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The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2024 shortlist

3rd May 2024
The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2024 shortlist

Our readers nominated them, and our illustrious independent panel of judges reviewed, deliberated, and mused over the list. We proudly present the exemplary men, women, children, organisations, and initiatives shortlisted for The Muslim News Award for Excellence. These paradigms of good practice and excellence will be treated to a gala evening in the presence of their peers and other renowned guests in June, when the winners are announced for the fifteen coveted Awards for Excellence.

 

Lubna Chowdhary, a seasoned ceramic artist born in Dodoma, Tanzania, has gained recognition for her innovative work. Based in London, Lubna combines ceramics with architecture, craft, design, sculpture, and painting, pushing the boundaries of clay beyond its conventional applications. Her art explores modern cross-cultural stories, earning her prestigious awards like the Arts Council England Awards in 2012 and 2021, with public display of her work. Other notable collections holding her work span from the UAE to Australia, Italy, and India. With artist residencies worldwide and degrees from Manchester Metropolitan University and the Royal College of Art, Lubna’s influence extends globally. Her work has been displayed in numerous international exhibitions, highlighting her influence on contemporary art.

Sylvie Belbouab is a Muslim social documentary photographer of French origin, who has been based in Newham for 20 years. She empowers young people and migrant communities through art, drawing inspiration from humanist photographers. Capturing portraits and stories, she showcases Newham’s diverse talent and narratives. Completing a photography diploma at Rosetta Arts, Sylvia initiated “Stories from Newham” to celebrate diversity. Notable projects include “Our Voice, Our Streets,” empowering teenage girls, and exhibitions like “Beyond the Veil” for Islamophobia Awareness Month. Her work, including exhibitions on women in sport, elevates the visibility of Muslim women in London, fostering inclusivity. Recognized for her impact, Sylvie trains and supports staff and volunteers, embodying exceptional dedication and worthiness.

Ustad Wajahat Khan is a world-renowned sarod maestro, performer, composer, and educator. The London-based virtuoso represents exceptional talent in preserving and innovating the rich tradition of Muslim heritage. With performances praised by esteemed publications like The Washington Post and The Guardian, he mesmerises audiences globally. Wajhat’s illustrious career spans over 30 countries, gracing prestigious venues such as New York’s Symphony Hall, Tokyo’s Suntori Hall, Moscow’s Kremlin, and London’s Royal Albert Hall. His notable achievements include composing and performing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and premiering his acclaimed documentary film, “Continuing Traditions,” at international festivals. Wajahat’s contributions to music and culture transcend boundaries, cementing his legacy as a preeminent figure in the world of sarod music.

 

Dr Glyn Robbins from London, has been deeply engaged in housing advocacy since 1991, notably contributing to the field through academic research and grassroots activism. He has enriched the discourse on housing and urban issues with his Planning and Urban Policy PhD. Glyn has been serving as a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics since 2019, where he supports students in the Cities Programme. Beyond academia, he manages a council estate in North London, bringing practical insights to his work. Glyn played a pivotal role as the founding convenor of United East End in 2010, leading successful campaigns against the English Defence League marches in Tower Hamlets. His commitment to social justice and anti-racism extends to combating Islamophobia, advocating for workers’ rights, and building solidarity for Palestine.

Jeremy Corbyn has long championed causes aligned with justice and equality, notably advocating for Palestinian rights, including a pledge to suspend arms exports to Israel. During his tenure as Labour leader, he fostered increased Muslim engagement in grassroots activism, facilitating the election of MPs like Zara Sultana and Upsana Begum. An outspoken critic of Islamophobia, Jeremy tirelessly fought for the rights of Muslims. His leadership within the Stop the War Coalition underscores his anti-war activism, opposing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was one of only 12 Labour MPs to support a call for a parliamentary inquiry into the Iraq War. Jeremy’s principled stance against the Iraq War and participation in large-scale anti-war protests epitomise his commitment to peace and social justice, leaving a lasting impact on British politics and society.

