Muslim Role Models (Share)

Muslim Role Models (Share)


By  Euro-Muslims Editorial Desk


Muslims in Europe have been remarking positively.

Starting as predominantly post-World War II immigrants who arrived as laborers, Muslims in Europe have been remarking positively on their European societies.

European Muslims continue to redefine themselves in their communities, discussing choices and decisions to help in forming a healthy environment for more understanding of Islam and integration of Muslims into their European countries. In Europe, a lot of Muslims of both European and non-European origins have proved gradually that they can overcome many cultural and socioeconomic obstacles to achieve remarkable success.

Some say that European Muslims are moving forward from a community that barely fulfills its essential requirements
, to a steady one that is going beyond many expectations.

European Muslims Zone is presenting the profiles of some European Muslim role models who have clearly drawn attention to their valuable success and uniquely state, observing their religious identity as Muslims and their European identity as active citizens.

Take a look at the profiles and if you have any suggestion for more European Muslim role models, kindly add their profiles below or e-mail them toEuro-Muslims Email and we will post them online.

Salma Yaqoob

Tariq Ramadan

Muhammad Ali

Yusuf Islam


Salma Yaqoob
Salma Yaqoob is a prominent anti-war activist and the UK’s party Respect’s cofounding member and vice-chair. With a total of 10,498 votes, she came second with 27 percent of the vote in Birmingham’s Sparkbrook and Small Heath constituency in the May 2005 general election. In May 2006, she was elected councilor for the Sparkbrook ward in Birmingham.

Born in Bradford but raised in Birmingham, Salma Yaqoob has proven to be a remarkable icon not only for Muslim women, but also for Muslims in general and activists throughout the UK. Being a mother of three boys never stood in the way of Ms. Yaqoob campaigning tirelessly for what she believed in and for positive change in her local community and way beyond.

Salma Yaqoob has addressed numerous demonstrations and meetings all protesting against the Iraq War and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. She has continued to fight for civil liberties in the UK and against all policies that target those freedoms and liberties, including the anti-terrorist law recently proposed. She is a strong advocate for the right of Muslim women to wear the hijab. Her campaigning for the rights of the elderly and those most in need, has already won her widespread support.

She has continued to fight for civil liberties in the UK and against all policies that target those freedoms and liberties, including the anti-terrorist law recently proposed. She is a strong advocate for the right of Muslim women to wear the hijab. Her campaigning for the rights of the elderly and those most in need has already won her widespread support.


Salma Yaqoob is the author of several books. Among her books are:

  • Global and Local Echoes of the Anti-war Movement: A British Muslim Perspective.” International Socialism Journal. Autumn 2003.
  • The “War on Terror” and Racism, Asylum and Immigration. Pluto Press, 2005.
  • British Muslim Radicalism Post 9/11 in Islamic Political Radicalism: A European Comparative. Edinburgh University Press, 2006.

Tariq Ramadan  


Tariq Ramadan was born in Switzerland in 1962. He is the grandchild of Imam Hassan Al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Ramadan holds a master’s degree in philosophy and French literature and a doctorate in philosophy in Arabic and Islamic studies from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. In Cairo, Egypt, he received one-on-one intensive training in classic Islamic scholarship from Al-Azhar University scholars.

He is a professor of Islamic studies. He is currently a senior research fellow at Saint Antony’s College (Oxford, UK), Doshisha University (Kyoto, Japan), and at the Lokahi Foundation (London, UK.)


He is a visiting professor (in charge of the chair: Identity and Citizenship) at Erasmus University, the Netherlands.

Through his writings and lectures, he has contributed substantially to the debate on the issues of Muslims in the West and Islamic revival in the Muslim world. He is active both at the academic and grassroots levels lecturing extensively throughout the world on social justice and dialogue between civilizations.


Ramadan is currently president of the European Muslim Network (EMN) think tank in Brussels, Belgium.


To visit Ramadan’s website, click here.




Dr. Tariq Ramadan is the author of several books. Among his books are:

  • Muslims in Secular Societies, Responsibilities and Rights of Muslim People in Western Societies, Tawhid, Lyon, 1994 (3rd ed. 2000)
  • Islam, the Encounter of Civilizations, What Project for Which Modernity?, Les Deux Rives, Lyon, 1995 (4th ed. 2001), translated into English: Islam, The West and The Challenges of Modernity, Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK, 1999.
  • To be a European Muslim, by C. Dabbak, Tawhid, Lyon, September 1999.
  • Muslims in France, Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK, April 1999.
  • Muslims of the West, to Build and to Contribute, Tawhid pocket books, Lyon, 2002.
  • The Western World, Space of Testimony, Dar ash-shahada, Tawhid pocket books, Lyon 2002.
  • Muslims in the West and the Future of Islam, Actes Sud, Paris, January 2003.


