15 Muslims awarded in New Year Honours

29th Jan 2016
15 Muslims awarded in New Year Honours

PC Asad Razzaq  and Yasmin Mo ham med Farooq Nathani, Di rec tor, Shama Women’s Cen tre were  both awarded MBEs in the new year honours. (Photo: Razzaq/Nathani)

Elham Asaad Buaras

The achievements of 15 members of the Muslim community were recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours (1 CBE, 2 OBEs, 9 MBEs and 3 BEMs).

The nine men and six women come from across the country representing vast array of fields including charity work, renewable energy, civil rights and community cohesion.

Among the 1,181 other people awarded in the New Year Honours are 19 members of the Jewish community (1 Knighthood, 4 OBEs, 1 CBEs, 5 MBE s and 8 BEM) and 24 members of the Hindu and Sikh communities (1 Knighthood, 2 CBEs, 6 OBEs, 13 MBEs, 2 BEMs).

Chief Executive of Balsall Heath Forum Abdullah Rehman is to be made an MBE for services to the community in Balsall Heath, Birmingham.

Rehman was honoured for his tireless work over more than 20 years to transform Balsall Heath from an area blighted by drug dealing and prostitution to the thriving diverse inner-city community.

Rehman has raised funds for community schemes and worked with police and political leaders of all parties to improve Balsall Heath. Most recently he worked with colleagues to drive through the Neighbourhood Plan. Designed to guide development and investment in the area, it is the first of its kind in Birmingham.

Speaking to The Muslim News he said, “It is hugely humbling to receive this honour, and a testament to the contribution made by the Balsall Heath community over the past few decades.”

Rehman paid tribute to his mother and father Sufi Abdul Rehman who started his business in Balsall Heath in 1969 and was the founder of Willows Crescent Masjid.

“My milestone has been the awards ceremony we hold every year in Balsall Heath both for the young and old. The Dynamic Youth awards recognises those youngsters who are excelling in education, sport or just being good citizens, and this is done in order for them to become role models for other young adults.”

A West Yorkshire police officer, who has played a key role in developing community cohesion in Harehills, Leeds, has been awarded an MBE. PC Asad Razzaq, was honoured for his services to young people and the community for the work he does in his own time as voluntary leader of CATCH (Community Action to Change Harehills).

CATCH is a Leeds based charity, which Razzaq co-founded. His work started in 2009 to manage ‘The Hovingham Project’, the development of a large area of wasteland that once was a blight on the locality and a serious health hazard, which is now used for cricket, football and other well-being activities.

Razzaq gathered tools, funds, local residents, young people, statutory services and other organisations to transform a piece of derelict land that was riddled with used syringes. This sports field has become a symbol of hope for hundreds of young people, local residents and has become a catalyst for other ground breaking community projects and initiatives.

He has been instrumental in community development and partnership work, which has included working with Hovingham Primary School and Leeds Council in setting up a self-sustainable community hub in January 2013 where the charity has worked to bring together young people from across a range of communities and backgrounds in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour, crime and community cohesion and create opportunities for young people.

During weekly youth sessions he has gained the respect and trust of countless young people and their families. Razzaq has displayed a profound level of care, integrity and commitment towards those he serves and has provided invaluable support to young people.

Razzaq told The Muslim News: “I’m sincerely thankful and humbled to be recognised with such an honour. I’m overwhelmed and hope to continue doing the work that I love for many years to come. I would also like to thank all the people who have supported and been involved with CATCH.”

Yasmin Nathani, Director of the Shama Women’s Centre, in Highfields, for services to the empowerment of women in Leicester. The mother of four has been made a MBE.

Nathani, who moved to Leicester in 1977, joined the centre as a member in 1988, and has been chair for the past 19 years.

She said: “I feel absolutely ecstatic about my award. It was a big shock. When I received the letter, I had to read it three times before I believed what it said.

She told The Muslim News, “In the time that I have been the chair we have faced a lot of difficult situations with major cutbacks in funding. I have consistently fought for survival and managed to keep the centre open despite numerous obstacles.”

The 53 year-old is also an adviser at the Highfields Centre and she also works for the local authority as an adult tutor teaching ESOL [English for speakers of other languages].

“I’m so happy for the centre too to be recognised in this way. It has empowered thousands of women over the years and is bringing them together from across different cultures, languages, and religions.”

