Two high profile politicians were present at the 2014 Muslim Leadership Dinner organised by the Muslim Council of Britain in central London on 12 May - Rt Hon Edward Davey, MP for Kingston & Surbiton and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change anChuka Umunna, MP for Streatham and Shadow Business Secretary.  Other speakers included the celebrity and venture capitalist  James Caan (Nazim Khan) and start-up entrepreneur Shazia Saleem. The theme of the Dinner was Celebrating the British Muslim Contribution to the UK economy.  The Dinner followed up the MCB’s active involvement in planning and participating in the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) held in London in October 2013, which was addressed by the Prime Minister David Cameron MP, FCO Minister Baroness Warsi and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. 

Ed Davey commended the MCB for providing a voice of moderation and balance and an authentic representation of Muslims in Britain in the nation’s public life. He also referred to his visits to the Kingston Mosque in his constituency and commended the student-led initiative of establishing an eco-mosque in Salford. He noted a recent report in The Times that Muslims are Britain’s top charity givers. He also made a passsionate plea for the MCB to  leverage on its international networks and reach out to Muslim countries with an appeal to reduce Carbon emissions.  In his view, the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held next year in Paris “may be one of the last opportunities” to take some action to mitigate an impending disaster. He highlighted the climate change crisis facing Muslim countries, particularly Pakistan and Bangladesh. Both Ed Davey and Chuka Umunna pledged their support to the Muslim community in the face of mounting Islamophobia and their solidarity with the MCB.  Addressing the Muslim Council, Ed Davey noted, “I am proud as a member of Cabinet to be with you, when others might not want this”.  Similarly Chuka Umunna described the concerns conveyed to him by his Muslim constituents in Streatham, who felt  “a rising sense of fear, victimisation and demonisation”.  In his view, “some politicians seek popularity by promoting division”, which was not the spirit of Labour’s One Nation vision, which celebrated diversity. Chuka also outlined his  ‘Agenda 2030 vision’.  The presence of the two MPs at a Muslim community event organised by the MCB was welcomed by MLD participants as examples of enlightened and mature political leadership.

James Caan too delivered an inspirational message to the guests, drawing on his own family background to illustrate the opportunities that Britain provides to its citizens. He called on the MLD participants to be ambassadors of their faith, “by being consciously aware that Muslims are being judged by what we do”.  He quoted John F Kennedy, “do not ask what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.  Speaker Shazia Saleem described her efforts to do something for the Muslim consumer through her start-up ieat foods. Her role model was not from across the Atlantic, but across the centuries to the times of the Prophet and the role played by his businesswoman-wife, Khadija, may God be pleased with her.

This was the MCB’s fifth Muslim Leadership Dinner, and the professionalism and panache with which the event was delivered is a good augury for the future, insha Allah.