Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The Muslim News Award for Excellence 2009 Winners

The Muslim News Award for Excellence 2009

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Our life together in Britain cannot be a God-free zone and we must not allow Britain to become a world devoid of religious faith and its powerful contribution to the common good, remarked the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, the chief guest at the Ninth ‘The Muslim News Award for Excellence’ evening, on Monday, the 30th of March, 2009, at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London. The importance of faith in guiding private and public morality is a message that has frequently and eloquently been made by him.

The event was attended by, besides the prominent members of the British Muslim Community, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, M.P., Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears, M.P.; Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Grieve, M.P., and Leader of Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, M.P.

While welcoming the guests and audiences at the Muslim News Award for Excellence, Ahmed J Versi, Editor and Publisher of The Muslim News, said, “Religion in Britain is passing through strange and challenging times. We might be amused at adverts on our city buses urging us to ignore God and enjoy our lives. And while surveys reveal that religious practice in Britain is declining, religion continues to hold sway over the lives of many in our society.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has praised Muslims for raising the profile of religion and ethical challenges in society. “I think Islam has made a very significant contribution to getting a debate about religion into public life, Dr. Rowan Williams said in an exclusive interview with the Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J. Versi. “And I think it’s very right that we should have these debates and discussions between Muslims and Christians and others in public,” he said.

The awards, the Ninth, organized by The Muslim News, bring together politicians, religious leaders, journalists, community activists along with representatives from the world of sport, culture, academia, amongst others, to celebrate the many talents and achievements of Muslim communities in such diverse areas as arts, sport, education, technology and business.

“Britain simply wouldn’t be the same without the achievements of Muslim entrepreneurs, doctors, teachers, writers, artists and sportsmen and women,” said Brown, who was guest of honour at the event in 2005. He also said he was impressed that the professionalism of the awards that were organised entirely by volunteers, most of the under 30 and 95 per cent of them women.

“Our Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s recent comments urging a ‘moral framework’ in business and the markets, reverberates in the pioneering work done by the financial sector in the UK to enhance and expand Islamic finance and the availability of Shari’ah compliant financial products in the UK. This month’s Vatican’s suggestion to western banks and financial institutions to learn from the ethics of Islamic economics is welcome and positive,” said the editor of The Muslim News.

Versi also mentioned, “The Vatican’s creation of a Catholic-Muslim Forum to debate important issues of our time, ecumenical and otherwise, is a fitting reminder of the common cause made between all the monotheistic religions. In reaching out to one another, in recognising the common objectives we share, by bearing testimony to our religious faith through the manner in which we lead our lives – making faith accessible and comprehensible to those around us – are aims we all share as adherents of revealed religions.”