John McLoughlin has for 30 years been a beacon of activism in the heart of East London’s Tower Hamlets, fervently advocating for community cohesion while combatting racism and inequality during his tenure as UNISON Branch Secretary for 15 years. His leadership proved pivotal in the expulsion of a British National Party councillor and the prevention of hate groups like the English Defence League from permeating the borough, home to a substantial Muslim population. McLoughlin has ardently supported the Living Wage campaign, ensuring that Tower Hamlets’ contracts incorporate the London Living Wage, and has successfully advocated for the implementation of the Ethical Care Charter for care workers. Furthermore, he has tirelessly campaigned on issues of housing, healthcare, and the rights of migrant workers, while also championing the cause of communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through his inclusive approach to leadership, particularly within marginalized communities, McLoughlin has earned acclaim as both an ally and a resolute activist.

 

Ali Juma was born with profound curiosity and demonstrated exceptional intellect from an early age. Mastering complex subjects like math and chemistry by age 6, he developed proficiency in programming. By the age of 8, he had coded an iOS app, earning recognition as the youngest person to achieve a top score, in the IGCSE Computer Science exam at age 10. Excelling in academics, the youngster from Stanmore won prestigious awards, becoming a role model for his peers. His passion for technology has led him to win international robotics competitions and complete advanced courses at HarvardX. Beyond academics, he actively contributes to road safety initiatives with the local council and charity fundraising. Ali’s remarkable achievements reflect his dedication to excellence and innovation in computer science.

Numa Tasneem Karnachi, from Belfast, is an award-winning author who has demonstrated exceptional dedication to creative writing. She excelled at the Young Muslim Writers Awards, winning numerous accolades over seven years. Notably, she won Writer of the Year in 2020 and clinched awards for her short stories and screenplays in various age categories. Her passion for writing blossomed through continuous participation in competitions, even earning recognition in the BBC 500 Words competition. Numa’s accomplishments extend beyond writing. She excels academically, earning straight A’s in her English, Maths, and Sciences GCSEs, and enjoys sports including ice skating, archery, badminton, tennis, and swimming. Her commitment to her craft, despite setbacks, and her involvement in her community exemplify her remarkable achievements and potential as a writer.

Zayd I. A., aged 10, is a young boy born in Warwick with a passion for the Qur’an, puzzles, writing, and art. He has made significant strides in various fields, memorizing 40 surahs and reciting them with precision, impressing audiences at local mosques and Islamic events with his talent. Despite setbacks, his short stories and poems were shortlisted for the Young Writers Muslim Awards, earning praise from the judges for his creativity. Zayd’s artistic talent encompasses digital art and voice-over work, earning him recognition at audiobook events. He founded a Rubik’s Cube Club at school, promoting critical thinking skills and fostering camaraderie. With a commendable academic record and a commitment to community service, Zayd embodies excellence and serves as an inspiration for other young people.”

 

Akhtarun “Daisy” Nessa, born in Birmingham to Bangladeshi parents, embarked on a mission to empower Muslim women and build community ties in Winchester. Through “Daisy Chain,” she provides a platform for women to integrate and learn new skills. Despite facing challenges, Daisy tirelessly advocated for Muslim spaces. She facilitated Arabic classes and ensured women’s attendance at Friday prayers. She orchestrated community Ramadan events, making 2018 the first time in her 40 years in Winchester that Muslim families were able to cook, eat, and pray together during Ramadan, fostering a true sense of inclusivity. Daisy envisions a dedicated Muslim centre that provides support, education, and fosters community cohesion, bridging gaps and addressing pressing issues. With unwavering dedication, she engages with local authorities and community members to realise her dream of a vibrant, inclusive Muslim community in Winchester.

Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre (GLMCC) in Birmingham serves as a multifaceted community hub, offering over 70 services. Its Youth Department engages over 200 children weekly through various clubs, fostering skill development and confidence. Adults’ wellbeing initiatives, including sports and social activities, enhance social connections and promote a better quality of life. GLMCC supports community welfare with numerous services, including a food bank, legal surgeries, and job fairs. Islamic outreach efforts engage millions of Muslims and non-Muslims through in-person and virtual means. Educational programmes cater to over 1,000 children and provide comprehensive adult education. Religious services support tens of thousands, including vibrant Ramadan and Eid activities. Taskforce GLM raises £2 million annually for global humanitarian crises. Social campaigns empower Muslims to address public issues, while the GLMCC provides guidance and leadership through civic engagement and media outreach, highlighting its impactful community contributions.

