Mrs. Anjum Anwar, a teacher, has a unique job as a Muslim member of the staff of a cathedral. She was appointed as a dialogue development officer at Blackburn Cathedral in April 2007, working on its community cohesion, education, outreach and interfaith development agency programme.
Previously she served as an education officer at the Lancashire Council of Mosques, spearheading the “Understanding Islam,” educational program in partnership with Lancashire County Council, for five years, working across Lancashire schools/colleges, and was awarded an MBE in 2005 for her services to the community of Lancashire. Anjum Anwar is passionate about justice, and was reported to have told the USA Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice on her visit to the Cathedral in 2006, that “We don’t want blanket-bombing; we want dialogue”.
Anjum states of her background: “I was born in Karachi in Pakistan, and I came to England, with my parents in 1966 mainly for education. My parents were rather secular, but they valued education. When I was 12 years old, my father’s friend asked me what I wanted to become. I answered: “A journalist.” I wanted to speak and write about justice – because if you have justice, then you have peace. I qualified as a teacher and spent four years doing Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies.”
Her main role at the Cathedral is to promote inter-faith understanding and dialogue, though she notes, that “we are very distinct in our worship here, not diluting each other’ faith. Interfaith worship couldn’t possibly work…” Anjum Anwar works with Canon Chancellor Chris Chivers and both have contributed to dialogue work in UK and abroad. Their paper on “Local Authorities and inter-religious dialogue from UK perspective was recently published by The Council of Europe – “Gods in the City.” She is also chair of Woman’s Voice – a grass root organization for women.
Recently she headed the Anne Frank (+ You) exhibition in Blackburn Cathedral along side BESA – A Code of Honor – an exhibition which highlights the work of Albanian Muslims who saved many Jews during WWII. Anjum Anwar is married with a 15 year old son, Danyal, her “alpha and omega”.