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Muslim heroes of the pandemic honoured

30th Oct 2020
Muslim heroes of the pandemic honoured

Photo: Dobirul Islam Choudhury OBE, Kurshida Mirza MBE, Ibrar Akram BEM, Farouq Sheikh OBE and Amina Ibrahim MBE

Elham Asaad Buaras

From a programmer who developed a CPR alert app, to a TFL worker who provided extra transport service for vulnerable people, to a centenarian fundraiser, unsung Muslim heroes who went beyond the call of duty to help others during the pandemic are included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

63 members of the UK’s Muslim communities (5 CBEs, 14 OBEs, 28 MBEs, 14 BEMs, a Police Medal and a Volunteer Reserves Medal) were awarded, more than double last year’s tally of 25.

This year’s list, which was postponed from June to include frontline workers, has the highest ever number of Muslim honours recipients on record. Among them is a 100-year-old man who raised thousands for Covid-19 relief while fasting during Ramadan. Dabirul Islam Choudhury who raised over £420,000 by walking 970 laps of his garden in, east London has been made an OBE.

Choudhury said, “I feel proud they have honoured me for the efforts I have done. I thank everybody from the bottom of my heart.” Of the total raised, £116,000 was donated to the NHS while the rest was divided between 30 charities in 52 countries as part of a Covid-19 crisis initiative. Choudhury was inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore, a World War II veteran who raised almost £33 million for the NHS. Choudhury’s fundraising was praised by Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, who tweeted, “He is an inspiration to us all.”

Other everyday heroes include Ali Ghorbangholi, 29, and Professor Mark Wilson, 46, cofounders of the GoodSAM app which alerts people trained in CPR to nearby emergencies, are awarded OBEs after developing a platform to mobilise volunteers to support people shielding. More than 750,000 people signed up.
Ghorbangholi said, “I’m humbled to be even considered for this award. I’m a programmer who spends most of my time behind the computer; usually App users don’t even know people like me exist. This honour recognises the great work people like me are doing.”

Farouq Sheikh, founder of CareTech and former winner of The Muslim News Ummul Mu’minin Khadījah Award for Excellence in Enterprise, has been awarded an OBE for his work in specialist social care.
Sheikh founded CareTech with his brother Haroon Sheikh in 1993. From a single small care home, the group now operates more than 550 residential facilities and specialist schools around the UK, employs more than 10,000 staff and supports over 5,500 service users.

Farouq Sheikh told The Muslim News, “I am proud and humbled to receive this award. I accept it with deep appreciation on behalf of my brother, Haroon, and I as well as all the CareTech family who have supported us on our journey. ”

Ibrar Akram, Service Delivery Manager at Transport for London’s Dial-a-Ride, is to be made a BEM for his outstanding work in ensuring that service remained able to provide London-wide support to its disabled and elderly customers and NHS key workers during the pandemic.

Akram quickly adapted Dial-a-Ride services to deliver food and shopping. He partnered with the London Emergency Planning Group to identify where help was most needed. In April, he designed the support programme to get deliveries to essential workers and vulnerable people.

Initially, the programme worked to get 100 deliveries of PPE to different NHS hubs, but within a few days, he made further arrangements to manage and schedule deliveries across Newham to carry around 130 food trips and up to 350 pharmaceutical deliveries a day. This later expanded to include up to 450 shopping parcels to vulnerable Londoners unable to leave their homes.

Akram also made arrangements with a Gurdwara in Southall to distribute hot food to those shielding at home as well as weekend lunches to those working for the local NHS trust. He also worked to ensure Dial-a-Ride staff would be available to make ad-hoc deliveries of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – to NHS Nightingale.
By the end of June, Akram personally led and managed the scheduling and delivery of around 60,000 deliveries across London.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said, “Akram’s inspiring adaptation of the Dial-a-Ride service during the coronavirus pandemic ensured food and deliveries continued to reach the most vulnerable Londoners and our essential workers and is a testament to the values of community and support that lie at the heart of our city.”

Akram said, “I am extremely happy to have been recognised with this honour, but I see it as an honour for all of my team at London Dial-a-Ride. I am so happy that we have been able to provide essential support to so many people when they have needed it most. I’m truly proud when I hear colleagues from all over TfL talk about what a great help our service has been to vulnerable members of our communities in these worrying times.”

Ashraf Uddin, who has been volunteering with St John’s Ambulance to support vulnerable people and assisting at Brentwood Hospital’s Covid-19 ward is to be made an MBE. When schools closed, Ashraf, who’s an Essex secondary school teacher, ramped up his volunteering by spending his spare time each week volunteering across Essex, as well as teaching keyworker children at his school on a rota basis.

