Muslims take pride in contribution to Scots life

Bashir Maan as a young man with his photographer friend Ismail Ashraf. Picture: John Devlin

Bashir Maan as a young man with his photographer friend Ismail Ashraf. Picture: John Devlin

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AN INNOVATIVE social media campaign has been launched to highlight the contribution Muslims have made to life in Scotland.

It aims to collect and collate the history of Scotland’s 85,000 Muslims through personal recollections and stories on Facebook and Twitter.

An old portrait of Mohammed Saddique, the father of #MuslimsinScotland campaign boss Habib Malik. Picture: John Devlin

An old portrait of Mohammed Saddique, the father of #MuslimsinScotland campaign boss Habib Malik. Picture: John Devlin

The project, which will last for a year, is the first attempt of its kind to research and celebrate the history of Scots Muslims and is aimed at promoting their positive impact on society to both young Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

“Muslims have made a positive impact on Scottish society”, says Habib Malik, the community interests director at Napiershall Formula, which is managing the campaign on behalf of the Scottish Muslim Heritage Trust.

“We are inviting Muslims across Scotland to tell their stories, by digging out those old photos, letters, and artefacts that capture the past and present.

“These memories and untold stories of our parents and grandparents should be recorded and archived for current and future generations.”

He added: “The project also allows us to show young Muslims the proud and positive history of Muslims in Scotland and show them that this is their country too.

“This campaign offers an opportunity to allow young Muslims to understand their roots and the contribution of their elders. It offers tremendous value.

“At present in Scotland there are 85,000 Muslims representing more than 40 different nationalities. There are large Arab, Iraqi, Syrian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, Scottish Muslims are not just one single identifiable group like many think.”

Scottish Muslim leaders have become increasingly wary of the growing threat of extremism, however, only a tiny minority of the 600 people believed to have left Britain for Syria are known to have come from Scotland.

In the wake of the recent terrorist atrocities in Tunisia and France, Scottish Muslim organisations such as the Glasgow-based Ahl-ul-Bait Association were quick to condemn the attacks, stating they are willing to “do whatever is necessary” to stamp out extremism in the community.

Set up in 2013, the Scottish Muslim Heritage Trust is a registered charity, chaired by Bashir Maan, the first elected Muslim councillor in Britain, who recently published a trilogy of books chronicling the history of Muslims in Scotland.

Already the online campaign, using the hashtag #MuslimsInScotland, has attracted responses and personal stories from all corners of Scotland.

Malik added: “There are some amazing stories to tell. One I have shared is that of my father’s tea flask which has been passed down through five generations of my family.

“When my father, Mohammed Saddique, came to the UK from Pakistan in 1961 he had no money and had to borrow 1,700 rupees from a villager just to afford the fare. He had very few possessions, just a handful of clothes, and a tea flask. I still have this tea flask, and it means so much to me.

“My father eventually settled in the East End and in the early 1970s went on to become the first Muslim black cab taxi driver, not just in Scotland, but the UK and also the first Asian to open an MOT station.

“To ensure the success of this campaign, I request and encourage that people share their own stories. What untold stories does your family have? Do you know who built the first mosque in Scotland? Who the first Scottish Muslim scientist was? The first shopkeeper, the first halal butcher or even the first Muslim bus driver? What were the challenges they faced?”

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