Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha - A leader dedicated to Islam and Muslim

Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha: A leader
dedicated to Islam and Muslim

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha, born in Madras in South India, graduated from Madras University in 1950 and went on to study Law. He was enrolled as an advocate at Madras High Court; however, he decided to leave and go to study further in America, where he obtained his LL.M. from Wisconsin University in 1960 and SJD (Doctorate in Juridical Science), equivalent to PhD in the United Kingdom from New York University in 1963.

He came to the UK in 1965 and was persuaded to stay by a religious scholar as there was a need there to organize the British Muslim community. In 1970 he founded the famous Union of Muslim Organisations of the United Kingdom and Ireland, an organization that has been actively engaged to enhance the position of Muslims in UK and Europe.

Two years ago, in January 2005, Dr. Pasha was awarded an OBE by the Queen for his contribution to the Muslim community and multicultural harmony. Dr. Pasha was also honoured in 2006 by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and the London Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC) for his lifetime services to the Muslim community in Britain. Last November, 2007 the Global Peace and Unity (GPU) 2007 also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Pasha.

Dr. Pasha is such a great personality and a dedicated Muslim leader to the service of Islam and British community that I was enthralled to write a profile on him after interviewing his personal opinion and comments on several issues of the Muslim community in this country.

Interview with Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha
To pray and practise Islam in a non-Muslim country and to help other Muslims to do right is the passion of Dr. Pasha’s life. Speaking about the passion of his life, Dr. Pasha said, “My life is conditioned upon following the principles of Islam daily in my daily life. The most important thing which I found was prayers five times a day and Friday congregational prayer in a mosque. So when I went to America I was able to pray five times in my room but I was worried about Friday congregational prayers.”

President of the Muslim Students Association (MSA)
of the Wisconsin University
In order to have a place for Friday congregational prayer, Dr. Pasha began to gather the Muslim students coming from different parts of the world. “In the University of Wisconsin, there were about 200 Muslim students. I made contact with some of them and found positive response from them for the proposal for a congregational prayer. There was no Mosque no facilities. I approached a brother from Indonesia, a scholarship holder. He had a very big hall in his apartment just like a Mosque. In America, the apartments are luxurious, very big. So I suggested him to let his hall for Friday prayer. He was delighted to accept.”

Dr. Pasha was elected as the President of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) of the University of Wisconsin in 1958. He negotiated with the University to get a hall in the students union where the Muslim students can make their Friday prayers. “We got the permission, Alhamdu Lillah.”

Founder-member of Muslim Students
Association of USA and Canada (MSA)
Dr. Pasha is one of the founders of Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada (MSA) which developed as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Speaking about the founding of the Islamic Council of North America,

Dr. Pasha came to London in 1965. He found Dr. Muhammad Hoballah, Director of the Islamic Cultural Centre and Regents Park Mosque. Dr. Pasha met him in Washington. The Director introduced Dr. Pasha to Dr. Al-Gayoushi, the Assistant Director of the Islamic Centre, who gave him the facilities to organize Muslims. Dr. Pasha formed an Ad hoc Committee to convene a conference of Muslim organizations in the United Kingdom.

UNION of Muslim Organisations (UMO)
Speaking about the formation of the Union of the Muslim Organisations of United Kingdom and Ireland, (UMO), Dr. Pasha said, “First national conference of Muslim organizations was convened at the Islamic Cultural Centre in 1970. Nobody knew me, nobody knew anybody. But they know Islamic Cultural Centre. Muslim organizations responded to our call, read the constitution and we formed the Union of Muslim Organisations of the United Kingdom and Ireland. It was July 19, 1970. Alhamdu Lillah, we carried out with 38 founding members of the Union. Since then we never looked back. Each year the number increased and is increasing. There were only 200 Muslim organizations recognized in the United Kingdom. Now there are nearly a thousand. The UMO’s Membership is 216 Muslim organizations at present.”

After the formation of the UMO, the first priority was to find a suitable place which will be the Headquarters of the UMO. The Director of the Islamic Cultural Centre suggested we move to our own premises as the trustees of the Islamic Cultural Centre are the Muslim ambassadors of all the Muslim countries. Ibrahim Bawani suggested, ‘Dr. Pasha in this country nobody will give you money for Headquarters; the only man who will give you is King Faisal.’”