Muhammad Ali  


Originally from Tunisia, Muhammad Ali was born into a conservative Muslim family born and bred on Islamic beliefs together with the freedom of following his own dream and visions.


Muhammad Ali, through creating ingenious and practical television that complements the definition of good programming and transmission as well as delivering against viewers needs has marked a milestone for a Muslim voice in the media. He heads Islam Channel (a television channel presenting the Islamic perspective)


His academic background includes studying in both the East and West. Initially having studied engineering, his curious mind and inquisitive nature led him on to study philosophy and theology in Iran, politics and geography in the UK, followed by a master’s in both linguistics and diplomacy.


Aside from this, he has memorized a good portion of the holy Qu’ran and has attended circles of prominent Islamic scholars, going on to further studies in comparative Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) in addition to comparative fundamentals of belief (`aqeedah) at traditional schools of knowledge in Tehran.


Currently he is studying for a doctorate in Islamic political thought. Muhammad Ali has vast experiences in many cultures and customs around the world, his travels have taken him to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bosnia where he worked for da`wah (Arabic for: raising awareness for Islam) and charity projects.


As CEO of Islam Channel, Muhammad Ali has been able to put his experience and visions on screen by creating a platform for Muslims generally. Through this channel he has numerous achievements to date including bringing together many world-renown scholars and Islamic programs, as well as screening political debates, news, and current affairs into the homes of both Muslims and non-Muslims. Having conquered the UK, Muhammad Ali has taken Islam Channel to viewers across Europe, Africa, and Asia.


Muhammad Ali, through Islam Channel, has proven himself to be a highly ambitious and successful entrepreneur. This relatively new enterprise offers an invaluable

source of da`wah, making Islam Channel the leading light for millions of Muslims, guiding the Ummah (Arabic for: Islamic nation) toward the path of Allah.


What began as representation for Muslims within the UK has expanded out to both Muslims and non-Muslims around the globe. With the support of his wife and five young children, he has been able to achieve this through his hard work and perseverance, aiming at representing Muslims and Islam in its genuine sense of freedom, justice, and coexistence.




Yusuf Islam  


The son of a Greek Cypriot father and Swedish mother, Yusuf Islam (then Steven Demetre Georgiou) was born in 1947,  and (he) grew up above the family shop in London’s Theatre district, situated at the northernmost junction of Shaftesbury Avenue and New Oxford Street, near the heart of London’s West End.


Cat Stevens (is the former stage name of musician Yusuf Islam, born Steven Demetre Georgiou)  went on to become one of the biggest solo artists of the 1960s and 1970s, penning such songs as “Matthew and Son,” “Moonshadow,” “Wild World,” and “Father and Son” and selling over 50 million LPs ( Long-Player record).


Following a bout of TB early in his career, he undertook an ongoing search for peace and ultimate spiritual truth. After almost drowning in the Pacific Ocean at Malibu, he received a translation of the Qur’an as a gift from his elder brother, David. His spiritual quest for answers was fulfilled and he embraced Islam in December 1977. Six months later, he changed his name to Yusuf Islam, walked away from the music business to start a new life and raise a family. He auctioned his musical instruments and gold records and divided the proceeds between Help The Aged and Help a London Child, two UK charities. 


His Sarajevo concert in 1997, to celebrate Bosnian culture, was his first public appearance for 20 years. His most recent mainstream contribution was to War Child UK’s Hope album to raise money for children victimized by war in Iraq for

which he re-worked his 1971 classic, “Peace Train.”


His pioneering work in the field of education resulted in securing a landmark decision by the British government to certify and support Islamic education throughout the UK. The three schools he founded in London — Islamia Primary, Islamia Girls Secondary, and the Brondesbury College for Boys — constantly top the government’s examination league tables.


His founding and continued chairmanship of the International Board of Educational Research and Resources has resulted in the production of key textbooks and resources for Muslim schools around the world, including the development and encouragement of teachings practices rooted in the Qur’an and Sunnah.


Have Your Say (Note by Dr SOA: Please forgive me for changing the Europe Muslim role model to Muslim role model to widen the scope)


What do you think of these role models?

According to what do you call someone a Muslim role model?

Can you suggest any other Muslim role models?

