Monday, 28 December 2009

Muslim respects all prophets including Prophet Jesus (PBUH)

Muslim respects all prophets sent by Allah
Including Prophet Jesus (pbuh)

Dr. Mozammel Haque

The believers in the Oneness of God who belong to the tradition of Abraham: Muslims, Christians and Jews are one community. The first foundation of belief held by all monotheistic believers is that there is but one God. No dissenting voice: all Muslims, Christians and Jews worship one and the same God. The second central belief is a common lineage of Prophets, sent by God with revealed message of Truth. God sent a guide, a messenger or a prophet who taught the same message, the need to believe in the Oneness of God. In the case of Jesus, he was undoubtedly a true prophet.

Islam is a religion of peace, understanding and tolerance. It has five pillars – the first pillar is Imaan. To belief in the Oneness of Allah, all the Prophets sent by Allah, all the Books revealed by Him, belief in Paradise and Hell and Life after Death is part of Imaan. So Muslims throughout the world believe in all the prophets sent by Allah, the Most High. Jesus, the son of Mary, is one of them.

The Virgin Mary and her son Jesus, may peace be upon them both, are mentioned often in the Qurán. In fact, there is a chapter of the Qurán named after her called Maryam. Jesus, referred to in the Qurán as Isa ibn Maryam – Jesus the Son of Mary- is one of the greatest of the prophets of God whom Muslims hold in very deep love and respect. The Qurán gives a greater number of honourable titles to Jesus than to any other figure of the past. The Qurán said: “And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah, and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous.” (Al-Qurán 5:46)

In fact, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that Jesus was one of one hundred and twenty-four thousand prophets, between whom there is no cause for conflict or argument. Allah tells His messenger in one passage of the Qurán: “Say: We have believed in Allah and in what was revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Descendants (Al-Asbat), and in what was given to Moses and Jesus and to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims (submitting) to Him.” (Al-Qurán 3: 84).

Imam Bukhari, in his collection of the traditions, said that the Apostle of God said, “I am nearest of men to the Son of Mary. Between Jesus and me there has been no prophet.”

The Qur’an clearly says: “O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the Truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His Word which He directed to Mary and a soul (created at a command) from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers.” ( Al-Qur’an, 4:171)

The unedited nature of Noble Qurán gives Muslims confidence in their understanding of the nature of Jesus, which was as a servant of God, as Prophet.

In this connection, it must be said that Muslims not only belief in all the prophets sent by Allah the Almighty but also respect them. Muslim as a believer cannot disrespect and should not disrespect any prophet under any circumstances. So it is worthwhile to let you what the Qur’an said about Jesus, the son of Mary, peace be upon him.

Birth of Jesus (pbuh)
About his birth, in Sura 3, the Chapter Imran gives the longest version of the annunciation and birth of Jesus. (Al-Qurán 3:42-47) Surah Maryam gives the version of the birth thus, “Then We sent to her Our Angel (i.e., Gabriel), and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man. She said, “Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, (so leave me), if you should be fearing of Allah.” He said, “I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you (news of) a pure boy (i.e., son).” She said, “How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?” He said, “Thus (it will be); your Lord says, ‘It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter (already) decreed.’” (Al-Qurán 19:16-21)

The Qurán firmly refutes any suggestion of unchastity by Mary. Prophet Isa had a miraculous birth. He was born of the Virgin Maryam without a father, by Allah’s command. Allah can do anything He likes, Everything is possible for Him. When He wants to get something done, He only says, ‘BE’ and there it is (2:117). We know that Adam was created by Allah without a father and a mother. So, it was no wonder that Allah could create Isa without a father. According to the Qurán the birth of Jesus would be brought about by the plain but All-Powerful Word of Allah. ‘He simply said, ‘BE (kun)” and it is.” Surah Maryam then proceeds with an account of the nativity or birth of Jesus. (Al-Qurán 19: 22-26).

After the miraculous conception of the baby Jesus, Mary anticipated that the signs of the pregnancy would become noticeable. The virgin therefore decided to escape public notice and retreated from Nazareth to Bethlehem, which was a journey of considerable difficulty at the time.

