A leading exemplar of interfaith relations’ and a visionary Imam Musharraf Hussain Al-Azhari

Musharraf Hussain is the chief executive of Karimia institute Nottingham and Chief Editor of ‘The invitation,’ a family magazine, published since 1988.
In 2009 he was awarded the OBE for his services to community relations in Britain. He is the chair of the Christian Muslim forum, a senior trustee of Muslim hands, trustee of national centre for citizenship and law. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Staffordshire University in 2005, for his services to British Muslim community. Formerly, he was the director of postgraduate course in education, and vice chair of association of Muslim schools.
He holds a Ph.d in biochemistry and worked as a scientist before he undertook his Islamic education in UK, Pakistan and al-azhar university in Egypt. He has written and translated numerous books on Islam including a secondary school textbook religion and belief; Islam.
Karimia institute is a leading Muslim organisation that runs various projects including community development, raising educational achievements, youth leadership training and interfaith work. Dr Hussain has written and translated some twenty books on Islamic beliefs, fiqh, hadith, moral and spiritual development and  tasawwuf. In addition he has written more than two hundred articles on various topics ranging from taqwa to suicide bombing. Dr. Hussain is also a familiar voice on BBC Nottingham’s thought for the day and BBC radio 2’s pause for thought.
Back ground
Born in 1958 he came to Britain from Pakistan in 1966 with his parents to Halifax, where he memorised the glorious Quran, learnt Tajweed and basic Quranic Arabic. After completing a degree in biochemistry at Aston University, he went on to gain a science doctorate. He worked as scientist till 1990 and then decided to dedicate himself to serving the community. He read Islamic studies at a seminary in Pakistan and at Al-Azhar University Cairo.
In 1995 Dr Musharraf helped to establish al karam  Muslim boarding school for boys in Retford, where he was the headteacher for 3 years. In 1997 he was appointed director of the Karimia institute. He began working on a number of projects ranging from community development to raising educational achievements of Pakistani children to adult classes and interfaith work. Currently Karimia runs some 20 projects and is a premier Muslim organisation in UK..
in September 2004 he made efforts to help the release of British hostage Ken Bigley in Iraq. Dr Musharraf and Dr AJ Daud flew to Iraq, where they appealed to the captors to release Ken. This was an important symbolic gesture to show that British Muslims care for their fellow Britons, this was widely hailed as an important symbol of British Muslims loyalty and love of their country.
In 2006 he was asked by the Prime Minister to chair UK – Indonesian Islamic advisory group. The group’s remit was to “advise on countering radicalism and promoting mutual understanding between Islam and West.” The group made several important recommendations; some of these have been implemented whilst others are in planning stage.

Experience of building community cohesion

He is a senior trustee of Muslim  Hands, one of the largest British charities,  and  trustee of the National Centre For Citizenship and Law, a charity dedicated to reducing crime.  In the past three years has worked as advisor to three major citizenship projects (Nasiha, ICE, and UKREN) which promote citizenship education in mosques and madrassas.