Majida Ali Sayam, MBE, has dedicated three decades to empowering women in North London, overcoming resistance, and establishing her charity, Jannaty. Through Jannaty, she has assisted thousands of minority women from diverse backgrounds by providing skills training, mentoring, and support. Hundreds have benefitted from sewing and craft classes, securing employment, or starting their own businesses, with some even establishing factories in the UK and abroad. Majida’s work extends to survivors of war, trafficking, and domestic violence, providing essential services and support. Despite facing health challenges, she remains committed. Only recently did she accept a salary after persistent encouragement from her charity’s trustees and industry peers, following decades of unpaid service. Majida’s impact on her community is profound, making her a role model deserving of recognition for her selfless dedication.

 

Faz Patel, MBE, a lifelong community activist in Blackburn, Lancashire, bridges the divide between ethnic and religious groups. As a member of the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, he engages with youth and the elderly, delivering talks at schools and community groups on topics ranging from WW2 remembrance to healthy lifestyle issues. Faz has organised multiple interfaith and mosque initiatives in Northern England to help foster inter-community relations. Awarded an MBE in 2006 for promoting community cohesion, he writes for regional papers and contributes to the media on social issues. Spearheading campaigns like assisting the elderly with clock changes, he aided COVID-19 vaccination efforts. The Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service has administered over 1,000 vaccinations in five days. Despite personal loss, Patel’s dedication exemplifies service to Lancashire’s diverse communities.

Hawa Haragakiza, a Congolese-born activist, founded a community interest company aimed at addressing youth issues after the tragic killing of her 15-year-old son, Tamim. She advocates for change by delivering talks to local authorities and councils. Known for her support of bereaved families, she guides Tamim’s friends and conducts school focus group sessions to prevent violence. Additionally, Hawa contributes to the Sunflower Circle, advocating for women’s access to services. Despite personal struggles, including being a refugee and losing loved ones, the London-based activist remains devoted to her faith and community. Her efforts, highlighted in media coverage, inspire change and support for families affected by violence, earning her recognition for her compassionate leadership and resilience.

Qaisar Abbas, Thurrock Council’s first Muslim councillor and Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities, spearheaded initiatives to foster community cohesion. His efforts led to the establishment of Thurrock’s second mosque, the expansion of prayer services, and the creation of the first Muslim cemetery. Qaisar organised vaccination clinics, secured halal meals in schools, and facilitated students’ trips. He donated to water filtration plants in Pakistan, organised religious healing sessions during COVID-19, and fundraised for charities. Qaisar hosts interfaith conferences, annual events, and memorial services. He organised vigils for victims of attacks, supported various communities, and promoted peace. His humanitarian actions, including aiding vulnerable groups and supporting women’s empowerment, redefined the perceptions of Muslims and inspired others, making him a role model deserving of recognition.

 

Dr Asyia Kazmi, OBE, a prominent figure in the field of education, oversaw the management of the Department for International Development’s £800 million Girls Education Challenge Fund. Currently, she holds the position of global education policy lead at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. With over 25 years of experience, she has led initiatives to improve girls’ education globally, impacting 1.5 million girls across 17 countries. As a senior at OFSTED, she contributed to national surveys and led inspections. Asyia’s work includes promoting minority student achievement in the UK and managing DFID’s largest programme in Pakistan. Her dedication earned her an OBE for services to education, reflecting her remarkable impact nationally and internationally. She serves as an inspirational role model for Muslim educators, advocating tirelessly for educational equity.

