Candidates’ Manifestos: MCB Election Commissioner Khalid Sofi’s Announcement

Standing for the office of Secretary General of the MCB for 2018-2020, to be elected by delegates at the 21st Annual General Meeting on Sunday 8th July is:

Mr Harun Rashid Khan

Delegates on the day will also be presented with ballot papers for the election of one of the following for the office of   Deputy Secretary General of the MCB for 2018-2020:

Mr Talha Ahmad

Mr Hassan Joudi

Mr Talat Shaikh

The candidates’ manifesto are presented below.

A. Secretary General Position

Harun Rashid Khan

Born and raised in London I have been actively involved with the MCB since its inception in November 1997. I primarily volunteered at major MCB events in the early days, eventually leading to my appointment as Chair of its London Affairs Committee. I have now served the MCB as an office bearer for eight years, most recently as the Secretary General.

Professionally I have been in the field of traffic engineering and transport planning for over twenty-eight years with the last ten years as a senior manager at Transport for London, delivering road improvement projects across London with an annual portfolio budget of £100M. I have previously served as Chair of Governors at Stepney Green Secondary School in Tower Hamlets (2001-2004) and am also a management committee member at my local mosque, Redbridge Islamic Centre.

Positions held at MCB

2016-2018 Secretary General

2014-2016 Deputy Secretary General

2010-2014 Treasurer

2006-2010 Chair, London Affairs Committee

Achievements for MCB

By the Grace of Allah (swt), two decades on, the MCB, being the largest representative umbrella body for Muslim organisations has faced many and varied challenges but has stood the test of time.

During my first tenure as the Secretary General I set out with a vision to involve younger people and more women within our organisation.

Looking at our achievements over the past twenty-two months there has been good progress in this

area. Not only do we have a younger age profile across our Executive team but we also have more women in our National Council and also a larger number of female employees. This change has had a major effect on our wider engagement with communities especially in the successful delivery of our events. As a team we have challenged misreporting in the media led by Miqdaad Versi, had over 200 mosques participate in the national Visit My Mosque initiative and held over twenty grassroots

community events across the UK engaging young people and women. On the eve of International Women’s Day we launched the Women in Mosques Training Programme at the Houses of Parliament. Candidates for this programme are being interviewed and will be assigned a mentor from an established institution to help their development in gaining roles at mosques in the near future.

My Manifesto for MCB

Increase in number and diversity of our affiliates

MCB’s strength lies in the broad diversity and range of affiliates from across the UK who supports it. I would aim to increase the diversity of our membership further by encouraging more institutions from the different schools of opinion from Muslim communities especially outside of London. The work done through our Better Mosques campaign and Our Mosques Our Future conference will provide a good launch pad for this to materialise.

Building the capacity of our institutions

Through the successful events of Visit My Mosque and Our Mosques Our Future conference and the subsequent Better Mosques Consultation I will be looking to commence a major programme to develop the capacity of our mosques and institutions. As Muslim institutions and organisations we should be role models for society on good governance and accountability and this initiative will pioneer the way forward for our affiliates.

Media Monitoring

Extensive work has been carried out in this area over the past eighteen months and now that we have a fully funded project I will work to ensure this area continues to develop to ultimately improve the positive perception of Muslims in the mainstream media Insha’Allah.

Securing the long term sustainability of MCB

We have come a long way as a voluntary organisation but with the number of challenges we face as a community we need to be better equipped and resourced to face them. The voluntary management structure of MCB needs to be reconfigured to a more board/ trustee type model which can set the strategic direction for the organisation fully supported by a team of paid professional staff. During my first tenure our full time staff numbers have grown fourfold. In order to sustain this growth and provide stability and leadership to the staff, the organisational structure of MCB needs to be reviewed accordingly.

As in the previous term, if elected, I will work closely with the leadership team to set our goals for the next two years with clear measurable outcomes. With the Will of Allah (swt) we will see a secure, stable and self-sufficient MCB in 2020 and onwards. Wasalamu Alaikum

Deputy Secretary General Position – Candidate’s Manifestos

Mr Talha AhmadMr Hassan JoudiMr Talat Shaikh
I am a solicitor, a Mathematics graduate and former teacher specialising in gifted and talented education.

I bring extensive experience of working within the MCB and have held the positions of Treasurer, Chair of Finance & General Purpose Committee and the Membership Committee, Member of the Legal Affairs and Research & Documentation Committees, among others. I have been a member of the National Council (formerly CWC) for more than 10 years, and member of the Executive Committee for over four years.

In my time at the MCB, I have led initiatives including Meeting the Community events, Community Fundraising Dinners, Business Networking Dinners and the Muslim Vote initiative.

One of the MCB’s most important roles is to articulate a positive vision for the British Muslim communities. This we do, among others, by speaking at conferences, appearing on the media and attending specialist events. As such, I have made contribution in numerous conferences, public gatherings and focused meetings.