Dr. Pasha travelled to Saudi Arabia to ask King Faisal for help. “King Faisal was so happy to know that we formed a Union of Muslim Organizations in the United Kingdom and Ireland. He said, ‘This was my dream. I can give you anything you want. King was in such a happy mood that he promised 250,000 pounds to build a UMO Centre.’ 250,000 pounds at that time in 1970, was today equivalent to about 5 million pounds,” said Dr. Pasha.

After coming back to London, Dr. Pasha met the then Saudi Ambassador at the Saudi Embassy in London. In 1980, Saudi Arabia and Iraq helped to buy a property which became the Headquarter of the UMO.

Motto of UMO
Speaking about the motto of the UMO, Dr. Pasha said, “If you see our Constitution, it says, ‘Hold fast to the rope of Allah and be not divided.’ This is a great opportunity for Muslims coming from various parts of the world to demonstrate the potentiality of Islam as a uniting force, as a cohesive force. It will eliminate discrimination on whatever grounds; race, colour or ethnicity – all this is taken care of in the Islamic faith, because the Holy Qur’an is very clear: All humanity comes from Adam and Eve and Adam came from dust. Exactly what our Prophet (peace be upon him) said in his farewell message on the Mount of Arafah. So the motto of UMO is to achieve unity of the Muslim community and to promote Daw’ah.”

Achievements and Demands of UMO
Speaking about the aims, activities and achievements of the UMO, Dr. Pasha mentioned about getting the permission to build Mosques, to have time-off for prayers, funding for Muslim schools, representation of Muslims in the British Parliament, outlawing religious discrimination and incitement to religious hatred, official holidays for Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha and application of Muslim Family Law.

Permission to build Mosques
Dr. Pasha said, “The first thing I did was to write to Mr. Roy Jenkins, MP, the then Home Secretary, asking him to advise Local Councils to grant planning permission to build mosque in each area of this country. So, Alhamdu Lillah, we succeeded: the Home Secretary wrote to all local authorities to give positive response to the Muslim community’s demands for a Mosque.”

European Convention of Human Rights
Lord Irwin, the then Lord Chancellor, succeeded in getting Parliament’s approval to have this incorporated into the British Law. Article 9 of this Convention guarantees freedom of religion to all citizens of Europe under which we are claiming our religious rights, said Dr. Pasha.

Funding for Muslim schools
Speaking about the third achievements of the UMO, Dr. Pasha said, “Thirdly, we wanted funding for Muslim Schools. Catholic and Church of England Schools receive state funding; Jewish Schools also get state funding. So we succeeded in getting state funding for Muslim Schools. The first one was the Islamia Primary School of Brother Yusuf Islam; and then al-Furqan School in Birmingham. Now, Alhamdu Lillah, there are now 7 State-funded Muslim Schools out of a total of about 120 schools.”

Representation of Muslims in British Parliament
Speaking about the fourth achievement of the UMO, Dr. Pasha said, “UMO organized and held so many meetings in Parliament and so many fringe meetings in the party conferences – in the Conservative Party and the Labour Party conferences. We put forward UMO’s demands for representation of Muslims in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords. We succeeded, Alhamdu Lillah. There are four Muslims in the House of Commons and five in the House of Lords. This number is not sufficient. This number is not commensurate with our numbers. We have got more than two and a half million Muslims. Accordingly, we should have more than 35 Muslims in the House of Commons and more than 25 in the House of Lords. We are demanding and we will continue.”

Religious Discrimination and Incitement to Religious Hatred
Speaking about the next demand of the UMO, Dr. Pasha said, “Our next demand was for a bill which will outlaw religious discrimination and incitement to religious hatred. This Labour government promised and fulfilled the promise but, unfortunately, this bill was watered down, not to our expectations. I hope the next Parliament will continue our demand that this should be strengthened on the same lines as the Race Relations Act of 1976 to make it a criminal offence to discriminate against Muslims in employment and incitement to religious hatred.”

Blasphemy Law
“Law of Blasphemy applies to Christian religion only. Lord Scarman of the then Law Commission said this is not right. This is a multi-cultural multi-religious society. All religions should be treated equally,” said Dr. Pasha.

