The Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow Conference
Copenhagen, Denmark. 7th – 10th July 2006
Roll Call of people I really enjoyed my time with:
Tayyeb Shah from Meem Music – Tayyeb is a friend I have known for many years, it is the first time I spent so much continuous time with him as we were on the same flight out and so we became travelling companions. We discussed much on the way there about the whole music scene, art and artists in general. Tayyeb gave a presentation on his work with nasheed artists at Meem. I have to say that as a parent struggling with balancing my children’s spiritual life and dunyawi life, Meem provides alternative and complimentary music for my children that strengthens their identity as Muslims, nourishes their souls and gives balance to their music habits. Tayyeb – a deep, deep gratitude for the work that you are doing and enriching our lives!
Dr. Usama Hasan – I know you all will find this very strange and will think “what the hell is wrong with www.masud”. Here is a man who was one of the progenitors and mainstays of the UK Salafi movement, someone we all probably had good reason not to like due to some of his translations and other works especially the translation of Shaykh Al-Albani’s prayer book, which caused untold episodes of fitna in many of our communities. However, after spending a weekend and having a few discussions with him, I was sincerely struck by the change that has occurred in him. He no longer considers himself a “Salafi” in the contemporary sectarian sense. I was also very impressed by his very deep knowledge and erudition not only in matters of the deen but in general, we had an interesting and enlightening discussion on the issue of music and other discussions. He is an Astro-physicist, an astronomer and researches artificial intelligence by profession, he is no ordinary man.
Most of us will still have some issues with him as he still has issues with “madhhabism” although he recognises the validity of the madhhabs. On the whole Dr. Usama is someone who, I believe, is an asset to British Muslims and despite some differences of opinion with him, he is someone we need to and can benefit from, insha’Allah.
Dr. Usama’s contribution to the conference was excellent and every time I heard him speak, he spoke with eloquence and wisdom.
Aftab Malik of Amal Press – Aftab gave a blinding presentation on extremism and new media, this was the best public speaking performance that I feel Aftab has ever given. His presentation was as a result of research into over 300 Islamist/Salafist/Jihadist websites and gave people much food for thought on the whole “Jihadist” phenomenon, demonstrating quite clearly how many of these jihadist movements are the Khawarij of modern times.
Imam Tahir Anwar – This is the first time I have met this young and dynamic Imam. He is one of those special people that you meet and with whom you fall in love with, really. A man of good grace and learning, charismatic and giving, everything you would want in the Imam of your masjid. Sidi it was really a pleasure and honour to have met and spent time in your company, can’t wait to meet you again.
Abu Eesa Niamatullah – Was one of the more vocal contributors to the MLT conference. Undoubtedly one of the characters of the conference. Very knowledgeable and very articulate and very concerned for the people at the conference. His outward appearance (traditional Deobandi type) belies the fact that here was someone more than willing to engage and discuss (with good grace) the issues that were raised. People genuinely liked him even if they may not have agreed with him. He was again one of the those people who made others think about their convictions. Not only is he from a Deobandi-type background, an avid football fan but he supports Manchester United! Having said that, I liked him very much, may Allah increase him.
Anas Osman from the Nawawi Foundation – I had met Anas on a number of occasions previously, once in the UK and then in ISNA a few years back. My impressions then were that here was a very intelligent and articulate young man. Boy, was that an under-estimation. If anyone at the conference was an advert for Sufic contemplation and exposition it was sidi Anas. He was so serene, calm, measured and eloquent and displayed clarity of thought throughout that was unrivalled.
Azhar Usman – Well most of us know Azhar for his comedy. I met Azhar for the first time at ISNA 2004 and it seemed I had known him for ages and meeting him again at the conference was like meeting up with a dear old friend. One night we stayed up all night in the hotel lobby, just him and me, chatting about life, deen and everything. It was one of those occasions when tiredness and sleep has an intoxicating effect and loosens the tongue. Azhar, love you man!
Azhar performed at the conference with an excellent set and with new material, he set up Irshad Manji’s “Progressives” quite well and then gave punchline that they walked right into “anyone speak Arabic?”, “no” came the answer from the “Progressives”, “hmm, don’t know Arabic….and you want to do ijtihad!”
Watch out for Azhar on Tinku’s World.
Others I met with were:
Mustapha Kara-Ali and Wassim Dabboussi
Amina Ceric (daughter of the Mufti of Bosnia) and Nadja Lutvikadi
Hisham Hellyer, Saqeb Mueen, Maysa Ibrahim, Mustafa Suleyman, Shareefa Fulat, Olga Aliya Gora and Babar Siddiqi
JazakAllah-khayran to one and all.