which noted that it was more like a "family day out" than a scene of impending street battle. Several comments that Muslims were not opposed to Jews were noted as well as comments that there had been much hype of a conspiratorial nature in the lead-up to the event. It was noted that there was literature on sale which spoke of a "Jewish conspiracy" and traced the opposition of Jews in Medina to the Prophet Muhammad. Likewise it was noted that the creation of Israel was a "shameful conspiracy" perpetrated against Muslims.

The same edition of the Jewish Chronicle carried a letter from the campaigns organiser of the Union of Jewish Students who noted that there had been a degree of back-tracking by Hizb ut-Tahrir leaders in their comments against Jews. He quoted several statements made earlier in the year which were unambiguously aimed against the Jewish community and noted that he expected the anti-Jewish campaign to re-appear with the new academic year when Jewish students, along with others, would again bear the brunt of Hizb ut-Tahrir rhetoric.

The theme of Jewish-Muslim dialogue was taken up again in the Jewish Chronicle (19.08.94) which traced the links which had already been built up between academics and religious leaders. Several constructive interactions were enumerated and leaders from the two faiths were quoted as both desiring and working towards better relations. The need to build bridges at all levels was stressed. It is not sufficient just to leave this in the hands of those who sit in intellectual circles, every mosque and synagogue ought to be establishing working relations. As the older of the two communities, in terms of their establishment in Britain, it was argued that Anglo-Jewry ought to take the lead in this initiative.

The Church Times (12.08.94) confined its report to a short paragraph with a photograph. The Catholic Herald (12.08.94) reported that the conference had passed off peacefully and noted the difference between "extremists" and "moderates" in the Muslim community. In an editorial in the same newspaper, the value of freedom of speech was extolled. Nevertheless, the editorial noted with regret the suggestion that there could be no peace between Israel and the Arab world and asked whether, in the light of the conference, one should "at least wonder whether to bring out the umbrella of legislative restriction" to deal with intemperate views. It concluded, "Most right-thinking people will ignore Wembley's inflammatory rhetoric. But some, if only a tiny minority, will see such cries as a mandate for violent action. We must be vigilant that such words are not translated into deeds".

In an editorial in The Tablet (13.08.94), the conference was set against the wider background of the Prince of Wales' speech at Oxford and the continuing unease felt by Muslims about the absence of Muslim VA schools. It called on Catholics to enter into dialogue with Muslims as two religious minorities within Britain with a view to exploring a religious critique of Western values. "The reaction to Wembley, therefore, should not be a counter-militancy employing bans and prohibitions. Nor should it be a crusade based on the demand for human rights. Instead, the attempt must be made to continue to reach out to the many Muslims who wish to have a legitimate place in a pluralist society with which they do not entirely agree, and who appreciate such Western values as democratic freedom, economic progress, tolerance, and cultural diversity. They accept that Muslims are in a minority situation in Britain today and that in such circumstances the best option is for Islam to commend itself by the civic and other virtues which it instills".  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 4-6]

 

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UK Islamic Mission conference

Around 2,000 Muslims gathered in Sheffield on 28th August for the 31st Annual Conference of the UK Islamic Mission (UKIM). The UKIM was established in Britain in 1962 as an organisation inspired by the Jamaati Islam party in Pakistan working with the Islamic revivalist teachings of Abul A'la Mawdudi and others. It now has over forty branches throughout the country and is active with students, settled communities and in da'wah work. The theme of this year's conference was the Sirah [biography, lived example] of the Prophet and speakers included Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the Amir [leader] of Jamaati Islam in Pakistan and Raschid Ghannouchi of Tunisia. The conference received little attention outside the Muslim press with the exception of Asian Age (29.08.94) which remarkably described it as "Britain's second major Islamic fundamentalist conference since Israel blamed the movement for a spate of anti-Semitic terrorism last month" thus forcing an unwarranted link with the Khilafah Conference. By contrast with Hizb ut-Tahrir, UKIM has a long and distinguished reputation for building harmonious community relations wherever it operates.

The Muslim weekly Q News (26.08.94) carried a full-page interview with the General Secretary of UKIM, Syed Tanzeem Wasti, in which he traced the history of the mission and exemplified its manner of working. In the same edition, the paper devoted two pages to a profile of some of UKIM's leading figures and spelt out its objectives. These included presenting an authentic view of Islam based on the Qur'an and Sunnah, building strong ties between all Muslims, promoting an Islamic social order based on a united humanity irrespective of colour, race or language, encouraging friendly relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in Britain and stimulating Islamic thought and action through the leadership of a committed band of workers.

At the conference the new leadership of the UKIM was sworn in, the new president being Syed Sharif Ahmad together with a Central Executive Council. The conference's resolutions were printed in full by Q News (02.09.94) which included a re-affirmation that humankind must live by divine guidance which stressed the essential freedom of every human being and the need to live a moral life which respects the dignity of others. Social justice was a major concern with resolutions against fascism and for a fairer sharing in the resources of the world.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 6/7]

 

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Short Reports

Interpreter alleges discrimination

A Bosnian man who had a Serb father and a Croat mother took a case of racial discrimination before an industrial tribunal in Reading after he had been refused work by the Refugee Council as an interpreter for Bosnian Muslims in Britain. The man came to Britain in 1992 to dissociate himself from the violence and from pressure to join the Serbian army. He followed a course organised by the Refugee Council which guaranteed that graduates would be given employment as interpreters for Bosnian refugees. When the man was contacted for his first assignment at Heathrow airport, an official of the Refugee Council withdrew the offer of work when it was discovered that he was not a Muslim. It had been reported to the Council that Bosnian Muslim refugees had threatened to kill interpreters who were not Muslims. In the light of this, the Refugee Council decided to use only Muslim interpreters until circumstances change. The Chairman of the Refugee Council told the tribunal that the man was the victim of religious discrimination not racial discrimination (The Times 09.08.94). The refugees in question had come from Serbian camps and were reported to be highly traumatised by their experience. The tribunal's decision is still pending.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 7]

"Islam versus Freedom and Democracy"

In the wake of the controversial debate in Luton on "Islam versus Christianity" (see BMMS for July 1994), a second debate was held under the title "Islam versus Freedom and Democracy". A total of around 150 people were reported to have attended but only a few of them were "white" (Luton on Sunday 31.07.94). This imbalance in the audience was regretted by Muslim organisers especially Farid Qassim, the deputy leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir, who was the day's guest speaker. A local councillor spoke on behalf of democracy but he condemned the debate as "nothing more than a publicity exercise by Islamic fundamentalists". The editor of Luton on Sunday was invited to speak but declined on the grounds that she "did not feel qualified to tackle Islamic issues". She went on to encapsulate the tension which exists between the Muslim population of the town and the local press by saying, "A minority in the community habitually decries the serious coverage we give to Muslim issues. They seem to believe the only worthy coverage is that written by themselves in long letters to the editor".  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 7]

Celebrating the Prophet's birthday

Various events celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad were reported from Bradford, Chesham, Dudley, High Wycombe, Huddersfield, Oldham, Rochdale and Swindon. The Muslim weekly Q News (12.08.94) carried a double-page spread on the subject which included a summary of the precedent for celebrating the event based on Islamic law (given that it was not known in its present form to the earliest generations of Muslims), a description of similar celebrations in Bosnia and a lengthy article by Dr Muhammad Abduh Yamani, the former Minister for Information in Saudi Arabia.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 8]

Spreading the word in Wales

HTV, the independent television company serving Wales and the West Country, carried a programme broadcast on 7th August on Neil (Nabil) Turner, a son of Rhondda, who converted to Islam during his time in Saudi Arabia in the mining industry and has since made his living through photography (see BMMS for February 1994). He told the story of his journey to embrace Islam and the work which he now does in Wales touring the valleys in an effort to correct some of the mistaken impressions about Muslims and Islam.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 8]

YMO: "Reaching new frontiers"

The Young Muslims Organisation conference on da'wah [inviting people to Islam], called "Reaching new frontiers" (see BMMS for July 1994) was reviewed in Q News (19.08.94). The tenor of the conference was set by the first speaker who emphasised the need for da'wah in the West in which the real objective "was to activate people's hearts and minds for the cause of Allah". This task must be undertaken with the best of manners and without loosing one's temper. The need for rational arguments was stressed so that people would see the truth of Islam and return to their natural state as Muslims. Tolerance and the imperative of going to the help of those in need was stressed. The whole conference was conducted in an atmosphere of goodwill and common fellowship.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 8]

Waltham Forest letterhead

The newly elected mayor of Waltham Forest, Councillor Meher Khan, has come in for some criticism for having "in the name of Allah" printed at the top of her official headed notepaper. A former mayor and Conservative councillor objected to the move and was supported by calls from the public gallery. However, Mrs Khan responded that "This is a multi-racial, multi-religious borough. I am the Mayor of the borough and have every right to choose my letterhead" (Chingford Guardian 28.07.94). There were further remarks carried in the same paper's letter column (04.08.94) to the effect that the mayor's role is a civic one and that religion ought not to be allowed to enter the equation.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 8]

Islam: misunderstood faith

The Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, Keith Ward, contributed an article for The Independent (12.08.94) under the heading "An entire faith misunderstood". This was a powerful argument against the "demonising" of Islam which he fears is currently under way in so many circles. He argued eloquently for the insights and riches which Islam has brought to humanity throughout the centuries and pleaded for a dialogue between Islam and other faiths and the Enlightenment which he holds to have purified western Christianity. By offering a critique to the excesses of the Enlightenment, Prof Ward believes that Islam will not only benefit itself but also contribute much spiritual wisdom to the progress of contemporary civilizations.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 8/9]

2,000 mourn imam

More than 2,000 mourners attended the funeral of 74 year-old Nottingham imam Manzoor Alam who had been imam at the Pakistani Community Centre since 1978. The crowd was so large that the council gave permission for the funeral to take place in the Forest Recreational Ground. Mr Alam's body was flown back to Pakistan for burial.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 9]

Mobile health team for Tipton

Tipton Muslim Centre, West Midlands, was one of three venues selected for a Mobile Community Health Team to set up a clinic to help people assess their health and fitness requirements. The sessions, which also include chiropody and physiotherapy clinics, have been fully booked. The project is being funded by the Sandwell Council, Sandwell Health Authority and Tipton Challenge Partnership. The team has a Muslim female assistant to facilitate ease of access by the Muslim community.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 9]

Police payout for teenager

A Bengali teenager from London brought an action against the Metropolitan Police for assault and false imprisonment after he was allegedly attacked by a police officer some two years ago. The case has been settled by the police with a payment of 7,500 in damages.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 9]

Young Muslim women and employment

A survey has been conducted by Birkbeck College, London, on behalf of the Employment Department into the changing patterns of women's employment in Britain. The survey took as its sample 55 young women aged 16 to 24 from Pakistani families living in the Birmingham area. It was reviewed in Young People Now (September 1994) and is available from the Research Management Branch, Room W441, Employment Department, Moorfoot, Sheffield, S1 4PQ. Its full title is: Working Choices: South Asian Young Muslim Women and the Labour Market. One of the main findings of the report was that, "The relationship of young Muslim women to the labour market is shaped by several structural and ideological factors, including the nature of the local labour market; ideologies about women's position in relation to paid and unpaid work; education; racism and discrimination; and class" (YPN).

Nine of the women were in further or higher education with the support of their families. The main fears of all the women were racism, discrimination and sexual harassment whether at work or on training schemes but there was little support for women-only training projects as they valued the opportunity to make friendships across the ethnic mix of the city. Higher than average unemployment rates were found and hourly rates of pay even lower than for white women. Many were engaged in the lower ranks of the textiles industry. They were twice as likely to be doing semi-skilled work as their white counterparts but were equally represented in professional and managerial posts. The women generally thought that access to paid employment was beneficial not just for the additional financial rewards but also for the increased independence which it brought them.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 9]

American basketball super-star

Hakeem Olajuwon, the Nigerian-born captain of the Houston Rockets basketball team, was in Britain briefly as part of a promotional tour of Europe. He was profiled in The Times (23.08.94) as someone whose life had been changed during the last three years since he rediscovered Islam. He now shuns the high-life media image of a sporting super-star and places pleasing God as the foremost aim of all that he does.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 9/10]

Bullying and racism in schools

The National Heartstone Project, based in Derbyshire, has been given 4,000 by the South Yorkshire Police Authority to launch a series of discussion groups in schools next term which aim to decrease the number of incidents of bullying and racism. The project uses books and videos in discussion groups to unlock feelings and emotions amongst the young people. It has met with much support from some parts of the community but a local Muslim councillor has attacked it for using "dance and drama" in its activities. Rotherham Councillor Nazir Ahmed has questioned the relevance of the project to Rotherham's Muslims who are currently unhappy about the way in which the police are handling racially charged events within the town. He is calling for an inquiry into the roots of the problems (Rotherham Star 15.08.94).  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 10]

Luton mosque dispute

Following the incidents in the Bury Park mosque in Luton, in which a man died of a heart attack and others were injured in fighting (see BMMS for June and July 1994), a further High Court injunction was obtained on July 28th which excluded nine people from entering the mosque in addition to the eleven who were banned on July 15th. The exclusion orders remain in force until 5th September when fresh elections are scheduled to take place.