Muslims in Europe Charter

What Is the Point of the Muslims
in Europe Charter?


Taken from the original posting at Islam

By Wahida Shaffi**

Consultant and Researcher

The past few decades have seen a marked interest in Islam and Muslims both in Europe and the rest of the world. The whole question of “identity” and “integration” has been scrutinized time and time again, with academics attempting to draw their own conclusions regarding what it means to be a Muslim in Europe and whether or not “Islamic” values can be integrated with European values. That the supposed cultural differences have the potential to express themselves in conflict with Europe — a notion most prominently expressed through Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations thesis — has taken a strong hold in European political discourse and popular consciousness.

The Charter of European Identity states that

Click here to read the Muslims in Europe Charter.

Europe is above all a community of values. The aim of unification is to realize, test, develop and safeguard these values. They are rooted in common legal principles acknowledging the freedom of the individual and social responsibility. Fundamental European values are based on tolerance, humanity and fraternity. Building on its historical roots in classical antiquity and Christianity, Europe further developed these values during the course of the renaissance, the Humanist movement, and the Enlightenment, which led in turn to the development of democracy, the recognition of fundamental and human rights, and the rule of law.

Charters: Dealing With the Changes

Against this backdrop, Islam has been reconstructed in the European discourse as something of an “anti-Europe”: a civilizational concept opposed and potentially in conflict with that of Europe. The Iranian revolution, the Rushdie affair, riots and suicide bombings in Britain, issues centered around the headscarf in France, and conflicts in other parts of the world, including Afghanistan, all have been held up as examples of a fundamentally different cultural dynamic and trajectory that is having a negative impact upon Europe.

The changing landscape of Europe has clearly posed challenges, and, sadly, many government and media outlets have been quick to point out the negative consequences while ignoring the immense benefits and positive qualities such changes have led to. This change has prompted some European countries to devise “charters” to try to deal with some of these new and emerging issues — a reaction to global fears one may say.

For example, Zurich’s Muslim organizations have decided to fight prejudice by adopting a groundbreaking charter that underlines their commitment to Swiss values. The document, the first of its kind in Switzerland, aims to improve the integration and the image of Muslims. Ismail Amin, president of the umbrella association of Zurich’s Islamic organizations, said that a study carried out by the local university showed Muslims are portrayed negatively in three-quarters of Swiss media reports about their community.

“We decided to publish this charter to fight against prejudice and misrepresentations,” he added.

Amin also pointed out that politics is harming Switzerland’s Muslims. He said some political parties are using fear of Islam as an electoral tool, as recently as the vote on the Schengen and Dublin agreements with the European Union on security and asylum.

The document contains ten chapters, each one emphasizing the importance of peace, human rights, equality between men and women, integration, dialogue between religions, and rejection of violence. More specifically, the charter says that the association is not attempting to create an Islamic state in Switzerland, nor place Islamic law above Swiss law: “The democratic state guarantees a peaceful and harmonious life for all including the Muslim minority.”

The chapter on integration specifically calls on Muslims to be a part of Swiss society. The Zurich organizations say they want to favor the integration of the Muslim community in Switzerland. But they also want respect and tolerance from the Swiss population: “We want to keep our religious identity,” says the charter.

According to Amin, the charter is based on similar documents produced in Germany. “Because of growing anti-Muslim prejudice and terrorist acts, Germany’s Islamic organizations decided to react,” he added. “I hope that other Muslim associations in Switzerland will now follow our example.”

Zurich’s mayor, Elmar Ledergerber, hailed the charter as an “unmistakable sign” that Muslim associations were committed to Swiss values. He added that the document made it clear there was no other path to follow other than integration. Though why Muslims nowadays have to declare their commitment to a country through a charter is something that raises many questions in connection with citizenship and faith identities in Europe. But the question that this raises for me is why do Muslims have to declare their allegiance so publically and why not others?

Codifying the Positions of Muslims

The Germans have an Islamic Charter — a document consisting of 21 articles developed by the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland e.V., ZMD) and adopted in its general meeting of February 3, 2002. With this document the ZMD aims to promote dialogue among Muslims and not to exclude divergent opinions, says ZMD chair Nadeem Elyas.

The Islamic Charter may be regarded as a further example in a series of documents drawn up by governmental or representational bodies in various European countries that seek to describe or to codify the position of Muslims in Western societies. But some would question why there is such a pressing need to “codify” the positions of Muslims in Europe and would argue that this is simply one of many knee-jerk reactions.