Holidays for two Eids and
Application of Family Law
Dr. Pasha said, “So far our demand is to have official holidays for Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha for the Muslim Employees and the application of Muslim Family Law. This is our very very important demand. Britain, being a multi-religious society, the Muslim community must have the right to practise the tenets of Islam. In our religion, the Muslim Family Law is obligatory and it deals with personal matters only. It is not affecting other people’s rights.”

Dr. Pasha also mentioned his personal views and opinions on some of the major issues of the Muslim community in this country, such as integration and cohesion, Hijab and Muslim education.

Integration and cohesion
“People are speaking about integration, cohesion and all this kind of things. We say, we are all for integration, but not for assimilation. Because Islam is a religion, is an ideology, and a way of life. We cannot abandon our cultural and religious values in order to achieve integration. We are integrated but we have got our own religious cultural identity. That means there will be no assimilation, not to subscribe to it,” said Dr. Pasha and added, “But integration, we are fully to it because we believe Islam is a religion for the whole of mankind and Allah has categorized us as the best Ummah.”

Dr. Pasha said, “I will suggest Suratul Ahzab, which says, ‘O Prophet, Tell your wives, your daughters and the believing women to cover their bodies with Hijab; because this will be a source of identity that they are Muslims and this will also be a source of protection against evil doers. This is Order from Allah the Almighty. There is no choice for the Muslims here. The women are following the Order of Allah the Almighty, not my order or the order of the husband or order of anybody else. Allah the Almighty has made modesty of a woman a requirement for their entering into the Paradise. It is for their benefit and for wide morality in society. Therefore, wearing a Hijab is compulsory for the protection of woman and for the protection of man as well to protect their modesty. Allah has created man and woman and He knows which is good for the human society.”

Dr. Pasha mentioned, “State funding to Muslim Schools will only increase the capacity of Muslims to communicate with non-Muslims. Muslim Schools will not be a ghetto schools; Muslim schools will open its doors to non-Muslims because Muslim schools will create their places for the Muslim children to inculcate the Islamic ethos and to build up their community in accordance with Islamic values while following the national curriculum. They will follow the National Curriculum.”

Dr. Pasha said, “Interfaith, I think, is very useful institution. I have been myself member of the World Council for Religion and Peace. I have been a member of the Executive Committee of the United Nations Association of Religious communities and I think this is a useful Forum to eradicate misunderstanding about different religions and other peoples religions,” said Dr. Pasha and added, “At the same time, it is my humble request to those people, Muslims, who are participating in this interfaith, not to be politically correct in their approach but to state clearly what Islam stands for. We are not offending anybody but we are only trying to put the case of Islam in its total perspective.”

Dr. Pasha said, “They are saying, Jesus took the last supper with wine. There is no proof of this. Whichever is intoxicating, which removes your senses of discriminating right and wrong is forbidden. But if they are drinking it is their problem. We are not trying to criticize anybody. But we will not drink alcohol ourselves. But we will be part of multi-faith dialogue. We will explain the true benefits of interfaith. We will say, Moosa (peace be upon him) and Issa (peace be upon him) - both of them foretold the coming of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) very clearly in their Books – Torah and Injeel. In the Bible, it is said clearly that after me a prophet will come whose name is ‘Pericletos’ (meaning the Praised ones) but clearly mention in the Bible of Barnabus as ‘Mohamana’ in Aramaic language."

Published in The Muslim Weekly, London

24 March 2008

Friday, 25 November 2011

King Abdul Aziz Centre for Dialogue - A Big Achievement

King Abdul Aziz Centre for Dialogue:
A big Achievement

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Jeddah: Saudi Arabia: King Abdul Aziz Centre for National Dialogue was established on 3rd August 2003 towards fostering a national dialogue between people who hold different views. The Centre came into existence after the First National Meeting, which was held in Riyadh. This was followed by other national meetings whose subjects were chosen with care and concern so as to be of importance to the needs of society.

The Centre aims to provide an appropriate and permanent environment for national dialogue among individuals within Saudi society, in order to realize the general welfare and preserve national unity on the basis of the Islamic creed.

