Over 125 Shia Muslim organisations and activists participated in a conference to launch the formation of a national body, UK Shia Muslim Council (UKSMC) on August 30th.
It is the first time in more than three decades that a national Shia Muslim body has been formed. “These efforts are greatly needed as we all recognise that effective and permanent goals can only be achieved through a united Shia community,” said Syed Muhammad Musawi of the Ad Hoc Committee of UKSMC in his welcoming speech.
The formation of the UKSMC was unanimously supported by those who participated in the meeting. “Absolutely awesome concept and looking forward to its inauguration as soon as possible. Today is not soon enough,” said Ummulbanin Merali, Trustee of Q Fatima..
“It was an excellent collaboration of key intellectual individuals of all ethnicity within our community. Such a body was much needed to bring together all organisations and centres together,” said Zileyh Shah, from Al Quaim, Slough.
“Forming such an organisation is long over due. However, it is better late than never,” said Dr Isam Ajina, Founding Trustee, Noor Trust.
Members of the Ad Hoc committee of the UKSMC argued for the need of a united Shia Muslim body.
“The Shia Community, and especially the youth, are looking up to the leaders to build a strong organisation that represents the Shia viewpoint in the UK, thereby safeguarding their future in this country,” said Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hilli.
Munawer Rattansey gave a brief history of the UKSMC saying it began informally in 2011 and took shape with a constitution being drafted after a lot of debate.
A consultation meeting was organised for London groups last year where 50 organisations attended. Amendments to the draft constitution were made from the feedback from the consultation meeting.
Consultations were also held with individuals and major Shia Muslim organisations on the formation of the UKSMC in the last three years. The feedbacks were incorporated in the draft constitution.
After all these consultations, “there seemed a great need and recognition, that effective and long term goals could only be achieved through a united Shia community,” Rattansey said.
Sheikh Rashid Ayub spoke on the importance of belonging to the community. “As we know dispute among us in our centres is a reality. We need 'i'tisam, which means unity of our hearts and not just unity. We need to serve our communities collectively.”
Sheikh Ali Massoumian talking on the unity of the Shia Muslim community said, “Whether we have 100,000 Shia in the UK or a million Shia in the UK, it doesn’t matter. A million divided Shia are worthless compared to a united 100,000 Shia. Put your differences aside.”
Adam Mir briefed the meeting on the UKSMC constitution, copies of which were given to the attendees. He highlighted important issues like Aims & Objectives, Membership, Executive body, Trustees, Voting Rights, Power etc.
In the plenary session, held by Riaz Esmail, six topics were discussed in groups. They were Convergence and Strategy, Pragmatism and Inclusivity, Rationalising the scope of activities, Legal Framework, Representation and Engagement and Empowerment.
During the plenary sessions hundreds of recommendations and questions were presented to the UKSMC.
The AdHoc committee will analyse the feedback and suggestions from the day and continue to engage with Shia organisations across the UK, with the intention of holding a grand event to elect an executive body in the near future, inshaAllah.
The conference was held near Milton Keynes.
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