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Community champions honoured as Bradford Council for Mosques marks 40th anniversary

29th Oct 2021
Community champions honoured as Bradford Council for Mosques marks 40th anniversary

Sher Azam OBE, receives his Lifetime Achievement Award from Lord Mayor of Bradford Shabbir Hussain
(Credit: Ahmed J Versi/The Muslim News)

Elham Asaad Buaras & Ahmed J Versi

Bradford’s Muslim community activists were honoured at an awards ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of Bradford Council for Mosques (CfM) on September 24.

The awards were presented in front of an audience of 600 guests, which included Hassan Joudi, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain; Tracy Brabin, West Yorkshire Mayor, MPs Naz Shah, Imran Hussain and Judith Cumming; Leader of Bradford Council, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe; and the Bishop of the Leeds Diocese, Rev Nick Baines, who spoke on behalf of Bradford’s inter-faith community.

The Lifetime Achievement Awards went to Sher Azam OBE and Pir Syed Maroof Hussain Shah Naushahi for their dedication to supporting the Muslim community regionally and nationally.

“When I look back at where we were 40-years ago and the problems we were facing then, those problems are not there anymore, but there are new challenges which we are facing at the moment. I am sure the community will face these challenges successfully,” Sher Azam told The Muslim News.

Another long-time contributor to CfM, Ishtiaq Ahmed, was congratulated for his 40-year role in reducing inequalities and improving race relations. “40 years is a long span of time in the life of any organisation but for CfM to remain steady and focused throughout, for what has not been an easy ride for the Muslim community, is a tremendous testimony to the vision and steadfastness of its founding fathers and those that assumed this blessed but arduous responsibility in the ensuing years,” Ahmed, Policy & Strategic Support, Bradford Khidmat Centres, told The Muslim News

Naheed Mirza, the founding principal of Feversham Academy, the city’s first faith school for girls, was one of three recipients of the Outstanding Service to the Community award. She is joined by Mohammed Ajeeb CBE, former Lord Mayor of Bradford, and the first Asian Lord Mayor in the United Kingdom, and Dr Ramindar Singh MBE DL, a leading author, lecturer and expert on community cohesion, in taking to the stage to collect their awards. The way the community responded to the pandemic over the last 18 months saw the work of 10 people and organisations being praised.

The Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was also honoured for its efforts to engage and communicate with the Muslim community amid the effects of the pandemic, as well as for its Chaplaincy team’s contribution to meeting the needs of patients.

The British Islamic Medical Association was also presented with an award for its guidance and support locally to bust myths about the virus, promoting the importance of the vaccine, and reinforcing the importance of adhering to COVID-19 safety measures.

Graham Swain, the gravedigger at Scholemoor Cemetery, was honoured for how he and his team overcame the burial challenges of COVID-19, which led the President of CFM, Zulfi Karim, to say, “Sadly, this terrible disease has had a devastating impact on the city we all love and are proud to call home. Our burial capacity has been fully stretched, with the burials team under a substantial mental and physical burden. Yet, they have quietly done what has been asked of them in a dignified manner, respecting the wishes of the families concerned. It is a testament to their efforts that every burial has been undertaken within 24 hours of the request – and this is a fitting award for their work.”

On CfM reaching its 40th anniversary, Karim told The Muslim News the council “owes its longevity to its ability to effectively respond to the issues of the day affecting the local Muslim community. One of the biggest achievements of the organisation is to remain inclusive of all the Islamic denominations in the district.”

Outside of the Muslim community, Karim said, “CFM recognises the importance of interfaith relations and we are proud of the positive relationships and understanding we have developed over the years. There are countless occasions where we have stood together, shoulder-to-shoulder with other faith groups, in the spirit of solidarity and support for one another, in the face of hostility and adversity.”

He also paid tribute to the “passionate and dedicated stream of volunteers.” Thanks to the “support from our partners” for helping the council meet the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic “head-on.” Bradford Council Leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, congratulating CfM on its achievements, said it was “important to acknowledge the efforts and work that CFM has done”.

“It is a strong institution who have come together and agreed in a unified voice and made sure they are heard. It is a beacon of not only community in Bradford but also for the country,” Cllr Hinchcliffe told The Muslim News.

Naz Shah, MP for Bradford West, congratulated the founder of CFM on “your resilience to get to the 40-year mark” and the key achievement on “community development and making ourselves better from what we learnt from Covid and what we learnt from the last 40 years.”

 

The COVID-19 responses from seven mosques were also commended:

Al Markaz ul Islami Bradford, for adopting ‘best practices’ in implementing COVID-19 safety measures.
Bradford Central Mosque, for re-purposing its facilities to act as both a bereavement hub at the peak of the pandemic and also as a mass vaccination centre.

JKN Outreach, for supporting the homeless and rough sleepers in the district and distributing food parcels.
Keighley Central Mosque, for partnering with GPs to create a community COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
Madni Masjid, Bradford, for delivering protective equipment, such as masks, gloves and other healthcare supplies, to those in need.

Masjid Quba, Bradford, for compiling and delivering food parcels to those in need in the community.
Shah Jalal Masjid, Keighley, for its innovative communications to convey the Hands, Face, Space message.

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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.

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