Professor Muhammad Anwar – A Scholar-Activist Remembered
The MCB offers its condolences to the family of the late Professor Muhammad Anwar, who passed away in London on 11 June 2020 after a period of ill-health. He will be remembered with affection as a most warm and helpful scholar, ready to offer his expertise and advice when called on by community organisations.
Professor Muhammad Anwar was as a graduate of the University of Punjab, and he completed an MA at the University of Manchester, where he was involved in Muslim student circles. His doctoral work was at the University of Bradford. He was a founding figure in the field of social policy affecting Britain’s ethnic minority populations. His Between Two Cultures (1976), Race and Politics (1986), British Pakistanis, Demographic, Social and economic position (1996) were landmark publications of their time. He served as Head of Research at the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) in the 1980s and later as director of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations at the University of Warwick. He was a member of the ‘Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain’ established by Runnymede in 1997 and chaired by Lord Parekh.
He was conferred an OBE for services to education in 2007. On retirement in 2012 he was appointed Emeritus Professor at the University’s Department of Sociology. Generations of home and overseas postgraduate students and researchers stand indebted to him as a friend, advisor and supervisor.
Muhammad Anwar was a scholar-activist unstinting in responding to requests from community organisations, whether it was to provide statistics, speak at events, attend meetings with civil service officials or review their reports. He contributed to the conferences of the Union of Muslim Organisations and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists in the 1990s. He advised the Muslim Council of Britain during the campaign for a religion question in the Census of England and Wales. His presence at meetings with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 1997 added credibility and academic weight to the MCB’s case. He guided the MCB on how to respond to the ONS’s reservations in 2003 over the release of census data at low levels of geography. He provided valuable comments on its British Muslims in Numbers report based on an analysis of 2011 Census data.
Among his other quiet but effective contributions were the encouragement given to graduates from darul ulooms to pursue further studies at university. He helped numerous students from Pakistan in obtaining bursaries for postgraduate research in the UK. Professor Anwar was a gentleman with old-school courtesy. His memory will long be cherished by friends. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun, Verily we belong to God, and verily to Him do we return (Quran 2:156)