Notwithstanding this action, police were called to the mosque again on Thursday 4th August when the imam failed to arrive to lead prayers and a dispute erupted over who should be allowed to perform this function. The dispute involved only seven police officers and ended with the congregation dispersing whilst the mosque committee entered into discussions with the police liaison officer.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 10]

Disappointment for the Devil's Advocate

Farid Qassim, the spokesman of Hizb ut-Tahrir, was due to face the television cameras in the Channel 4 programme Devil's Advocate on 17th August. Unfortunately he cancelled his appearance at short notice and failed to appear for the programme in which he was replaced by the former BBC reporter in India, Mark Tully. His failure to attend was ascribed to a fear that he might be misunderstood.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 10]

YM: leader interviewed

An informative insight into the internal workings of the Young Muslims was given through an interview with Ahtisham Ali, the new amir [leader] of the organisation which has recently transferred its parental affiliation from the UK Islamic Mission to the Islamic Society of Britain. The Young Muslims recently held their annual summer camp near Newark which was attended by about 2,000 people (see BMMS for July 1994). Mr Ali emphasised his desire to see the Young Muslims turn their attention more towards da'wah [inviting people to Islam], with the bulk of their literature being aimed at non-Muslims. He also wanted to tighten up the internal structure of the organisation by requiring every "call member", who form the inner core of the group's workers, to perform at least four hours of community service each week with an officially organised community organisation like the Samaritans or Help the Aged. These call workers, some 300 people nationally, already support the work of the group by giving 2% of their income to central funds. He emphasised the need to work with non-Muslim groups and deprecated those Muslim organisations who disrupt meetings and alienate Christian and Jewish co-workers.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 10/11]

Waltham Forest grant enquiry

The Conservative leader of Waltham Forest Council has called for an enquiry into a grant of 40,000 from the council to The International Muslim Movement to build a women's centre. Questions have been raised by the Charity Commissioners into the organisation's charitable status and a call has been made for its accounts to be inspected. There are fears that some of the money might be used for projects outside the country and that the group will use the money to promote its religious beliefs (Waltham Forest Independent 05.08.94).  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 11]

Days off at Ford

The Ford Motor Company has made provisions for members of minority religions who work at its Dagenham factory to take some of their annual holiday entitlement as occasional days-off to coincide with major religious festivals (Sun 12.08.94).  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 11]

Recruiting minority community members

The newly elected Labour-controlled council in Croydon has pledged itself to do more to ensure that a greater number of minority community members are recruited to posts on the council's staff and to a better representation on council working parties and appeals panels. They hope to improve the shortfall in school governors from minority communities who currently make up only 7% of governors even though 25% of children come from these communities. Similarly, they intend to improve the multicultural awareness of selection boards for council appointments and to offer interview technique support for applicants. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 11]

 

Community Centre in debt

The Pakistani Community Centre, Longsight, Manchester, owes more than 37,000 to the council in rent for its building. It would appear that the centre did not pay its rent to the council in 1992/93 even though it had been specifically given a grant for this purpose. Further it failed to apply for other grants to offset its running costs. The council decided to ask for a lump sum of 15,000 and 955 per week thereafter to repay the debt before the end of the year. Unfortunately the council's deadline was not met and so the lease was terminated. A council administrator is now running the centre and the council has asked the local Pakistani community to bring forward a new committee to take over its management. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 11]

 

Southampton imam may stay

An imam in Southampton, who has been fulfilling his duties on a voluntary basis whilst in the country on a visitor's visa, has won his appeal to the Home Secretary to reconsider his earlier decision to have him deported. The visitor's permit expired earlier in the year and on 23rd April the Home Secretary refused to allow him leave to remain in the country. The latest reprieve came at the opening of a High Court application for judicial review. A Home Office spokesman pointed out that Mr Ravat had entered the country as a visitor and could not later apply to have his status changed but the Home Secretary agreed to reconsider the case after extensive testimonials from the Muslim community and churchmen in Southampton who emphasised the impact which the imam has had on Muslim life during his period of residence.

The decision by the Home Secretary to review the deportation order against Imam Ravat has given a spark of hope to the Tahir family of Blyth, Newcastle, who are facing a similar order which is currently deferred so that they can wind up their business affairs. Mrs Tahir lost her British residency when she stayed out of the country for more than two years, during which time immigration laws were changed. There is considerable local support for the family and the local MP has indicated that the fact that Southampton has two marginal parliamentary seats has coloured the Home Secretary's judgement (News Post Leader 25.08.94 and Newcastle upon Tyne Evening Chronicle 27.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 11/12]

 

Clash over sex education

Apna Sahara, a health outreach group which operates in Scunthorpe with a view to helping people from minority communities gain access to health and social services, has been criticised by the Bangladeshi Welfare Association for taking part in National Condom Week which was intended to raise awareness about the dangers of AIDS and HIV infection. The group defended its action on the basis that it exists to give information and not to comment on what people think about moral issues but the Bangladeshi association saw it as an attack on traditional family values and said that such things should not be talked about so blatantly. A meeting was held between various Muslim groups and a representative of Apna Sahara. The majority agreed that the organisation had worked from the best of motives and asked that any further sessions organised by it should be single-sex. However, the Bangladeshi Welfare Association said that it would take up the matters raised on a national basis and asked that funding for Apna Sahara to do sex education should be stopped (Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph 27.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 12]

 

Muslim Parliament to the rescue

A Muslim shopkeeper in Lancaster has "made countless claims of racially motivated attacks" (Morecambe Guardian 12.08.94) over the last few years and is now disillusioned with the police and local council after their failure to deal with the situation. The council claims that it has taken the reports seriously but Massoud Shadjareh of the Human Rights Committee of the Muslim Parliament is threatening to take the case in hand personally and bring it to the attention of the national media in an attempt to gain some action for the besieged man. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 12]

 

Media image of Islam

According to a report in the Weekly Journal (11.08.94), "A growing number of Muslims in Britain are fed up with what they see as "damaging" portrayals in the media of Islam and its followers and are seeking a change of image". The editor of Impact International was quoted as saying that, "It is up to us as Muslims to take the responsibility for how non-Muslims perceive our religion. And angry declarations are not going to help because they alienate people". Likewise, a journalist from Q News was quoted as saying, "Many Muslims are fed up with anti-Western ranting and raving because they can see that it offers no coherent vision of how to reconcile your belief in Islam with living in the West". The tone of the article was to call on Muslims to follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad in sincere and persuasive speech. "Islam says Muslims should appeal to people's innate ethical and moral sense of good and evil to help them to understand us and, perhaps, even convert them - if that is what they decide. But anger with the media or anybody else is not the answer". [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 12/13]

 

Leader fined over glue sale

A Birmingham Muslim community leader and secretary of the Dudley Road mosque has pleaded guilty to selling glue and thinners to a 13 year-old boy knowing that they would be used for inhalation. He was fined 5,000 by city magistrates. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Racism in the police

The Metropolitan Police Department has devised a new scheme to help tackle racism amongst its officers. To date, 400 officers have been on a six-week race awareness course which includes spending time living with families from minority communities where they can experience alternative cultures and religious attitudes. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Ismaili businesses in decline

According to a report in the Sunday Telegraph (14.08.94), there are tensions within the Ismaili community in Britain after some of the companies in which the Aga Khan's investment company, Industrial Promotion Services, invested collapsed. The British work of the company was established in 1988 to inject venture capital into Ismaili businesses here. Unfortunately, several of the businesses have become victims of the economic collapse of the 80's. According to the report, "out of the 16 investments, five are in liquidation, three are in receivership and a number are still losing money". [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Slough PWA: election call

Further difficulties are reported in the staging of elections for the Pakistan Welfare Association, Slough and the Slough Islamic Trust (see BMMS for April 1994). Elections for the PWA were due on 31st March but were delayed until after the elections for the Islamic Trust. The latter has now scheduled its elections for 11th September but no date was set for PWA elections. This led a group of elders from the community to issue an ultimatum to the president of the PWA to the effect that they would call elections for September if he did not. It has now been decided to schedule both sets of elections for September. Concern was raised earlier in the year over the suitability of the current president of the PWA for re-election after he was banned from holding office in the Labour Party following charges of racist and intimidatory behaviour. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Investment trust for Muslims

The Fleming Investment Trust Management group is reported to be working on a new investment trust which will operate according to Islamic principles. The trust will be aimed primarily at investors from the Middle East (Daily Express 23.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 13]

 

South Asian theatre conference

The South Asian Arts development agency and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre have announced the first international conference on South Asian Theatre in Britain for a decade. The conference, under the title "A Question of Identity" will take place in Birmingham on October 20-21st and will focus on all aspects of the development of the British Asian theatre. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 13/14]

 

King's Cross stabbing

The attack on a white boy in the King's Cross area of London on 13th August has led to heightened racial tensions. The boy was stabbed to death in the street by a gang of Bengali youths. There have been repercussions. A van containing a family of Asian origin was attacked by a gang of about 20 white youths who threw missiles at it and abused the occupants. A halal butcher's shop in the area was the object of a fire-bomb attack. Police are said to be containing the tense situation but units of "Guardian Angels" are reported to be patrolling the area. The killing has been condemned by Muslim leaders both locally and nationally.

A "local business person from the Asian community" has put up a reward of 10,000 for information leading to the conviction of the gang. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Relief work for Bosnia

The charity Islamic Relief held a charity bazaar in Leicester where a film was shown of the ongoing war and sufferings of the people of Bosnia. Money raised was to go to a Safe Women's Project running in Bosnia to provide counselling, shelter and accommodation to women who had been caught up in the fighting. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Cambridge exhibition

Muslims in Cambridge staged an open exhibition during the afternoon of Sunday 28th August with a view to telling people more about themselves. "They fear that recent publicity about Muslim fanatics may have been harmful and they want to give local residents a chance both to voice their fears and to learn about Islam" (Cambridge Weekly News 24.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Muslims in Lancaster

The Muslim community in Lancaster was profiled in an article in the Garstang Guardian (26.08.94). Most of the 500-strong community are of Indian extraction from Gujarat and came to Lancaster in the early 1960s to work in the textile mills. Now that the mills have closed they have diversified into a range of businesses with an abundant selection of restaurants including one in a redundant church and one on a house boat. Race relations are reported to be good except for an occasional insulting jeer and the community is thriving. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 14]

 

London housing development

The official opening has taken place of a new housing development built by the North London Muslim Housing Association in Church Street, Stoke Newington. The development consists of 23 flats as well as maisonettes and houses. There is also a house especially designed for the disabled. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Islam and the West

The Methodist Recorder (01.09.94) devoted an extensive comment column to explore the relationship of Islam and the West. It roved over many issues which touch the Muslim community such as voluntary aided schools, seeking a collective voice and the Khilafah Conference. It concluded that the integration of faith and life, which is central to Islam, is something which western Christianity has lost to its detriment. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Algerian speaker banned

Anwar Haddam, the "representative of the [Algerian] Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in Europe and the United States" will be refused a visa to enter Britain to speak at a public meeting at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London which is scheduled for 21st September, according to a report in The Guardian (31.08.94). The suspicion is that the British government has bowed to French pressure or has, at least, "acted on the basis of possibly tainted French information". [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 15]

 

Women united with Libyan children

A three-week trip to Libya was organised by a Blackburn-based charity called "Recovery" to reunite British women with their children who had been taken to that country by their fathers. A total of ten mothers made the journey with hopes of visiting 19 children of all ages. The children had been separated from their mothers, in some cases, for several years as their fathers feared the influence of western society on their children's upbringing (Manchester Evening News 05.09.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 15]

 

Holiday fun in Luton

Bedfordshire County Council funded activities for children throughout the county to help keep them occupied during the long school vacation. Muslims at the Islamic Education Centre in Luton took advantage of this provision and organised a variety of activities both within their own centre and through organised trips to the seaside and Chessington World of Adventure [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 15]

 

Gift of lamb rejected

A kebab shop owner of Turkish extraction in Waltham Cross was so relieved when his 29 year-old brother survived after a car crash that he arranged to slaughter a lamb and donate it to an old people's home. When the local environmental health department heard about the gift they took it away and had it destroyed because it had not been slaughtered and inspected according to environmental health regulations. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 15]

 

TV star on da'wah tour

Leo X Chester, "the most high-profile Nation of Islam member in Britain" (Weekly Journal 01.09.94) and star of the television programme The Real McCoy, plans to tour Britain during the second week of September with the message that "Islam is the African people's original religion" which was destroyed by Europeans through slavery. Chester sees the tour as being educational rather than confronting Black Christians in Britain who are regarded as following a "religion forced on our ancestors by the slavemasters". [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 15]

 

BCCI: Virani to buy prison?

