Groucho Marx once said he would never join a club that would accept him as a member, and I am afraid I feel pretty much the same way about being on the Muslim 100 power list.
You see I’ve never been one for lists, and ever since I hit bottom in a maths test, I’ve found lists to be devisive, troublesome things.
Thirty years on, I now find myself on two lists … neither has credibility, prestige or privilege in my humble opinion.
Although I have to admit that being on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Watch List means I do get to be ‘randomly selected’ for special treatment and an interview every time I fly in to America.
Quite what I am going to gain by being on the Muslim 100 list is beyond me, although I notice the Islamic Bank of Britain are the main sponosrs … perhaps as one of their customers they will give me a wedge of greenbacks … no questions asked. Now that would make me view the list in a different light.
Cash for listings … hmm, doesn’t really have the same ring as Cash for Peerages, does it?
For those of you who don’t know, the Power 100 is a list of Muslims who are judged to have contributed positively to the UK. Singer Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, was included alongside Irene Khan, of Amnesty and some Jack Tar called Rear Admiral Amjad Hussain.
Entrepreneurs, arms dealers, actors, academics, journalists, cops and Establishment butt kissers also made it to the top 100.
Yes, I said arms dealers. At least one person in that room has sold arms to the Israelis … and should someone who has helped tool up the fourth largest army in the world – an army which uses its weapons on Palestinian women and children – be given such recognition?
But what intrigued me more than anything else was just who wasn’t on the list. Aki Nawaz, who has almost iconic status in Eastern Europe, and is much-loved by Britain’s Muslim youth failed to make the list which shows just how out of touch were the organisers and judges.
Aki, is well recognised by mainstream media and is a regular guest and public commentator on the BBCs various political and discussion shows both radio and TV, much loved and loathed for his satire as well as his music.
Ahmed Versi, editor of Britain’s oldest Muslim newspaper was also missing although there were a number of media luvvies on the list who have the cheek to describe themselves as journalists. Could it be that Ahmed was ignored for having the most established Muslim Awards event in the UK … where all the nominees listed are picked by ordinary members of the public? Surely not? I thought sour grapes was haram!
Then there is Mohamed Zubagne, a genuine pillar of society who uses his wealth to good purpose and is the developer behind the magnificent East London Mosque. I mean how could anyone overlook a man of such stature?
His contribution to charities is, I believe, hard to rival and I personally know that he does a huge amount of work in the Muslim communities both home and abroad for which he seeks neither credit, reward or applause.
Moazzam Begg, ex-Guantanamo detainee, is a regular commentator on mainstream media, a best-selling author and he made it on to the male magazine GQ’s top 100 men list 2006 – not bad going. He is now a senior figure in Cage Prisoners, which is fast becoming one of the most influential human rights organisations which has produced reports on rendition flights, ghost detainees and prisoners of conscience used by the likes of Amnesty International and the United Nations.
Lawyers Natalia Garcia and Muddassar Arani are both influential as role models to young Muslimahs who aspire to become legal eagles. Last year Arani was credited by The Times for a High Court challenge by her which achieved a landmark ruling against the Government over its use and abuse of Control Orders.
Chosen as the Times’ Lawyer of the Week last spring, she said she entered the profession “to fight for the most disadvantaged in society. Since then I have unintentionally become a combatant (not unlawful) in the fight against Islamophobia and the erosion of our civil liberties.”
She has won several other awards but failed to make the Power 100.
Other entries included non-British citizens including the Swiss-born Tariq Ramadan and Pakistan politician/cricket legend Imran Khan. If they are being rewarded by the Islamic Bank of Britain, in association with Carter Andersen – to recognise Muslims who have made significant contributions to the social, cultural and economic well-being of Britain – then it could be argued what about Californian Hamza Yusuf and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf?
American boxing legend Mohamed Ali, a real heavyweight, should also have been included on the grounds that he has inspired and influenced millions in Britain alone.
So why on earth was I put on the list? I hear you ask. And it is a valid question. Perhaps you can give an answer because I really don’t know.
Last year I received an award at the British Muslim Honours in the House of Lords, and my favourite peer Lord Nazir Ahmed came bounding over to me and said: “Why should you be honoured? All you’ve ever done is call for zero tolerance towards the police.”
Quite what Lord Naz would make of my inclusion in the Power 100 is anyone’s guess. But at least he speaks his mind and, when push came to shove, he was prepared to join me in Afghanistan to ask the Taleban to hand over an Italian photographer being held hostage by the turbanned, beardy ones.
If you’re still in any doubt about the credibility of this list, just check out the names of the sponsors and the judges and then look over the names on the list again.
I’m sure if Helen Mirren was one of the judges at the recent British Academy of Film and Television Awards, the Bafta for her magnificent portrayal in the film Queen would not have had the same impact.
Here is the list and the judges et al … check it out for yourself.
