Below are answers to questions frequently posed on the establishment, composition and governance of the MCB. If you don’t find an answer to the question you’re looking for, please email [email protected] with your enquiry.
- To promote co-operation, consensus and unity on Muslim affairs in the UK
- To encourage and strengthen all existing efforts being made for the benefit of the Muslim community
- To work for a more enlightened appreciation of Islam and Muslims in wider society
- To establish a position for the Muslim community within British society that is fair and based on due rights
- To work for the eradication of disadvantages and forms of discrimination faced by Muslims
- To foster better community relations and work for the good of society as a whole
- To promote inter and extra faith dialogues in the promotion of tolerance and mutual respect in a diverse society
The Muslim Council of Britain is an independent body that conducts its affairs with openness and transparency and in accordance with a written constitution.
About fifty community bodies and networks convened in Birmingham on 30th April 1994 and formed the NICMU – the National Interim Committee for Muslim Unity. This body was mandated to conduct a consultation exercise within the community to establish the need for an umbrella body and seek views on its priorities and structure. NICMU met at regular intervals and in various UK cities, including Markfield (11th May 1994), Birmingham (27 June 1994) and Leicester (19th November 1994). A working group was established to carry out a process of countrywide consultations, and a postal questionnaire was prepared and circulated to Muslim organizations, Mosques, Islamic centres and institutions. Translations were also done in Urdu and Bengali to ensure a more comprehensive reach. In addition to the questionnaire, members of the working party held meetings with the major Muslim organizations in the country Union of Muslim Organisations, Muslim Parliament, The Muslim College and influential activists. The findings of the consultations were presented to NICMU on 15th July 1995. These indicated that a large majority of British Muslims were very concerned with the lack of unity, coordination and representation and supported the establishment of an umbrella body. NICMU then formed a sub-group to prepare a draft Constitution, which reported back its recommendations at a meeting in Birmingham held on 13th January 1996. The final meeting of NICMU took place on 25th May 1996 in Bradford, at which the name ‘The Muslim Council of Britain’ was chosen (from seven proposals).
An MCB preparatory committee was then formed to publicise and invite affiliations to the MCB and prepare for an Inaugural Meeting to formally launch the organisation and its membership. The preparatory committee met on 15th June 1996 (London), 7th September 1996 (Manchester), 3rd November 1996 (London), 15th March 1997 (Blackburn), 24th May 1997 (Leicester), 26th July 1997 (London), 20th September 1997 (London) and 1st November 1997 (London). Its work included a review of the Constitution and Standing Orders by the legal department of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the renting of premises for the work of the newly found organisation, the placement of advertisements in the Muslim press inviting participation from Muslim organizations and the production of an information pack. The work culminated in the inauguration of the Muslim Council of Britain at Brent Town Hall on 23rd November 1997. The first General Assembly meeting was held on 1st March 1998 at which the MCB elected a Central Working Committee and office-bearers for the first time.
Additionally, each national and regional affiliate can nominate a direct appointee to the National Council.
The National Council is responsible to the General Assembly for the efficient and proper running of the MCB, for carrying out the policies laid down by the General Assembly and for taking initiatives that are consistent with the General Assembly’s policies in the best interests of the Muslim community of Britain.
The National Council elects three office-bearers and four auxiliaries for a two year-term. The office-bearers, those charged with leading the organization, are the Secretary General, the Deputy Secretary General and the Treasurer. Four additional office-bearers are chosen at a further meeting of the National Council and are charged with assisting the elected office bearers in the performance of their duties.
The chief spokesperson of the MCB is the Secretary General. Office-bearers cannot serve in the same position for more than two consecutive terms or four years.
The MCB has three types of affiliated status – national, regional and local:
- national – a body with branches across the UK;
- regional – a body with branches in one or more counties, or an association or council of mosques operating within a town or city.
- local or specialist bodies are typically mosques, Islamic centres, charities, schools and similar institutions at one location.
The MCB has defined 12 zones, largely based on postcode boundaries, to ensure an even distribution of members within each zone
Donations are also received by the MCB Charitable Foundation (MCBCF), an independent entity registered with the Charities Commissioners. It’s aim it to build a capital fund through which activities of the MCB that are exclusively charitable can be supported.
The Muslim Council of Britain has also promulgated innovative projects to raise the capability of the British Muslim community and to widen good practice. For these, the MCB has successfully competed for and been granted funding from government and non-government bodies.
The final decision-making and ruling body of the MCB is its General Assembly that must meet at least once a year. The Assembly is comprised of delegates from affiliated bodies. The other organisational units within the MCB are the National Council, various specialist committees and task groups, and a Board of Counsellors.
Day-to-day policy is delegated to the MCB’s office-bearers. They take direction from the National Council and advice from specialist committees and appointed advisors.
Practically it does this through lively discussion at all decision making levels and through an obligation placed on the leadership to reflect the diversity of the British Muslim community.
- Only the elected members of the National Council are eligible for the three senior office-bearer posts of Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General and Treasurer.
- The total number of elected members from any one ‘grouping’ – say a ‘national’ affiliate and its branches that may be MCB affiliates in their own right – to the National Council cannot exceed five. This is to prevent any single tendency taking control of the MCB and sidelining other points of view.
- The total number of elected members of theNational Council must always exceed the number of direct appointees from national and regional bodies.
- The National Council is obliged to co-opt persons in a manner that “reflects the diversity of thought, background and gender” of Muslims in Britain. These co-opted persons will also be eligible to become office-bearers (the three posts of assistant secretary general and one post of assistant treasurer).
The MCB’s Constitution and the Standing Orders place a duty upon the office bearers and the National Council to appoint an independent and impartial person as election commissioner six months in advance of the election process. The commissioner is empowered to act wholly independently of the National Council and the office bearers in the implementation and supervision of complex but essential election procedures. The office bearers, past or present, have no involvement with the election process.
The membership committee is responsible for working to increase the number of affiliations, particularly from under-represented communities. Britain is a unique melting pot for Muslims coming from diverse cultures and backgrounds and it is advantageous to retain a variety of institutional forms and arrangements, from formal national representative bodies to informal networks. The MCB’s vision has never been to duplicate, supplant or belittle existing work or to seek to become the sole rallying point, thus reducing the wealth and diversity of the community to a single body. It endeavours to promote good practice throughout the community and co-ordinate work where necessary.
Muslims in Britain are British citizens with an Islamic heritage and the MCB encourages British Muslims to make full use of their rights and responsibilities to further and advance equality for all communities, tolerance of differences and a staunch defence of our liberal democratic traditions and enviable civil liberties.
The Muslim Council of Britain does not seek special rights or privileges for British Muslims. Its disproportionate attention to British Muslims is a result of the underprivileged status of the community in terms of inequality and injustice. The MCB seeks to mainstream British Muslims by removing barriers to integration, whether these be obstacles encountered within the community or without; such as in policy making or in our public discourse on Islam and Muslims. Some of our projects that seek to remove inequality and provide greater integration include;
The Muslim Council of Britain is a non-partisan, non sectarian umbrella organisation that seeks constructive partnerships with all other entities interested in our common well being as citizens of the United Kingdom.