Majority of winners at the Fifteenth Muslim
News Awards for Excellence event were women
Dr. Mozammel Haque
The majority of the winners at the Fifteenth Muslim News Awards for Excellence event were women. Congratulating all the winners and those who were shortlisted for the awards, the Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi, said that this was the first time that women won more than half the awards presented at the ceremony. “This shows that, unlike what the politicians and the media report, Muslim women are high achievers and hugely contribute to the country,” Versi said.
60% of the winners were women and 53% were from outside London. Chair of the Independent Panel of The Muslim News Awards for Excellence Judges, Rabbi Janet Darley, commented on a large number of women winning the awards, saying: “This shows how active and involved in society Muslim women are contrary to some misperceived perceptions.”
The Fifteenth Muslim News Award for Excellence 2017
Over 570 people from all sections of society, from the worlds of politics, business, sports, the arts, as well as civic and religious leaders celebrated the achievements of the unsung heroes of British Muslim and non-Muslim communities at the 15th of The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event – Britain’s longest standing Muslim awards event – on Monday, 27th of March 2017 at Marriot Hotel London. The coveted award ceremony recognised the very best of Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to British society.
Guest of Honour
Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, MP
Guest of Honour at the event, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid, MP, said: “Look around this room tonight. Educators, scientists, entrepreneurs; leading figures in sport, media and the arts; Muslims saving lives as doctors and changing lives through politics. I’m talking about incredible people who show to the non-Muslim world what Muslims are capable of. The good that our community can do – and does – day in, day out.”
In his keynote speech, Javid said many of the guests at the event are the children or grandchildren of immigrants who “work hard, build something positive and give their children and grandchildren a better life.”
Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities
and Local Government (Photo: James Gifford-Mead/Muslim News)
However, he added, they didn’t give up their identities. “They were proud of their heritage, proud to be Muslims. And they recognised that the values they held dear – hard work, honesty, integrity, and a determination to do good. They recognised that those weren’t just Muslim values, they were British values too.”
The Guest of Honour said that the first generation Muslims were the “pioneers of our community, and we owe them all a debt of gratitude. Not just for what they have done for us in the past, but for the way in which their lessons will endure for many years to come.”
“Because tonight, when the night seems darkest, the beliefs, ideals and values that we learned from our faith and from previous generations can serve as our astrolabe. They can guide us. They can show us the way. If we abide by them, they will help lead our community through stormy seas, just as they did for our parents and our grandparents. The people in this room exemplify those values.”
He thanked all the winners and nominees “for all the good that you do.” He said he was “proud to be British and proud to be Muslim”
Special guest included Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP, Chairman, Intelligence and Security Committee, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, Shadow Attorney General, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh MP, SNP Westminster Spokesperson, International Trade, Rt Hon Tom Brake MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs & Chief Whip
They were joined by civic and religious leaders, as well as representatives from the worlds of politics, business, sport and the arts, to honour unsung heroes and heroines of the community.
Messages of support to the event
from all party leaders
Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, who has attended the event in the past, sent a video message: “The Muslim News Awards are a wonderful contributions Muslims make in every sphere of life, from business leaders creating jobs in the country to sports stars winning for Britain and our whole country proud…with Muslims and non-Muslims coming together in solidarity.
“Tonight we celebrate not just the best of Muslim community but the very best of Britain. So as Prime Minister, on behalf of the whole country, I want to thank everyone of you for all that you do and all that you give to our country and I wish you all a great evening.”
Prime Minister Theresa May also said, “Having attended the awards in the past, I know what a fantastic and enjoyable occasion the Muslim News Awards is. I hope everyone – whether you’re a nominee, a guest or a supporter – has a fantastic evening. And let me send special congratulations to the lucky winners.”
Opposition Leader, Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP, said the Muslim News Awards for Excellence “are a fantastic opportunity to recognise the huge contribution that is made to many aspects of our society by the Muslim community in the United Kingdom.”
“The Muslim Awards for Excellence are a fantastic showcase of the benefits of multiculturalism and a truly diverse society, flying in the face of rising racism, prejudice, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism across Europe and America. We must be forever vigilant in protecting hard won freedoms and rights for all in the face of those who want to curtail them,” said Corbyn.
“This awards ceremony is an important opportunity to recognise the huge contribution that Muslims across Britain make to our country every day, showcasing the talent and excellence of individuals in their fields of expertise.