Nazmudin Virani, who is serving a two and a half year prison sentence for his part in the collapse of the BCCI (see BMMS for May, June and July 1994), has made an offer to buy the prison in which he is held under the government's privatisation policy (News of the World 04.09.94). He is reported to be enjoying a degree of freedom and leisure outside the prison under the guise of helping with administrative work at the Purley General Hospital. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 15]

 

Control of Immigration Statistics

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has issued a strong criticism of the Home Office after the release of the latest Control of Immigration Statistics. The director, Claude Moraes, said, "The figures show that the clampdown on immigration begun in earnest in 1987 is actually picking up in momentum following the passing of the Asylum and Immigration and Appeals [sic] Act 1993" (Daily Jang 09.09.94). The figures appear to indicate that the number of people being deported, being detained under the Immigration Act and being refused asylum have all increased. Similarly, 7,000 fewer appeals against the refusal of rights, by comparison with the 1992 figure, indicates the impact of the new legislation which denies the right of appeal to those who have been refused permission to enter the country as visitors or under the 1993 act. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 15/16]

 

Rochester reflects on Pakistan

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, formerly the Bishop of Raiwind, Pakistan, and now the bishop-designate of Rochester, England, was interviewed by the editor of the English Section of the Daily Jang (26.08.94). The bishop's father converted to Christianity before he was born but many of his relatives are Muslims which gives him a particular insight into Christian-Muslim relations and the situation of both communities on the subcontinent. Dr Nazir-Ali professed himself to be a supporter of the idea of the creation of Pakistan as a homeland for Muslims who felt that they were being squeezed out of pre-partition India. He drew a similar parallel to Pakistani Christians today and felt that it would be regrettable if they were deprived of the feeling of "belonging" to their native country. Much of the interview concentrated on Pakistan where the bishop had been active in seeking greater protection for all minority groups during his time there. He commented, "My concern here, is not just for Christians alone but for the emergence of a progressive society in Pakistan where people have freedom of speech without having the freedom to incite religious hatred". [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 16]

 

Pop star profile

The teenagers' magazine Just Seventeen (24.08.94) ran a profile of Schelim a member of the pop music band "Worlds Apart". He was born in Bangladesh and grew up moving to and fro between his native land and London where he finally settled. The focus of the profile was on "coping with a strict, religious family". It explored Schelim's teenage years when he rebelled against parental control and the disapproval of his community as he moved into pop music. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 16]

 

Islamic Management Training

The Islamic Foundation, Leicester, sponsored a seminar on "Islamic Management Training" on 23-24 August. The seminar was led by Dr Rafick Beekum, associate professor of management and strategy at Nevada State University. Around 50 people attended the seminar being drawn from some of the leading Muslim organisations in the country. The seminar set out to examine why it is that some Islamic organisations fail to realise their true potential and then to explore ways of tackling the issue. The seminar, which was the subject of a report in Q News (02.09.94), had three foci: strategic management, leadership skills and conflict management. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 16]

 

Leeds prison attack

Five white inmates at Armley Prison in Leeds are alleged to have carried out an attack on a Muslim prisoner of Asian origin. Muslim prisoners in the gaol had been refusing to eat meat which they believed not to be halal. This had led to tensions in the prison for some weeks. The five men involved in the attack are reported to be kitchen workers. They wore white pillow cases on their heads, "Ku Klux Klan-style" (Manchester Evening News 24.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 16]

 

Banned for timetable offence

Arjumond Ali, a former vice-president of the Bedford Islamic Committee, has been banned from the mosque for four months after allegations that he destroyed a prayer timetable. Mr Ali denied the charge and claimed that he had arrived at the mosque, some two months ago, to find the timetable in tatters. He then reported the incident to the police. Mr Ali claimed that he had been the victim of a hate campaign organised by another committee member. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 17]

 

Women converts to Islam

The significant rate of middle class and professional women who are converting to Islam was highlighted in an article in The Sunday Times (04.09.94). The article recorded an estimate of 10,000 British converts to Islam of which a major proportion consisted of educated women. One convert noted that a common factor was the breakdown of family life and the deteriorating standards within society. Another, a former Irish Catholic, noted "I love the security and the moral standards in Islam. You know exactly where you stand and what your rights are". The fact that white Muslims had no legal remedy for anti-Muslim discrimination was noted. A Belgian-born convert stressed the potential of being a European Muslim. "I see no reason why I cannot be like any other Westerner and also be a Muslim. I don't want to be separate from the Western world - I'm part of it". The Islamic Foundation in Leicester is running a support group for British women converts. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 17]

 

Complaints over new immigration rules

The Director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Claude Moraes, has written to the Home Office minister responsible for immigration and the head of the immigration service to complain about new rules for immigration which will come into effect on 1 October 1994. The rules, which are held not to incorporate the provisions of the European Commission on Human Rights, will make it even more difficult for visitors and potential immigrants to Britain. Particular reference was made to the lack of provision for daughters between the ages of 18 and 21 to join their parents in this country and to the difficulties placed in the way of widowed parents wishing to join their families here. Similarly, the Home Office is said to be ignoring a ruling from the European Court of Justice in 1992 that the primary purpose marriage rule should be outlawed within the countries of the EU. The British government is still insisting on this rule and on the rule governing marriages which do not last for more than one year (Daily Jang 09.09.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 17]

 

Ismaili community gathers

Britain's Ismaili community gathered for a series of meetings at Earl's Court, London, during August. There were reported to be around 11,000 Ismailis from the UK present with an equal number of members from North America. The Aga Khan himself was in attendance at the rally (Daily Mail 30.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 17]

 

Seminar on sex and sexuality

The London-based An-Nisa Society has arranged a seminar on Sex and sexuality: the Islamic perspective which will take place in Willesden Green on 13th September. The seminar is aimed at Muslim and non-Muslim health workers as well as anyone else interested in understanding the Islamic perspective on these issues. The tutor will be Halima Krausen and topics under review include contraception and sex education as well as a general overview on the place of sexuality within human life. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 17]

 

Islamic Relief Women's Games

Several hundred Muslim women and girls are reported to have attended the third Islamic Relief Women's Games in London on 21st August. The games aimed to facilitate an enjoyable day-out in female company combined with raising money for Islamic Relief's work amongst orphans. The Games were opened by Britain's first Muslim woman mayor, Mrs Meher Khan, the Mayor of Waltham Forest. There was a wide variety of sporting events on offer for all ages as well as poetry competitions, a bazaar and seminars on topics of interest. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 18]

 

CRE: religious discrimination

The Commission for Racial Equality has begun an information-gathering exercise in an attempt to quantify the incidence of religious discrimination in Britain. They have written to religious organisations and community relations bodies asking them to supply details of any cases where religious discrimination might be a factor. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 18]

 

Brent: holiday playscheme

The An-Nisa Society in Brent organised a holiday playscheme for local children during the vacation. It ran for three weeks and culminated in an open day to celebrate the Birthday of the Prophet on 19th August. The scheme was supported by the Brent Council, Islamic Relief, Iqra Trust and the Communities Development Project. In addition to the usual array of games and creative activities, the children were taken on trips to broaden their experience away from the normal routine of inner-city life. There were also classes in Arabic, English and Maths to keep up the children's contact with these key academic disciplines. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 18]

 

Reflections: by women, for women

The women's magazine Reflections was launched two years ago as a volunteer venture to provide a magazine for women of Asian heritage written from within their own number. The magazine is based in Huddersfield and now has a circulation of 2,000. It was helped by a start-up grant from the Kirklees Economic Development Unit and now has an office in an Enterprise Centre where each edition is compiled by one part-time paid worker and between twenty and thirty women volunteers who contribute articles on all manner of issues which appeal to their readership. The magazine's staff and readers come from all religious groups within the Asian community some of whom have to contribute articles anonymously from within the family home. There has been a certain amount of opposition from Muslim newsagents who are reluctant to sell the magazine because they fear that it is a threat to the traditional position of women within their culture (Huddersfield Daily Examiner 01.09.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 18]

 

Grant for development project

The Werneth-Freehold Community Development Project runs a lunch club, women's study group, advice centre and parent and toddler group. It is a joint Muslim-Christian project and has just received a boost in the form of an 8,000 grant from the Church Urban Fund. The money will be used to employ a woman to work with families and especially women of Asian heritage. A previous grant from the same source was used to employ a welfare rights adviser who was so successful that the funding was taken over by the local council. The same transference of funding is hoped for with the current post. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 18]

 

European Drug Prevention Week

The week beginning 15th October has been designated European Drug Prevention Week. The event is to be launched in Manchester by the Greater Manchester Bangladesh Association which is organising a young people's forum, a day seminar on employment opportunities for drug takers and an exchange with a group in Germany. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 19]

 

Churches' Commission for Racial Justice

The Churches' Commission for Racial Justice has issued a report on the plight of illegal immigrants in the UK. It asked the government to grant an amnesty during which all families who are technically illegal immigrants but which contain children who have been born and brought up in Britain would be allowed to register and have the automatic right to remain in the country. The report has received some press criticism for likening the current state of the implementation of Britain's immigration laws to the Third Reich's treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 19]

 

back to contents

 

Updates

Education

"Women only" engineers

The People's College of Tertiary Education in Nottingham has announced plans to recruit an exclusively female cohort of students for a National Vocational Qualification course in engineering. The students will study maths, physics, chemistry and basic engineering on a two-year course in an all-female environment. The inner city college hopes to attract a substantial percentage of Muslim students to apply for the 15 places on offer. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 19]

 

Section 11 funding cuts

The Racial Equality Council at Waltham Forest has joined its voice to those calling for a reconsideration of government plans to cut Section 11 funding and subsume it into the Single Regeneration Budget which will have no specific remit to promote the needs of minority communities. The borough is facing the loss of 100 teachers currently employed in language support, as bilingual teachers or as home/school liaison teachers. The Single Regeneration Budget will be administered by the Department of the Environment and the REC is calling on their local MP to enter into discussions with this department together with the Home Office and the DfE to ensure that a proportion of the new budget is earmarked specifically for minority language concerns. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 19]

 

Muslim girls' school in Halifax?