Famida Rawoot, an inspirational school leader who grew up under apartheid in Cape Town, transformed Eden Girls’ Leadership Academy in Birmingham in 2019, making it one of the most oversubscribed schools in the area. Despite opening during the pandemic, the school achieved remarkable academic and pastoral success, serving a community where almost half of the students are on free school meals. The school offers extended hours, daily breakfast, Saturday school, and online teaching to support students. All pupils study Arabic and French, and daily prayers are facilitated. It raised £21,000 for charity in 2021 and supported a local care home. Famida’s leadership fostered positive community relations and enabled girls to achieve incredible GCSE results, paving the way for higher education and social mobility.

The Afghan Academy International, established in 1981 as a social support system for the Afghan community, promotes Afghan cultural heritage and education, benefiting Afghan and non-Afghan communities. It supports academics, artists, and musicians, fostering cultural understanding. Led by volunteers, it opened the first Afghan library and peace centre in London, recognised for its contributions by the United Nations. The library serves as a structured resource for researchers and students, preserving Afghan history and culture. It offers educational programmes, art exhibitions, and film festivals, promoting Afghan arts and academia. The academy provides social support to Afghan refugees and advises agencies on supporting new arrivals. Despite Afghanistan’s challenges, the academy aims to reshape its narrative through peace and cultural appreciation.

 

Atba Al-Samarraie, a Baildon-based chartered engineer from Baghdad, has made outstanding contributions to engineering and mosque construction. With over 70 initiatives across the UK, including award-winning designs like the Madinat Al-Zahara Project in Bradford, and the futuristic Al-Abbassi Community Centre in Birmingham, he’s a leading figure in mosque design nationally. His influence extends to publications like the Metric Handbook, in which he authored the Mosque Design chapter, and English Heritage’s guide to religious buildings. He also contributes to technical journals, radio shows, and TV documentaries, showcasing his expertise. Awards include the Beacon Awards, recognising his significant contributions to architecture and community development. Outside of his professional achievements, he serves as a presiding justice at North and West Yorkshire Magistrates Court.

Professor Mohammed Quddus, an international leader in transport safety and autonomous mobility, has made significant contributions to intelligent transport systems (ITS). His research on AI-based map-matching algorithms is widely cited and used by industry and government agencies. Transitioning from Loughborough University to Chair Professor in ITS at Imperial College London, he continues to advance the field. With over 110 journal articles and 120 conference papers, he has amassed 11,500 citations globally. His work, funded by prestigious bodies such as the EPSRC and the EU, includes leading projects like CAVIAR, investigating autonomous vehicle challenges. As an editor for Transportation Research Part C and a member of the TRB committee, his influence is profound. Notably, he has supervised 35 postdoctoral and PhD students, shaping the field.

Dr Gulam Bahadur, a leading clinical scientist, leads the fertility laboratories at two major London NHS hospitals, specialising in male infertility and cryopreservation. Notably, he advocates for less invasive fertility treatments, pioneering Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and advocating for its affordability and effectiveness. His cost-effective strategies aim to tackle disparities in access to healthcare, especially within minority communities. His contributions extend beyond research to include staff training, quality control, and compliance with EU tissue standards. He sets a high standard for aspiring scientists and is a trailblazer in a niche field with limited Muslim representation. His awards, including the British Muslim Awards 2023, and his 100+ publications reflect his excellence and dedication to research and clinical practice, benefiting thousands of couples.

 

Fiaz Ashraf founded the AFA Group, overseeing its growth into a £15 million business with over 150 employees. Operating from Manchester and Canada, AFA offers financial services including budgeting, debt management, and accounting. Clear Start Accountants, a division, provides technology-enabled budgeting services. Islamic Debt Help provides dedicated assistance to Muslims struggling with debt, serving as a crucial support system. Notably, AFA Insolvency ranks among the top 5 practitioners in the UK, serving over 4,500 clients. Fiaz invested £2.5 million in AFA Insolvency, facilitating significant growth. Clear Start Accountants has expanded into Canada, targeting £550,000 in sales. The firm aims to double its revenue to £30 million, supporting over 40,000 clients globally. Innovative tools like Benefits Checker and One Bill streamline fiscal management, reflecting AFA’s commitment to client success.

