Muslims for Britain hosts ‘The Leader’s Iftar’ with the Rt. Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Leader of the House ofCommons, Mr. Daniel Hannan, President of the Initiative for Free Trade and Mr. Saqib Bhatti MP. The Leader’s Iftar was chaired by the Head of International News at ITV Mr. Rageh Omaar.

Rageh said he was delighted to moderate a very impressive panel and chat and a virtual iftar with lots of very interestingguests from the world of politics, business, philanthropy, social activism, community organisation and writing.

Chief Executive of Muslims for Britain, Ms Atifa Shah discussed the challenges faced by minority communities and “howbest to champion the principles of individual liberty, property rights, limited government, strong defence and freemarkets”, all “underpinned and secured by the rule of law” and how best to communicate these ideas in a waycommunities understand.

During the current pandemic Mr. Zak Khan, born in Manchester, led over 100 Muslims for Britain volunteers whoprovided:

  • 25,000 hot meals to NHS front line staff key workers and the homeless,
  • 10,000 food packages to the vulnerable and elderly and
  • 5000 locally produced masks

Zak said “Muslims for Britain has an opportunity to set an example of civic duty to society, in a way that people can engage and relate to. Civic duty, charity and being kind to others is core practising of Islam, it is embedded within our religious culture and history.

President of Muslim for Britain, Mr. Iftikhar Awan, discussed Britain’s first Brexit in February 1570, when Queen Elizabeth I, reached out to the 16th-century global superpower: Islam, and in particular the Ottoman Empire. With OttomanSultan Murad III, Elizabeth I sought both a political and commercial alliance. He said “hundreds, possibly thousands ofElizabethans worked and lived in the Islamic world. Such a delicious mix of trade, religion, and politics soon caught theeye of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and from the late 1580s the Elizabethan theater was full of Turks, Moors,Persians, and Saracens. At least 62 plays emerged with Islamic characters, themes or settings. Many of these appear in some of the most influential plays: Marlowe’s Tamburlaine; Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, Aaron; the noble, melancholic Prince of Morocco in The Merchant and Venice; and of course, Othello.

President of the Initiative for Free Trade or IFT, (www.ifreetrade.org), Daniel Hannan spoke extensively about trade and of the Mercantile history of Islam. The Prophet, he said was a “businessman and an entrepreneur” and “it’s an extraordinary story”. He said, in the “early caliphate, Islam created a global trading empire based on a gold standardand free exchange, on something very close to what we would now call a joint stock venture with limited liability in the camel trades”.  It took western economics another 1000 years to catch up with the idea andstressed that the forgetting of these traditions has deleterious consequences for the world.

Looking at a Post Brexit Britain he said “Britain had never only been a European country and particularly we werelinked by migration, by history, by language, by law, to every continent, to English speaking Commonwealth countries all over the world many of them Muslim majority States. He said “When we relive the centenary of the First WorldWar, the British Army in 1918 looked a lot more like Britain in 2018 than Britain in 1918. The vast majority of Britishsubjects were neither white nor Christian. I think [post Brexit] we could have a great role again as a centre of trade, as aplace where continents meet”.

Asked about the similarity between Ramadan and Lent, the Leader of the House of Commons, Rt Hon. Jacob Rees-Mogg MP said, “Ramadan is much harder I must confess my admiration for you all [Muslims] is enormous, becauseCatholic fasting is only required on 2 days on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday”.[Video Ref: 44.46- 45.01] He recalled yearsago that when he was in Egypt, it was during Ramadan, and the temperature was getting up into the 90s even up to100 degrees and his tour guide didn’t have a sip of water all day. He said “I was so impressed by that level of faith andpiety and so my admiration for Muslims observing Ramadan is genuine and enormous.

Speaking movingly about his own faith and fasting. He said “it is a constant reminder of God” and that “with fasting…you’re thinking about God, as you feel hungry, you think I’m going to remain hungry because of my love for God, because for all the great things he does for me the least payback I can give is… thinking about him during the course of the day and I think that’s the purpose of it”.  Discussing faith and politics, he said “the centre right is more tolerant of religiousbelief than most other parts of the political spectrum, we still value it, we still see its importance, many of us still holddeep religious faith and therefore we are on the side of people from religious communities”

 The Leader praised, ‘Muslims for Britain’, and the role they played during the Referendum, he said “pro-Europeans werevery surprised by the success of Muslims for Britain and by voting patterns that were shown during the Brexit result. I think that lots of communities that the remainers thought that would be automatically voting for them turned out not tobe because they felt they had been ignored and Muslims for Britain was a very important part of that process and that political evolution”. ]

 Saqib Bhatti MP, elected on December 12th as MP for Meriden, sat on the official Vote Leave Board. He said duringthe Referendum, Muslims for Britain played a crucial role. In his remarks, he spoke passionately, that many Muslims believed in free trade and believed in the idea of making something of themselves. He said “As a British Muslim we’reall a product of our journeys and the truth of the matter is that centre right ideas are actually very close to the journeysthat many British Muslims have taken, whether they are first or second generation”.

He movingly talked about his father, His inspiration and role model. He says, “my father gave up everything, andtravelled halfway across the world to build a better life for himself. He never took a penny from the State and his wholedriving factor was to build a better life for his family but also to serve the community that he lived in. It’s those kind ofprinciples that have been instilled in me.”

Chairman of Muslims for Britain, Aftab Chughtai spoke passionately about the role Muslims played in the Brexitreferendum. He said that it was our ‘lived experiences’, a desire for a ‘fairer’ society and ‘free trade deals’ that guidedpeople to vote for Leave.

Muslims for Britain also provided an Iftar Hamper for all its guests, which included items from countries that have astrong relationship and bond with Britain through our nation’s history. Items included Moroccan Tea, Turkish Coffee, Turkish Figs, Saudi Arabian Ajwa Dates, Iranian Pistachios and Pakistani Goats Milk Barfi.

Dan Hannan said “I think there’s been a lot of online iftars and people have been doing all sorts of imaginative things during quarantine, but I can’t imagine that there are many others where actual official hampers, as usual Muslims ForBritain is leading the way, leading the pack. Daniel Hannan said he “loved pistachios, the dates andthe figs”. Jacob Rees-Mogg said he was particularly looking forward to the Turkish coffee.

 

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