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Mosques should be presided over by British-born imams inquiry report states!


Image of Together Stronger event organised in Ilford by the British Pakistani Christian Association

A report produced by charity 'Citizens Uk' (click here) has concluded that mosques in the UK must appoint British-born imams who speak fluent English and understand British culture.   The report suggests that imam that fit such a profile are more likely to be 'fit for purpose' and will help parishioners understand how to fit into 'modern British life.' The report was produced to examine the participation of the Islamic community in public life.

The report was very clear on the fact that many of the imams working in the UK were born, lived their lives and were trained abroad.

“It is of great importance that British-born imams, who have a good understanding of British culture and who fluently speak English, are encouraged and appointed in preference to overseas alternatives,”  the report said.

The report also recommended that  accredited universities and colleges create new teaching syllabuses and courses for imams.  This would ensure that training was standardised and monitored.  Moreover it was also suggested that imams should take a more involved role in ensuring that they tackle anti-semitism, Christian persecution and more virulent forms of Islam.

The commission was co-chaired by Jenny Watson, who has previously chaired the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Electoral Commission.

Other commissioners included Sophie Gilliat-Ray, a professor of Religious Studies at Cardiff University, and the founding Director of the Islam-UK Centre, Ifath Nawaz, a consultant solicitor who founded the Association of Muslim Lawyers UK, and Professor Mohamed El-Gomati, who promotes the contribution of Muslims in science, technology and civilisation. 

Other members of the panel included Bishop Dr Eric Brown, the businessman and philanthropist Sir Trevor Chinn and the diversity director at Lloyds Banking Group Fiona Cannon.

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:

"The report titled 'The Missing Muslims' puts forwards some very useful suggestions on tackling radicalism within mosques and Muslim communities in the UK. But despite having a strong input from key Muslims in the UK, I fear that the findings will be met with apathy and disgust.

"Primarily because this report and its findings are anachronistic. If the report had been published 20 years ago we could have countered the radicalization of many mosques and Muslim communities that now have already been indoctrinated. Many young British Muslim men wanting to enter the Islamic clergy are already exhibiting intolerant behaviour having absorbed the harsher ideologies of a long established deployment of overseas imams - a large percentage of them now hold more dangerous opinions then imams that taught them.

"Moreover, which imam from abroad is going to give up his role in a mosque because this report states he is less suitable for the role. Imam's have great authority making it difficult to remove radicals from a posting - a challenge that creates a real quandary in gaining momentum for change."

"I have no objection to any of the solutions posed by this report, but am sceptical of success towards its aims. Years of neglect have allowed more twisted theologies to consume many Muslims in Britain with the affect of polarizing them against Non-muslims. Sadly in the end I believe it will be animosity towards allowing kaffir (infidels) from inputting into the Muslim faith and society that will result in this report being discarded and therefore nullifying the efforts of a very capable and impassioned team of academics."

Writing in the foreward to the report, Conservative MP for Beaconsfield Mr Grieve said that his commission sought to highlight the false and “potentially dangerous” assumptions that are made about the views of British Muslims.

“Polls demonstrate significant scepticism across British society about the integration, and even the shared allegiance, of their British Muslim fellow citizens,” said Mr Grieve.

Mr Chowdhry, who has been working on various interfaith harmony projects in the UK (click here) warned that the scepticism displayed by 'British society' was based on more then assumption.  He said:

"Statutory authorities in the UK are oblivious to the growing social malaise of radicalization that is isolating many Muslims from perceived evil Non-muslims.  The recent raids on Ummah Gym a fitness centre set up primarily to serve only Muslims alerts us to the fact that many Muslims do want to live separate more 'pure' lives. Refraining from impurity through isolation is what is being taught in many mosques up and down our country.

"Despite the management of Ummah Gym professing to have a mixed clientele with up to 50% of Non-muslims in a post-raid press release, many local witnesses have confirmed this to be untrue. Images of ISIS flags on their facebook promotional page illustrate the true nature of services provided at the gym , which also hosted a specifically 'Muslim' prayer centre.

"Moreover, one man who I suspect was a trainer in ultimate fighting at Ummah Gym professed to have learnt his aggressive martial arts during a prison sentence.  He explained this to a young Ilford mother who was interested in learning martial arts and also advised her that to learn with him she would have to say her shahada and convert to Islam. She refused!  Read more about the jihadi trainer (click here)

Image of former Ummah Fitness Centre

"Another local man was told the same and also frighteningly remembers a wooden replica grenade that the trainer used to carry in his hand, he was informed that the replica was used within the fight training. 

"Despite many Non-muslim reports about the same individual, local police have found little to link the videoed visit of the three terrorists to Ummah Gym only five days before the London Bridge attack to any jihadist training - as far as I am aware.  This is because there is still a lot of community silence on theses issues and a desire not to be seen as a whistle-blower due to cultural pressure and the threat of extremist retribution. 

"Personally I believe this is where the experts have to focus their efforts. Only by winning the rank and file community people and gaining their trust can a concerted challenge to growing extremism be won. Besides who else is going to tell us which imams it has become necessary to change?

All that is  left of the equipment that was once in Ummah Gym. Their lease was revoked after the police raids.

The press statement left on the outside of Ummah Gym after police raids.

Ummah Gym notice to members.

The internal entrance to the gym is now locked and building works is beginning for a change of use.

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