I enquired Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef about this King Abdul Aziz Centre for national Dialogue. Dr. Naseef said, “Last Ramadan, there was a meeting with King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques on dialogue. First of all, on 24th of Ramadan which was 21st of August, the meeting took place in the office of the Sheikh Abdullah al-Saleh al-Husseini, the Chairman of the al-Haramain al-Sharafian. The meeting took place in his office. We discussed about all the issues and then in the evening the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah, on the same day, on the 25th of Ramadan he greeted the committee, encouraged by saying the Centre is doing very well.”

Centre – a big achievement
Dr. Naseef also mentioned, “The culture of dialogue is spreading among the people, in the organisations and even within the families, King Abdullah said. You can be proud of that you have introduced as a committee and as a centre - King Abdul Aziz Centre for Dialogue as we introduced the culture of dialogue within the families. Now the people are speaking within their children, people with their wives and man with the woman and with other members of the family in a decent language and accepting the other ideas and so on. So he said this is a big achievement and congratulated the centre for this great achievement.”

The King Abdul Aziz Centre for National Dialogue strives to promote the culture of dialogue among the groups comprising the society of the nation. Looking towards the nation’s hopes and aspirations, the centre aims to contribute by participating in offering the prerequisites needed for prosperity and civilization.

Death of Dr Pasha a Great Loss of the Muslim Community

Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha Passes Away:
A Great loss of the Muslim Community

Dr. Mozammel Haque
The death of Dr. Pasha is a great loss of the Muslim Community. I am sure that the younger next generation will remember always the remarkable efforts and achievements of Dr. Pasha for long time,” said Dr Ahmed al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre to me and added, “What we hope now is that the Muslim leaders in our community will learn from Dr. Pasha and will have the same feeling and love for Islam and Muslims and for everybody as Dr. Pasha had.”

Muslim Community of Britain is in the sea of sadness with the passing of Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha, pioneer community leader, on Wednesday, 23rd of November 2011 (Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ilayhi Raajioon –To God we belong and to Him we return)).

For more than forty years from 1970 to 2011 Dr. Pasha relentlessly tried to improve the situation of Muslims and after 2001 he tried to convince the whole world, particularly the people of the United Kingdom that the British Muslims are the peace-loving and law-abiding citizens of this country through his speeches, statements and press releases of the Union of Muslim Organisations of the United Kingdom & Ireland (UMO) of which he was the founder and Secretary General.

Dr. Pasha, 81, devoted his whole life and time for the community service, for the well-being of the British Muslims through his organisation, UMO.

Dr. Pasha was awarded an OBE in January, 2005 by the Queen of the United Kingdom for his contribution to the Muslim Community and multicultural harmony. The British Muslim Community also acknowledged his devotion, dedication and perseverance and he was honoured in 2006 by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and the Islamic Cultural Centre, London, for his lifetime services to the Muslim Community in Britain.

In 2007, the Global Peace and Unity (GPU) also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Pasha.

The Janaza prayer of Dr. Pasha was held at the Islamic Cultural Centre and the Regent Park Central London Mosque after the Jumah prayer on Friday, 25 November 2011.

Dr. Pasha started his community service by establishing UMO in the Islamic Cultural Centre, London and the British Muslim Community gave him the warmest farewell from this world for his blissful and heavenly life Hereafter by praying farewell Janaza at the same place, Islamic Cultural Centre and Regent Park Central London Mosque on Friday, 25th of November 2011 after the Jumah prayer, where he never consciously missed any Friday Jumah prayer, while he was in sound health in London.

Dr. Pasha was placed on rest at Garden of Peace graveyard, Ilford, England, before Maghreb, on Friday, 25 November 2011. It was attended by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Barrister Haji Ahmed Thompson and community leaders, Religious leaders, Ulema and other members of the Muslim community. Dr. Suhaib Hasan led another Janaza Prayer at the graveyard and made a special dua (supplication) after placing the body of Dr. Pasha at rest

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Hajj-e-Mabrouk to you all from Holy Sites of Mina Arafat and Muzdalifah

Hajj-e-Mabrouk to you all from the
Holy Sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah

Dr. Mozammel Haque

MINA: MAKKAH: I wish all of you who have performed Hajj this year a Hajj-e-Mabrouk and others a happy Eid Mubarak from the Holy Sites of Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifah and Masjid-al-Haram in the Balad al-Ameen. The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah congratulated all Muslims in the world in an address to the pilgrims on Monday, the 7th of November 2011. “From the land of the sacred message and revelation, I congratulate you and Muslims everywhere on the occasion of the Eid-ul-Adha,” the King said in his speech.