The moment of birth arrived. The revelation tells that she was told to eat and drink, and to let her eyes be content with the grace of such a miracle. The Virgin returned to her family in Nazareth with her son in her arms. The Qurán then narrates, “Then she (Maryam) brought him to her people, carrying him. They said, “O Mary, you have certainly done a thing unprecedented. O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste.” So she pointed to him. They said, “How can we speak to one who is in the cradle a child?” (Al-Qurán 19:27-29)

Miracles of Jesus (pbuh)
It is already narrated in the previous episodes that the Prophet Jesus was born in a miraculous fashion. As the child was the product of a miracle, consequently miraculous things began to happen. When Mary returned to her community carrying the child who was to be called Messiah, Jesus, the Son of Mary, the young woman with no husband had appeared suddenly with a babe in her arms and was face to face with her accusers.

The Qurán said, “So, Mary pointed to him (Jesus). They said, ‘’How can we speak to one who is in the cradle as a child?’”(Jesus) said, “Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and Zakah as long as I remain alive.” (Al-Qurán, 19:29-31).

Thus Jesus (pbuh) defended his mother from the grave calumny and innuendoes of her enemies. This is the very first miracle attributed to Jesus in the Holy Qurán, that, he spoke as an infant from his mother’s arms.

Jesus (pbuh) performed many miracles. For example, he healed the sick, enheartened the distressed and revived the dead. A famous miracle of Jesus referred to in the Qurán was the moulding a figure of a bird from clay, into which he breathed life into it. A miracle of Jesus? No. The Prophet invoked God’s Power to accomplish this feat of fashioning from clay a living being of flesh and feather. This was the same God who created Jesus from a mother without a father.

The Qurán has mentioned about other miracles of Jesus (pbuh) thus: “(The Day) When Allah will say: O Jesus, Son of Mary! Remember My favour upon you and upon your mother when I supported you with Pure Spirit (i.e. the angel Gabriel) and you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and (remember) when I taught you writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and when you designed from clay (what was) like the form of a bird with My permission, then you breathed into it, and it became a bird with My permission; and you healed the blind (from birth) and the leper with My permission; and when you brought forth the dead with My permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from (killing) you when you came to them with clear proofs and those who disbelieved among them said, “This is not but obvious magic.” (Al-Qurán 5:110)

These miracles performed by Jesus should best be understood in this fashion, as visible demonstration of God’s power for the believers and unbelievers, that they should all believe. All these things Jesus did with the permission of Allah, never taking credit for them himself.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Swiss Minaret ban: Response and Reaction

Swiss Minaret ban: Reaction and Response
from People of different colours

Dr. Mozammel Haque

The proposal to ban the building of minarets had been put forward by the Swiss People's Party, (SVP), the largest party in Parliament, which says minarets are a sign of Islamisation. More than 57% of voters and 22 out of 26 cantons - or provinces - voted in favour of the ban.

“The last surveys suggested around 34% of the Swiss population would vote for this shocking initiative. Last Friday, in a meeting organised in Lausanne, more than 800 students, professors and citizens were in no doubt that the referendum would see the motion rejected, and instead were focused on how to turn this silly initiative into a more positive future,” tracing the background, Professor Dr. Tariq Ramadan wrote in The Guardian, London, on Sunday, 29 November, 2009.
Professor Ramadan observed, “Today that confidence was shattered, as 57% of the Swiss population did as the Union Démocratique du Centre (UDC) had urged them to – a worrying sign that this Populist Party may be closest to the people’s fears and expectations. For the first time since 1893 an initiative that singles out one community, with a clear discriminatory essence, has been approved in Switzerland. One can hope that the ban will be rejected at the European level, but that makes the result no less alarming. What is happening in Switzerland, the land of my birth?”

That is the opinion and observation of no less a person than the son of the soil, a renowned scholar and Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford. But, of course, he is a Muslim by religion and practice. But people of other religious faith also denounced the ban.

