My calling in life is to inform, inspire and influence people of all backgrounds towards positive change and harmonious co-existence.
I do this as an Imam, teacher, broadcaster, author, fundraiser, family counsellor, community organiser and grassroots activist. I have devoted all my working life to bringing communities together and building bridges.
I come from a humble family in London’s East End. At a young age, my father took me to his native Bangladesh for my Islamic education for some years. When I returned to school in the UK, I had to work very hard to catch up on the education I had missed. I graduated from University of London with a Master of Arts in Islamic Studies.
I began work as youth worker and community development officer for local authorities across London, and with Citizens Organising Foundation. This led to founding Communities in Action, specialising in community development, cohesion and capacity building programmes.
Subsequently, I served as
• vice-chair of the London Civic Forum
• contributed to the London Mayor’s strategy for London
• led campaigns including the Vision, Voice and Vote campaign for Londoners, the Living Wage Campaign, and Standing Together Against Intolerance.
I have been a member of many Muslim youth and community organisations, including
• Islamic Society of Britain (Chair 2016-19).
• I am a trustee at Britain’s first mosque, the Abdullah Quilliam Mosque in Liverpool.
I twice stood for parliament, but unsuccessfully.
As a London based imam, I have been leading Friday prayers for over twenty years in mosques in many parts of Britain.
I have designed a course on Islamic approaches to peace-making called “Learning to be a peacemaker and delivered it to over 500 young European Muslims over the last 15 years.
I have been a robust champion of peace and harmony and vehement opponent of hate crime in all its forms. I actively challenge all forms of extremism and injustice. I believe moderation and tolerance is the essence/ fundamental values of Islam and our intra-faith diversity as a source of strength.
I am frequently invited nationally and internationally to address events, rallies and conferences on issues ranging from integration, Islam in the modern world, and the representation of Muslim community in politics and media, theology, family, marriage and relationships.
I have been a production consultant and presenter on programmes about Islam and Muslims for Channel 4, BBC, ITV, CNN and National Geographic, as well as having my own programmes on the Islam Channel and Channel S. I have represented the Muslim voice authentically and honesty in the mainstream media for the last 20 years.
I have published articles in newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Evening Standard, The Economist, The Statesman and Huffington Post, as well as books and booklets on issues including marriage and relationships, faith and identity, politics and society.
I have authored handbooks on diversity and community cohesion including “The Mark of Faith” for Southwark Borough Council, “Muslims in Britain” for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the “Ramadan Health Guide” for the Department of Health, as well as being a cultural relations consultant for the British Council.
In 2014 I was honoured to be included in the list of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.
As a fundraiser, I have been able to raise approximately £50 million over the last twenty-five years for Muslim humanitarian aid organisations.
I co-founded with my wife, Henrietta Szovati, the Barefoot Institute that specialises in building Muslim relationships, providing relationship training, counselling and mediation.
When the English Defence League threatened to attack the central Mosque in Harrow, I was called to help the local community and succeeded in defusing the confrontation.
In the immediate aftermath of the murder of drummer Lee Rigby, The Economist wrote of me: ‘The bonne parole came from Ajmal Masroor… “If you dislike Britain so much…why don’t you just hand your passport over and leave? And if you dislike the policies of the government…participate in the electoral process, stand for election,” he rhetorically told the soldier’s attacker, in an interview with Sky TV which won big approval ratings on social media. At a time when ugly and vindictive threats were starting to hurtle through cyber-space, this was just the sort of message that many citizens wanted to hear…from a Muslim.’
I believe that I can help the MCB fulfil its huge potential, building on its excellent track record and existing priorities.
As Secretary General I will use all my expertise to help MCB achieve the following:
1. Become a stronger voice for all the sections of Muslim community in UK
2. Greater investment in young people
3. Confident Muslim families
4. Taking MCB closer to the grassroots
5. Better relationship with the media, engaging more meaningfully and strategically
6. Greater Muslim participation in politics and media
7. Eradication of all forms of inequality, discrimination, racism and Islamophobia
8. Greater cooperation between the Muslim communities for social and economic development
9. Helping to create a new a more inclusive narrative for all communities in the UK
10.Greater Muslim contribution on common good
11.Making MCB more financially stable and self-sustainable.