The UK Islamic Finance Council (UKIFC) is a leading not-for-profit advisory body that promotes the advancement of the global Islamic finance sector. Their advisory activities encompass Shariah governance, executive training, and ethical finance, impacting microfinance, waqf, and regulatory frameworks globally. UKIFC’s executive training initiatives have reached diverse countries, including the UK, Germany, UAE, Russia, Senegal, Kenya, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia, among others. Since 2010, they have hosted the Edinburgh Ethical Finance Roundtable Series, fostering discussions on socially responsible finance. Additionally, UKIFC advises governments on Islamic finance frameworks and regulatory guidelines, influencing policy strategies in Europe and Africa. Through their expertise, they contribute to shaping a more inclusive and ethical Islamic financial system.

Munir Patel, OBE, exemplifies entrepreneurial excellence with his career trajectory, from a London Underground apprentice to founding Xrail Group. With 12 years of experience in railway projects, he founded Xrail in 2010, serving global clients and earning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade. As a Department of International Trade Export Champion for three consecutive years, his strategic leadership led to a 95% revenue increase from exports, fostering local employment and skill development. Xrail’s partnership with the Saudi Railway Polytechnic nurtures apprentices for Saudi Vision 2030 and reflects Xrail’s commitment to industry development and corporate responsibility. Munir’s OBE in 2024 reflects his significant industry and societal impact. Beyond business, he supports the Badu Sports charity and funds drinking wells globally.

 

Hanan Ashegh, a London-based mental health practitioner, has dedicated herself to providing vital humanitarian aid to vulnerable populations worldwide. Since 2015, she has been actively involved in refugee crisis response, beginning with aid distribution in the Calais Jungle and later expanding to humanitarian work in Greece. Hanan founded the Goodwill Caravan, which has supported over 100,000 vulnerable individuals. Her work includes protection services and anti-trafficking initiatives, and her efforts have earned her prestigious awards, including recognition at the House of Lords and the Dubai Expo. Hanan’s contributions extend to speaking engagements and media appearances focusing on migration issues and organisational development, showcasing her commitment to global citizenship. She was honoured as one of the Middle East’s “50 most influential Arab women” at the 2022 Arab Women Summit.

Mohamed Iqbal Asaria, CBE, from Harrow, is a leading figure in creative Muslim thought. He has dedicated 50 years to fostering integration in British society and promoting social justice globally. He played a pivotal role in drafting Islamic finance documents and engaging South African Muslims in the anti-apartheid struggle. As a teacher and mentor, he emphasises Sharia’s higher purposes, Islamic finance, and sustainable development. With foresight, he promotes a rational and ethical understanding of Islam, fostering cultural interaction. As an advocate for social justice, he collaborates with financial authorities such as Gordon Brown. Respected for his intellectual and ethical integrity, he merits recognition for his innovative contributions to Muslim thought and society. He is highly esteemed locally and internationally.

Noushin Aslam Raja, CEO of Moonlight Trust, is a humanitarian leader and educator based in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire dedicated to making a global impact. Her charity has aided over 81,000 people worldwide, offering vital support in crises and empowering communities. Inspired by personal tragedy, she ensures a 100% donation policy and has been recognised for her work, including winning the “British Muslim Woman of the Year” award. As a motivational speaker, she influences diverse audiences and has garnered support from political figures. With over 5,000 attendees at her events, she effectively communicates the importance of grassroots initiatives. As an educator, she imparts knowledge at Leeds Beckett University, combining real-world experience with academic insight. Additionally, as a trustee for White Ribbon UK and Path Yorkshire, she contributes to vital social causes, showcasing her commitment to positive change.

 

Araf Saddiq, QAM, a paramedic with the Scottish Ambulance Service for 27 years, is a trailblazer in the health industry and a resolute community leader. As the first South Asian paramedic in Airdrie, Scotland, he fosters community cohesion by delivering first aid courses and health workshops, especially for minority ethnic groups. Araf collaborates with charities to place defibrillators in mosques, earning recognition with awards such as the Queen’s Ambulance Medal (QAM). Beyond his role, he volunteers extensively, impacting mosques and community groups while advocating for youth health and careers in ambulance services. Inspired by his late mother’s cardiac arrest, Araf embodies empathy and altruism, emphasising unity and support irrespective of background, as showcased in his interview for the BBC1 programme “Extraordinary Portraits.”

