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April 01, 2004

Fourth The Muslim News Awards for Excellence

The Muslim News hosted its fourth annual Awards for Excellence the evening’s Guest of Honour, Minister of Finance, Cape Province, South Africa, Ebrahim Rasool, on March 31 2004 in Central London.

The Foreign Secretary Rt Hon Jack Straw, who could not attend the event as he was held up in the House, said in a video message:

“The Awards give valuable recognition to those who win them; and they help to highlight the vitality and the achievement to be found within our Muslim communities. Their winners can serve as role models for Muslims and for us all.”

“It is more important than ever before that we in government
build a close relationship and dialogue with Muslim communities. At especially this time, we must emphasise both the richness of our shared
history and the outstanding contribution which Muslims make to
all walks of life in Britain today.”

The Prime Minster Tony Blair, who was Guest of Honour at the Ceremony in 2001, sent a message of support:

“British Muslims, of course, contribute hugely to this country’s success, prosperity and culture. These awards are a fantastic opportunity to recognise and celebrate just some of these many achievements. And by celebrating success and promoting excellence within the British Muslim community, they will also encourage others to follow their example.”

The Rt Hon Michael Howard QC MP, Leader of the Opposition said:

“British Muslims contribute greatly to all walks of British life and it is vital to recognise this invaluable contribution. I think it is imperative that these achievements are rewarded in such a way.”

Charles Kennedy MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, also sent a message of support:

“The Awards recognise both the achievements of individuals as well as the influence and importance of the community as a whole, and I would like to pass on my congratulations to all those who have been nominated for an award.”

The success of the Awards for Excellence, attended by over 500 people, highlights that despite everything; Britain’s Muslims - like those everywhere - have an ability to excel even in the most trying of circumstances.

These Awards emphasis the important role Muslims play in the British community while also bringing hope to a generation beleaguered by prejudice and racism. In his address, Ahmed Versi, Editor of The Muslim News, outlined the aim of the ceremony saying:

“All that we strive for is to identify achievers and success stories. Our hope is that this will go some small way in finding and promoting those much-needed positive role models for the next generation and for those that will follow.”

Award winners represented many sectors from Academia, the Arts, Business, Community Projects and Science. Each received the auspicious astrolabe, a centuries-old instrument developed by Muslim scientists to determine the altitude of stars, the sun, moon and other planets, to tell the time and to measure the height of mountains and the depth of wells. This outstanding symbol of Islamic art and science honoured the following exemplars of good practice:

Alhambra award for excellence in the Arts is awarded to:

Rezia Wahid
Rezia Wahid is an artist specialising in delicate handwoven textiles. After gaining a first-class BA with honours from the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, Rezia had her first international exhibit in Tokyo, with other members of Maka Textile Collaboration – a company she helped found. She balances teaching in west London with community work, regularly donating her creations to charities such as Islamic Relief and serving as a role model and mentor for local youth.

Annemarie Schimmel award for Championing a Muslim Cause is awarded to:

Gareth Peirce
Gareth Peirce, well known for successfully representing the Guildford Four, is one of the most respected civil liberties lawyers in Britain. Gareth’s efforts to ensure justice for the Muslim community are unrelenting. She has recently taken on scores of cases involving Muslims detained as alleged terrorists; and her work on behalf of Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzem Beg and numerous US extradition cases has been inspirational. She lives in London.

Imams Hasan and Husayn children’s award for excellence is awarded to:

Akhlima Khanum
Akhlima Khanum, who is now 14, looked after her four younger siblings from an early age, as both her parents suffered from mental illness. When the children went into foster care in Luton after their mother died, Akhlima fought to keep them together. Within their new family she remains devoted to their care, and has managed to do exceptionally well at school despite the disruptions. Throughout, she has striven to do her best for the people around her.

Alija Izetbegovic award for good citizenship is awarded to:

Fadi Itani
Fadi Itani, who lives in Tottenham, London, is executive director of Muslim Welfare House (MWH). For years this charity – which provides services such as business enterprise support to the Muslim community – was foundering. Now, under Fadi’s holistic and coordinated management, the MWH has ample grant aid, strong links with local authorities, church leaders and the police, and a positive role to play in the wider community. Fadi has also done much to defuse strained community relations in Finsbury Park.

Uthman Dan Fodio award for excellence in community development is awarded to:

Muslim Youth Helpline
The Muslim Youth Helpline (MYH) is unique: Britain’s only peer counselling support service aimed at young Muslims. Launched in 2001, it employs solely 18 to 25-year-olds fully accredited in Islamic counselling – a policy that ensures the service maintains empathy, as well as sensitivity to faith and culture. The MYH, based in Wembley, Middlesex, has been awarded the AOL Innovation in Community Award for 2003, and the recent Young Partners Award, presented by the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services.