Initial talks are under way in the Muslim community in Halifax with a view to setting up a Muslim girls' school in the area. The need is felt to provide a full National Curriculum education within a religious environment. Several buildings have been identified as possible bases for the school and negotiations are expected to begin with the Calderdale Council Education Department. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 19]

 

Hijaz College

Plans to convert Higham Grange into a university-level language college (see BMMS for July 1994) have been deferred after serious objections by planning and transport officers and concerns expressed by local people. The plans, which had been submitted for approval to the local planning authority, have been withdrawn subject to further consultation and consideration. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 19]

 

Larger premises for prep. school

The Manchester Muslim Preparatory School has been given planning permission to convert a former home for the elderly called "The Grange", in the Withington district, into new premises for their school. They hope to take up residence in time for the new school year and will be able to accommodate an addition two classes. They will still have a significant waiting list for the full educational programme which they offer within an Islamic environment. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 20]

 

Grants for language courses

Derbyshire County Council has agreed to give a total of 9,270 to 21 organisations to help pay for books and educational materials for students attending supplementary language classes. Several Asian language schools will benefit from the funding. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 20]

 

Newark school seeks expansion

The Muslim boys' school, Al Jamia Al Islamia, in Flintham near Newark, which opened in September 1993 (see BMMS for August 1993 and January 1994) has applied for planing permission to site five portable classrooms in an effort to extend the school. There has been some concern expressed locally as this comes so soon after the school's original foundation. There has also been considerable confusion about an application to convert one of the school's playing fields into a cemetery. Initially, this was reported to be a unilateral action by one Muslim elder acting without the support of the school's authorities (Newark Advertiser 26.08.94). Later it emerged that the plan has the support of other local leaders who see the need for a Muslim cemetery locally. The idea to site it at the school was a way of maintaining links between the boys and their Muslim culture but the important issue was that a cemetery should be provided somewhere locally rather than necessarily at the school (Nottingham Evening Post 31.08.94). Sporting links have been developed for pupils at the school as a way of establishing closer ties with the local community. Three boys have won places in the village cricket team and others are hoping for trials for the football team. Squash and tennis teams are also planned to take part in local leagues. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 20]

 

Islamia and VA status

Islamia Schools Trust has announced that it intends to consider asking the newly-appointed Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Shephard, to reconsider her predecessor's decision to refuse voluntary aided status to the school (see BMMS for August 1993). The move was prompted by the recent grant of VA status to the Jewish Hasmonean School in nearby Barnet (see BMMS for July 1994). The Islamia Schools Trust is also reported to be considering the opening of a new school on a new site which might then qualify for government aid (Brent and London Recorder 24.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 20]

 

Preston girls' school seeks permission

The Preston Muslim Girls' School has been operating for three years without planning permission in part of a redundant building which it shares with a community centre. During this time it has unsuccessfully applied for planning permission. The school has attracted some 80 girls and has established links with Preston College which runs classes there. It has twice been served with enforcement notices to stop using the current building. The enforcement notices have been withdrawn by the council before they were executed. Now the Preston Muslim Society is planning to submit a further application for permission to change the use of the building from a community centre to a school. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 20]

 

Master's in banking and finance

The proposed master's degree in Islamic banking and finance which is being sponsored by the Islamic Foundation, Leicester, in partnership with Loughborough University was one of the items discussed at a reception for 120 delegates at the Foundation's headquarters at the Markfield Conference Centre. The guest of honour at the reception was Dr Abdullah Omar Naseef the former secretary general of the Muslim World League. The master's programme is due to begin in October 1995. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 21]

 

Mosques

Aberdeen

The Lord Provost of Aberdeen gave his full support to the building of a new mosque in the city and asked his planners to search for a suitable site (see BMMS for December 1993). The search has located 20 possible sites so far and negotiations have begun with the Muslim community to see which of them are suitable. One difficulty which will rule out some of the sites is that the community is seeking five acres so that they can build community and educational facilities as well as a prayer hall. The Muslim community of Aberdeen has grown to around 2,000 but this number is increased by students during term time. The community is sure that they can raise the necessary money for the development from abroad as it will enhance the attraction for overseas Muslim students to come to study there. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 21]

 

Aberystwyth

University officials have agreed in principle to make a parcel of land near the Brynamlwg staff social club available for the building of a mosque for use by Muslim students. There are currently about 200 Muslim students at the university who, with their families, have been praying in a former sports hall. Students are now being encouraged to write to Muslim governments and individuals around the world and in Britain in the hope that they can raise the necessary finance. If the funds can be found, the building should be ready for use in the academic year 1996-1997. It would be the first purpose-built mosque on a university campus in Britain. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 21]

 

Bolton

There has been some concern expressed by local residents in the neighbourhood of the Prospect Street mosque which has just topped out its 82 feet high minaret. The minaret has been painted gold and green and has been referred to as a "carbuncle" by local residents who say that their deeds prohibit the use of bright colours on the outsides of their houses. The minaret is soon to be joined by a large green dome over the prayer hall. Local Muslims, who number only about 300, are proud of the fact that they have raised the full 700,000 over ten years to pay for their mosque. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 21]

 

Bury

The inauguration has taken place of the Khizra Mosque and Social, Cultural and Welfare Centre in Parker Street, Bury. The building is a former industrial unit and it will cost 260,000 to complete the conversion to its new use so that it can replace the present cramped accommodation where there is a thriving school which caters for 356 boys and girls in evening and weekend classes. A split has arisen within the community, whereby some want to see the old site continue in use. There have been allegations about the motives of committee members and the most unusual assertion has been made that cultural and educational activities are not allowed to take place in the same building which is used for worship. A former secretary of the committee said, somewhat untypically, "In Islam, a place can either be a community centre or a holy place of worship; a mosque. Islam does not allow a place to be both" (Midweek Times 23.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 21/22]

 

High Wycombe

Planning permission has been granted for the extension of the mosque in Jubilee Road (see BMMS for April 1994). Up to 300 people were having to pray on the pavement because there was insufficient space for them inside the mosque. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 22]

 

Hyde

Local residents are objecting to the council's decision to give planning permission for a shop on the corner of Henry Street and Edna Street to be converted into a mosque. They say that they were not adequately consulted. A petition has been started. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 22]

 

Manchester

Local people are objecting to plans under discussion with the planning authority to site a small mosque for 70 worshippers in a disused mosaic works in Blackburn Street in the Old Trafford area. The plans provide for ten car parking spaces but locals fear that there will be considerable traffic problems if the mosque goes ahead. Planning officers have agreed to further consultations. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 22]

 

Stevenage

Planning permission has finally been given for the mosque in the Pin Green district of the town after an eighteen month campaign (see BMMS for December 1993, May and July 1994). At a full meeting of the council only three councillors voted against the permission which was imposed with the condition that no public worship will take place outside the hours of 0700 to 2300. Between 0400 and 0700 no more than four people are permitted to be inside the building at any one time and no more than 40 between 2300 and 0000. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 22]

 

Tipton

The planning committee of Sandwell Council is to be recommended to approve plans to extend the mosque in Park Lane East to replace dilapidated outbuildings on the present site. Local residents fear that this will increase the number of people who use the mosque and thus exacerbate traffic problems. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 22]

 

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British Muslims Monthly Survey for August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8

 

 

Contents

 

 

Features

The Economist: A Survey of Islam

UN Conference on Population and Development

Labour Party applications, Manchester

Reactions to the Khilafah Conference

UK Islamic Mission conference

 

 

Short Reports

Interpreter alleges discrimination

"Islam versus Freedom and Democracy"

Celebrating the Prophet's birthday

Spreading the word in Wales

YMO: "Reaching new frontiers"

Waltham Forest letterhead

Islam: misunderstood faith

2,000 mourn imam

Mobile health team for Tipton

Police payout for teenager

Young Muslim women and employment

American basketball super-star

Bullying and racism in schools

Luton mosque dispute

Disappointment for the Devil's Advocate

YM: leader interviewed

Waltham Forest grant enquiry

Days off at Ford

Recruiting minority community members

Community Centre in debt

Southampton imam may stay

Clash over sex education

Muslim Parliament to the rescue

Media image of Islam

Leader fined over glue sale

Racism in the police

Ismaili businesses in decline

Slough PWA: election call

Investment trust for Muslims

South Asian theatre conference

King's Cross stabbing

Relief work for Bosnia

Cambridge exhibition

Muslims in Lancaster

London housing development

Islam and the West

Algerian speaker banned

Women united with Libyan children

Holiday fun in Luton

Gift of lamb rejected

TV star on da'wah tour

BCCI: Virani to buy prison?

Control of Immigration Statistics

Rochester reflects on Pakistan

Pop star profile

Islamic Management Training

Leeds prison attack

Banned for timetable offence

Women converts to Islam

Complaints over new immigration rules

Ismaili community gathers

Seminar on sex and sexuality

Islamic Relief Women's Games

CRE: religious discrimination

Brent: holiday playscheme

Reflections: by women, for women

Grant for development project

European Drug Prevention Week

Churches' Commission for Racial Justice

Updates

Education

"Women only" engineers

Section 11 funding cuts

Muslim girls' school in Halifax?

Hijaz College

Larger premises for prep. school

Grants for language courses

Newark school seeks expansion

Islamia and VA status

Preston girls' school seeks permission

Master's in banking and finance

Mosques

Aberdeen

Aberystwyth

Bolton

Bury

High Wycombe

Hyde

Manchester

Stevenage

Tipton

 

 

Features

The Economist: A Survey of Islam

One of the most influential English-language specialist magazines, The Economist, published a 20-page survey of Islam with its edition of 06.08.94. The magazine has a massive circulation worldwide and its taken as an influential source by people involved in any form of business and many in international relations. This was one of an occasional series produced by the magazine which surveys countries, industries or financial organisations. The fact that it should publish a special survey devoted exclusively to Islam is itself noteworthy. It is the tradition of The Economist not to acknowledge its authors or sources which often increases the candour and authority of their contributions.

The survey began by setting a scene of confusion over Islam in the West. This confusion leads some commentators to predict future unrest between the world of Islam and the capitalist, free-market economies of the West. The history of conflict between Islam and Christendom was traced through the 14 centuries during which they have co-existed. This culminated in a special report on the situation in Algeria where elections were cancelled in 1992 when it became clear that an Islamic government was likely to gain power. This cancellation was backed by the government of France. The particular antecedents of the Franco-Algerian interface and possible future consequences were explored.

There followed three essays devoted to the three areas which were considered to need attention in the Muslim world's progress into the 21st century. The first looked at Islam's potential to handle a modern economy. Many aspects were indicated as needing further research in developing an Islamic methodology of economic management but the prohibition on riba [interest] in Islam was seen as a positive contribution to a possible economic modus vivendi which Islam could offer the other economic systems. The second essay addressed the question of sexual equality and this focused on the Sisters in Islam group in Malaysia. It was generally held that one must distinguish between the elements of the current situation of women in the Muslim world which are genuinely due to Islam and those which trace their origins to the time, place and economic situations of the relevant Muslim societies. The third essay looked at Islam's potential to absorb principles of democracy within society. The general conclusion was that there is a democratic deficiency in almost all Muslim societies today.

An important parallel was drawn between the 15th century in the Christian era and the current 15th century in the Islamic calendar. Within the Christian experience, the 15th century was seen to be the launchpad of the Renaissance which in turn led to the individuality of the Reformation and thus to the development of principles of democracy within the European system. It took 300 years for Europe to make this transition but the opinion was expressed that the rate of societal change was now immeasurably faster due to mass communication and the fact that much pioneering work had already been done in the West where many Muslim leaders have received their education in the physical and social sciences.

This led to an identification of four positive signs of future change within the Muslim world. There is a general disillusionment with the old religious and political order and thus a quest for something better which can be seen in the rise of Islamic movements throughout the Muslim world. There is an overwhelming sense of despair in the Muslim perspective as post-colonial societies see themselves as having been humiliated and having lost touch with their cultural inheritance. This is coupled with a sense of despair at the decline in global society. The dominant response to this in the Muslim world is to go back to the religious roots and search again for what Islam has to offer for a new order in society. Finally, there are external influences which are having a major impact such as the new-found wealth brought by oil revenues and the importation of Western culture and technology.

Two major challenges were identified as facing the Western world in its response to resurgent Islam. Firstly, there must be a recognition of the political instability which is bound to follow and thus a need for a considered reaction to this instability especially as it effects the new world order. Secondly, there is the challenge which Islam brings to consider the atomist and nihilist trends within western society by comparison to the dominant sense of communalism which still exists in the Muslim world. The challenge here is to discover a new moral order in global affairs. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 1/2]

 

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UN Conference on Population and Development

Muslims in Britain have joined their voices to many Muslim leaders around the world in condemning the draft policy document of the UN Conference on Population and Development. Dr Abdul Majid Katme, the president of the Islamic Medical Association, has spoken of "devious attempts at population control by the haves of this world against the have-nots" (Q News 12.08.94). Dr Katme called upon Britain's Muslims to unite with those who oppose the conference and to write to the embassies of Muslim countries expressing their concern and calling on them to vote against the measures.

The thrust of the Muslim concerns are that the proposals undermine religious morality as the basis for human development. Whilst many accept that the population of the world cannot grow in an undisciplined way, they point to the UN proposals as a form of cultural imperialism which aims to limit the population growth in particular of the developing countries. The relationship between population density and raw numbers is highlighted. Often the greatest population density occurs in countries which are already developed and which consume a grossly disproportionate share of the world's resources. It is this inequality in consumption which demands attention equally as much as the simple growth in population.