Representativeness and Authority

Another example, though different in status and origin, is the report L’Islam dans la République drawn up in 2000 by the High Council on Integration, an advisory body to the French prime minister. The report treats the history of the separation of church and state in France, describes Muslims and Islam in France, and ends with recommendations. Such documents or charters are vulnerable to criticisms concerning their representativeness and authority. This became clear in the discussions on the Islamic Charter at the Brühl conference.

Mohibur Rahman of the Muslim Council of Britain, for example, mentioned three concerns. According to him, emotional attachment to a country cannot be encouraged through a written document. The feeling of belonging to a place is nurtured through a feeling of being appreciated and accepted, and feeling free to exercise your rights just as much as any other citizen. A charter is, in his view, a defensive exercise and therefore undesirable. Lastly, he suggests that the Charter’s aims could be better achieved by investing the time and effort in more practical ways.

Similarly, Nico Landman of Utrecht University regards increasing participation of Muslims in political processes and public debates as more important than the development of an Islamic Charter, which claims to speak on behalf of “the” Muslims. He thereby alludes to the plurality of opinions among Muslims in the Netherlands — in other words, Muslims are not a homogenous group and never will be. They, like any other group in society, are divergent in their opinions of what is happening in their neighborhood and their community and, indeed, the world in which they live.

Soheib Bencheikh, mufti of Marseille, was not sure if France needed an Islamic Charter. Taking an individualistic view of Islam, he believes that no one has the right to determine the theology of the future. He emphasized the importance of transparency, of avoiding provocation, of Muslim role models to display the beauty of Islam, and of imam training institutions independent of the countries of origin and of the French government. He also argued that the idea behind the headscarf is the protection of the woman. Nowadays, this protection may also take the form of education and other skills. On this basis he advises women to dress tastefully and to be modest in their attire if they must choose between the headscarf and a job.

Others felt that the ethnic minority discourse in France and Germany concentrates on first-generation issues such as the headscarf while the United Kingdom has long passed this phase. Muslims in Britain, says Abdul Aziz, speak about respect and diversity and not about minorities as a problem. Barbara John of Humboldt University argued that the fear of difference and wish for homogeneity is deep-rooted in German society, whereas Britain tolerates diversity to a greater extent.

Ultimately, such debates will continue, but one thing is clear: Charters will continue to arouse both suspicion and disdain, and also appreciation and relief. But what do charters actually achieve? In essence they achieve very little though they do offer a basic framework that focuses upon the need for tolerance and cooperation. However, while possibly being a useful intellectual exercise, a charter does not guarantee the reduction of prejudice or the perpetuation of intolerance.

** Wahida Shaffi is a consultant and researcher in West Yorkshire and a tutor for confidence building in women. Your comments to her will be forwarded if you write to page e-mail. 

`Eid Al-Adha Message for All Abrahamic Faiths

`Eid Al-Adha

A Message for All Abrahamic Faiths


By  Halima Columbo

Freelance Writer — UK

Taken from the original posting at Islam

Boy Celebrating Eid

This year the Festival of the Sacrifice falls between Christmas and New Year.

The Festival of the Sacrifice appears to the casual observer to be a fun day with no strings attached. There is no month-long fast before it, as with `Eid Al-Fitr. However it provides a serious reminder to every believer about the true meaning of belief: the trust, love, gratitude, and obedience owed by all of us to Allah Most High. `Eid Al-Adha celebrates a story common to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, one I first learned as a little girl at my church Sunday school. It is the story of a brave father and brave son, whose faith, trust, and love for God were put to the supreme test. Every believer who hears this story is given pause for thought. How strong is our faith? How much are we prepared to sacrifice for our Lord and Sustainer?


Peace and Good Will


This year the Festival of the Sacrifice falls in the week between two highlights of the English year: Christmas and New Year. At the same time, the Jews also are celebrating the festival of Hanukkah, in commemoration of the rededication of the temple to the One God, after it had been cleansed of the Greek idols that had desecrated it. For the English, Christmas, which commemorates the birth of Jesus (peace be upon him), is a time to think of others and visit relatives and friends, share gifts and good wishes, and indulge in all sorts of special foods.


Many argue that Christmas has become an excuse for greed, drunkenness, and materialism, that remembrance of Jesus (peace be upon him) is eclipsed by the remembrance of Father Christmas. However, the idea of a season of peace and good will is certainly something that Muslims can approve of. British children up and down the country even dress up like Palestinians when they act out the traditional Nativity plays. On New Year people make New Year’s Resolutions, intentions to change themselves for the better by being kinder or healthier and so on. Is not the correction of intentions an Islamic duty? A festive season that encourages neighborliness and generosity and good intentions can go a long way to keeping spirits up when days are short, cold, and gloomy.