Views on integration and social harmony

He has a passion for working  with people and developing communities. Several decades  of  working with people from different  backgrounds has provided  wonderful opportunities for   mutual learning enabling me and others I have worked with to serve local communities. This work has not been without its challenges and has led  to  many a tense  exchange of perspectives.  However this is an enriching process vital to creating a plural, socially harmonious and cohesive society. Over the past five decades we have achieved a great deal in terms of equality, rights of ethnic minorities and social justice but there is  much  more to be done. We are entering an era of enormous challenges: globalisation, climate change, disenfranchised communities and unacceptable levels of global extreme poverty.  He  remains  optimistic that build stronger communities can make a contribution towards these local and global challenges.
More inter and intra- faith work will help community cohesion
He has been a strong practitioner of interfaith work , here are his views on it;
“For the past twelve years I have worked tirelessly promoting interfaith work both at the local and national level. I have been at the frontline  developing grass root interfaith work. I started this journey with my local Anglican Vicar, URC minister and Roman Catholic  Church. We established a local interfaith body (Faith In Action) and worked with the Nottinghamshire Interfaith Council. I believe we have had a visible impact on local communities. In January 2006 I joined the  Management Committee of  the national Christian Muslim Forum. In 2008 I  was appointed the Chair of the Forum and  have successfully organised five residential conferences for Imams and Christian Ministers. These conferences have developed  the leadership potential of more  than two hundred Christian and Muslim leaders to weave stronger relationships and promote interfaith in their communities.”
In the opening speech at imams and ministers conference organised by Christian Muslim forum here is what he said; “Interaction and dialogue amongst faith communities leads to better understanding of one another and removes misunderstandings. The opportunity to meet and share stories brings people closer. So we need to promote interfaith work  and make sure  its not confined to a few, it must become  a grass root activity, only then  will it  impact  community cohesion. Sadly there is extremism of one kind or another in all communities; anti-Semitism, far right xenophobia and Islamophobia. Therefore all faith communities must make extra efforts to tackle extremism within their members. One way of doing this may be to support faith groups to carry out more intra-faith work. As some of these communities have serious rifts amongst themselves. This is particularly true with Muslims who are very diverse and culturally different. This internal healing, this intra-faith unity can help  groups embrace diversity, this will prevent extremis
Julian bond, director Christian Muslim forum referred to dr. Hussain as ‘A leading exemplar of inter faith relations’ and said,
“Musharraf Hussain has been a leading exemplar of inter faith relations and of the inclusive and welcoming values of Islam over the last 8 years. He is one of the founder members of ‘Faiths in Action’ a local inter faith group that meets in Nottingham which he has co-convened with the Rev Graham Burton.
He has brought passion, humour, commitment, vision, energy and himself into his various inter faith endeavours. Of particular value and significance has been his willingness to take risks that others have been unwilling to take and to take bold steps into new territory, not least by inviting non-Muslims to speak in his Masjid, including those often perceived as being unwelcome in a place of worship. At the same time he has gently encouraged his own congregation to engage more with ‘the other’ and has set an example which they can follow. He is one of the few imams in the country who has invited non-Muslims to join him for ihtikaf during Ramadan and has not been afraid to encounter other religions at a deeper level and has been open to personal change as a result.
For the last five years he has been one of the Muslim Presidents of the national Christian Muslim Forum, a position which he has filled with characteristic good humour, commitment, vision and leadership. His contribution to this leading body for building better relations between Christians and Muslims nationally, and locally, put him in the right place at the right time to be chosen as Chair, thus becoming the first Muslim head of a national inter faith organisation. During his time he led a Christian-Muslim delegation to Bosnia, while also contributing significantly to the Christian Muslim Forum’s UK-Indonesia exchange, making good use of his membership of the UK’s Indonesia Advisory Group. He was also one of the originators of the idea for a Christian-Muslim preachers event.
One of his outstanding contributions to better understanding, engagement and friendship-building between Christian and Muslim leaders (both clerics and laypeople) has been the imams and ministers (or leaders) programme of the Christian Muslim Forum. He has supported this series dynamically and enthusiastically from the beginning, often opening proceedings with the tongue in cheek challenge that for 1400 years Christians and Muslims have been rivals but that now in a society where constructive engagement is expected it is time for us to do better and be bringers, motivators and exemplars of change and inter-community friendships.
Unlike many people he is not content to continue working in the same area, he seeks out new challenges, giving the strong sense that he is propelled by an urge to serve God in ways which will have lasting impact on the community. He also takes an interest in succession-planning, developing others who will follow in his footsteps and take on the work that he has begun. He has made a great impact on the lives and faith of many people in his own and other communities who hold him in high regard. This is a fitting testimony to his aim to communicate the best of Islam to all those who are prepared to receive it. He is also notable for learning and disseminating the best of values and ideas from non-Muslim cultures.”
Qualifications:

  • 1977-1984 – BSc & PhD, Aston University
  • 1984-1990 – Research Scientist, Nottingham Trent University
  • 1990-1991 – Ijaza in hadith @ Darul uloom Muhammadia ghausia
  • 1991-1994 – B.A. Al Azhar University (Egypt, Cairo)
  • July 2005 – Honorary Doctorate from Staffordshire University

 
Major projects  initiated and directed :

Locally

  • Nottingham Islamia School; Comprises of a Nursery, Primary and a Secondary school.
  • Trustee of Muslim Hands.
  • Converted & refurbished a derelict lace factory into a community centre, which runs adult classes, social, cultural & recreational programmes.
  • Won the bid to run a community Radio station in Nottingham for the Muslim & Asian community.
  • Actively promoting interfaith dialogue in Nottingham.

Nationally

  • 1999 – 2003 – Non-executive Director of Association of Muslim Schools (Umbrella organisation for some 60 Muslim Schools).
  • 1999 – 2001 – Member of the Central Religious Advisory Committee for the BBC & ITC.
  • 1999 – 2002 – Founder & Director of Teachers training agency funded programme for training teachers from the Muslim community. Offering pgce accredited by gloucestershire university.
  • 2002 – Managing trustee of the UK Islam Education Waqf, a charity that supports needy Muslim students (so far it has distributed 1 million pounds).
  • 2002 –2004, Member of Central working committee of Muslim Council of Britain.
  • 2005 conferred a honorary doctorate by Staffordshire university for services to Muslim community in uk
  • 2006 – trustee of national centre for citizenship and law
  • 2008-2010, chairman of Christian Muslim Forum
  • 2007 –2010, Chair of UK Islamic Advisory Group at foreign &Commonwealth Office.
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