The HFF were privileged enough to attend the twelfth Muslim News Awards for Excellence on 31st March 2014.

The prestigious ceremony took place in the palatial Great Hall at the Grosvenor House hotel on Park Lane, London and bought together 800 people to acknowledge, commend and celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Muslim News and the fantastic contributions that Muslims provide to British society.

With the guest of honour announced on the evening itself, upon entering the venue the suspense was palpable. Who could it be? Mo Farah? Shazia Saleem? Imran Khan? These were some of the names being suggested before the ceremony commenced; as Muslim News editor, Ahmed Versi, took to the stage to deliver his welcome speech where he stated: “Given the disproportionate focus on bad news reporting when it comes to Islam and British Muslims, it is all the more important that we should honour good practice, and celebrate the exemplary work of the illustrious men, women  and children present among us tonight”...he announced the guest of honour for the evening – British Prime Minister, David Cameron!

Mr Cameron worked the crowd well and proved to be a man of considerable wit – mocking his ‘accidental’ royal ancestry proved to be quite a hit with the crowd! What really stood out however, was the message that he felt was necessary to get out to British Muslims across the country:

“Tonight we celebrate an entire community – one that is vibrant, hard-working and proud. My message to British Muslims is that this Government is here for you. We are backing hard-working families who want to get on and do the right thing; we are reforming the education system, giving parents more say and delivering the schools and skills that our young people need to succeed; we are reforming the welfare system so it rewards those who want to work; we are cutting taxes, so that people get to keep more of their hard-earned money, and we are creating jobs, so people can provide for their families and feel secure. This is all part of our long-term plan to build a stronger economy and I know that British Muslims will play a vital part in helping to achieve future prosperity and security for our country.”

Following the furore that has surrounded religious slaughter following its abandonment in Denmark, the Prime Minister assured the audience and Muslims across Britain that whilst he is in power, “Halal is safe in Britain” – this comment seemed to orchestrate the loudest cheer of the night – we are, after all, a community that love their meat!

With the visibility of British Muslims in political and public institutions across the country transforming, the evening’s ceremony proved incredibly apt and befitting for all that has been accomplished despite negative stigma and press against the faith. Sadiq Khan MP hit the nail on the head with his comment “Each day you hear negative media stories of Muslims – when this happens, and it will happen, remember tonight and the Muslim excellence you see around you”.

With award winners including Mo Farah, Roohi Hasan and Professor Dawud Olatokunbo Shittu Noibi (with the audience comprised of individuals such as Mehdi Hassan, Shelina Janmohamed and representatives of various Muslim organisations in the UK including QED, Faith Matters, Islamic Relief etc.) not only did the evening bring together the inspiring, it truly did inspire.

Events like the Muslim News Awards for Excellence reaffirm the pride that we British Muslims feel towards our religion; whilst it is the minority that tarnish our name and reputation, this evening put together by Ahmed Versi proves how invaluable Muslims have been, and indeed are to the British economy, professional fields and to society as a whole.

A full list of the evening’s award winners can be seen below:

Ummul Mu’minin Khadijah Award for Excellence in Enterprise
Winner:Shabir Randeree
Presented by: Prime Minister Rt Hon David Cameron MP

Ibn Battuta Award for Excellence in Media
Winner: Roohi Hasan
Presented by: Attorney General Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC, MP

Annemarie Schimmel Award for Championing a Muslim Cause
Winner:Charlotte Fischer
Presented by: Mahmood Al Najar, Chair, The Prestige Group, main sponsor for the evening

Alhambra Award for Excellence in Arts
Winner:Hatiq Mohammed
Presented by:Mahmood Al Najar, Chair, The Prestige Group, Main Sponsor of the evening
Sponsored by The Prestige Group

Malcolm X Young Person’s Award for Excellence
Winner:Ahsan Raza Choudury
Presented by:Dr Nizar Merali, Trustee, The Salaam Centre

Alija Izetbegovic Award for Good Citizenship
Winner:Dr Kaneez Shaid
Presented by: Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP, Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice

Uthman Dan Fodio Award for Excellence in Community Development
Presented by: Zaid Al-Rawni, Head of Communications, Islamic Relief

Al-Biruni Award for Excellence in Community Relations
Winner:Zulfi Karim
Presented by:Judge Khurshid Drabu, Professor of Law at Middlesex University and Judge at Upper Tribunal

Sankore University Award for Excellence in Education
Winner:Tuheedul Islam Girls’ High School
Presented by:Rt Hon Sadiq Khan MP, Shadow Justice Secretary and Shadow Lord Chancellor. He is also Shadow Minister for London

Ibn Sina Award for Health
Winner:Dr Rawan Abdulla Khwalleh
Presented by:Gareth Thomas, MP, Shadow Minister for Europe.

Fazlur Rahman Khan Award for Excellence in Engineering, Science and Technology
Winner:Dr Farid Khan
Presented by: Abdirashid Duale, CEO, Dhabshiil

Faezeh Hashemi Award for Excellence in Sport
Winner:Mo Farah

Imams Hasan and Husayn Children’s Award for Excellence
Winner:Ahmad Saleh
Presented by: Dr Manazir Ahsan, Chairman, Muslim Aid

Iman wa Amal Special Award
Winner:Ola Lawal
Presented by:Professor Haifa Takruri-Rizk, Chair of the Independent Panel of Judges

The Editor’s Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner:Professor Dawud Olatokunbo Shittu Noibi
Presented by:Ahmed J Versi, Editor, The Muslim News


Image rights: © The Muslim News 2014 (Adam Szczepanski / Muslim News)

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