The MCB’s ‘wonderland’ election?

Madeleine Bunting has an article in the Guardian today about the Muslim Council of Britain’s upcoming elections on Sunday. I think her main point that Mohammed Amin – the only declared candidate to date is not very likely to win on Sunday – and that the winner is likely to be Farooq Murad who she says was secretly nominated by ‘Islamic movement’ organisations some months ago – is an accurate one. To win the MCB elections you need to be able to secure the support of a wide range of groups and not to have upset any powerful groupings by making any statements that they may dislike. Inevitably, this leads to the winning candidate  – regardless of actual ability – being one who is generally cautious, steers clear of commenting on controversial issues, and smiles at everyone. It is not a wonderful situation, but it is not necessarily a very bad thing either and hardly applies only to the MCB.

When Bunting says that Amin would like ‘to see the MCB taking a robust stand on inflammatory rhetoric in mosques and tackle Islamophobia by promoting a positive image of the community. These characteristics are precisely why he won’t win’ – she is quite wrong. Mohammed Amin is unlikely to win because if you are going to win then you need to have secured the support of a large section of the voting base.

Her other point about there being another generation who have worked for change but are being held back by ‘entrenched conservatism’ in the mosques is also problematic. There are certainly quite a few characters who like to see themselves as leaders but if they have no followers and if they are unwilling to put in the work required to build up an actual following then their dreams cannot really be expected to materialise very well.

Voluntary work in Muslim communities is often hard and requires long hours. Today we have a Prevent programme – part of the government’s counter-terror CONTEST strategy – which has been throwing millions upon millions at Muslim organisations and individuals and which has inevitably led to increased suspicion in Muslim communities about whose agenda is actually being promoted by Prevent-funded organisations, many of whom have no track record of doing any voluntary work in Muslim communities whatsoever.

Bunting says that ‘Amin’s likely failure prompts increasing anxiety in a generation who have worked for change within Muslim organisations.’ This is a strange statement. If people are unwilling to put in the work required in building up a following within Muslim organisations then they surely cannot blame anyone but themselves for not bringing about the change that they wished to see.

Anyway, for a slightly more thoughtful look at the MCB have a read of this Yahya Birt article from a couple of years ago which still makes some sense today.

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6 Responses to The MCB’s ‘wonderland’ election?

  1. SM Shah says:


    The MCB as an organisation is London Centric and more geared towards winning the PR battles that it finds itself in than anything else. Why has it failed to mobilise grassroots support on a wide variety of issues. I am sure you are going to reel off a long list of achievements, but I could point to an equally large number of failures that have occurred on its watch.

    Furthermore, I think it does a great disservice to other organisations if the MCB continues to project itself as the only voice of the Muslim Community in the UK.

    As for Elections, truth is they reflect the kind of elections the local mosque organises, deals already done, stooges (very educated stooges) already in place, pats on the back and lots of post-election eating, and at the end of the day a little bit of the same old same old. In that respect M Bunting was spot on.


  2. Asim says:

    Madeleine Bunting is a well-meaning journalist. I think she’s just misunderstood certain details about the MCB. I hope she doesn’t get a hard time for writing the article.

  3. Ahmed says:

    First question that comes to mind is that who has been feeding Ms Bunting all this juicy gossip, this has clearly prejudiced her skewed commentary. The fact is that with all its baggage, the affiliate base of the Council will always steer and incline towards somebody who they have trust and confidence in, what is wrong with that. The Council has a clearly stipulated constitution based on the authentic sources of Islam as its guiding principles, any individual who is burdened with the responsibility of leadership should have had ample exposure to the faith and a track record of service to the community. An individual may have a litany of accolades and awards in science, accounts or brain surgery, but how would that necessarily make him suitable to lead the institutional base of an entire community…What Ms Bunting and her mole purposely failed to disclose is that Mr Amin is technocrat who spent his life building a career in financial accounting, he has no substantive background in community work apart from his minor two year stint on the MCB central working committee (and now he thinks he can lead it) and his vice-chairmanship of the communally outcast, beleaguered stooge body that is the Conservative Muslim Forum. The question I would like to ask him is, did Price water House Cooper make a coveted partner of the firm in just two years of his arrival, or did he have to prove himself first with commitment and dedication to the firm, its employees, objectives and his superiors???

    In regard to Br Faruq, anybody who has been involved in this community on a voluntary level, will know of his lineage, fair and balanced perspectives and his DEDICATION to the community and its local, national and international interests, concerns and outlooks.

    I look at our community organisations as per and post the tragedy that was 7/7, there are many people with substantial bank accounts who suddenly became interested in community affairs post 7/7, where as there are those organisation and workers who did not give their time, sweat and money but for the benefit of their community and the seeking the pleasure of Allah. Alhamdulilah the vast majority of MCB affiliates and the Council itself are from the second group, this in my book makes the MCB a representative, organic body and naturally this means that will always be open to attack from the malicious intrigues and conspiracies of those that would like nothing more than for it to disintegrate or have an uncle tom leadership 🙂

    And Allah (swt) knows best

  4. Harun says:

    Ahmed:- you’re criticisms of Amin and praise of Faruq Murad seem wide off the mark. You say that Amin has only been in the MCB’s central working committee for two years and that somehow should disadvantage him. Obama was only a senator for two years before he ran for the US presidency. It surely is not about lengevity but actual talent and skills. You praise Murad for his ‘lineage’, but what has that to do with anything. It is certainly not Islamic. The man should be able to point to his own achievements and not that of his ancestors whoever they were.

  5. Ahmed says:

    Obama had talent, skills, and a touch of charisma, on top of that he won the admiration of the masses, Mr Amin had niether. Plus you comparative between an Islamic body and the American election is also way of the mark…how can you draw saw such an anaolgy is in itself a marker as is your snipe at the time honoured tradition recognition by way of good lineage, of of your own ‘progression’ and new found ‘enlightenment’. When a person upholds the principles and good reputation of his family, this is often remarked as a good trait, Faruq’s father was an internationally renowned writer and thinker, whose writings and works will outshine and outlive our musings. Being brought up in such a noble household is a blessing and no doubt had an effect on the person Br Faruq is today, so why would you take this away from him…your obstination and single-mindidness is doing you no favours brother, step down from your high horse and don’t forget your roots.

    Let me tell you a little secret, if Mr Amin would have been elected…there are sincere brothers and sisters in the community that would have highlighted this sham and no doubt many affiliates would have staged a boycott. Why can’t you understand that the community wants representation that it can trust…

  6. Pingback: Mohammed Amin resigns from the MCB | Inayat's Corner

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