A joint declaration was issued by a widely representative group of Muslim leaders and scholars in Britain. The declaration said that, "The draft proposals... are totally unacceptable in their underlying philosophy, objectives and suggested plan of action" (Weekly Journal 01.09.94). Further, "The plan is a masterpiece of deception cunningly camouflaged in the language of 'progressive' lifestyles. It hopes to deceive by using catchy phrases like 'the empowerment of women' when, in reality, the proposals will lead to the enslavement of women as 'safe-sex objects', to be used by, and in turn use, others for self-gratification" (Caribbean Times 03.09.94).

An alternative conference on the population issue has been planned for 10th September to be held in Glasgow under the title "People Count". It will aim to address the issue from another perspective and speakers include "Green" politicians and religious leaders including Prof Khurshid Ahmad, the renowned Pakistani economist and Chairman of the Islamic Foundation in Leicester.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 2/3]

 

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Labour Party applications, Manchester

Two of the approximately 600 Muslim applicants for membership of the Labour Party in the Manchester Gorton constituency who have been unable to get their applications approved in close to two years (see British Muslims Monthly Survey for July 1994) have been given legal aid to "pursue a claim under the Race Relations Act to the effect that the Labour Party has denied membership rights to some 600 Asian applicants in an attempt to save the sitting MP and former shadow Foreign Secretary Mr Gerald Kaufman, from deselection" (Daily Jang 26.08.94). The matter has been pursued with some vigour by the Daily Jang who commented in an editorial (26.08.94) that if the recruitment is intended to increase the Muslim membership of the local party in order to deselect Kaufman and select a candidate of their choice, then this is the way in which democracy works in Britain. Rather than attempt to block their membership, those who support Kaufman ought themselves to be recruiting new members to the party who would vote for him.

The editorial went on, "The Gorton case highlights the classic catch 22 dilemma for Asians trying to integrate themselves into mainstream British life. They are sidelined if they build their own little economic, social and cultural ghettos and yet, if they come forward to join the mainstream, every attempt is made to fob them off. Somewhere there has to be a breakthrough and all said and done, it is the Labour Party which gives them the best chance of this breakthrough. The party would do itself no harm if it proclaimed this with pride."

Six leading Muslims from the constituency, including three councillors, wrote to the Daily Jang (09.09.94) to defend Kaufman's reputation as a constituency MP. Over the 24 years that he has represented the constituency he has shown himself to be "a tireless worker on behalf of all his constituents, paying especial attention to the Asians amongst them..." He has been active in immigration cases, in combatting racism and in supporting local appeals concerning housing and benefits. Four particular areas of initiative in parliament were noted, three of which concerned the subcontinent, with the addition of moving an amendment to create an offence of racial harassment.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 3]

 

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Reactions to the Khilafah Conference

The general opinion of commentators has been that the Khilafah Conference held at Wembley Arena on 7th August (see BMMS for May and July 1994) was something of an anti-climax given the build-up which took place in the light of the Israeli bombings and the calls for the conference to be banned. This report will focus only on the considered reaction to the conference in the Muslim, Jewish and Christian press.

The Daily Jang (12.08.94) confined itself to a 17 column-inch report of the actual events of the conference itself. It did reproduce the six-point declaration which was approved by the conference:

a. To establish the Khilafah system under which

b. One Khalifah would rule over the entire Muslim world.

c. All regimes in the Muslim world are neither Islamic nor approved by the Muslim people and therefore illegitimate.

d. All negotiations conducted and signed by organisations in the Muslim world with Israel are null and void and therefore not binding upon the Muslim people.

e. All Muslims are to be liberated and no Muslim lands are to left in the hands of non-Muslims.

f. The UN, World Bank, IMF and the Arab League are not acceptable to Muslims.

The only comment was contained in the last paragraph which concluded that "the media hype about the likelihood of physical confrontation was exaggerated".

By contrast, the Q News issue (12.08.94) ran to over 130 column-inches plus letters. The general report was under the front-page headline "Much Ado About Nothing". The first paragraph contained an apt summary of the report, "Even if judged by its own pre-conference press briefings and literature, the event failed to live up to its own stated goals". One interesting theory as to why the number present was several thousand down on the number expected was attributed to a Hizb ut-Tahrir member, "Hostile groups or government has bought a lot of tickets and destroyed them just to embarrass our conference by ensuring empty seats".

The report gave a synopsis of several of the speakers and noted that the general theme of the re-establishing of the caliphate was laboriously followed with much rhetoric but few practical suggestions for the way in which it could be brought about. It was noted that the question session was the only timetabled element which was cancelled. The report could be summarised by the comment that, "Again there was much generalisation and very little offered was of any real intellectual substance". It was noted that both at the conference and in general literature, Hizb ut-Tahrir had not called for the caliphate to be established in Europe.

A good insight into this particular response to the conference was contained in the comment that "despite Mr Bakri's [the leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain]

call for unity and tolerance amongst Muslims working towards instituting a khalifah few people who had prior contact with the HT believed his words. A major criticism of the group has been its overaggressive and confrontational nature particularly when dealing with fellow Muslims irrespective of the nobility of their message. One particularly obnoxious trait associated with the members of the group is their inability to be tolerant of any alternative viewpoint and the speed and eagerness with which they confer a "kafir" [unbeliever] label on anybody unwilling to swallow their sometimes rather shallow and naive polemic".

A second article in Q News explored some of the paucity of thought involved in the Hizb ut-Tahrir position under the headline "A bridge too far from Wembley" reminding readers of the Allies' offensive in the re-conquest of Europe during the 1939-1945 war which failed because they attempted to take a series of bridges in an over-ambitious campaign. The analogy to the Hizb ut-Tahrir position is clear. They proclaim a goal of a single caliph ruling over a global Islamic state but fail to provide any intellectual infrastructure to deal with the many Muslim nation states which already exist and the Islamic movements who would seek to establish Islamic states within existing boundaries.

Finally, a third report gave a catalogue of the press reports and public statements of various people in the lead-up to the conference which led to "a media-fuelled crisis which almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy".

A similar reaction to the lack of intellectual strategy in the Khilafah Conference was recorded in the letters to Q News in the subsequent issue (19.08.94). The lack of a plan to deal with the integration of the economies of the current Muslim states and the practical issues of statecraft were illustrated.

The Jewish press breathed a sigh of relief that the conference had passed off without incident. There were renewed calls for any statements issued by Hizb ut-Tahrir which were likely to incite racial hatred to be the matter of prosecutions in the British courts and it was noted that moderate Muslims in Britain had more to fear from the group than had the Jews (Jewish Telegraph 12.08.94). The same newspaper carried a call for an extended Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogue to combat extremism and work together for spiritual values.

The Jewish Chronicle (12.08.94) carried a report of the conference which noted that it was more like a "family day out" than a scene of impending street battle. Several comments that Muslims were not opposed to Jews were noted as well as comments that there had been much hype of a conspiratorial nature in the lead-up to the event. It was noted that there was literature on sale which spoke of a "Jewish conspiracy" and traced the opposition of Jews in Medina to the Prophet Muhammad. Likewise it was noted that the creation of Israel was a "shameful conspiracy" perpetrated against Muslims.

The same edition of the Jewish Chronicle carried a letter from the campaigns organiser of the Union of Jewish Students who noted that there had been a degree of back-tracking by Hizb ut-Tahrir leaders in their comments against Jews. He quoted several statements made earlier in the year which were unambiguously aimed against the Jewish community and noted that he expected the anti-Jewish campaign to re-appear with the new academic year when Jewish students, along with others, would again bear the brunt of Hizb ut-Tahrir rhetoric.

The theme of Jewish-Muslim dialogue was taken up again in the Jewish Chronicle (19.08.94) which traced the links which had already been built up between academics and religious leaders. Several constructive interactions were enumerated and leaders from the two faiths were quoted as both desiring and working towards better relations. The need to build bridges at all levels was stressed. It is not sufficient just to leave this in the hands of those who sit in intellectual circles, every mosque and synagogue ought to be establishing working relations. As the older of the two communities, in terms of their establishment in Britain, it was argued that Anglo-Jewry ought to take the lead in this initiative.

The Church Times (12.08.94) confined its report to a short paragraph with a photograph. The Catholic Herald (12.08.94) reported that the conference had passed off peacefully and noted the difference between "extremists" and "moderates" in the Muslim community. In an editorial in the same newspaper, the value of freedom of speech was extolled. Nevertheless, the editorial noted with regret the suggestion that there could be no peace between Israel and the Arab world and asked whether, in the light of the conference, one should "at least wonder whether to bring out the umbrella of legislative restriction" to deal with intemperate views. It concluded, "Most right-thinking people will ignore Wembley's inflammatory rhetoric. But some, if only a tiny minority, will see such cries as a mandate for violent action. We must be vigilant that such words are not translated into deeds".

In an editorial in The Tablet (13.08.94), the conference was set against the wider background of the Prince of Wales' speech at Oxford and the continuing unease felt by Muslims about the absence of Muslim VA schools. It called on Catholics to enter into dialogue with Muslims as two religious minorities within Britain with a view to exploring a religious critique of Western values. "The reaction to Wembley, therefore, should not be a counter-militancy employing bans and prohibitions. Nor should it be a crusade based on the demand for human rights. Instead, the attempt must be made to continue to reach out to the many Muslims who wish to have a legitimate place in a pluralist society with which they do not entirely agree, and who appreciate such Western values as democratic freedom, economic progress, tolerance, and cultural diversity. They accept that Muslims are in a minority situation in Britain today and that in such circumstances the best option is for Islam to commend itself by the civic and other virtues which it instills".  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 4-6]

 

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UK Islamic Mission conference

Around 2,000 Muslims gathered in Sheffield on 28th August for the 31st Annual Conference of the UK Islamic Mission (UKIM). The UKIM was established in Britain in 1962 as an organisation inspired by the Jamaati Islam party in Pakistan working with the Islamic revivalist teachings of Abul A'la Mawdudi and others. It now has over forty branches throughout the country and is active with students, settled communities and in da'wah work. The theme of this year's conference was the Sirah [biography, lived example] of the Prophet and speakers included Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the Amir [leader] of Jamaati Islam in Pakistan and Raschid Ghannouchi of Tunisia. The conference received little attention outside the Muslim press with the exception of Asian Age (29.08.94) which remarkably described it as "Britain's second major Islamic fundamentalist conference since Israel blamed the movement for a spate of anti-Semitic terrorism last month" thus forcing an unwarranted link with the Khilafah Conference. By contrast with Hizb ut-Tahrir, UKIM has a long and distinguished reputation for building harmonious community relations wherever it operates.

The Muslim weekly Q News (26.08.94) carried a full-page interview with the General Secretary of UKIM, Syed Tanzeem Wasti, in which he traced the history of the mission and exemplified its manner of working. In the same edition, the paper devoted two pages to a profile of some of UKIM's leading figures and spelt out its objectives. These included presenting an authentic view of Islam based on the Qur'an and Sunnah, building strong ties between all Muslims, promoting an Islamic social order based on a united humanity irrespective of colour, race or language, encouraging friendly relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in Britain and stimulating Islamic thought and action through the leadership of a committed band of workers.