Kurshida Mirza, Chair of Trustees at Milton Keynes Community Foundation, is to be made an MBE. Mirza has a research, policy and strategy background working within local and central government. She held many portfolios in Government including: leading on housing for vulnerable and older people, community engagement, tackling unemployment and homelessness.

Mirza is also Ex-Chair of Citizens MK and founder of Trubys Garden Tea Room — MK’s interfaith café and the Midlands Chair for Housing Learning and Information Network (a learning and improvement network connecting housing, health and care). Mirza is also the founder of the Great Get Together Iftar MK, which brings people from all faiths and the wider community to join Muslims during Ramadan to break the fast.

In a statement to The Muslim News Mirza said, “I am truly humbled by this recognition. All thanks to Allah. The success of both Trubys Garden Tea Room and the Great Get Together Iftar are because of all our volunteers and partners who work tirelessly throughout the year.”

Amina Ibrahim Operating Department Practitioner at St George’s Hospital and Founder of the Somali Health Exchange is to be awarded an MBE for her services to health.

Ibrahim founded and started the Somali Health Exchange in 2018, which focuses on improving patient safety and strengthening the healthcare infrastructure in Somaliland through training and developing the staff and students. The initiative teaches young people CPR and life support in conjunction with dealing with knife wounds in her spare.
Ibrahim left the UK in 2013 to work abroad and travel mainly to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. As part of the first-ever

Operation Smile UAE team, Ibrahim has been carrying out voluntary work in Nepal, since 2012.
Speaking to The Muslim News Ibrahim said she was in “shock and disbelief” at being awarded. “I do everything above because I enjoy doing it and charity is a big part of Islam. It makes me feel good and I feel like I have a purpose. I am a very ordinary person and things like this happen to people like me only in films. I am overwhelmed by the attention but thankful. Alhamdulilah for everything.”

In Scotland, husband and wife team Ghulam Farid and Shagufta Shamim, who ran the Bowhouse Square shop for over 20 years are to be awarded BEMs for services to the community in Grangemouth during Covid-19.
The pair helped local NHS staff and care home workers source PPE equipment and also made sure they had essential food items. They also created and delivered care packages to vulnerable people.

In a joint statement the pair said, “Receiving the BEM has left us shocked. It was such pleasant news to receive, and we could not believe it when we got the email. We thought it was spam. After much research, we realised we had been nominated and it was a genuine email. It is a great honour to be recognised by The Crown for our hard work and I hope this will encourage others to always be helpful. This is certainly going to set the bar in our family, a great story to tell our grandchildren one day.”

* Members’ of other faith communities were also awarded including 26 members of the Jewish community (a Knighthood; a Dame; 2 CBEs; 7 OBEs; 8 MBEs; 7 BEMs); 47 members of the Hindu and Sikh communities (2 CBEs, 23 OBEs, 14 MBEs, 2 Honorary BEMs, 5 BEMs and a Queen’s Police Medal).





Farmida Bi. Chair, Norton Rose Fulbright (Europe, Middle East & Asia). For services to Law & charity

Mohammed Khan, OBE. Leader, Blackburn with Darwen Council. For services to Local Govt

Mohsin Issa. Co-Founder EG Group. For services to Business & charity

Professor Sa’id Mosteshar. Director, London Institute of Space Policy & Law. For services to Space Law & Policy

Zuber Vali Issa. Co-Founder, EG Group. For services to Business & charity



Abu Ahmed. Head, Local Delivery & Communications, Office for Security & Counter Terrorism, Home Office. For public service

Ahmereen Reza. Founder & Trustee, Developments in Literacy Trust, & director, Conservative Friends of Pakistan. For public & political service, & Interfaith Work

Ali Akbar Mohammed. Founder & Trustee, Ansar Finance. For services to Finance & charity

Ali Ghorbangholi. Co-Founder & director of GoodSam. For services to Volunteering during the Covid-19 response

Ayodele Idowu Awoyungbo. Senior Crown Prosecutor, International Unit, Crown Prosecution Service. For services to Law & Order

Dabirul Islam Choudhury. For charitable service during Covid-19

Farouq Rashid Sheikh. Founder, CareTech. For services to Specialist Social Care

Ghulam Farid. For services to the community in Grangemouth during Covid-19

Imran Rasul. Professor of Economics, University College London. For services to Social Sciences

Luthfur Rahman. Executive Member for Culture & Leisure, Manchester City Council. For services to Local Govt

Mohammed Nizam Uddin. Senior head, Mosaic, The Prince’s Trust. For services to Social Mobility & Community Integration (Barking, Essex)

Muhammad Naveed Idrees. Headteacher, Feversham Primary Academy, Bradford. For services to Education

Reza Rahnama. Director, Core Voice Services, BT. For services to Telecommunications during the Covid-19 response (London, London)

Vajid Mahmood. PPM Strategy & Implementation Lead, NHS England & NHS Improvement. For services to the NHS during Covid-19

