`We assure the Muslim community that the MCB will
continue to engage with all other Muslim organisations to preserve the total independence of Islamic institutions...." MCB Press Release - 15 May 2006
Launch of 'Voices from the Minaret Empowerment not Control'
The Muslim Council of Britain presented the findings and recommendations of its report 'Voices from the Minarets' at the West Didsbury Islamic Centre, Manchester on Saturday 13 May 2006. The consultation event was attended by over 300 leading Islamic scholars, imams and mosque trustees from across the UK representing a wide cross section of the Muslim community and all schools of thought.
The report found that Britain's over 1000 mosques were providing a remarkable range of social welfare and educational services and often served as an essential focal point through which many disadvantaged people accessed services. The imams and mosque trustees present at the meeting also agreed that while a proposed national council of imams and mosques may have a useful role, it should be fully independent, democratic, self-regulated and self-financed.
A range of opinions were expressed about the government's proposed Mosque and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB). Some felt that the MINAB initiative was too closely associated with the government and hence would be rejected by the Muslim community. Another view expressed strongly by some younger imams was that the MCB Mosque and Community Affairs Committee should take the lead in this area. Others expressed the view in favour of MCB and its affiliates continuing their engagement with MINAB as long as its independence was made clear and ensured.
The MCB Secretary General, Iqbal Sacranie alerted the scholars and imams present of attempts to divide the community and sideline its main representative body. He noted, `We assure the Muslim community that the MCB will continue to engage with all other Muslim organisations to preserve the total independence of Islamic institutions. While there was much scope for improvement and development in our mosques, there were excellent local examples of good practice that can be emulated more widely. This will lead to an improvement of standards and also increase awareness of the positive role of mosques in society'.
The consensus that emerged from the meeting was that a steering group led by community organisations which would include the MCB as well as others, must work together to establish an independent inclusive advisory board to deal with specific issues related to mosques and imams in the UK.
Notes for Editors:
1. Voices from the Minaret - Empowerment not Control(click to download)
2. The Muslim Council of Britain (www.mcb.org.uk) is the UK's representative Muslim umbrella body with over 400 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.