King Abdullah congratulates all Muslims the world over
The King prayed for the Muslim Ummah’s security and stability. “When security and stability prevails, societies grow, the economy prospers and the Ummah moves forward. Muslim societies should use Hajj as an occasion to learn. Among the great aims of Haj are unity, solidarity and getting rid of dissent and hatred,” the King said.

The huge number of pilgrims coming from different corners of the world to fulfil their fifth obligatory rite convinces anyone of the importance of ideas such as diversity, tolerance and dialogue, the king said. “The true image of the unified Ummah emerges during the Haj. They all have assembled with only one objective and in response to the call of Allah and in sincere devotion to the Almighty. Wherever we go we hear nothing but the sound of Talbiya (the declaration of ‘We are here in response to the call of Allah, the One’),” the king said.

King Abdullah added that an important lesson to be learned from Hajj is that pilgrims are ready to suffer anything when they go out in response to the call of Tawhid (belief in the oneness of God). The king said he learned a lot from watching the pilgrims every year. “I look at them during their walking and wandering around. I gain a lot from looking at them and I draw a unique energy from those huge crowds. I admiringly watch the look of satisfaction and tranquility in their faces. They also enjoy the blessings of security and serenity prevailing in this country. They are calm and quiet, the older ones are sympathetic to the young, the rich helps the poor,” he said, adding that such a scene could be observed only in the holy land.

“This good land on which pilgrims and visitors converge, with Allah’s blessing, enjoys security and stability as a result of the prayer of our father Ibrahim (peace be upon him). His prayer was ‘My Lord, make this a city of peace and security, and protect me and my sons from worshipping idols’ (Holy Qur’an Surah: Ibrahim, Verse: 35).”

The king also said serving the pilgrims is a great honor for the Kingdom. “We only seek the reward and help from Allah Almighty for undertaking the responsibility of serving the pilgrims,” he said.

This year Hajj - an unprecedented success –
Crown Prince Naif of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Crown Prince Naif, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, said international situations have changed and there were expectations that some others would exploit the occasion of Hajj to carry out chaotic deeds, but thanks to Almighty Allah, it did not happen. The Crown Prince made this statement while declaring the Hajj an unprecedented success, while stressing that this year’s pilgrimage was a greater success than in the past years.

He was speaking at a reception accorded to the officers of the Hajj security forces at the Interior Ministry headquarters in Makkah. “The fact is that we should thank all pilgrims because they have proved that they are Muslims respecting their obligatory rituals and they were all cooperative,” the crown prince added.

Prince Naif said the authorities were only concerned in making the Hajj easier and hassle-free for all Muslims.” We do not look at the country of the pilgrim or to any political issues. We view him as a pilgrim and Muslim, and so we should offer him whatever that makes his Hajj comfortable, safe, healthy and peaceful,” the prince said.

The Crown Prince also said every citizen should strive to guard the security of the country because there are some who are driven by others to positions that do not suit them and are made to deal in matters that are unlawful and harmful.

Hajj Free of Contagious diseases
Speaking at a press conference at MINA Emergency Hospital, Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeh, the Health Minister of Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday declared this year’s Hajj totally free from infectious diseases or any cases that required quarantining. “The precautionary and preventive measures taken by the ministry led to pilgrims being safeguarded from all kinds of infections,” Al-Rabeeah said.

Another key step was the Ministry’s rigorous watch at all entry points into the Kingdom to detect if any incoming pilgrim was carrying symptoms of infections and to take immediate action if any suspicious case was found, the Minister said. “Preventive doses against meningitis were given to 365,777 pilgrims, oral polio vaccines to 532,400 pilgrims and yellow fever vaccines to 200,000 pilgrims at various entry points to the Kingdom,” the Minister said

The field health teams of the ministry handled 3,500 cases of sick pilgrims without sending them to hospital, the Minister said, while enumerating the accomplishments of his ministry during the Hajj. “The Ministry’s hospitals conducted 470 specialized heart catheterizations, 20 open heart surgeries to pilgrims in addition to a number of patients waiting to undergo the surgery in the next two days. The hospitals also conducted 886 kidney dialyses and 179 endoscopies,” the Minister said.