The founder of a domestic abuse charity which has helped thousands of victims across Rotherham, she has been awarded an MBE for her services to women’s rights and community cohesion.

Zlakha Ahmed, 51, set up Apna Haq, a Black and ethnic minority women’s domestic violence support organization, 21 years ago is to be made an MBE.

Over the years Ahmed’s work has helped numerous women and their children leave abusive family environments, gain their Islamic and civil divorces and lead violence free lives.

Ahmed delivers training which has a focus of anti violence against victim and anti racism on violence against women issues such as forced marriage, “honour” based violence and sexual violence.

She is involved in local, national and international efforts to eradicate violence against women. Ahmed has influenced the National Children’s Commission on both their child gangs and grooming and child sexual abuse enquiries.

Ahmed is a member of the national working group that developed the national domestic violence standards for the National Institute of Clinical Excellence, a member of the Shurah Council of the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE) a global program, social network and grassroots social justice movement led by Muslim women.

Ahmed told The Muslim News she is “overwhelmed” by the congratulatory messages, adding the gong “strengthens my resolve to continue the work that I do which is to support victims of violence and abuse. And challenge both internally within our communities and also externally the lack of understanding and support available from generic agencies as well as the challenging the racism present within these agencies and communities.”

Fayyaz Ahmed, who set up a football team to defuse racial tensions in Preston, has been appointed MBE for services to interfaith relations and community cohesion. Ahmed, 42, said it was “a massive shock” to receive the honour, adding, “I thought it was a prank”.

“For somebody like me who does day-to-day work with young people you don’t really think someone is going to nominate you for an award,” he said. Ahmed was working as a council youth worker when he became concerned about the tensions and racism in the Fishwick area of Preston where he has lived all his life.

He left full-time work to see what he could do to break down the barriers between young white and Asian people with a big project. The result was the formation with local people of Fishwick Rangers, a sports and youth development organisation which started as a junior football team in 2001.

Afsheen Kabir Rashid, a community energy specialist is to receive an MBE for her contribution to renewable energy projects in deprived London communities. Rashid has been involved in community energy projects for over 10 years, having worked with local authorities to develop new schemes.

She is a former senior policy advisor at the Department of Energy and Climate Change and current Chair of the Brixton Energy Solar Co-op. She is also Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Repowering London, a community benefit society specialised in co-producing community-owned renewable energy projects.

Her work has included developing Lambeth Council’s Community Energy Programme and managing the Mayor’s Low Carbon Zone programme in Brixton, driving carbon reduction by 12% over a two-year period.

Habib Rehman was made MBE for services to business and community relations in Washwood Heath. The 50-year-old has been dedicated to building bridges between religious and ethnic groups in Birmingham, working closely with West Midlands Police.

Full list of Muslims in the New Years Honours:

Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE):
Zameer Mohammed Choudrey, Chief Executive, Bestway Group, for services to the UK wholesale industry and charity in the UK and abroad.

Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE):
Alina Ibragimova, Violinist, for services to music.
Rula al-Adasani, for charitable services.

Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE):
Abdullah Rehman, Chief Executive, Balsall Heath forum, for services to the community.
Afsheen Kabir Rashid, Founding Director and Chief Operating Officer, Repowering London, for services to Renewable Energy Projects in Deprived London Communities.
Aftab Ahmed Chughtai, for services to business and community relations in Birmingham.
Ahmed Jamal Nasir Awan, Chief executive, Awan Marketing International, for services to business and international trade.
Asad Razzaq, Leader, Community Action to Change, Harehills, for services to the community.
Ayesha Hazarika, Chief of staff to the Deputy Leader, Labour Party, for political service.
Fayyaz Ahmed, for services to interfaith and community cohesion in Preston.
Yasmin Mohammed Farooq Nathani, Director, Shama Women’s Centre, for services to women in Leicester.
Zlakha Ahmed, Chief executive, Apna Haq, for services to women’s rights and community cohesion in Rotherham, S Yorkshire.

British Empire Medal (BEM):
Habib Rehman, for services to Business and Community Relations in Birmingham.
Sajid Rashid, Aero engineer, Rolls-Royce in Derby, for services to the community and charitable fundraising in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire.
Sarfraz Alam Mian, CEO, Neue Schule Ltd, for services to UK Trade.

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