As someone with many Christian relatives to visit at this time, I feel that my schedule this year is even more tightly packed than usual now we are squeezing `Eid in the middle as well. I even fear that `Eid Al-Adha is going to be somewhat overwhelmed this year by all the Christmas spirit. My children have received so many presents and chocolates already this year that I fear they may well push further treats aside … or maybe not!


Concept of Sacrifice



The importance of the love and care given to the animal beforehand was emphasized to me.

As I talk with Muslim friends with roots in Muslim countries about the nature of `Eid, it becomes clear that in England the central focus of `Eid Al-Adha has been lost — the sacrifice itself. I have listened with interest to descriptions of the way in which the animal intended for the `Eid sacrifice is cared for tenderly and fed choice food to fatten it up, of how it becomes a loved member of the family. On the big day, it is garlanded with red cloth and flowers and paraded through the streets prior to being sacrificed. The importance of the love and care given to the animal beforehand was emphasized to me because it is important that the sacrifice is of something that is loved and valued. It also shows the Islamic teaching of kindness shown to all creatures. Influenced by materialist values acquired while studying economics, I also pondered on the monetary value of the animal. It could be a bit like sacrificing one’s BMW X5 — but rather more useful because of the value of the meat to feeding the poor.


However, English towns and by-laws are not congenial to the home rearing of `Eid animals, so English Muslims tend to send their qurbani money (money paid for the sacrifice, which brings one close [qurb] to Allah) to pay for a sacrifice abroad to feed Muslims in need, or they order their meat in advance from the butchers, and in a neighborly gesture distribute that around friends and relatives.


Other customs, however, remain the same, like the habit of dressing up in new clothes. Kind friends have just given my children some new shalwar-kameez (Pakistani style shirt and trousers) so they too will have something sparkly and gorgeous. Pakistani friends tell me of a traditional breakfast dish made from vermicelli called semia. Often children receive money, and of course, `Eid is a day for visiting family and enjoying good food. I was told by one lady of an interesting “fusion food” that her family sometimes make on `Eid if they feel like something a bit different — Asian-style fish and chips cooked in a spicy gram batter.


Abrahamic Faiths



The Qur’an also tells us to use some of the meat to feed the beggar and the supplicant.

I asked my 10-year-old daughter what she knew about `Eid Al-Adha. She told me the story of Abraham, and then she added, “But I thought sacrificing animals was pagan and Islam was against such things.” However, the Qur’an gives us the answer when it tells us [theirflesh and their blood do not reach Allah, but it is the devotion from you that reaches Him] (Al-Hajj 22:37). The Qur’an also tells us to use some of the meat to feed the beggar and the supplicant. My daughter then remembered another story involving sacrifice from the Gospels, which she had heard at school. I think the Feast commemorating the father of the Abrahamic faiths is a fitting occasion to mention this Christian parable involving the same theme of a father, a son, and a sacrifice. The story is one of the best-known parables attributed to the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), the story of the Prodigal Son.


The story concerns a man who had two sons. One son was a spendthrift and a waster who demanded his inheritance early and left home to spend it. He soon lost all his money and was reduced to such difficult circumstances that he ended up being a pig herder. However, he decided to return home to his father, unsure of what sort of a reception he would receive. His father welcomed him with open arms and ordered the fatted calf to be killed. The brother who had been dutiful and stayed with the father became angry that his undeserving brother should receive such an honor. But the father told him that he should be merry and glad because his brother was safe after being lost and feared dead.


It is agreed upon by all three Abrahamic faiths that Abraham had two sons, one the father of the Israelites and one the father of the Arabs. When, as a result of the patient delivery of the noble message of the Qur’an by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the sons of Ishmael rejected idolatry and returned to the pure monotheistic faith of their father Abraham, this was surely, according to the parable of the Prodigal Son, an occasion for great rejoicing by the sons of Isaac, and indeed all followers of the Abrahamic faiths, including the non-Semitic nations that had embraced Abraham as their spiritual father. Sincere devotion to the One True God is the message of `Eid Al-Adha to all of us — Jew, Christian, or Muslim.


Halima Columbo embraced Islam in 1990. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University, she worked as a researcher in local community and economic development, with a particular interest in holistically interpreting and managing social change. She can be reached at European Muslims mail.