Religious leaders across the world have criticised Switzerland's referendum vote to ban the building of minarets. The Vatican has condemned the Swiss ban on the construction of Islamic minarets as a 'blow to freedom of religion'. The Vatican on Monday, 30 November, 2009, endorsed a statement by the conference of Swiss Bishops criticising the vote for heightening "the problems of cohabitation between religions and cultures". Muslim figureheads from Indonesia and Egypt, as well as Switzerland were denouncing the vote as a blow to religious freedom. Egypt's Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa described the ban as an insult to the feelings of the Muslim community in Switzerland and elsewhere.

Not only the religious leaders of different faith groups have condemned the action, but political leaders of different countries distaste the action. The government opposed the ban, saying it would harm Switzerland's image, particularly in the Muslim world. France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was "scandalised" by the Swiss decision and said it represented a "show of intolerance.” He said it was a "negative" move because banning the construction of Muslim mosque towers amounts to "oppressing a religion".
He told France's RTL radio: "I hope that the Swiss will go back on this decision rather quickly.”

The Amnesty International said, Swiss minaret ban would be discrimination against religion. A ban on the construction of minarets would breach Switzerland’s obligations to uphold freedom of religion, Amnesty International said ahead of a referendum on Sunday 29 November 2009 on a constitutional amendment. “Contrary to the claims of the initiators of the referendum, a general prohibition of the construction of minarets would violate the right of Muslims in Switzerland to manifest their religion,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International. She also added: “A ban on the construction of minarets while, for example, allowing those of church spires would constitute discrimination on the basis of religion.”

Switzerland is home to some 400,000 Muslims and has just four minarets. After Christianity, Islam is the most widespread religion in Switzerland, but it remains relatively hidden.

Response from Britons, Muslim and non-Muslim
Muslim groups in Switzerland and abroad condemned the vote as anti-Islamic. Irrespective of colour, ethnicity and religious affiliations, British people, from the Parliament to the leaders of the community and religious and non-religious groups and academic scholar, were united in their denunciation of the vote to ban the construction of minarets.

Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham
Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham, Peer of the House of Lords of the British Parliament said, “The general consensus in the Muslim community is that the minaret ban in Switzerland is a radical, alarmist and deplorable act of Islamophobia.”

“I understand that Switzerland is party to both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to the European Convention on Human Rights. In my view, the Minaret Ban is a blatant breach of the civil liberties set forth in these conventions and has placed Switzerland on a collision course with its international human rights obligations,” Lord Ahmed said.

Lord Ahmed argued, “The Muslim community of Switzerland should in no way be denied the rights and facilities to practice their faith; nor should the ban be used to pursue the Swiss government’s hidden avenue of frustration with Moammar Gaddafi and the Libyan crisis. The 300,000 ordinary, practicing Muslims of Switzerland should not be made victims of the political games being waged by Switzerland against Libya.”

Lord Ahmed also observed, “The mere idea of a minaret leading to extremism reveals the clearly discriminatory bias that underpins this decision. Rather than pose a security threat, religious monuments enrich society and promote a collective identity. In contrast, the minaret ban shows the Swiss Government utilizing scare mongering tactics and playing the ‘Muslim card’ in populist political point scoring. This fans the fires of hatred and creates a needless clash of civilizations.”

“Switzerland’s actions will fundamentally influence its reputation in the eyes of Muslims around the globe. As a member of the UK Parliament and Muslim community, I stand by any decisions the greater Muslim community might make concerning withdrawal from business and banking in Switzerland,” maintained Lord Ahmed and urged the “Swiss government to review their decision as this could have long lasting consequences on your country’s relations with the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world.”

Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London
Former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, said: "The ban on minarets in Switzerland, a country that only has four minarets, is an attack not only on Muslims, but on the most basic freedoms in society.” “Let this referendum be a rallying call for all democrats - we must challenge Islamophobia and racism if we are to stop the far right,” he added.