Al-Biruni award for excellence in community relations is awarded to:

Khalid Yasin
Khalid Yasin is executive director of the Islamic Teaching Institute, an organisation dedicated to promoting Islam. Based in Sheffield, Khalid lectures widely on Islam to audiences of predominately non-Muslims and new Muslims. Most recently, Khalid has established the Islamic Information Network, the first Islamic satellite channel to broadcast in Europe, and a film production studio putting together Islamic media projects.

Allama Iqbal award for creativity in Islamic thought is awarded to:

Charles Le Gai
Writer, diplomat and scholar, Charles Le Gai Eaton, (Hasan Abdul Hakim), who lives in Purley, Surrey, has spent much of his life serving Britain and the British Muslim community. In addition to his work as a consultant at London’s Islamic Cultural Centre, Gai – now 82 – has written many influential, original and thought-provoking books on Islam, including The Richest Vein, Islam and the Destiny of Man, Remembering God: Reflections on Islam and The Concept of God in Islam.

Sankore University award for excellence in education is awarded to joint winners:

Amina Al-Yassin
Amina Al-Yassin arrived from Lebanon as a young child, unable to speak English. She now combines academic excellence – her GCSE biology result was one of the five highest in the country – with a strong commitment to her community in Brent, north London. She has taught Arabic and Islamic studies to children locally, and is a highly dedicated fundraiser and charity volunteer. In 2003 she was named Outstanding Student of the Year by Edexcel, also winning their Young Learners award.

St Mary the Virgin Primary School
St Mary the Virgin Primary School in Butetown, Cardiff, promotes religious and cultural tolerance and celebrates its diversity: many pupils hail from Somalia and the Yemen, and almost half are Muslim. With help from BBC Wales and local businesses, the children created an Islamic Garden in the school grounds. The Garden is proving highly popular and, with an Islamic mosaic and five trees representing the five pillars of wisdom, has become a contemplative space for learning about Islam.

Fazlur Rahman Khan award for excellence in engineering, science and technology is awarded to:

Fazlun Khalid
After a long career with the Commission for Racial Equality, Fazlun Khalid forged a second as a foremost expert on ecology from the Islamic perspective. He has established the NGO, the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Science, and is a consultant to the World Wide Fund for Nature and a Director of training at the Alliance of Religions and Conservation. Fazlun has written Qu’ran, Creation and Conservation and has edited Islam and Ecology. He lives in Granada, Spain.

Ummul Mu’minin Khadijah award for excellence in enterprise is awarded to:

Pharmaco 2000
Pharmaco 2000is a buying group which operates as a cooperative venture supporting independent pharmacies through out United Kingdom. One of its principles includes a profit sharing scheme which is extended to its members who supports its activities. Now 10 years old, Pharmaco 2000 boasts in excess of 150 members and has a revenue in excess of a quarter of a million pounds per year . One of its renowned factors is allocating a percentage of its profits to a variety of charities. The wealth allows Pharmaco 2000 to allocate resources in training its members to new developments in education, Information Technology, business skills and in future it aims to link to a wider audience through a website and e-commerce to enhance its profile.

Ibn Sina award for health is awarded to:

Leeds Health Focus
The user-led community group, Leeds Health Focus (LHF) provides healthcare and sports opportunities, focusing on Muslims in deprived areas of the city. It has established exercise classes, offered advice and support in areas ranging from mental health to healthy eating, and forged partnerships with mainstream health services in the area to ensure Muslim patients get culturally suitable care. The LHF has helped train local Muslim sports instructors, boosting health and community spirit hugely in the process.

Ibn Khaldun award for excellence in promoting understanding between global cultures and faiths is awarded to:

Hany El-Banna
Birmingham-based Hany El-Banna is one of Britain’s most experienced professionals in international development and a leading light in the drive to create greater understanding between Christians, Jews and Muslims. Head of the charity, Islamic Relief, he is also a member of the Three Faiths Forum, and speaks and broadcasts on faith and development in Britain and abroad. Hany has recently addressed the House of Commons on humanitarian aid, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on open dialogue as part of tolerant foreign policy. He is also actively involved in the peace process in war-torn South Sudan.

Ibn Battuta award for excellence in Media is awarded to:

Sandra Herbert
As religious producer at BBC Radio Leicester, Sandra Herbert’s job is to ensure the Station’s programming represents all faiths. She has encouraged contributions from Muslim women for slots such as Thought for the Day, and also enabled young Muslims to train in broadcasting and in formulating their own programmes. Sandra helped one such young broadcaster, Abdul Sattar, put together the four-part series ‘Myths about Muslims’. He has won three top media awards.