The Muslim Power 100 List
Abdul Jaffer Chairman of Bournemouth Football Club
Abid Mufti CEO United Bank
Lord Adam Patel House of Lords
Dr Ahmed Moustafa Artist and scholar
Ahmad Salam Head of Islamic Finance, Credit Suisse
Ahsan Ellahi Managing Director Real Estate Europe HSBC
Aamer Anwar Aamer Anwar and Co Solicitors
Amin Mawji Partner, Ernst and Young
Amin Tejani Executive Chairman LPC
Lord Amir Bhatia OBE House of Lords
Amir Khan Boxer
Amjad Hussain Director General Logistics (Fleet)
Amjid Ali Head of HSBC Amanah UK, HSBC
Anila Baig Journalist, The Sun
Sir Anwar Pervez Chairman, Bestway
Aaqil Ahmed Commissioning Editor Religion Channel Four
Art Malik Actor
Arif Patel Managing Director, Falsaltex
Arif Mushtaq Director, LTSB
Ashraf Piranie Finance Director, Islamic Bank of Britain
Emma Clark Author and Garden Designer
Dr Farhan Nizami Nizami, Founder Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies
Firoz Kassam Chairman, Firoka Group
Fuad Nahdi Editor, Q News
Gai Eaton Author
Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui Leader, Muslim Parliament of Great Britain
Sir Gulam Noon Chairman, Noon Products
Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani Founder, Arab Women’s Forum
Habib Motani Partner Head of Derivatives, Clifford Chance
Hanif Lalani Finance Director, BT
Dr Hany El Banna President, Islamic Relief
Haroon Khan CEO, Prime TV
Farouq & Haroon Sheikh CareTech Holdings Plc
Dr Haseena Lockhat Author
Dr Humayon Dar CEO, Dar AL Isithmar
Imran Khan Partner, Imran Khan Solicitors
Imran Khan Cricketer and Politician
Iqbal Ahmed CEO, Seamark
Sir Iqbal Sacranie OBE Ex Secretary General, MCB
Irene Khan Secretary General, Amnesty International
Irfan Qadir Director, Bank of Ireland
James Caan CEO, Hamilton Bradshaw
Javed Khan Finance Director, Premier League
Javed Khan Chief Education Officer, Harrow Council
Khalid Mahmood MP, House of Commons
Khurshid Drabu Judge
Dr Manazir Ahsan Director General, Islamic Foundation, Leicester
Massoud Shadjareh Founder, Islamic Human Rights Commission
Mirza Ahmed Chief Legal Officer, Birmingham City Council
Mohamad Al Fayed Chairman, Harrods
Mohamed Ali CEO, Islam Channel
Lord Mohamed Sheikh House of Lords
Mohammad Qayyum Director, Institute of Islamic Banking and Insurance
Mohammad Sarwar MP House of Commons
Mohammed Amin Partner PWC
Moazzam Malik Deputy Director DFID
Muhammad Abdul Bari Secretary General MCB
Museji Ahmed Takolia Chairman, Metropolitan Housing
Naaz Coker Chairman, St Georges NHS Trust
Nadir Lilani Founder 99p Stores
Naguib Kheraj Finance Director, Barclays Bank
Nazir Afzal Senior Director, Crown Prosecution Service
Lord Nazir Ahmed House of Lords
Noorzaman Rashid Harvey Nash Plc LONDON
Perween Warsi Director S&A Foods
Peter Sanders Photographer, Peter Sanders Photography
Pinky Lilani OBE Culinary Writer
Baroness Pola Uddin House of Lords
Rafique Patel Partner, Harvey Ingram
Rageh Omaar Journalist, Al Jazeera
Ruhi Hamid Documentary Film Maker
Sadiq Khan MP, House of Commons
Sajjad Karim MEP, European Parliament
Salma Yaqoob Politician, Respect Party
Salman Iqbal CEO, ARY Digital
Salman Amin President, Pepsi Co UK and Ireland
Sarah Joseph Editor, Emel Magazine
Sayeeda Warsi Deputy Chair, Conservative Party
Shahid Malik MP, House of Commons
Shahid Azeem Entrepreneur, Arkensis
Shami Ahmed Founder Joe Bloggs
Shamshad CEO, Stem Cells
Syed Jaffery CEO, Casualty Plus
Syed Kamall MEP, European Parliament
Sahibzada Syed Lakhte Hassanain Founder, Muslim Hands
Dr Tahir Abbas Director of Birmingham University’s Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Culture
Tariq Gaffur Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police
Tariq Ramadan Theologist
Tariq Modood MBE Professor, Bristol University
Dr Wali Tasar Uddin MBE Chairman, Bangladeshi Association
Waqar Azmi Head of Diversity, Cabinet Office
Waqar Ahmad Assistant Vice Chancellor, Middlesex University
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown Journalist, Independent
Yasmin Hussain Equality Director, National Assembly for Wales
Yasmin Qureshi Human Rights Advisor to Ken Livingstone GLC
Yusaf Islam Singer
Yvonne Ridley Journalist, Islam Channel
Zahida Manzoor CBE Legal Services Ombudsman
Zareen Roohi Ahmed Head of British Muslim Forum