Corbyn congratulated “all of the nominees and winners at tonight’s awards. I wish you all the very best as you continue to go from success to success.”
SNP Westminster Leader, Rt Hon Angus Robertson MP, said: “These are the shining lights of the UK’s Muslim communities; role models to inspire younger generations. This event allows a fantastic opportunity to showcase these talents and it is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the team at The Muslim News that the event continues to go from strength to strength.”
“Muslim communities in Scotland and across the UK play an integral role our national life and it is important to have the opportunity to commend examples of this positive impact and valuable contribution.”
Robertson congratulated “all the nominees and winners this evening.”
Ahmed J Versi, Editor of The Muslim News said in his welcoming speech: “I would like to thank all our readers who took the time to nominate men, women and children whose endeavours and activities mark them out for recognition of excellence.
Mr. Versi mentioned, “As in previous years, we have been humbled by the quality and quantity of entries for each award category.”
“At these awards too we identify not only those British Muslims who have excelled in their fields and contributed to the society, but also those who are not Muslims who have stood up to defend Muslims,” Mr. Versi said.
Welcome speech by Ahmed J Versi,
Ahmed Versi, the Editor and Publisher of The Muslim News welcomed all those who have been nominated for the awards this evening. He also expressed thank to all the readers who took the time to nominate men, women and children whose endeavours and activities mark them out for recognition of excellence.
In his welcome speech, Versi said, “Tonight we mark a special milestone as we celebrate the fifteenth ‘The Muslim News Awards for Excellence’, a major feature in the British Muslim calendar. When we established The Muslim News Awards in 2000, we did so to honour another milestone: the tenth anniversary of our newspaper. The paper was established with the aim of reporting the diverse Muslim community’s highs and lows, charting how it has grown, in spite of the brickbats thrown at it. A diverse community bound by common ties of faith, we believed and continue to believe that Muslims have much to offer society because of our great faith. We also set ourselves the aim to be an entity that affected positive change.”
Giving the background of the Muslim News Award for Excellence, Versi mentioned, “While we made special effort to celebrate our community, we felt that such a celebration needed to move beyond our pages, and so, The Muslim News Awards were established. Today, as you peruse through the awards brochure and read the stories of the nominees, you will realise how far our community has come. You will find out about Muslims who are raising standards in education, making the latest breakthrough in science and spearheading creativity in the arts and design.”
The Editor said the awards ceremony showcases “the brilliance of the British Muslim community - huge contributions made by diverse men, women and young people from around the country. You will also find Muslim activists who have done much to improve the lives of others, and of non-Muslims who have worked hard to improve the lives of Muslims.”
Since the year 2000, almost 700 individuals and organisations have had the honour of being shortlisted and 232 awarded a Muslim News Award. To date 94 independent judges from a cross-section of civil society, have sifted through large numbers of submissions to seek out excellence within the community.
Versi said, “After more than 15 years, these awards have succeeded in their aim of highlighting positive stories to produce a counter-narrative to the plethora of negativity about Muslims and Islam.”
Referring to the present global scenario, Versi said that we now live “at the cusp of a potentially dangerous new era which is seeing populist leaders rally supporters by scapegoating anyone who is different. It is at a time like this that I hope we can rally around the spirit generated by these awards: a spirit that celebrates achievements and what unites us and brings communities together to pave the way for a shared future.”
Versi concluded his welcoming speech by saying, “Tonight we are celebrating talents in our community, not only excelling in their respective professions but also contributing to the country. I feel so honoured and proud to be in the company of our role models.”
Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, MP
SNP Westminster Spokesperson on International Trade, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, praising the awards which demonstrate the contribution Muslims make to the society, said, “We should all be very proud of ourselves in these difficult times.”
The award she presented was for Enterprise and is named after the Prophet’s wife, Khadijah, whose life and achievements were published in the awards brochure. “If there was any question please read what it says in the brochure, of women’s place in Islam. We are equal of every man. Khadijah was an entrepreneur and indeed, was the one who proposed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) in marriage. So don’t allow anyone question the status of women in Islam. We are indeed equal,” the MP said.
Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Dominic Grieve MP, reflected on how much the event has grown over the years. “Look how the people who have been coming along have been widened, the group of people taking an interest has grown – all that process when we bring human communities together to work for the common good.”
Winners and Presenters of Award for Excellence
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.
