The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) held its fourth annual Muslim Leadership Dinner last night, where 400 distinguished guests including community leaders, Imams, diplomats, business leaders and politicians gathered to celebrate the contribution of Muslim charities in UK to International development.
In his welcome speech, Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the MCB, spoke about the Muslim Council's remarkable journey of 16 years which is dedicated “to no other task but building an inclusive, positive and progressive British Muslim community. Our struggle has never been about privileges or special dispensations. It is about equal recognition and participation”. He talked about the ethos of charity giving in Islam which “has led to ever increasing numbers of Muslim charities in the UK. Many of these charities are affiliates of the MCB and they do diverse and wonderful work across all corners of the world”. He said, “the positive contribution we make to humanity is something we and Britain should be proud of'. He went on to say that it was his Islamic duty that whilst we celebrated our contributions abroad, we remember the critical importance of investing within the communities and neighbourhoods in this country. He said, "in these times of economic hardship it is essential we invest back in the community which has done so much."
The keynote speaker Professor Dr Numan Kurtulmus, Vice Chairman of AKP (Justice and Development Party of Turkey) spoke about how the presence of the Muslim community will contribute to world peace – “it brings new ideas to the world to help resolve many of the issues”. He said, “many people came in this country with the purpose of surviving in life” and talked about how men and women worked hard to build important institutions. He congratulated MCB for its achievements. He talked about the importance of the Muslim community to share our values and traditions with others. Professor Numan said that the Quranic term Ma’ruf doesn’t only mean prayer but it is a universal term which includes freedom, justice and solidarity”. He said “we have to provide for the next generations. You have enough devoted people to work for the future of your community”.
Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow said in her keynote speech, “As Muslims, it is part of who we are, charitable giving, it’s part of our duty”. She said “It is our moral duty to support the poorest, here or abroad, whatever our backgrounds. We know in these difficult economic times, charitable giving is much harder. We know through remittances and charitable giving, the Muslim community is generous”. She congratulated all the charities on the efforts they make to help others in need.
Saleh Saeed, CEO of DEC, thanked MCB - “the leadership that you have in reaching out to communities, people in all walks of life – diplomats and above all the interfaith engagement are all highly commendable”. He informed that many Muslim NGO’s are some of the leading humanitarian organisations in the world. However, he stressed on the importance of “moving away from competition to a more collaborative way of working”.
John Denham MP addressed the audience and spoke about his attendance 16 years earlier at the MCB’s inaugural reception to where we are now, “a council of British Muslims who share that common commitment in the community to building, shaping and growing this country of ours”. He went on to say, “the charities that you support through your voluntary giving, clearly are (principles) in culture and faith. This country faces huge problems, challenges for leaders from wherever they come from but we also have enormous potential, not least within the Muslim community. It gives us links of language, of kinship, of friendship, of knowledge, of business relationships, of political relationships, in so many of the significant areas of the world with which this country needs to have friendship and relations. The Muslim community is part of the strength on which together we will build this country. It is an astonishing journey that have been made by the communities in such a short period of time, that in my view that journey has only really just started and the best is yet to come”.
Lord Qurban Hussain spoke about his experience and how he started off volunteering to help those less fortunate and how he has witnessed from his early days how much voluntary work the Muslim community does.. Muslims have in this country, worked very hard”. He commented on how sections of the media “don’t recognise the positive contributions from our community”.
The event was also attended by Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Bruce MP, Chair of the International development Committee in the House of Commons.
The MCB would like to thank it's supporting partners, Muslim Aid and Oasis Crescent, as well as all other sponsors for their generous contributions and support.