Since 2010, I have been a regular speaker representing the MCB at the national demonstration held annually on UN Anti-Racism Day. In addition, I have been an organiser and speaker representing the MCB at Refugees Welcome Rally, which was a landmark event highlighting the plight of mainly Syrian refugees.

My media appearance on behalf of the MCB are many and numerous, including dozens of interviews at the height of the Trojan Horse affair and which have drawn wide applaud from a diverse range of audiences. Some of my notable appearances include on the BBC Newsnight programme, BBC Sunday Politics, BBC Daily Politics, BBC Radio 4 Today, ITV Good Morning Britain and Channel 4 News, Aljazeera, CNN and SKY News. In addition, I have also appeared on national and local community TV channels.

Furthermore, I have extensive experience of working in the wider community where I have held positions including Co-Chair of Stand Up To Racism, Council Member of Citizens UK, Chair of Home Start Tower Hamlets, Secretary of Bordesley Green Islamic Centre, Governor of Heartlands High School and have held various senior positions in Da’watul Islam UK & Eire which supports my candidature.

My priorities

I bring significant insight into the challenges and opportunities the MCB and the Muslim communities currently face. As such, my priorities, if elected, will be:
- Reaching out to and strengthening relationships with the diverse affiliates, making them feel an integral part of the MCB’s work;
- Reaching out to and strengthening ties with underrepresented communities - to ensure ethnic, gender, socio-economic and theological diversity;
- Building a strong financial support base from within the affiliates and the wider community to cover cost of core activities thereby mitigating disproportionate dependence on narrow funding sources;
- Actively seek out talent to identify, engage, nurture and promote future leaders.

The role of the DSG is to assist and deputise for the SG, therefore, my vision and priorities are a guide to the direction I would advocate for the MCB to take, however, always in consultation with and under the leadership of the SG.

Conclusion

The MCB is a delicate organisation with resplendent history. Leading this organisation at all level requires depth of understanding, an unwavering commitment to its customs and traditions while being open to new ideas and approaches.

I feel my experience and track record demonstrate a fine balance between commitment and loyalty to the vision of the MCB and the need to renew, reform and reformulate its structure, approach and priorities. It would be a privilege to continue to serve the MCB and to be elected to the position of DSG.

I am happy to be contacted by delegates and others in regarding my work with the MCB including my bid seeking the position of DSG. [Contact details can be obtained via this email: [email protected]]
"Empowering Muslim communities to achieve a just, cohesive and successful British society.”

This is MCB’s vision statement that strikes a chord with myself and so many of our affiliates over the last 20 years and continues to resonate amongst many of the now 2.8m Muslims across the UK.

The MCB organisation in 2018 is now at a cross-roads. Having expanded rapidly under the last two Secretary-Generals with 3 fully-funded projects (Visit My Mosque, National Listening Exercise and Media Monitoring), vastly improved its public relations presence and with more young Muslims involved than ever before, it now requires a period of consolidation and focussed strategic expansion.

As Deputy Secretary General, I pledge to achieve this by focussing on three priorities:

1. Expanding to the North

The MCB is viewed by many Muslim communities in the North as a mainly London-centric organisation with little relevance or understanding of the issues facing their communities. I have felt this feedback first hand from listening to and speaking with members of mosques that took part in #VisitMyMosque day since 2015, many of whom had not even heard about the MCB until they came across us via the #VisitMyMosque initiative. I pledge to prioritize the establishment of an MCB satellite office and at least one full-time Project Manager based in North England. Their purpose will be to provide a tangible presence ‘on the ground’ for MCB in the North, organising events, dinners and functions, and engaging face-to-face with Muslim organisations and community members across Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Teeside, Liverpool, Lancashire, Cheshire, Oldham, Bolton, Rochdale and other surrounding areas. This is the minimum we must do if we are to bridge the current North-South divide.

2. Affiliates, affiliates, affiliates

The MCB is nothing without our affiliates. They are our backbone. Our core. If we lose focus from our affiliates, then we have failed in our duty of being a representative umbrella body. Historically I feel MCB has lacked a strong strategy to effectively a) engage with existing affiliates, and b) actively seek new affiliates to expand our membership base. Both of these are an essential ‘Business-As-Usual’ activity for any effective membership-based organisation I pledge to tackle this by developing a strong two-way affiliate engagement strategy, as well as prioritizing the required resources to deliver it. This will include, but is not limited to, a) regular phone calls from the MCB office to affiliates b) organise more events at a regional level (see point 1 above on expanding to the North), c) actively marketing MCB Affiliation as an attractive product that all Muslim-based organisations in the UK should know about d) developing a mobile ‘MCB App’ for Affiliates to enable them to both keep in touch with latest MCB news as well as feedback on MCB’s recent activities.