Dr Jahangir Alom, BEM, an emergency medicine doctor based in London, is lauded for his significant contributions to healthcare and the Muslim community. He has several clinical specialties, including acute medicine, ophthalmology, anaesthesiology, and intensive care, and remains dedicated to health equity and community service. As the National Clinical Lead for NHS England’s Staff Vaccination Programme, he tackled vaccine hesitancy, safeguarding over 147,000 jobs. Addressing ethnic disparities during the pandemic, he collaborated with authorities to facilitate vaccine distribution in mosques and tailored public health messages to align with Islamic values. He advocated for the needs of Muslim healthcare professionals, ensuring inclusive access to personal protective equipment (PPE), and fostering educational aspirations through mentorship programmes. His media presence and leadership roles in healthcare policy have earned him recognition, including a British Empire Medal (BEM) and the NHS Parliamentary Award.

Professor Farida Fortune, from London, is a distinguished figure in healthcare, excelling in dentistry and medicine, holding degrees from University College London. Notably, she is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons. As the President of the British Society of Oral Medicine and the Odontology Section of the Royal Society of Medicine, her dedication to patient welfare is evident. Her advocacy extends internationally, including leading Bart’s Health Trust as a Centre for Excellence for Behçet’s disease care. Awards like the CBE and the Colyer Gold Medal recognise Fortune’s contributions. Her initiatives have impacted education, health, and social justice, as evidenced by her global engagements and mentorship programmes. Her recent endeavours include pioneering COVID-19 response strategies, addressing vaccine mistrust, and enhancing healthcare in low-income countries.

 

Kumail Hassan Jaffer, a political journalist from Radlett, works at the Daily Mail, where he amplifies Muslim voices in Parliament and the media. With numerous front-page articles, he sets a standard for excellence in journalism and volunteerism, inspiring young Muslims. His exclusive reports on Labour’s internal conflicts over Gaza and articles on Islamophobia break new ground and reach wider audiences. Advocating for renters’ rights, he holds the government accountable through his coverage of the Renters’ Reform Bill. As a Stephen Lawrence Scholar at the Daily Mail, Kumail mentors and advises young Muslims interested in journalism to enhance diversity in newspapers. Kumail’s passion for charity work is evident in his support for Who Is Hussain, demonstrating his dedication to community service.

Samaira Iqbal, the first young Muslim woman BAFTA Young Presenter, empowers Muslim girls with her culinary passion and media prowess. With 4–5 years of experience and based in Hemel Hempstead, Samaira interviews celebrities, promotes British Sign Language, and balances academics and extracurricular activities. Representing BAFTA, she covers red-carpet events, honing her reporting skills. Notably, she secured exclusive interviews with footballer Jesse Lingard and British Hollywood actor Emilia Jones. Samaira’s linguistic fluency in English, British Sign Language, Pakistani Punjabi, and French, along with her academic achievements, including A-Levels in English, Politics, and History, underscore her versatility. Her dedication to media and education makes her a trailblazer and role model for young women in the industry.

Sharmeen Ziauddin is a journalist based in Surrey and the editor-in-chief of the She Speaks, We Hear podcast, launched in late 2021. The podcast has produced numerous episodes, amplifying the voices of Muslim women. Addressing topics ranging from racism to entrepreneurship, the podcast offers relatable advice. Notably, it covers Islamophobia and Afghanistan’s situation, fostering understanding among diverse audiences. Featured on the BBC, the podcast provides a platform for Muslim women, breaking stereotypes and promoting diversity. Sharmeen’s voluntary dedication empowers Muslim women to become leaders and role models, bridging societal barriers. Through her work, she celebrates and highlights diversity in Muslim communities, serving as a beacon of representation and inclusion.