Dr Edie Friedman, Jewish Council for Racial Equality
Dr Edie Friedman, Executive Director of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality said: “It is a very sad day when such an important religious symbol is put to the vote. That anyone should even consider this is unbelievable. This could have very dangerous consequences, sending out the wrong message to the rest of the world. Far from cementing positive relations between people, this can only sew division and disharmony. I hope that common sense prevails, this decision is reversed and building a cohesive society in Switzerland is taken up with renewed vigour.”
Bruce Kent, Vice President of Pax Christi
Bruce Kent, Vice President of Pax Christi, said: “I am dismayed at this decision which is manifestly discriminatory. As a Christian, I live in an area where we have a beautiful mosque and minaret which cause no offence to anybody and contribute to the beauty of the environment.”

Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari, Muslim Council of Britain
Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari, said in a statement, “The Swiss referendum results show how far and how quickly Europe is moving in the wrong direction in its attitudes and policies towards Muslims and other minority groups in Europe.”
“Mosques and minarets in our European cities are manifestations of the proudly indigenous nature of Islam in Europe. It is tragic that the far right is stripping away at our illustrious heritage of coexistence between different faiths and cultures in Europe and replacing it with their warped and xenophobic outlook,” he said and added, “This is no less than a battle of ideas for the future of a plural and progressive Europe.”

Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha, Union of Muslim Organisations
Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha, General Secretary of the Union of Muslim Organisations (UMO) of UK & Eire, said, “The British Muslims are shocked to learn that the Swiss people has expressed their hostility for such a measure. Either it is sheer ignorance or Islamophobia that the whole affair is a disgusting phenomenon. It is difficult to understand in the modern liberal atmosphere which is prevailing in the West.”

“The Swiss government should ignore this decision because it contravenes the provision of the European Convention of Human Rights to which it is a signatory,” Dr. Pasha said and added, “Succinctly; it is in the interest of Switzerland not to antagonize the religious sensibilities of 1.5 billion Muslims throughout the world.”

“The Swiss people must understand that the minarets of the Mosques are symbols of Sovereignty of Allah and the brotherhood of all human beings as enunciated in the Qur’an,” Dr. Pasha argued.

Swiss-born Professor Tariq Ramadan
Writing in The Guardian, Swiss born Professor Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford, said, “Every European country has its specific symbols or topics through which European Muslims are targeted. In France it is the headscarf or burka; in Germany, mosques; in Britain, violence; cartoons in Denmark; homosexuality in the Netherlands – and so on. It is important to look beyond these symbols and understand what is really happening in Europe in general and in Switzerland in particular: while European countries and citizens are going through a real and deep identity crisis, the new visibility of Muslims is problematic – and it is scary.”
Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, is professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University, maintained, “Over the last two decades Islam has become connected to so many controversial debates – violence, extremism, freedom of speech, gender discrimination, forced marriage, to name a few – it is difficult for ordinary citizens to embrace this new Muslim presence as a positive factor. There is a great deal of fear and a palpable mistrust. Who are they? What do they want? And the questions are charged with further suspicion as the idea of Islam being an expansionist religion is intoned. Do these people want to Islamise our country?”

According to Tariq Ramadan, the solution lies in the following, “I have been repeating for years to Muslim people that they have to be positively visible, active and proactive within their respective western societies. In Switzerland, over the past few months, Muslims have striven to remain hidden in order to avoid a clash. It would have been more useful to create new alliances with all these Swiss organisations and political parties that were clearly against the initiative.”

Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, is professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University. His most recent book is What I Believe

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Shahid Malik-First West European Minister Performs Hajj

Shahid Malik: The First West European
Government Minister Performs Hajj this year

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Shahid Malik, the first West European Government Minister, who, along with his parents, wife and little brother went this year to perform Hajj. He left for Makkah on 22nd and returned back after performing Hajj on 30th of November, 2009. While he was in Saudi Arabia, Minister Shahid Malik, the Minister for Communities and Local Government was Saudi Government guest. Minister Shahid was telling me his experience of First Hajj after returning back from Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the 8th of December 2009 at his office.

Makah becomes the most diverse place
Speaking about Makkah and the surrounding areas, the Minister said, “It was very crowded; Hajj is obviously much more demanding. The Umrah gave a very good idea of what you expect with three million-plus people there of all different colours, all different backgrounds, different persuasions, different languages, different races, different ethnicities and different nationalities etc. Makkah becomes the most diverse place anywhere in the world for that one week. So it is amazing to see that diverse community that the world Muslim community is.”