At the conference the new leadership of the UKIM was sworn in, the new president being Syed Sharif Ahmad together with a Central Executive Council. The conference's resolutions were printed in full by Q News (02.09.94) which included a re-affirmation that humankind must live by divine guidance which stressed the essential freedom of every human being and the need to live a moral life which respects the dignity of others. Social justice was a major concern with resolutions against fascism and for a fairer sharing in the resources of the world.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 6/7]

 

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Short Reports

Interpreter alleges discrimination

A Bosnian man who had a Serb father and a Croat mother took a case of racial discrimination before an industrial tribunal in Reading after he had been refused work by the Refugee Council as an interpreter for Bosnian Muslims in Britain. The man came to Britain in 1992 to dissociate himself from the violence and from pressure to join the Serbian army. He followed a course organised by the Refugee Council which guaranteed that graduates would be given employment as interpreters for Bosnian refugees. When the man was contacted for his first assignment at Heathrow airport, an official of the Refugee Council withdrew the offer of work when it was discovered that he was not a Muslim. It had been reported to the Council that Bosnian Muslim refugees had threatened to kill interpreters who were not Muslims. In the light of this, the Refugee Council decided to use only Muslim interpreters until circumstances change. The Chairman of the Refugee Council told the tribunal that the man was the victim of religious discrimination not racial discrimination (The Times 09.08.94). The refugees in question had come from Serbian camps and were reported to be highly traumatised by their experience. The tribunal's decision is still pending.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 7]

"Islam versus Freedom and Democracy"

In the wake of the controversial debate in Luton on "Islam versus Christianity" (see BMMS for July 1994), a second debate was held under the title "Islam versus Freedom and Democracy". A total of around 150 people were reported to have attended but only a few of them were "white" (Luton on Sunday 31.07.94). This imbalance in the audience was regretted by Muslim organisers especially Farid Qassim, the deputy leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir, who was the day's guest speaker. A local councillor spoke on behalf of democracy but he condemned the debate as "nothing more than a publicity exercise by Islamic fundamentalists". The editor of Luton on Sunday was invited to speak but declined on the grounds that she "did not feel qualified to tackle Islamic issues". She went on to encapsulate the tension which exists between the Muslim population of the town and the local press by saying, "A minority in the community habitually decries the serious coverage we give to Muslim issues. They seem to believe the only worthy coverage is that written by themselves in long letters to the editor".  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 7]

Celebrating the Prophet's birthday

Various events celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad were reported from Bradford, Chesham, Dudley, High Wycombe, Huddersfield, Oldham, Rochdale and Swindon. The Muslim weekly Q News (12.08.94) carried a double-page spread on the subject which included a summary of the precedent for celebrating the event based on Islamic law (given that it was not known in its present form to the earliest generations of Muslims), a description of similar celebrations in Bosnia and a lengthy article by Dr Muhammad Abduh Yamani, the former Minister for Information in Saudi Arabia.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 8]

Spreading the word in Wales

HTV, the independent television company serving Wales and the West Country, carried a programme broadcast on 7th August on Neil (Nabil) Turner, a son of Rhondda, who converted to Islam during his time in Saudi Arabia in the mining industry and has since made his living through photography (see BMMS for February 1994). He told the story of his journey to embrace Islam and the work which he now does in Wales touring the valleys in an effort to correct some of the mistaken impressions about Muslims and Islam.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 8]

YMO: "Reaching new frontiers"

The Young Muslims Organisation conference on da'wah [inviting people to Islam], called "Reaching new frontiers" (see BMMS for July 1994) was reviewed in Q News (19.08.94). The tenor of the conference was set by the first speaker who emphasised the need for da'wah in the West in which the real objective "was to activate people's hearts and minds for the cause of Allah". This task must be undertaken with the best of manners and without loosing one's temper. The need for rational arguments was stressed so that people would see the truth of Islam and return to their natural state as Muslims. Tolerance and the imperative of going to the help of those in need was stressed. The whole conference was conducted in an atmosphere of goodwill and common fellowship.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 8]

Waltham Forest letterhead

The newly elected mayor of Waltham Forest, Councillor Meher Khan, has come in for some criticism for having "in the name of Allah" printed at the top of her official headed notepaper. A former mayor and Conservative councillor objected to the move and was supported by calls from the public gallery. However, Mrs Khan responded that "This is a multi-racial, multi-religious borough. I am the Mayor of the borough and have every right to choose my letterhead" (Chingford Guardian 28.07.94). There were further remarks carried in the same paper's letter column (04.08.94) to the effect that the mayor's role is a civic one and that religion ought not to be allowed to enter the equation.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 8]

Islam: misunderstood faith

The Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, Keith Ward, contributed an article for The Independent (12.08.94) under the heading "An entire faith misunderstood". This was a powerful argument against the "demonising" of Islam which he fears is currently under way in so many circles. He argued eloquently for the insights and riches which Islam has brought to humanity throughout the centuries and pleaded for a dialogue between Islam and other faiths and the Enlightenment which he holds to have purified western Christianity. By offering a critique to the excesses of the Enlightenment, Prof Ward believes that Islam will not only benefit itself but also contribute much spiritual wisdom to the progress of contemporary civilizations.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 8/9]

2,000 mourn imam

More than 2,000 mourners attended the funeral of 74 year-old Nottingham imam Manzoor Alam who had been imam at the Pakistani Community Centre since 1978. The crowd was so large that the council gave permission for the funeral to take place in the Forest Recreational Ground. Mr Alam's body was flown back to Pakistan for burial.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 9]

Mobile health team for Tipton

Tipton Muslim Centre, West Midlands, was one of three venues selected for a Mobile Community Health Team to set up a clinic to help people assess their health and fitness requirements. The sessions, which also include chiropody and physiotherapy clinics, have been fully booked. The project is being funded by the Sandwell Council, Sandwell Health Authority and Tipton Challenge Partnership. The team has a Muslim female assistant to facilitate ease of access by the Muslim community.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 9]

Police payout for teenager

A Bengali teenager from London brought an action against the Metropolitan Police for assault and false imprisonment after he was allegedly attacked by a police officer some two years ago. The case has been settled by the police with a payment of 7,500 in damages.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 9]

Young Muslim women and employment

A survey has been conducted by Birkbeck College, London, on behalf of the Employment Department into the changing patterns of women's employment in Britain. The survey took as its sample 55 young women aged 16 to 24 from Pakistani families living in the Birmingham area. It was reviewed in Young People Now (September 1994) and is available from the Research Management Branch, Room W441, Employment Department, Moorfoot, Sheffield, S1 4PQ. Its full title is: Working Choices: South Asian Young Muslim Women and the Labour Market. One of the main findings of the report was that, "The relationship of young Muslim women to the labour market is shaped by several structural and ideological factors, including the nature of the local labour market; ideologies about women's position in relation to paid and unpaid work; education; racism and discrimination; and class" (YPN).

Nine of the women were in further or higher education with the support of their families. The main fears of all the women were racism, discrimination and sexual harassment whether at work or on training schemes but there was little support for women-only training projects as they valued the opportunity to make friendships across the ethnic mix of the city. Higher than average unemployment rates were found and hourly rates of pay even lower than for white women. Many were engaged in the lower ranks of the textiles industry. They were twice as likely to be doing semi-skilled work as their white counterparts but were equally represented in professional and managerial posts. The women generally thought that access to paid employment was beneficial not just for the additional financial rewards but also for the increased independence which it brought them.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 9]

American basketball super-star

Hakeem Olajuwon, the Nigerian-born captain of the Houston Rockets basketball team, was in Britain briefly as part of a promotional tour of Europe. He was profiled in The Times (23.08.94) as someone whose life had been changed during the last three years since he rediscovered Islam. He now shuns the high-life media image of a sporting super-star and places pleasing God as the foremost aim of all that he does.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 9/10]

Bullying and racism in schools

The National Heartstone Project, based in Derbyshire, has been given 4,000 by the South Yorkshire Police Authority to launch a series of discussion groups in schools next term which aim to decrease the number of incidents of bullying and racism. The project uses books and videos in discussion groups to unlock feelings and emotions amongst the young people. It has met with much support from some parts of the community but a local Muslim councillor has attacked it for using "dance and drama" in its activities. Rotherham Councillor Nazir Ahmed has questioned the relevance of the project to Rotherham's Muslims who are currently unhappy about the way in which the police are handling racially charged events within the town. He is calling for an inquiry into the roots of the problems (Rotherham Star 15.08.94).  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 10]

Luton mosque dispute

Following the incidents in the Bury Park mosque in Luton, in which a man died of a heart attack and others were injured in fighting (see BMMS for June and July 1994), a further High Court injunction was obtained on July 28th which excluded nine people from entering the mosque in addition to the eleven who were banned on July 15th. The exclusion orders remain in force until 5th September when fresh elections are scheduled to take place.

Notwithstanding this action, police were called to the mosque again on Thursday 4th August when the imam failed to arrive to lead prayers and a dispute erupted over who should be allowed to perform this function. The dispute involved only seven police officers and ended with the congregation dispersing whilst the mosque committee entered into discussions with the police liaison officer.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 10]

Disappointment for the Devil's Advocate

Farid Qassim, the spokesman of Hizb ut-Tahrir, was due to face the television cameras in the Channel 4 programme Devil's Advocate on 17th August. Unfortunately he cancelled his appearance at short notice and failed to appear for the programme in which he was replaced by the former BBC reporter in India, Mark Tully. His failure to attend was ascribed to a fear that he might be misunderstood.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 10]

YM: leader interviewed

An informative insight into the internal workings of the Young Muslims was given through an interview with Ahtisham Ali, the new amir [leader] of the organisation which has recently transferred its parental affiliation from the UK Islamic Mission to the Islamic Society of Britain. The Young Muslims recently held their annual summer camp near Newark which was attended by about 2,000 people (see BMMS for July 1994). Mr Ali emphasised his desire to see the Young Muslims turn their attention more towards da'wah [inviting people to Islam], with the bulk of their literature being aimed at non-Muslims. He also wanted to tighten up the internal structure of the organisation by requiring every "call member", who form the inner core of the group's workers, to perform at least four hours of community service each week with an officially organised community organisation like the Samaritans or Help the Aged. These call workers, some 300 people nationally, already support the work of the group by giving 2% of their income to central funds. He emphasised the need to work with non-Muslim groups and deprecated those Muslim organisations who disrupt meetings and alienate Christian and Jewish co-workers.  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 10/11]

Waltham Forest grant enquiry

The Conservative leader of Waltham Forest Council has called for an enquiry into a grant of 40,000 from the council to The International Muslim Movement to build a women's centre. Questions have been raised by the Charity Commissioners into the organisation's charitable status and a call has been made for its accounts to be inspected. There are fears that some of the money might be used for projects outside the country and that the group will use the money to promote its religious beliefs (Waltham Forest Independent 05.08.94).  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 11]

Days off at Ford

The Ford Motor Company has made provisions for members of minority religions who work at its Dagenham factory to take some of their annual holiday entitlement as occasional days-off to coincide with major religious festivals (Sun 12.08.94).  [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 11]

Recruiting minority community members

The newly elected Labour-controlled council in Croydon has pledged itself to do more to ensure that a greater number of minority community members are recruited to posts on the council's staff and to a better representation on council working parties and appeals panels. They hope to improve the shortfall in school governors from minority communities who currently make up only 7% of governors even though 25% of children come from these communities. Similarly, they intend to improve the multicultural awareness of selection boards for council appointments and to offer interview technique support for applicants. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 11]

 

Community Centre in debt

The Pakistani Community Centre, Longsight, Manchester, owes more than 37,000 to the council in rent for its building. It would appear that the centre did not pay its rent to the council in 1992/93 even though it had been specifically given a grant for this purpose. Further it failed to apply for other grants to offset its running costs. The council decided to ask for a lump sum of 15,000 and 955 per week thereafter to repay the debt before the end of the year. Unfortunately the council's deadline was not met and so the lease was terminated. A council administrator is now running the centre and the council has asked the local Pakistani community to bring forward a new committee to take over its management. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 11]

 

Southampton imam may stay

An imam in Southampton, who has been fulfilling his duties on a voluntary basis whilst in the country on a visitor's visa, has won his appeal to the Home Secretary to reconsider his earlier decision to have him deported. The visitor's permit expired earlier in the year and on 23rd April the Home Secretary refused to allow him leave to remain in the country. The latest reprieve came at the opening of a High Court application for judicial review. A Home Office spokesman pointed out that Mr Ravat had entered the country as a visitor and could not later apply to have his status changed but the Home Secretary agreed to reconsider the case after extensive testimonials from the Muslim community and churchmen in Southampton who emphasised the impact which the imam has had on Muslim life during his period of residence.