Alhambra Award for Excellence in Arts was awarded to Shahida Ahmed, ceramic Artist and Painter, who was awarded a licentiateship in 1996 from the Society of Designer Craftsmen in London. She has showcased her work internationally, most recently at the Mayor of London’s Eid in the Square event at Trafalgar Square. This Award was presented to her by Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Annemarie Schimmel Award forChampioning a Muslim Cause was given to David Gould and Liz Gould, the dedicated community workers, who, despite losing their daughter Helen to the horrific terrorist bombings in London on 7 July 2005, have vigorously supported the most vulnerable refugees, particularly Muslims. Inspired by their Christian faith, the couple set up Sanctus St Marks, an organisation that aims to welcome, support and walk alongside people who are isolated, due to leaving behind the country of their birth to seek sanctuary in the UK. They also established Interfaith Council in Carlisle. Through this initiative, in 2010 they organised the first ever Indonesian Evening at the Carlisle Cathedral which was the first time that seven different scriptures were read in that building in 900 years. This Award was presented by Mohamed Amersi, Founder of Inclusive Ventures Group.
Ahmed J Versi, Editor, The Muslim News and Rt Hon
Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities
and Local Government (Photo: James Gifford-Mead/Muslim News)
Malcolm X Young Person’s Award for Excellence was given to Shaheen Mohammed Al Mamun, young lawyer who was conferred with the University of Westminster Student Achievement Award and was shortlisted for numerous awards including the Junior Lawyer of the Year by the Law Society Excellence Award 2016. Outside his profession, Shaheen was elected the BME Officer for the London Green Party and he serves his local community at the Holborn Muslim Community Association. This Award was presented by Othman Moqbel, CEO, Human Appeal.
Alija Izetbegovic Award for Good Citizenship was given to Malia Bouattia, first Muslim woman to be elected the President of the National Union of Students (NUS) in 2016. She previously held the role of NUS Black Students’ officer. As a student leader, Malia has campaigned tirelessly for equal rights and for the underprivileged. Malia has addressed the UN in Geneva about the harmful effects of Prevent, Britain’s anti-extremism scheme in schools; she has worked on the Why Is My Curriculum White campaign, and she has a strong network of student supporters on social media. Malia lives in Birmingham with her family and is a student at the University of Birmingham. This Award was presented by Assed Baig Messenger and
Uthman Dan Fodio Award for Excellence in Community Development was awarded to Shazuli Iqbal, Chair and Co-founder of the Wiltshire Islamic Cultural Centre (WICC), which was formed to serve the educational, social and moral needs of the growing Muslim Community in Wiltshire and to reach out to the wider community. Under his leadership a soup kitchen has been set up for the local homeless people. Under his guidance WICC has also managed to secure a grant from Wiltshire Council for youth activities. Shahzuli is also a trustee of the Wiltshire Racial Equality and a former trustee of Stepping Stones, an organisation for children with special needs. The Award was presented by Sayed Lakhte Hassanain, Chairman of Muslim Hands; s.
Al Biruni Award for Excellence in Community Relations was awarded to Emdad Rahman, a dedicated community activist, involved in raising money for many charities, most notably the Whitechapel Missions. He has acted as a mentor and worked with young people at schools in his local area of Tower Hamlets. As a result of his work, he has been a recipient of numerous civic awards, from the Mayor of the City of London as well as being named ‘Londoner of the Day’ by Mayor Boris Johnson. He was a Queen’s Baton Bearer at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014. He was made a Freeman of the City of London in 2015. He was named an MBE in the Queen’s 2014 Honours List. This Award was presented by Abdirashid Duale, CEO, Dahabshiil, sponsored by Dahabshiil.
Sankore University Award for Excellence in Education was given to Rukhsana Yaqoob, who has taught for 30 years in a range of secondary schools, credited for being an outstanding teacher and school leader. As a member of the inclusion team in the National Strategies, Rukhsana worked to raise the attainment of Muslim pupils from underachieving schools in English, Mathematics and Science nationally. As President of the Muslim Teachers’ Association, Rukhsana has supported many teachers in various ways by providing training, advice, mentoring and networking opportunities. This Award was presented by Fadi Itani, Deputy Director General, Qatar Charity UK, sponsored by Qatar Charity UK.