 

Abdulsabur Oluwatosin Abdulmalik, a 20-year-old professional footballer, graduated from London’s Markaz Institute of Islamic and Arabic Learning, excelling academically and athletically. Starting at 5, he progressed through Fulham Academy, Millwall FC, and represented England’s U17s in Spain. Abdulsabur, a role model for his community, volunteered during the pandemic and continues to uphold his Islamic values. Recognised for his skills at Jubilee Primary School and Evelyn Grace Academy, he was granted a two-year scholarship with Millwall after completing his GCSEs. Currently, he holds a professional contract with Millwall Under 23s. Despite his success, he maintains strong family ties and humility, standing as a testament to his talent and upbringing. Abdul’s remarkable journey exemplifies dedication, talent, and integrity, deserving recognition.

Jawahir Roble, the first Black British female hijab-wearing football referee, emerged from Somalia’s war-torn background to become a National League referee. Jawahir, based in London and known to friends as JJ, challenges stereotypes in football and defies linguistic barriers since arriving in the UK at the age of 10. Recognised by The Daily Telegraph as “the most remarkable referee in England” and awarded an MBE, she aspires to officiate in prestigious leagues. Founder of a girls’ team, she mentors young players and supports Football Beyond Borders. Included in the BBC’s 100 Women of 2019, she is a beacon for girls in sports. Jawahir’s journey symbolises resilience and ambition, inspiring women globally. Her impact extends beyond the field, showcasing sporting excellence and social empowerment.

Lipa Nessa, a former semi-professional footballer from Milton Keynes, transformed her experience of facing abuse for wearing a hijab into advocacy for more representation and opportunities for Muslim women in sports. With this goal in mind, she co-founded a grassroots organisation that also organises campaigns to raise awareness and challenge stereotypes and barriers faced by Muslim sportswomen. As a trustee and chair of the Youth Sport Trust’s youth board, she amplifies marginalised voices and drives change. Lipa co-hosts ‘I Think She’s Offside’, a podcast championing women’s sport. Her motto, “I’m going to change the world with a hijab on my head and a ball at my feet,” epitomises her commitment to breaking barriers. Lipa’s multifaceted activism empowers Muslim women, inspiring others to pursue their passions.

 

Maram Abushaaban from Edinburgh initiated and led the Social Seekers project at the age of 14. She organized activities and fostered unity among Muslimah teens, a demographic often marginalised with limited opportunities for social engagement. Her inclusive approach provided a platform for teenagers to connect within an Islamic framework, addressing their needs and boosting confidence. Maram’s dedication extends to volunteering with the Muslim Women’s Association of Edinburgh’s Barakah Group, where she mentors younger children aged 6 to 10, serving as a role model within the community. Her enthusiasm and initiative-taking involvement reflect her community spirit and commitment to youth empowerment and communal welfare. Maram’s initiatives have had a positive impact on the social fabric of the Edinburgh Muslim community, earning her deep admiration.

Safiyyah Umar, a young author from Luton, released her first book, The Heart Crusher, a dystopian/sci-fi novel, in October 2022. Achieving a GCSE English Language grade of 9 and an A-level English Language grade of A, she embarked on a gap year to inspire young people through motivational speeches and creative writing workshops. Her book received four launches, including events at Luton Town Hall and Leeds Civic Hall, attended by local dignitaries. Safiyyah has been interviewed by various media outlets and has received praise for her book from both teenagers and adults. Despite her success, she remains grounded, promoting education and community connections as a hijab-wearing Muslimah. Her work fosters understanding and respect among diverse communities, addressing social issues like injustice and climate change.

Shahina Chandoo, from Hertfordshire, began her journey at 16 to become the UK’s youngest Muslim coach across various cycling disciplines. She empowers children and women of colour through cycling, notably coaching over 60 children in the Evolve Go-Ride programme. Awarded the British Cycling and Total Computers Coaching Scholarship in 2022, she implements talent development strategies, fostering diversity in cycling. Volunteering at British Cycling’s City Academies, she aims to improve gender balance and ethnic diversity. Shahina’s initiatives include organising summer camps, introducing cyclocross events, and supporting the first Muslim Women’s Time Trial. A philanthropist, she raised funds as the youngest Muslim woman to cycle from London to Paris in 2023. Shahina’s dedication and community impact make her a trailblazer and role model, inspiring future athletes.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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