Yasmine Chinwala. Partner, New Financial, HM Treasury. For services to the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter



Amina IBRAHIM, Operating Department Practitioner at St George’s Hospital and Founder/Team Leader of Somaliland Health Initiative. For services to health

Asgher Mohammed. Managing director, Abbey Chemist, Paisley & Founder, Scottish Sadaqah Trust, Glasgow. For services to Pharmacy & charity

Ashraf Uddin. For services to the St John Ambulance during the Covid-19 response

Aurangzeb Farooq. Mentor, North West Regional Leadership Group, Mosaic. For services to Young People in Manchester

Ayse Funda Veli, Diary Manager, Leader of HM Opposition. For political service

Cllr Mohammed Iqbal. Pendle Borough Council & Lancashire County Council. For services to Local Govt

Dr Ibrar Mohammed Majid. For services to Healthcare & Community Development in Manchester

Farhana Haque Proma. Pro-Consul, British High Commission, Dhaka, Bangladesh. For services to British Nationals in Bangladesh.

Farrah Khan. Head, Service Delivery, Children’s Services, Leeds City Council. For services to Children & Families

Hans Ahmed. Sessional Muslim Imam, Her Majesty’s Prison/Youth Offenders Institution Brinsford. For services to Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service during Covid-19

Imran Rashid Davji. Human Resource Administrator, Asda Ltd. For services to the Covid-19 response

Islamuddin Chowdhary. Barrister. For services to the Legal Profession in London

Jamil Ahmed Malik. Consular manager, British Consulate General, Toronto, Canada. For services to British Nationals in Canada.

Julie Siddiqi. Founder, Sadaqa Day. For services to Promoting Inter Faith Understanding

Kadija Geroge (Sesay) Literary Activist, Editor & Publisher. For services to Publishing

Khadija Buke Coll. For services to Diversity & Equality in Scotland

Mawlana Mohammed Tayyab Sidat. Founder, IMO Charity. For charitable services

Mayameen Meftahi For services to Victims of Child Sexual Abuse in Wales

Mohamed Omer. For services to the British Muslim community during Covid-19 (London, London)

Nasir Ahmed Khan. Co-Founder, Muslims in Rail. For services to Muslim Representation in the Rail Industry

Nilima Rahman. Bank employee, Virgin Money. For services to the Financial Services sector & the community of South Shields during Covid-19.

Oli Khan. For services to the Hospitality Industry & charity in the UK & Abroad particularly during Covid-19

Qaisra Shahraz, Founder, Curator & Executive Director, Muslim Arts & Culture Festival. For services to Gender Equality & Cultural Learning

Rashida Baig. Head of Service, London Borough of Croydon. For services to Child & Family Social Work & Race Equality

Sajjad Miah. For services to the community in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Sufina Ahmad. Director, John Ellerman Foundation. For charitable service particularly during Covid-19

Syed Afsar Uddin. Teacher of Bengali, Oaklands Secondary School. For services to Education & the community in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Zahid Hussain Bhatti. Managing Chaplain, Her Majesty’s Prison Wormwood Scrubs. For services to Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service during Covid-19.




Ahmud Raza Domah. General manager, Hill House Care Home. For services to Social Care during Covid-19

Dr Mahaboob Basha. External Relations & Engagement manager, Energy Safety Research Institute, Swansea University. For services to the community in Sketty, Swansea during Covid-19

Faisal Tuddy. Superintendent Pharmacist, Asda Ltd. For services to the Pharmaceutical Sector during Covid-19. (Leeds, West Yorkshire)

Farzaneh Saadat Manager, Cecil Court Residential Home. For services to Older People with Dementia

Hasnain Qamar Rashid Bhatti Khan. Medical Student Volunteer Co-ordinator. For services to Healthcare in South Yorkshire during Covid-19.

Hera Hussain. Founder & CEO, Chayn. For services to charity

Ibrar Akram. Service Delivery manager, Transport for London. For service to Transport & the community in London during Covid-19

Kurshida Mirza. Volunteer Organiser, Great Get Together Iftar & Truby’s Garden Tea Room (Inter Faith Cafe). For services to Inter Faith & Community Cohesion in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

Mohammed Aziz. Chief inspector, Bedfordshire Police. For services to Policing & Diversity

Mustafa Kemal Koksal. Supervisor, First Buses. For services to the community during Covid-19

Parveen Sajid. For services to Vulnerable People in Lebanon & to the community in Glasgow

Shagufta Shamim. For services to the community in Grangemouth during Covid-19.

Sufu Miah For services to the community in Oswestry, Shropshire


Queen’s Police Medal (QPM)

Sgt Mohammed Najib. West Midlands Police.


Queen’s Volunteer Reserves Medal (QVRM)

Capt Hisham Bahjat Halawi. General List, Army Reserve

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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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