The Minister put the number of pilgrims who visited health centers in Makkah and Madinah at 421,760 and those who visited outpatient clinics in Makkah and the holy sites at 88,635. “These achievements attest to the Ministry of Health’s capability to offer high quality services to pilgrims,” the Minister said.

I am grateful to King Abdullah, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosque, who has invited me along with others to perform Hajj 2011.

British Muslim VIP Guests Perform Hajj 2011

British Muslim VIP Guests perform Hajj this year

Dr. Mozammel Haque

MINA, MAKKAH: I am fortunate enough this year to be invited by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Now we have been doing the rituals of Hajj according to the arrangements provided by the Royal Protocol. I have done a lot of Hajj before and seen a lot of hardships during the Hajj. So now at an advanced age I very much appreciate all these facilities that have been given to us which has made our Hajj very easy. I thank Allah the Almighty first of all. He has given me once again this life opportunity and secondly I thank the Saudi Monarch because of whom we are able to come for Hajj this year because there was no planning whatsoever to come for Hajj but suddenly out of blue the invitation came and within days all the things were prepared and we come here and we have been received by Royal Protocol in the Airport and straight away all the guests were taken to Jeddah Conference Palace and we performed our Umrah at Masjid al-Haram which was done also in a very easy way.

What I can say that the facilities which are provided to us they are because we are guest but the facilities that are provided to pilgrims they are in general are enormous, so big that no person could imagine what is the state of affairs now in comparison with what it was in thirty years ago. We also remember that many time some of the tents caught fire and then many many people have been burnt alive. That was those tents did not have all these precautionary measures which can stop the fire.

Revolutionary Development in Transportation -
Dr. Ahmed al-Dubayan

Revolutionary development in the transportation in the Holy sites took place, said the leader of the VIP Guests from the UK, Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London and mentioned about the services that are provided here. “The authorities here did the best for us, to welcome us, to facilitate our Hajj. As regards the hospitality I have to admire the hospitality we have seen in accommodation, in food, in transport and in everything and these are something that we have to thank.”

Every year King Abdullah, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, invites Muslims from different parts of the world to perform Hajj as Royal guest. So far 18,000 Muslims from around the globe have performed Hajj during the past years as guests of King Abdullah. This year Hajj 2011 “King Abdullah will host 1,400 pilgrims from around the globe,” said Sheikh Saleh bin Abdul Aziz Aal Al-Sheikh, Minister of Islamic Affairs. Out of 1,400 pilgrims invited by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, 30 are from the United Kingdom.

This year 2011 the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has invited 30 Muslims from the United Kingdom. At the same time, there are another 20 guests who are actually hosted by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs of Saudi Arabia. So this year there are 50 guest altogether from the United Kingdom – 30 VIP and 20 from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

This 30 invited Royal guests include Muslim leaders; those who are people of influence, those who also serve the Muslim community, Ulema and religious scholars of different religious schools of thought in the UK. Among these VIP people are some politicians, such as Lord Mohammad Sheikh and his wife, Lady Sheikh, from the Conservative Party. There is Baroness Uddin from the House of Lords and Shahid Malik, the former Communities Minister from the Labour Party.

Similarly, the Muslim scholars are from different major groups of the Muslim organizations in the UK, for example, some scholars from Ahle-Hadith, some scholars of Deobandis, there are some scholars from other organizations.

These 30 guests of the Royal Protocol are British nationals, they are Muslim leaders, Muslim scholars and media people and some politicians; but as regards their ethnicity and cultural heritage, they are Muslims of different cultural heritage, such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Muslims from Saudi Arabia itself, Muslims from Tunisia and many other countries.

Similarly, the other guests with the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs are those groups of people who are really playing an important role in the Muslim unity and giving service to the Muslim community. They are British nationals but of different ethnic origins.

The leader of this VIP Guests from the UK, Dr. al-Dubayan, said, “This year there is a message. And that message of Hajj is a message of Peace. Hajj is an occasion of more dialogue and better relationship. The Hajj in Makkah is really the biggest demonstration of peace in the world. The Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom, His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Nawaf actually has the same concern and that’s why Muslims from different religious schools of thought, people of different ethnic origins come together to demonstrate the message of Hajj and also of good relations and better chance of dialogue among themselves and also with the scholars of Saudi Arabia.”