The MCB marked the recent publication of the memoirs of its former Secretary General, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, with an event at the House of Commons on 10 September 2018. Reflecting on his new book entitled, ‘A Long Jihad, My Quest for the Middle Way’, a panel shared their views on the book, which in the words of Neil Jameson, Executive Director of Citizens UK, encapsulates a lifetime’s work “for conciliation and understanding within and between communities . . . making the UK that bit safer and its communities at peace with one another”.
At the event, Neil Jameson remarked, ‘‘It is a story of one man, but intertwined in that, it is a story of Islam… Muhammad Abdul Bari carries the weight of the community with him. He’s not afraid to challenge the elders or the angry young.’
Rushanara Ali MP commended Dr Bari for trying to reclaim the word Jihad, (which has been hijacked by extremists and far right). She said the book “sets out a series of issues that we as a community in the East End have had to grapple with”. She continued to say “We’ve been able to nurture a sense of belonging and foster a sense of belonging”.
Professor John Denham highlighted that the book recorded “key events and underlines the role Dr Bari played in these key events”.
The Secretary General of the MCB, Harun Khan, said he “couldn’t put the book down”. He said “There is so much in this book that relates to my life. Reading the book gave me a really deep understanding”. Speaking about the time he joined the MCB, Harun Khan said, “Dr Bari was the one who gave me a formal role within the MCB. During his period of leadership, one thing that was recognisable is the diverse range of people who came through to the MCB”. He thanked Dr Bari for his invaluable career advice and hoped he carried on “inspiring young people”.
Speaking at the event, Shadow Home Secretary, Rt Hon Diane Abbott MP said that “we need to hear more from Dr Bari in public life”. Speaking about Windrush, she said “not everyone from this generation is from the Caribbean. What is so important about windrush is that if the Government doesn’t look at its policies, people from South Asia will face the same issues”.
Speaking about the MCB, she said “The MCB is one of our key organisations in our country..MCB is a diverse organisation, reflecting the full diversity of the Muslim community. It’s a great credit to the MCB that they reflect the full diversity of the Muslim community”. Read her full speech here.
The session was chaired by AbdoolKarim Vakil of King’s College, London.