The decision by the Home Secretary to review the deportation order against Imam Ravat has given a spark of hope to the Tahir family of Blyth, Newcastle, who are facing a similar order which is currently deferred so that they can wind up their business affairs. Mrs Tahir lost her British residency when she stayed out of the country for more than two years, during which time immigration laws were changed. There is considerable local support for the family and the local MP has indicated that the fact that Southampton has two marginal parliamentary seats has coloured the Home Secretary's judgement (News Post Leader 25.08.94 and Newcastle upon Tyne Evening Chronicle 27.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 11/12]

 

Clash over sex education

Apna Sahara, a health outreach group which operates in Scunthorpe with a view to helping people from minority communities gain access to health and social services, has been criticised by the Bangladeshi Welfare Association for taking part in National Condom Week which was intended to raise awareness about the dangers of AIDS and HIV infection. The group defended its action on the basis that it exists to give information and not to comment on what people think about moral issues but the Bangladeshi association saw it as an attack on traditional family values and said that such things should not be talked about so blatantly. A meeting was held between various Muslim groups and a representative of Apna Sahara. The majority agreed that the organisation had worked from the best of motives and asked that any further sessions organised by it should be single-sex. However, the Bangladeshi Welfare Association said that it would take up the matters raised on a national basis and asked that funding for Apna Sahara to do sex education should be stopped (Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph 27.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 12]

 

Muslim Parliament to the rescue

A Muslim shopkeeper in Lancaster has "made countless claims of racially motivated attacks" (Morecambe Guardian 12.08.94) over the last few years and is now disillusioned with the police and local council after their failure to deal with the situation. The council claims that it has taken the reports seriously but Massoud Shadjareh of the Human Rights Committee of the Muslim Parliament is threatening to take the case in hand personally and bring it to the attention of the national media in an attempt to gain some action for the besieged man. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 12]

 

Media image of Islam

According to a report in the Weekly Journal (11.08.94), "A growing number of Muslims in Britain are fed up with what they see as "damaging" portrayals in the media of Islam and its followers and are seeking a change of image". The editor of Impact International was quoted as saying that, "It is up to us as Muslims to take the responsibility for how non-Muslims perceive our religion. And angry declarations are not going to help because they alienate people". Likewise, a journalist from Q News was quoted as saying, "Many Muslims are fed up with anti-Western ranting and raving because they can see that it offers no coherent vision of how to reconcile your belief in Islam with living in the West". The tone of the article was to call on Muslims to follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad in sincere and persuasive speech. "Islam says Muslims should appeal to people's innate ethical and moral sense of good and evil to help them to understand us and, perhaps, even convert them - if that is what they decide. But anger with the media or anybody else is not the answer". [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 12/13]

 

Leader fined over glue sale

A Birmingham Muslim community leader and secretary of the Dudley Road mosque has pleaded guilty to selling glue and thinners to a 13 year-old boy knowing that they would be used for inhalation. He was fined 5,000 by city magistrates. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Racism in the police

The Metropolitan Police Department has devised a new scheme to help tackle racism amongst its officers. To date, 400 officers have been on a six-week race awareness course which includes spending time living with families from minority communities where they can experience alternative cultures and religious attitudes. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Ismaili businesses in decline

According to a report in the Sunday Telegraph (14.08.94), there are tensions within the Ismaili community in Britain after some of the companies in which the Aga Khan's investment company, Industrial Promotion Services, invested collapsed. The British work of the company was established in 1988 to inject venture capital into Ismaili businesses here. Unfortunately, several of the businesses have become victims of the economic collapse of the 80's. According to the report, "out of the 16 investments, five are in liquidation, three are in receivership and a number are still losing money". [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Slough PWA: election call

Further difficulties are reported in the staging of elections for the Pakistan Welfare Association, Slough and the Slough Islamic Trust (see BMMS for April 1994). Elections for the PWA were due on 31st March but were delayed until after the elections for the Islamic Trust. The latter has now scheduled its elections for 11th September but no date was set for PWA elections. This led a group of elders from the community to issue an ultimatum to the president of the PWA to the effect that they would call elections for September if he did not. It has now been decided to schedule both sets of elections for September. Concern was raised earlier in the year over the suitability of the current president of the PWA for re-election after he was banned from holding office in the Labour Party following charges of racist and intimidatory behaviour. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Investment trust for Muslims

The Fleming Investment Trust Management group is reported to be working on a new investment trust which will operate according to Islamic principles. The trust will be aimed primarily at investors from the Middle East (Daily Express 23.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 13]

 

South Asian theatre conference

The South Asian Arts development agency and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre have announced the first international conference on South Asian Theatre in Britain for a decade. The conference, under the title "A Question of Identity" will take place in Birmingham on October 20-21st and will focus on all aspects of the development of the British Asian theatre. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 13/14]

 

King's Cross stabbing

The attack on a white boy in the King's Cross area of London on 13th August has led to heightened racial tensions. The boy was stabbed to death in the street by a gang of Bengali youths. There have been repercussions. A van containing a family of Asian origin was attacked by a gang of about 20 white youths who threw missiles at it and abused the occupants. A halal butcher's shop in the area was the object of a fire-bomb attack. Police are said to be containing the tense situation but units of "Guardian Angels" are reported to be patrolling the area. The killing has been condemned by Muslim leaders both locally and nationally.

A "local business person from the Asian community" has put up a reward of 10,000 for information leading to the conviction of the gang. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Relief work for Bosnia

The charity Islamic Relief held a charity bazaar in Leicester where a film was shown of the ongoing war and sufferings of the people of Bosnia. Money raised was to go to a Safe Women's Project running in Bosnia to provide counselling, shelter and accommodation to women who had been caught up in the fighting. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Cambridge exhibition

Muslims in Cambridge staged an open exhibition during the afternoon of Sunday 28th August with a view to telling people more about themselves. "They fear that recent publicity about Muslim fanatics may have been harmful and they want to give local residents a chance both to voice their fears and to learn about Islam" (Cambridge Weekly News 24.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Muslims in Lancaster

The Muslim community in Lancaster was profiled in an article in the Garstang Guardian (26.08.94). Most of the 500-strong community are of Indian extraction from Gujarat and came to Lancaster in the early 1960s to work in the textile mills. Now that the mills have closed they have diversified into a range of businesses with an abundant selection of restaurants including one in a redundant church and one on a house boat. Race relations are reported to be good except for an occasional insulting jeer and the community is thriving. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 14]

 

London housing development

The official opening has taken place of a new housing development built by the North London Muslim Housing Association in Church Street, Stoke Newington. The development consists of 23 flats as well as maisonettes and houses. There is also a house especially designed for the disabled. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Islam and the West

The Methodist Recorder (01.09.94) devoted an extensive comment column to explore the relationship of Islam and the West. It roved over many issues which touch the Muslim community such as voluntary aided schools, seeking a collective voice and the Khilafah Conference. It concluded that the integration of faith and life, which is central to Islam, is something which western Christianity has lost to its detriment. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Algerian speaker banned

Anwar Haddam, the "representative of the [Algerian] Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in Europe and the United States" will be refused a visa to enter Britain to speak at a public meeting at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London which is scheduled for 21st September, according to a report in The Guardian (31.08.94). The suspicion is that the British government has bowed to French pressure or has, at least, "acted on the basis of possibly tainted French information". [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 15]

 

Women united with Libyan children

A three-week trip to Libya was organised by a Blackburn-based charity called "Recovery" to reunite British women with their children who had been taken to that country by their fathers. A total of ten mothers made the journey with hopes of visiting 19 children of all ages. The children had been separated from their mothers, in some cases, for several years as their fathers feared the influence of western society on their children's upbringing (Manchester Evening News 05.09.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 15]

 

Holiday fun in Luton

Bedfordshire County Council funded activities for children throughout the county to help keep them occupied during the long school vacation. Muslims at the Islamic Education Centre in Luton took advantage of this provision and organised a variety of activities both within their own centre and through organised trips to the seaside and Chessington World of Adventure [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 15]

 

Gift of lamb rejected

A kebab shop owner of Turkish extraction in Waltham Cross was so relieved when his 29 year-old brother survived after a car crash that he arranged to slaughter a lamb and donate it to an old people's home. When the local environmental health department heard about the gift they took it away and had it destroyed because it had not been slaughtered and inspected according to environmental health regulations. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 15]

 

TV star on da'wah tour

Leo X Chester, "the most high-profile Nation of Islam member in Britain" (Weekly Journal 01.09.94) and star of the television programme The Real McCoy, plans to tour Britain during the second week of September with the message that "Islam is the African people's original religion" which was destroyed by Europeans through slavery. Chester sees the tour as being educational rather than confronting Black Christians in Britain who are regarded as following a "religion forced on our ancestors by the slavemasters". [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 15]

 

BCCI: Virani to buy prison?

Nazmudin Virani, who is serving a two and a half year prison sentence for his part in the collapse of the BCCI (see BMMS for May, June and July 1994), has made an offer to buy the prison in which he is held under the government's privatisation policy (News of the World 04.09.94). He is reported to be enjoying a degree of freedom and leisure outside the prison under the guise of helping with administrative work at the Purley General Hospital. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 15]

 

Control of Immigration Statistics

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has issued a strong criticism of the Home Office after the release of the latest Control of Immigration Statistics. The director, Claude Moraes, said, "The figures show that the clampdown on immigration begun in earnest in 1987 is actually picking up in momentum following the passing of the Asylum and Immigration and Appeals [sic] Act 1993" (Daily Jang 09.09.94). The figures appear to indicate that the number of people being deported, being detained under the Immigration Act and being refused asylum have all increased. Similarly, 7,000 fewer appeals against the refusal of rights, by comparison with the 1992 figure, indicates the impact of the new legislation which denies the right of appeal to those who have been refused permission to enter the country as visitors or under the 1993 act. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 15/16]

 

Rochester reflects on Pakistan

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, formerly the Bishop of Raiwind, Pakistan, and now the bishop-designate of Rochester, England, was interviewed by the editor of the English Section of the Daily Jang (26.08.94). The bishop's father converted to Christianity before he was born but many of his relatives are Muslims which gives him a particular insight into Christian-Muslim relations and the situation of both communities on the subcontinent. Dr Nazir-Ali professed himself to be a supporter of the idea of the creation of Pakistan as a homeland for Muslims who felt that they were being squeezed out of pre-partition India. He drew a similar parallel to Pakistani Christians today and felt that it would be regrettable if they were deprived of the feeling of "belonging" to their native country. Much of the interview concentrated on Pakistan where the bishop had been active in seeking greater protection for all minority groups during his time there. He commented, "My concern here, is not just for Christians alone but for the emergence of a progressive society in Pakistan where people have freedom of speech without having the freedom to incite religious hatred". [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 16]

 

Pop star profile

The teenagers' magazine Just Seventeen (24.08.94) ran a profile of Schelim a member of the pop music band "Worlds Apart". He was born in Bangladesh and grew up moving to and fro between his native land and London where he finally settled. The focus of the profile was on "coping with a strict, religious family". It explored Schelim's teenage years when he rebelled against parental control and the disapproval of his community as he moved into pop music. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 16]

 

Islamic Management Training

The Islamic Foundation, Leicester, sponsored a seminar on "Islamic Management Training" on 23-24 August. The seminar was led by Dr Rafick Beekum, associate professor of management and strategy at Nevada State University. Around 50 people attended the seminar being drawn from some of the leading Muslim organisations in the country. The seminar set out to examine why it is that some Islamic organisations fail to realise their true potential and then to explore ways of tackling the issue. The seminar, which was the subject of a report in Q News (02.09.94), had three foci: strategic management, leadership skills and conflict management. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 16]

 

Leeds prison attack

Five white inmates at Armley Prison in Leeds are alleged to have carried out an attack on a Muslim prisoner of Asian origin. Muslim prisoners in the gaol had been refusing to eat meat which they believed not to be halal. This had led to tensions in the prison for some weeks. The five men involved in the attack are reported to be kitchen workers. They wore white pillow cases on their heads, "Ku Klux Klan-style" (Manchester Evening News 24.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 16]

 

Banned for timetable offence

Arjumond Ali, a former vice-president of the Bedford Islamic Committee, has been banned from the mosque for four months after allegations that he destroyed a prayer timetable. Mr Ali denied the charge and claimed that he had arrived at the mosque, some two months ago, to find the timetable in tatters. He then reported the incident to the police. Mr Ali claimed that he had been the victim of a hate campaign organised by another committee member. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 17]

 

Women converts to Islam

The significant rate of middle class and professional women who are converting to Islam was highlighted in an article in The Sunday Times (04.09.94). The article recorded an estimate of 10,000 British converts to Islam of which a major proportion consisted of educated women. One convert noted that a common factor was the breakdown of family life and the deteriorating standards within society. Another, a former Irish Catholic, noted "I love the security and the moral standards in Islam. You know exactly where you stand and what your rights are". The fact that white Muslims had no legal remedy for anti-Muslim discrimination was noted. A Belgian-born convert stressed the potential of being a European Muslim. "I see no reason why I cannot be like any other Westerner and also be a Muslim. I don't want to be separate from the Western world - I'm part of it". The Islamic Foundation in Leicester is running a support group for British women converts. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 17]

 