3. Better Mosques

Following the inaugural ‘Our Mosques Our Future’ conference in January 2018 which brought together over 400 delegates from across the UK to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing mosques in Britain today, it is clear that a structured and national approach to supporting the development of our mosques is much needed. At present there are pockets of best practice being shown by a small number of outstanding mosques across the UK, however their successes are not trickling down fast enough to other mosques across the country who are still on their own development journeys too.

I pledge to ensure MCB plays a strong role with our stakeholders in developing a holistic mosque empowerment programme that will bring together key individuals and organisations working in this space to deliver targeted and focussed projects designed to accelerate the improvement of mosque service delivery. The programme could consist of, but is not limited to, a Best Practice Web-Portal, Training & CPD for mosque staff and volunteers, a mosque-focussed Leadership Development Programme and an annual ‘Our Mosques Our Future’ conference in different cities across the UK (North England, West Midlands, East Midlands etc.)

Conclusion

I strongly believe the above 3 priority areas of 1) Northern Expansion, 2) Affiliates and 3) Better Mosques, are key to ensuring the stability and continued steady expansion of MCB in the coming two years.
This is essential in order for the organisation to continue to increase in its output and deliver even bigger projects with greater value-add to our communities and wider British society. And ultimately this is what we need if we are to truly achieve MCB’s vision of “Empowering Muslim communities to achieve a just, cohesive and successful British society”. Insha’Allah (God Willing)
Standing for the position of Deputy General Secretary for MCB presents a number of challenges and opportunities, particularly given the current climate and perception of Islam in Britain.

I see it as both a challenge, due to the unfavourable image of Islam portrayed by the media and as an opportunity to create a positive impact on the future of Muslims in Britain.

I am not shy of challenge; as a child, I arrived in Britain without my mother, siblings and normal home comforts. I found myself alone, in a strange country in 1960. During this decade I encountered blatant discrimination, racial abuse and experienced a loneliness and despair that no child should ever have to feel. However, I stood up to these obstacles, and made it my own personal challenge to do my best and took positive steps to reach senior levels in my profession and to be a leader for my family and community.

At school, I worked hard and was fortunate to have my abilities recognised; I was thrilled to be appointed as a Senior Prefect and was identified by my teachers as a potential leader. Upon finishing my education I embarked on a career in the corporate IT world, a journey which provided opportunities to be formally trained in management and leadership. I felt accepted by my colleagues and was successful – but only because I made the conscious effort to purposefully integrate, thus continuing the personal challenge I set myself as a young child.

Herein lies the greater challenge. Although we now have a Muslim London Mayor and a Home Secretary, individuals from minority backgrounds are still required to make an extra effort to be accepted, to be recognised, and just to be heard.

Furthermore, people who are Muslim, have to work twice as hard – battling against stereotypes, unconscious biases and unfair images portrayed by the media. We need positive and strong role models to support these individuals and to overcome these issues.

Simultaneously, here also, is the opportunity. Muslims who have been educated and worked in this country need to be trained and supported to lead the next generation with confidence and also with a set of values that provide clarity and focus.

Over the past 21 years, I have had a number of opportunities to put this into practice. In my current role as Chairman of the Muslim Community & Education Centre (MCEC), Palmers Green Mosque.

I am proud to say that we have and still are, achieving some great milestones. We have engagements with Local and Central Government politicians, hosted events with the Armed Forces, the Charity Commission Board members and Muslim scholars across the madhhab. We have a number of well-managed and well-attended interfaith projects; have an open door policy for all our neighbours and actively invite them to events to educate and integrate; have a successful youth group which is turning out confident young men and women; run successful charity campaigns; hold open days and school visit programs; have regular matrimonial matchmaking events. We teach religion, but focus on teaching with understanding, non-discrimination, non-judgmental and with the right values – how to be a part of the society we live in and how to be a contributor. Thus, the aim is to leave a legacy for the next generation.

I congratulate the founders and past leaders of MCB in creating an organisation that has the ability to bring various groups together, and provide one platform to the wider UK community. However, with key changes in attitude towards Muslims in recent years, I feel there is an ever greater need now for a strong voice to represent moderate, fair, honest and hardworking Muslims. MCB, with the right leadership, has the potential to pave the way. I hope to complement and enhance the work of the MCB Chairperson and help its wider team to meet the needs of today Muslims and their future generations.

Applying for the position of Deputy General Secretary for MCB would be a natural next step for me, to use the experiences and skills I have learnt and help make this organisation a stronger voice, and take it to the next level.

Current positions of interest I hold are:
Trustee & Chair, Muslim Community and Education Centre; Trustee & Vice-Chair, Enfield Racial Equality Council (a secular charity); Trustee, Enfield Over Fifty Forum (a secular charity); Committee member, Faith Forum for London; Member, London Borough of Enfield's Strategic Partnership Board; Member, Enfield Faith Forum; Muslim Rep for London Resilience Group; Member PPG