Lots of spaces and wheel chairs
Speaking about Saie between Safa and Marwah, the Minister said, “To be honest, the Saudi authorities make it much lot easier, each year there are improvements and developments, different new layers now. So there are lots of spaces between safa and Marwah and there are much more friendly people with wheel chairs. I took my mum, dad, wife and little brother.”

Walking through the camps just like
going around the world

In Mina, Minister Shahid stayed in the Government Guest House. Speaking about his experience in Mina, the Minister said,. “Saudi government looked after me while I was in the Guest House. I walked many hours in the camps looking for the European camps and the British camps. On the first day I went out and after four hours I gave up. I could not find the camp after four hours of walking. I thought, it may be, I cannot speak Arabic; so the next day I took two Arabic speakers with me. Still it took three and half hours to get there. It is a long way from where we were. Mina is a very small place but very congested with three million-plus pilgrims. So you cannot walk quickly. Again in the camps there are distinctively people of different countries with Indian flag, Bangladeshi flag, Pakistani flag, Indonesian flag, Malaysian flag, Nigerian flag etc. While you are walking through the camps with different flags it is almost like you are going around the world.”

“In Mina, there was rain and also Stoning rain in Jeddah. The weather was unbelievably good. I don’t mind warm weather. It was particularly warm; suddenly it became cold. That was certainly perfect. I walked quite a bit with Mohamed Ali from Islam Channel. We had eight hours walk I think. I visited some of the British camps in Mina,” mentioned Minister Shahid.

Stoning in Jamarat safe and painless
Speaking about the stoning in Jamarat, the Minister Shahid said, “We did the stoning on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It is very safe now. It used to be very dangerous. Now there are different levels. It is actually painless.”

While appreciating the improvements done in Mina, the Minister said, “Camp facilities are getting better year after year. Credit to be attributed to the Saudi Government: to be able to manage over three million people moving around the very short time and in the very small space and putting on all facilities, whether it is medical facilities, whether it is camp facilities, tents facilities, the transport facilities were required. Each year these are getting better.”

Monorail system to be introduced in Mina
Speaking about the Monorail system to be introduced in Mina, the Minister Shahid mentioned, “Now when I was there, they were developing a monorail system which will link Mina with Muzdalifah, with Arafah. So people will actually be able to go on the sky on the monorail which will help Hajjis tremendously. Transport is very big challenge. It’s a monorail system on the sky; it’s nothing comparable with the UK system. I think in Japan they have got this system. They are developing that system; they got all pillars in place; they will now put on truck there and then concrete.”

Undoubtedly life-changing experience
Speaking about his impression of Hajj, the Minister Shahid said, “Well, it’s very very powerful I think. For me and for the whole family it’s a very powerful experience. It is undoubtedly a life-changing experience for one who goes and performs Hajj. It was an honour and privilege for me to be able to stay with mum and dad and obviously my wife and brother also. It is an experience shared with those who are nearest and dearest to me. It’s very very powerful.”

Translate lesson into practice
“First time I saw the Ka’aba. Obviously that is something, which you are in awe about long long time. It’s a very powerful, very striking and many people quite emotional as well. All those things I think but one thing which struck me that one point of time the Makkah was the most diverse place in the world. But this diversity which united by virtue of performing Hajj. I saw it would be nice when they will go back to their countries of origin, and the countries they live, if they just think about being united in those countries and also think about being harmonious of those countries as well,” said Minister Shahid.

Saudis committed to improving facilities
Speaking about the facilities Saudi government is providing during Hajj, Minister Shahid mentioned, “By all accounts each year the facilities get better; Saudis are really committed to improving the facilities to offer to the Hajiis. It’s lot easier than it used to be. It’s a lot safer than it used to be. They feel that it is lot of respect for them to serve Hajjis.”

