With an aim to restore social harmony in the UK, UK Education & Faith Foundation (UKEFF) was founded in 2009.
Over the past decade, the group has had various initiatives focusing on communal cohesion and improved understanding between different sectors of the society.
On the sidelines of the 7th British Muslim Awards, which took place last month in the city of Bradford, AboutIslam interviewed the Muslim man who, though not one of the winners, is one of the inspiring figures.
AI: What inspired you to do what you do? Family, friends, general interest?
NA: In short, Muslim is a verb, a doing word, therefore, you must do if you dare to call yourself Muslim. It literally means (MUS-SLIM) Submitter to the system of Islam. Islam (Noun) is the system that the creator has sent to his creation in order to find peace and tranquility.
AI: To what extent does your religion define or contribute to what you do?
NA: Islam is not a religion but more a system and a complete way of life. This defines the characteristics of a Muslim (one who submits to it willingly and consciously to the system of Islam). Therefore, Islam has defined all the work we carry out in every single day of our lives. We have been defined and saluted at the House of Lords as the 4th Emergency service of Oldham.
AI: Can you give an example of a man or woman (doesn’t have to be a Muslim) who have shaped the way you think? What influence did they have on you?
NA: One of my great teachers (Sheikh Hafiz Ijaz) told me some years ago, that if you are not giving Islam, you are not living Islam. This is completely in line with the Ahadith of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, that a Muslim is the one who benefits people around him, and from whose hands and tongue people are safe.
AI: Can you share a challenge you have faced and how you have overcome it?
NA: There are many challenges we face, from drugs and alcohol to victims of domestic violence to refugees and asylum seekers on a daily basis. The toughest challenge perhaps is when the authorities refused all forms of help and aid, yet we have intervened and had really effective results, not only securing help restored from the authorities, but also mobilizing the public to assist their neighbors regardless of their color, creed, or beliefs.
AI: To what extent does the Muslim community influence you, if at all?
NA: The Muslim community has inspired me tremendously as we are without doubt not only the largest family on the globe but also the most generous.
AI: Can you share an example of how you have faced discrimination and how it was resolved? You can be as detailed or as vague as you like.
NA: I was published in 6 national newspapers and on several national and international TV channels. In 2017, I was presented as a radical Muslim with Conservative Islamic Values who tried to impose my Islamic values upon one of our local schools, this was handled calmly and collectively with a strategic angle, disproving all the allegations swiftly and winning against the Islamaphobic narrative. You can see my ITV interview here.
AI: Who is your favorite Muslim personality and your favorite non-Muslim personality, who are alive today?
NA: My Mother has to be my rock in every walk of life. She stood by and still does, not only does she believe in me, but she is always encouraging me to advance, despite the challenges. Alhamdulillah.
AI: If there is anything else you’d like to share feel free.
NA: The Glorious Qur’an states clearly that mankind will only achieve what he strives for in Surah 53:39. If we set our goals high, we will exceed even our own vision, but if we have a can’t do attitude, we will never achieve anything substantial. And whatever outcome on the night, by being shortlisted you are already a winner 🙂
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