Obituary: Bashir Maan (1929-2019), pioneer of Scottish Muslims

31st Jan 2020
Obituary: Bashir Maan (1929-2019),  pioneer of Scottish Muslims

Bashir Ahmed Maan CBE, accepting his Alija Izetbegović award for Good Citizenship at The Muslim News Awards for Excellence in 2002. (Credit: The Muslim News)

Bashir Ahmed Maan, an author, a politician, a campaigner, a businessman and one of the most influential Muslim leaders, died last month at the age of 93. Maan arrived in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1953 from Pakistan with £50 in his pocket.

Maan was born in Gujranwala, British India, on October 22, 1926, the son of Choudhry and Hayat Maan. From DB High School, Qila Didar Singh, he studied Economics, History and English at Punjab University, while working as a clerk in Lahore.

As a student between 1943 and 1947, he was involved in the struggle for independence and the creation of Pakistan. After Partition he organised the resettlement of Muslim refugees from India.

Maan founded Glasgow’s Pakistan Social and Cultural Association in 1955, later serving as its president. He joined the Labour Party in 1965.

He became Britain’s first Muslim elected to public office in 1970 as a Councillor in for Kingston Ward, Glasgow, and became Scotland’s first Muslim Justice of Peace in 1968. He sat until 1997 and his toughness in sentencing earned him the nickname “Basher Maan.”

He was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for Strathclyde in 1982 and received a CBE in 2000.
Maan was actively involved in the planning and development of the central mosque of Glasgow, completed in 1983.

The Labour Home Secretary Merlyn Rees appointed him Deputy Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality. When in 1980 the CRE pressed the new Conservative government for an investigation into the running of the Immigration Service, he was one of four members not reappointed by Willie Whitelaw.

Lord Amir Bhatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ambassador Elvira Begović , present the Alija Izetbegović Award for Good Citizenship to Bashir Maan.

He stood for parliament at East Fife in February 1974, coming fourth in a safe Conservative seat. Maan was at the heart of the ongoing campaign for Scottish devolution. He served on the Constitutional Convention which in 1995 published the Claim of Right, effectively the blueprint for the Holyrood Parliament delivered by Labour four years later.

He retired from politics in 2003 after a four-year term as convener of the Strathclyde Joint Police Board. The next year, he let his Labour Party membership lapse in protest against Britain’s intervention in Iraq.

Maan was president of the Standing Conference of Pakistani Organisations in the UK, the National Association of British Pakistanis and the Glasgow Islamic Centre. He was founder chairman of the Scottish Pakistani Association, chairman of the Council of Ethnic Minority Organisations Scotland, convener of the Muslim Council of Scotland, vice-chairman of the Glasgow Community Relations Council and Scottish representative on the Muslim Council of Britain.

He served on the general advisory council of the BBC. He held honorary fellowships and degrees from Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian and Strathclyde Universities. He was awarded the Alija Izetbegović award for Good Citizenship by The Muslim News Awards for Excellence in 2002.

Maan was the author of three books including The Thistle and the Crescent (2008) which charts the history of Islam in Scotland. Bashir Maan is survived by a son and three daughters.

Ahmed J Versi

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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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