This Awards ceremony is about recognising those individuals who aspire to attain their very best as members of the British Muslim society. It is those British Muslims and non-Muslims that have proven themselves worthy of recognition for their contribution to Britain that we are here to honour this evening.
Allama Iqbal Award for Excellence in Creativity in Islamic Thought was given to Professor Dr. Muhammad A S Abdel Haleem, a prolific writer and scholar, who has dedicated a distinguished career to the study of Arabic culture and literature and to inter-faith understanding. The author of some ten books, his latest, The Qur’an: A New Translation, published by Penguin, has become a bestseller and is the first Qur’an to be translated by an Arab Muslim to be published by a prestigious international academic publisher. As an academic at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, Professor Abdel Haleem played a key role in establishing the School’s Centre of Islamic Studies. He was awarded an OBE in 2008 in recognition for his scholarship and work. The Allama Iqbal Award for Excellence was presented to him by the Community Cohesion Minister, Sadiq Khan, M.P.
Annemarie Schimmel Award for Championing a Muslim Cause was given to Reverend Gilleasbuig Macmillan, the Minister of St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh. He is recognized for this Award because of his determination to welcome Muslims to his Cathedral. In October 1991, St. Giles held a service of Repentance in memory of the victims of the first Gulf War, which was also attended by Muslims. Instead of simply allowing the Muslims to leave the service to carry out their prayers, Reverend Macmillan decided to stop the service twenty minutes after its start and led the Muslims perform their prayers in the Cathedral next to the altar. The Adhan, the Muslim call to the prayer, was made from the pulpit of the cathedral and the prayers were performed in the midst of a Christian congregation of over 1,000. This Award was presented to him by UK Manager of Islamic Relief, Jahangir Malik.
Sankore University Award for Excellence in Education was awarded to Zafar Iqbal. A pioneer well ahead of his time, Zafar Iqbal helped found the Southwark Muslim Women’s Association (SMWA). The SMWA aims to counter disadvantages and discrimination faced by Muslim communities with special emphasis on meeting the social, educational and cultural needs of women, children and elders. Zafar is noted here for this Award as he has focused on education as the means to empower Muslim women to lead a full and active life. This Award was presented to him by S.L. Hassanain, Chairperson of Muslim Hands.
Uthman Dan Fodio Award for Excellence in Community Development was awarded to Black and Asian Service in Alcohol and Narcotics (BASIAN). The Joint winner is Shereen Williams. Having arrived in the UK only three years ago, Shereen quickly made her mark as Director of the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations, securing over £1.5 million in grant funding for Muslim and other community organizations. She has been at the forefront of opposing Islamophobia in Wales and has given presentations to the Welsh assembly Government. In the field of inter-faith dialogue, Shereen founded the Swansea Faiths Forum in South Wales in the immediate aftermath of 7/7. She has recently been appointed to the All Wales Convention. The Award was presented to them by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears, MP.
Alhamra Award for Arts was awarded to Ahmed Mukhtar. Born in Baghdad, Ahmed is a world acclaimed composer and master Oud player. Since 1990 he has been performing teaching and touring throughout the Middle East and Europe, and has written music for theatre, film and television. The United Nations chose Ahmed and sixteen other musicians from all over the world to release a CD for the benefit of victims of terrorism and wars. This Award was presented to him by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster.
Imams Hasan and Husayn Children’s Award for Excellence was awarded to Imran Sidat. The 15-year-old has excelled in freestyle karate and kickboxing. He has been a regular member of the England team for the last four years, competing worldwide and winning medals every year. This year he has already won the European title and many British and regional titles. Imran has been elected as the youngest sporting ambassador for the Special Olympics, which will be held in 2009 in his home town of Leicester. He is also a cadet coach and was recently voted Mercury Junior Sportsman of the year. This Award was presented to him by the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights, Kay Carberry.
Ibn Battuta Award for Excellence in Media was awarded to Mehdi Hasan. Londoner Mehdi Hasan is a rising star in the British media and one of this country’s leading young television journalists in an industry once described as ‘hideously white’. He is an editor for the news and current affairs department at Channel 4. At 29, he is the youngest editor in commissioning at Channel 4 and has been nominated for the Royal TV Society Young Journalist of the Year Award. Since joining Channel 4 last year, Mehdi has commissioned five different ‘Dispatches’ documentaries, all of which has generated headlines in the press. Mehdi commissioned the Channel 4 ‘Dispatches’ film, ‘It Shouldn’t Happen to a Muslim’, which addressed the issue of rising Islamophobia since 7/7. The Joint Winner was Yvonne Ridley. She went to Sudan with Lord Nazir Ahmed to work on a joint venture to develop a peace initiative in Darfur and in August 2008 joined international peace activists as part of the Free Gaza Movement. This Award was presented to him by Leader, Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, M.P.
Alija Izetbegovic Award for Excellence in Good Citizenship was awarded to Mohammed Amran. As the youngest member of the Cabinet Office Advisory Panel on Futurebuilders and the youngest Lay Advisor to the National Police Improvement Agency, at the age of 22, Mohammed was appointed the youngest ever Commissioner in the Commission for Racial Equality. During the Bradford Disturbances of 1995 and 2001 he was at the forefront of conflict resolution, after which he set up the Young People’s Forum. At the age of 26 he received an Honorary Doctorate for his work with disadvantaged young people in his hometown of Bradford, his community workand contributions in the field of race relations. This Award was presented to him by the Chief Executive for the Crown Prosecution Service, Peter Lewis. Ibn Sina Award for Excellence in Health was awarded to Mohammed Mujahid Ali. This Award was presented to him by Shabbir Panju.
Al-Biruni Award for Excellence in Community Relations was given to Ikram Malik. A founding member of Building Bridges Pendle and the Lancashire Forum of Faiths, Dr. Malik has been a key leader in bringing faith communities into the public and political framework. Dr. Malik was recognized for his services to community relation by being awarded an MBE in 1999. This Award was presented to him by the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith. Malcolm X Award for Excellence in Youth was given to Faizaan Ahmed. This Award was presented to him by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Chairman, Muslim Aid. Ummul Mu’minin Khadijah Award for Excellence in Enterprise was awarded to Muslim Enterprise Development Service (MEDS). This Award was presented to the winner by the Shadow Justice Secretary, Dominic Grieve, MP.
Fazlur Rahman Khan Award for Excellence in Engineering, Science and Technology was awarded to Professor Mohamed El-Gomati. As an internationally renowned scientist and researcher based at York University, Professor Mohamed El-Gomati has written more than 180 articles, patents and books. He has excelled in the field of novel instrumentation, developing and building several state-of-the-art instruments in surface analysis and microscopy. He has acted as a scientific referee to the British Government and UNESCO. Among his inventions are the world’s first multi-spectral analytical microscope and the world’s first parallel electron energy analyser for surface analysis. This Award was presented to him by Prof. Mark Welland from the Ministry of Defence.
Faezeh Hashemi Award for Excellence in Sports was awarded to Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation (MWSF). This Award was presented to the winner by Faezeh Hashemi herself. And lastly, Iman WA Amal Special Award was given to Mohamed Ali. This Award was presented to him by Councillor Salma Yaqoob of the Respect Party.
The Editor of The Muslim News said, “It has always been my firm belief that Islam engenders in the life of a Muslim the desire to do well, to succeed and to persevere patiently and with faith. Not just for the sake of oneself, though this is important, but to do well for the sake of others so that through one’s own example one might motivate and inspire others. This Awards ceremony is about recognising those individuals who aspire to attain their very best as members of our society.”
The Muslim News, monthly newspaper, launched its first awards ceremony in 2000. The awards fall into 16 categories of Muslim achievements, ranging from science and engineering to community development and the Arts. Nominations from Britain's 1.8 million Muslim community are made by members of the public and the shortlist and winners are decided by an independent panel of seven distinguished judges.

No comments: