UK mosque body working on code of conduct

October 31, 2007

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LONDON, Oct 30: In what is seen here as the first attempt by British Muslims to set the core standards and constitutions for Britain’s 1,350-plus mosques, the year-old Mosques and Imams National Advisory Body (Minab) has drawn up draft proposals to the effect.

The Minab was set up by the Al-Khoei Foundation, the British Muslim Forum, the Muslim Association of Britain and the Muslim Council of Britain.

The draft constitution for the regulatory body, released on Monday after months of internal consultation, proposes increasing the skills and competencies of Imams, developing mosques as centres of community cohesion, citizenship and dialogue and strengthening accountability and governance.

It also proposes improving access of women and young people to mosques. The new body, according to its constitution, would also provide advice on the suitability of Imams and scholars coming from abroad.

Mosques that sign up to the core standards framework would receive practical advice, guidance and support from Minab, a body first recommended by an official government inquiry in the wake of the 7/7 bombings in London.

According to the Guardian, the new proposals came as new research found fundamentalist literature encouraging hatred of Christians, gays and Jews in many British mosques. Researchers for the think-tank Policy Exchange found extremist literature in a quarter of the 100 mosques and Islamic institutions they visited.

Some of the publications called on British Muslims to segregate themselves from non-Muslims and condoned the beheading of lapsed Muslims. There were passages which supported the stoning of adulterers and ‘violent’ Jihad, according to the report, The Hijacking of British Islam.

The government has spoken of the need to improve the language and teaching skills of Imams, but has been reluctant to intervene directly for fear of being seen to interfere in an independent faith body.

A governing council would be established to represent the different strands of Islam in Britain, including guaranteed seats for Shias.

The government has also been frustrated that a number of Imams in Britain were born in Pakistan, speak limited English and preach in Urdu, making it difficult for the government to know what is going on in some mosques.