Complaints over new immigration rules

The Director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Claude Moraes, has written to the Home Office minister responsible for immigration and the head of the immigration service to complain about new rules for immigration which will come into effect on 1 October 1994. The rules, which are held not to incorporate the provisions of the European Commission on Human Rights, will make it even more difficult for visitors and potential immigrants to Britain. Particular reference was made to the lack of provision for daughters between the ages of 18 and 21 to join their parents in this country and to the difficulties placed in the way of widowed parents wishing to join their families here. Similarly, the Home Office is said to be ignoring a ruling from the European Court of Justice in 1992 that the primary purpose marriage rule should be outlawed within the countries of the EU. The British government is still insisting on this rule and on the rule governing marriages which do not last for more than one year (Daily Jang 09.09.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 17]

 

Ismaili community gathers

Britain's Ismaili community gathered for a series of meetings at Earl's Court, London, during August. There were reported to be around 11,000 Ismailis from the UK present with an equal number of members from North America. The Aga Khan himself was in attendance at the rally (Daily Mail 30.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 17]

 

Seminar on sex and sexuality

The London-based An-Nisa Society has arranged a seminar on Sex and sexuality: the Islamic perspective which will take place in Willesden Green on 13th September. The seminar is aimed at Muslim and non-Muslim health workers as well as anyone else interested in understanding the Islamic perspective on these issues. The tutor will be Halima Krausen and topics under review include contraception and sex education as well as a general overview on the place of sexuality within human life. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 17]

 

Islamic Relief Women's Games

Several hundred Muslim women and girls are reported to have attended the third Islamic Relief Women's Games in London on 21st August. The games aimed to facilitate an enjoyable day-out in female company combined with raising money for Islamic Relief's work amongst orphans. The Games were opened by Britain's first Muslim woman mayor, Mrs Meher Khan, the Mayor of Waltham Forest. There was a wide variety of sporting events on offer for all ages as well as poetry competitions, a bazaar and seminars on topics of interest. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 18]

 

CRE: religious discrimination

The Commission for Racial Equality has begun an information-gathering exercise in an attempt to quantify the incidence of religious discrimination in Britain. They have written to religious organisations and community relations bodies asking them to supply details of any cases where religious discrimination might be a factor. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 18]

 

Brent: holiday playscheme

The An-Nisa Society in Brent organised a holiday playscheme for local children during the vacation. It ran for three weeks and culminated in an open day to celebrate the Birthday of the Prophet on 19th August. The scheme was supported by the Brent Council, Islamic Relief, Iqra Trust and the Communities Development Project. In addition to the usual array of games and creative activities, the children were taken on trips to broaden their experience away from the normal routine of inner-city life. There were also classes in Arabic, English and Maths to keep up the children's contact with these key academic disciplines. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 18]

 

Reflections: by women, for women

The women's magazine Reflections was launched two years ago as a volunteer venture to provide a magazine for women of Asian heritage written from within their own number. The magazine is based in Huddersfield and now has a circulation of 2,000. It was helped by a start-up grant from the Kirklees Economic Development Unit and now has an office in an Enterprise Centre where each edition is compiled by one part-time paid worker and between twenty and thirty women volunteers who contribute articles on all manner of issues which appeal to their readership. The magazine's staff and readers come from all religious groups within the Asian community some of whom have to contribute articles anonymously from within the family home. There has been a certain amount of opposition from Muslim newsagents who are reluctant to sell the magazine because they fear that it is a threat to the traditional position of women within their culture (Huddersfield Daily Examiner 01.09.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 18]

 

Grant for development project

The Werneth-Freehold Community Development Project runs a lunch club, women's study group, advice centre and parent and toddler group. It is a joint Muslim-Christian project and has just received a boost in the form of an 8,000 grant from the Church Urban Fund. The money will be used to employ a woman to work with families and especially women of Asian heritage. A previous grant from the same source was used to employ a welfare rights adviser who was so successful that the funding was taken over by the local council. The same transference of funding is hoped for with the current post. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 18]

 

European Drug Prevention Week

The week beginning 15th October has been designated European Drug Prevention Week. The event is to be launched in Manchester by the Greater Manchester Bangladesh Association which is organising a young people's forum, a day seminar on employment opportunities for drug takers and an exchange with a group in Germany. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 19]

 

Churches' Commission for Racial Justice

The Churches' Commission for Racial Justice has issued a report on the plight of illegal immigrants in the UK. It asked the government to grant an amnesty during which all families who are technically illegal immigrants but which contain children who have been born and brought up in Britain would be allowed to register and have the automatic right to remain in the country. The report has received some press criticism for likening the current state of the implementation of Britain's immigration laws to the Third Reich's treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 19]

 

back to contents

 

Updates

Education

"Women only" engineers

The People's College of Tertiary Education in Nottingham has announced plans to recruit an exclusively female cohort of students for a National Vocational Qualification course in engineering. The students will study maths, physics, chemistry and basic engineering on a two-year course in an all-female environment. The inner city college hopes to attract a substantial percentage of Muslim students to apply for the 15 places on offer. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 19]

 

Section 11 funding cuts

The Racial Equality Council at Waltham Forest has joined its voice to those calling for a reconsideration of government plans to cut Section 11 funding and subsume it into the Single Regeneration Budget which will have no specific remit to promote the needs of minority communities. The borough is facing the loss of 100 teachers currently employed in language support, as bilingual teachers or as home/school liaison teachers. The Single Regeneration Budget will be administered by the Department of the Environment and the REC is calling on their local MP to enter into discussions with this department together with the Home Office and the DfE to ensure that a proportion of the new budget is earmarked specifically for minority language concerns. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 19]

 

Muslim girls' school in Halifax?

Initial talks are under way in the Muslim community in Halifax with a view to setting up a Muslim girls' school in the area. The need is felt to provide a full National Curriculum education within a religious environment. Several buildings have been identified as possible bases for the school and negotiations are expected to begin with the Calderdale Council Education Department. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 19]

 

Hijaz College

Plans to convert Higham Grange into a university-level language college (see BMMS for July 1994) have been deferred after serious objections by planning and transport officers and concerns expressed by local people. The plans, which had been submitted for approval to the local planning authority, have been withdrawn subject to further consultation and consideration. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 19]

 

Larger premises for prep. school

The Manchester Muslim Preparatory School has been given planning permission to convert a former home for the elderly called "The Grange", in the Withington district, into new premises for their school. They hope to take up residence in time for the new school year and will be able to accommodate an addition two classes. They will still have a significant waiting list for the full educational programme which they offer within an Islamic environment. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 20]

 

Grants for language courses

Derbyshire County Council has agreed to give a total of 9,270 to 21 organisations to help pay for books and educational materials for students attending supplementary language classes. Several Asian language schools will benefit from the funding. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 20]

 

Newark school seeks expansion

The Muslim boys' school, Al Jamia Al Islamia, in Flintham near Newark, which opened in September 1993 (see BMMS for August 1993 and January 1994) has applied for planing permission to site five portable classrooms in an effort to extend the school. There has been some concern expressed locally as this comes so soon after the school's original foundation. There has also been considerable confusion about an application to convert one of the school's playing fields into a cemetery. Initially, this was reported to be a unilateral action by one Muslim elder acting without the support of the school's authorities (Newark Advertiser 26.08.94). Later it emerged that the plan has the support of other local leaders who see the need for a Muslim cemetery locally. The idea to site it at the school was a way of maintaining links between the boys and their Muslim culture but the important issue was that a cemetery should be provided somewhere locally rather than necessarily at the school (Nottingham Evening Post 31.08.94). Sporting links have been developed for pupils at the school as a way of establishing closer ties with the local community. Three boys have won places in the village cricket team and others are hoping for trials for the football team. Squash and tennis teams are also planned to take part in local leagues. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 20]

 

Islamia and VA status

Islamia Schools Trust has announced that it intends to consider asking the newly-appointed Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Shephard, to reconsider her predecessor's decision to refuse voluntary aided status to the school (see BMMS for August 1993). The move was prompted by the recent grant of VA status to the Jewish Hasmonean School in nearby Barnet (see BMMS for July 1994). The Islamia Schools Trust is also reported to be considering the opening of a new school on a new site which might then qualify for government aid (Brent and London Recorder 24.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 20]

 

Preston girls' school seeks permission

The Preston Muslim Girls' School has been operating for three years without planning permission in part of a redundant building which it shares with a community centre. During this time it has unsuccessfully applied for planning permission. The school has attracted some 80 girls and has established links with Preston College which runs classes there. It has twice been served with enforcement notices to stop using the current building. The enforcement notices have been withdrawn by the council before they were executed. Now the Preston Muslim Society is planning to submit a further application for permission to change the use of the building from a community centre to a school. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 20]

 

Master's in banking and finance

The proposed master's degree in Islamic banking and finance which is being sponsored by the Islamic Foundation, Leicester, in partnership with Loughborough University was one of the items discussed at a reception for 120 delegates at the Foundation's headquarters at the Markfield Conference Centre. The guest of honour at the reception was Dr Abdullah Omar Naseef the former secretary general of the Muslim World League. The master's programme is due to begin in October 1995. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 21]

 

Mosques

Aberdeen

The Lord Provost of Aberdeen gave his full support to the building of a new mosque in the city and asked his planners to search for a suitable site (see BMMS for December 1993). The search has located 20 possible sites so far and negotiations have begun with the Muslim community to see which of them are suitable. One difficulty which will rule out some of the sites is that the community is seeking five acres so that they can build community and educational facilities as well as a prayer hall. The Muslim community of Aberdeen has grown to around 2,000 but this number is increased by students during term time. The community is sure that they can raise the necessary money for the development from abroad as it will enhance the attraction for overseas Muslim students to come to study there. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 21]

 

Aberystwyth

University officials have agreed in principle to make a parcel of land near the Brynamlwg staff social club available for the building of a mosque for use by Muslim students. There are currently about 200 Muslim students at the university who, with their families, have been praying in a former sports hall. Students are now being encouraged to write to Muslim governments and individuals around the world and in Britain in the hope that they can raise the necessary finance. If the funds can be found, the building should be ready for use in the academic year 1996-1997. It would be the first purpose-built mosque on a university campus in Britain. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 21]

 

Bolton

There has been some concern expressed by local residents in the neighbourhood of the Prospect Street mosque which has just topped out its 82 feet high minaret. The minaret has been painted gold and green and has been referred to as a "carbuncle" by local residents who say that their deeds prohibit the use of bright colours on the outsides of their houses. The minaret is soon to be joined by a large green dome over the prayer hall. Local Muslims, who number only about 300, are proud of the fact that they have raised the full 700,000 over ten years to pay for their mosque. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 21]

 

Bury

The inauguration has taken place of the Khizra Mosque and Social, Cultural and Welfare Centre in Parker Street, Bury. The building is a former industrial unit and it will cost 260,000 to complete the conversion to its new use so that it can replace the present cramped accommodation where there is a thriving school which caters for 356 boys and girls in evening and weekend classes. A split has arisen within the community, whereby some want to see the old site continue in use. There have been allegations about the motives of committee members and the most unusual assertion has been made that cultural and educational activities are not allowed to take place in the same building which is used for worship. A former secretary of the committee said, somewhat untypically, "In Islam, a place can either be a community centre or a holy place of worship; a mosque. Islam does not allow a place to be both" (Midweek Times 23.08.94). [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 21/22]

 

High Wycombe

Planning permission has been granted for the extension of the mosque in Jubilee Road (see BMMS for April 1994). Up to 300 people were having to pray on the pavement because there was insufficient space for them inside the mosque. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 22]

 

Hyde

Local residents are objecting to the council's decision to give planning permission for a shop on the corner of Henry Street and Edna Street to be converted into a mosque. They say that they were not adequately consulted. A petition has been started. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 22]

 

Manchester

Local people are objecting to plans under discussion with the planning authority to site a small mosque for 70 worshippers in a disused mosaic works in Blackburn Street in the Old Trafford area. The plans provide for ten car parking spaces but locals fear that there will be considerable traffic problems if the mosque goes ahead. Planning officers have agreed to further consultations. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 22]

 

Stevenage

Planning permission has finally been given for the mosque in the Pin Green district of the town after an eighteen month campaign (see BMMS for December 1993, May and July 1994). At a full meeting of the council only three councillors voted against the permission which was imposed with the condition that no public worship will take place outside the hours of 0700 to 2300. Between 0400 and 0700 no more than four people are permitted to be inside the building at any one time and no more than 40 between 2300 and 0000. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 22]

 

Tipton

The planning committee of Sandwell Council is to be recommended to approve plans to extend the mosque in Park Lane East to replace dilapidated outbuildings on the present site. Local residents fear that this will increase the number of people who use the mosque and thus exacerbate traffic problems. [BMMS August 1994 Vol. II, No. 8, p. 22]

 

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