Fazlur Rahman Khan for Excellence in Engineering, Science and Technology was awarded to Dr Mohamed Bashir Gadi, an Associate Professor at Nottingham University and Director and Admissions Tutor for the MSc course Renewable Energy and Architecture. Dr Gadi was awarded the Gold Medal for best research work on energy modelling presented at the international Energex’98 conference. He also developed, modelled and tested a Novel Energy Conscious Building-integrated System for low cost housing, for which he was awarded the Gold Medal. He has presented at several academic conferences around the world, including at UNESCO, and the United Nations. This Award was presented by Imam Qasim Rashid Ahmed, Chair, Al-Khair Educational and Cultural Centre, sponsored by Al-Khair Foundation.
Ummul Mu'minin Khadijah Award for Excellence in Enterprise was awarded to Zohra Khaku, founder of Halal Gems, a website dedicated to showcasing the very best halal restaurants. Zohra’s mission is to change the way people eat. She produced and presented the first halal food restaurant TV show, The Curious Foodie, on Sky’s British Muslim TV. Zohra has showcased her work most recently at the renowned Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES) and in 2016; The Sunday Times featured Zohra as an example of a successful young entrepreneur. This Award was presented by Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh MP, SNP Westminster Spokesperson on International Trade.
Ibn Sina Award for Health was awarded to Dr Mehrunisha Suleman, a bioethicist at Balliol College, Oxford, where she is researching Islamic perspectives on the ethics of Global Health Research in Developing Countries. She holds a BA in Biomedical Sciences Tripos from the University of Cambridge and an MSc in Global Health Sciences from Oxford University. As a UNESCO trainer for ethics teachers, Mehrunisha has facilitated and delivered ethics teaching for researchers and practitioners through courses held in Kenya and Bangladesh. This Award was presented by Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, Shadow Attorney General
Ibn Battuta Award for Excellence in Media was awarded to Nabila Ramdani, an award-winning French-Algerian journalist, columnist, and broadcaster who specialises in French politics, Islamic affairs, and the Arab World. She has established a long-standing reputation for producing fearless, balanced and honest reporting across a wide variety of media outlets. Nabila’s bylines have appeared in the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian and Evening Standard. While she has produced exclusives and interviews from the Muslim world and Arab Spring, Nabila has also covered issues that are applicable to all Muslims living in western societies such as Britain, writing with acute sensitivity to the lives of Muslims living in the UK and in France. Nabila, who lives in London, was also the first journalist in the UK to expose poorly sourced stories linking refugees to attacks against women. This Award was presented by Imran Madden, UK Director of Islamic Relief; s.
Faezeh Hashemi Award for Excellence in Sport was given to The Muslimah Sports Association, a volunteer-led organisation based in Ilford, East London, committed to providing opportunities and empowerment through sports to Muslim and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women. They offer a diverse range of sports, from basketball to karate, to squash and football, benefitting over 400 women from Muslim and BAME backgrounds. This Award was presented by Dr Nizar Merali, Trustee, The Salaam Centre, sponsored by The Salaam Centre.
Imams Hasan and Husayn Children's Award for Excellence was awarded to Shanzay Butt and Shezil Butt, who are twins and have been nominated for doing well at school in London despite suffering from a health condition that severely restricts their attendance in school. Despite prolonged absences, they return to school, catch up with the class and are always within the top 10% of academic performance in all their subjects. Not only do these girls excel academically, the twins take part in varied extracurricular activities. Both girls have volunteered with St John’s Ambulance, and are currently training to become St John’s Ambulance cadets and have also learnt sign language to enable them to help the deaf. This Award was presented by Rt Hon Tom Brake MP, Whip, Liberal Democrat
Imam wa Amal Special Award was given to Mohammed Zafran. This Award was presented by Rabbi Janet Darley, Chair of The Muslim News Awards for Excellence Independent Panel of Judges.
The Editor’s Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Unaiza Malik, Director, African Muslim Welfare Trust. This award was presented to her by Ahmed J Versi, Editor, The Muslim News & Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP Chairman, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament
All winners received a beautifully and intricately designed brass astrolabe, the iconic image of the fourteenth-year-old awards ceremony. The astrolabe was a highly developed tool used throughout the Muslim world to measure the altitude of stars and planets. By the eighth century, they were used to aid navigation, locate the Qiblah (the direction towards the Ka’bah in Makkah Muslims face when praying), calculate the lunar calendar and to assess meteorological conditions.
The Muslim News continues to be the largest circulating, not only Muslim newspaper but ethnic paper too, reaching over 150,000 people in the UK and the website receives up to 1.5 million hits a month.