Faezeh Hashemi award for excellence in sports is awarded to:

Yasmeen Nawaz
Yasmeen Nawaz, 25, is a consummate sportswoman. While excelling in football and athletics, her main achievements lie in the Korean martial arts discipline, Tae Kwon Do. She won the top grade in Scotland when tested for her First Dan (black belt), and has received numerous trophies in Scottish and British tournaments. Now aiming to compete internationally, Yasmeen also teaches the discipline to other Muslim women and children to build up both self-defense skills and overall confidence.

Iman wa Amal special award is awarded to:

Hartley Village Community
Hartley Village Community, Hartley is a Kentish village south of Dartford – a close-knit and friendly community. In 1997 the people of Hartley welcomed a Muslim family newly arrived from Pakistan, helping them settle in to local schools and the wider community. When the family’s middle child developed bone ca cer in 2001, the local community – and particularly churchgoers from the parish – responded immediately, offering not just practical help but also tremendous emotional support and understanding.

For further information or for use of footage please contact The Muslims News Office on 020 8863 8586 or 077 68 242 325

Kindly acknowledge The Muslim News when using the press release.

Notes for Editors:
The monthly newspaper launched its first awards ceremony in 2000, to mark the 10th anniversary of publication as Britain’s leading Muslim newspaper, when the guest of honour was International Development Secretary Clare Short.

The following year’s Awards for Excellence was attended by the Prime Minister Tony Blair. In Dec 2002 His Royal Highness Prince of Wales was the Guest of Honour.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2004 Brochure is available.

Entertainment on the evening was provided by the European Gold Medallist in Pencak Silat, Hannah Alrashid, and Sean Karder and Irfan Alrashid, students in London, performing the martial art indigenous to the Indonesian-Malay archipelago.


Al Biruni Community Relations award was sponsored by the Ministry of Defence

Alhambra award for arts was sponsored by HSBC

Alija Izetbegovic award for good citizenship was sponsored by the Metropolitan Police

Fazlur Rahman Khan award for excellence in engineering, science and technology, was sponsored by Melchem Pharmaceuticals

Ibn Khaldun award for excellence in promoting understanding between global cultures and faiths, was sponsored by the Foreign Office
Imams Hasan and Husayn children’s award was sponsored by Islamic Relief
Ummul Mu’minin Khadijah for enterprise award was sponsored by London Development Agency
Uthman Dan Fodio award for community development, was sponsored by the Home Office

Awards presenters:

Ibn Khaldun award was presented by Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary General, The Muslim Council of Britain

Sankore University award for education was presented by Ebrahim Rasool, Finance Minister, Cape Province (South Africa)

Alija Izetbegovic award for good citizenship was presented by Sir John Stevens, Metropolitan Police Commissioner

Anne Marie Schimmel award for championing a Muslim cause was presented by Usman Buigaje, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committtee, Nigerian Federal House of Representatives.
Uthman Dan Fodio award for excellence in community development was presented by Minister of State for the Criminal Justice System, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, QC

Alhambra award for arts was presented by Noaman Hasan, Head of Amana Finance, HSBC

Ibn Sina award for health, was presented by Viscount William Astor, Shadow Minister for Transport.

Imams Hasan and Husayn children’s award for excellence, was presented by Wassim Yaqub, UK Manager, Islamic Relief

Ibn Battuta award for excellence in media was presented by Rt Hon Menzies Campbell, MP, Deputy Leader and Foreign Affairs Spokesman, Liberal Democrats

Al Biruni award for excellence in community relations was presented by Trevor Phillips, Chairman, Commission for Racial Equality

Ummul Mu’minin Khadijah award for excellence in enterprise was presented by Yvonne Thompson, Board Member, London Development Agency

Faezeh Hashemi award for excellence in sports, was presented by Mrs Faezeh Hashemi, President of the International Islamic Women’s Sports

Fazlur Rahman Khan award for excellence in engineering, science and technology was presented by Dr Imtiaz Ahmad, Senior Lecturer in Physical Chemistry at APU, Cambridge

Allama Iqbal award for creativity in Islamic thought was presented by Dr Farhan Nizami, Director, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies
Iman wa Amal Special Award presented by Carol Madison Graham, Executive Director, Fulbright Commission, and member of the The Muslim News Awards for Excellence independent Panel of Judges

For further information contact us on 020 7608 2822 or 077 68 241 325. Please acknowledge The Muslim News when using the press release

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