Need to clamp down on some of the abuses
Speaking about some missellng of goods in this country, Minister Shahid mentioned, “There are some misselling of goods going on in this country. I think this kind of abuse is taking place for a long time. We tried to clamp down on some of the abuses through my friend and colleague Garrard Thomas, Consumers Welfare Minister. Hajj or Umrah tour operators promise the earth and when people arrived there, it’s not what is expected. One thing I noticed that lots of people when they get there; they are grateful to be there. They think we are for Hajj, we just forgive and forget and move on. I can understand that. But I would rather prefer they come back and complain so that we can put the tour operators straight. But the majority of them are doing good job but some of them are pretty unscrupulous, I think.”

British Hajj Delegation Brilliant
Speaking about the British Hajj Delegation in Makkah, Minister Shahid said, “The British Hajj Delegation is very good. When I was there, some one from Birmingham rank me; his mother was very ill; she was in hospital there. So I rang Lord Patel and I think the British Hajj Delegation gave the support which is required there. I think it’s brilliant. You know the only government in Europe that provides this Hajj Delegation is the UK government which is a great comfort, I think, to the British Hajjis. We are very proud of this support we give. We recognize the people, our citizens, came from all different backgrounds and our job is to make each one of them, the Jews, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs.”

Meeting with King Abdullah
Speaking about the lunch in Mina, Minister Shahid said, “I had the chance to meet King Abdullah. There was a big lunch in Mina. I met King Abdullah, had a few words and shook hands. He looks to be in good health.”.

Live interview by Islam Channel from Mina
Minister Shahid was interviewed Live on Islam Channel from Mina by Barrister Rizwan. Shahid mentioned a story about Barrister Rizwan. Minister said, “When I went to Bangladesh in June 2008; a little earlier Barrister Rizwan was beaten very badly there in airport. So when I met General Moin; who was factually running the country at that time, I raised the issue of Barrister Rizwan as well as the democratic elections. He promised me two things: we will have democratic elections by December and those people who are responsible I will find them and I will put them in jail. Barrister Rizwan said to me that you know those people they are still in jail today. So I have established a very good news story from that perspective.”

Concluding remarks
Concluding his interview, Minister Shahid said, “Saudis are working on their side. For me, the main frustration is still the way the tour operators work here; the way the visas work through these tour operators here; the kind of packages they sale and the people not being clear about what they are buying some times, that’s the things that need to be improved. The Minister for Consumer Welfare Service, Garrard Thomas, is very much interested to make it sure that the Hajjis get the honest service.”

About Minister Shahid Malik
On 9 June 2009 Shahid Malik was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Shahid was elected as the Member of Parliament for Dewsbury, West Yorkshire at the 2005 General Election. Within a year, Shahid was the only newly elected Labour MP to be appointed to the powerful Home Affairs Select Committee. At the 2005 Parliamentary Oscars, the House Magazine Awards, his Maiden Speech was judged to be the best among the new MPs of 2005 and he received the prestigious House Magazine 'Best Maiden Speech' Award. In February 2006 he was runner-up in the Channel Four News awards in the 'Rising Star' category.

He also served on the Environmental Audit Committee until the Government reshuffle in May 2006 when he was appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Schools Minister Jim Knight MP, a position he held till Gordon Brown appointed him as Britain's first Muslim Minister, at the Department for International Development in June 2007.

In October 2008, Shahid was promoted to serve as Minister for Justice and in March 2009 he was subsequently appointed into a dual role as a Home Office Minister.

Prior to entering Parliament he held a number of significant national roles. Following the 'Good Friday' Peace Agreement he was appointed by Mo Mowlam as the only ever Great British Commissioner to the Northern Ireland Equality Commission (1999-2002).

His other main area of work has been in regeneration and the voluntary sector. He was National Chair of the Voluntary Sector body Urban Forum (1999-2002) and was Chief Executive of Haringey Regeneration Agency managing £150 million of programmes.

From 1998-2002 he served as a Commissioner for Racial Equality covering Great Britain and also served as Vice-Chair of UK UNESCO.

He has also been a Fellow of the Institute of Management (FIMgt) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).

Shahid Malik was born and raised in Burnley in one of the most deprived areas in Britain, ranked 8th most deprived out of more than 8,000 wards in the country.