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Mustaqeem Shah, Imam

Photo: Mustaqeem Shah. In November 2005 I was asked to speak about the West End on Radio Ramadhan in Glasgow and went along to Woodlands early one Saturday morning to be interviewed by two highly professional young volunteers. Following on from this I was invited to meet the Imam at the Masjid Al-Furqan Mosque in Carrington Street, Mustaqeem Shah, who had been described to me as a charismatic character.

Equipped with this information I set off prepared to meet someone impresssive but also thought that this religious leader would be scholarly, serious and much, much older than Mustaqeem. I was surprised to be met by a very cheerful, young man - Mustaqeem is only 32 and bursting with energy.

I was made very welcome at the Mosque and we chatted about his work in Glasgow over some tea and figs - with a short interruption when people came to the Mosque to pray. Mustaqeem is a very lively conversationalist with lots to say about many topics, he is a family man, and a scholar with umpteen degrees, he can speak six languages (the language of the Mosque is Urdu and Punjabi) and he is absolutely passionate about his role as Imam.

Like many residents of Woodlands, Mustaqeem comes from Pakistan and he was clearly very much affected by the Earthquake disaster and the loss of so many lives in his homeland. He emphasised the ongoing need for support to tackle the terrible conditions in the areas affected by the earthquake and spoke about how fearful he was for the wellbeing of those people living in remote areas.

Photo: interfaith group. Despite his anxiety and sadness he retains his commitment to his work within the West End Community. As Imam of Glasgow's Islamic Mission he has a major role to play in 'developing the bridges of understanding between Muslims and other communities'. Thus, whilst he is very committed to working with young Muslims to create social and educational opportunities; and would like to identify a space where facilities could be developed, he also takes on board the problems affecting the whole community. At a personal level he takes an interest in people and tries to help them tackle the wide range of problems they encounter. When you meet him you get the feeling that he must bring a lot of emphathy and compassion to this task.

He has many educational qualifications gained at universities in England and overseas and as well as his theological studies he has gained a degree in law. Mustaqeem is a fine example of someone commited to life long learning and as part of his more recent studies he completed a placement working with prisoners.

In Scotland Mustaqeem is recognised as a religous leader and is a member of the Scottish Interfaith Council, which aims to:

advance public knowledge and mutual understanding of the teachings, traditions and practices of the different faith communities in Scotland including awareness of both their distinctive features and of their common ground and to promote good relations between persons of different religious faiths.

This organisation provides a neutral forum where representatives of different faith communities can meet "on a basis of equality and engage in dialogue and conversation about matters of religious and civic importance"
www.interfaithscotland.org/

Photo: Scottish Interfaith council. Back in December I went along to Glasgow Central Mosque Halls, where as part of the Inter Faith Week, people had the opportunity to come together and learn more about Islam and also enjoy a fabulous Indian style buffet. Mustaqeem invited me to come along to this evening, which provided an opportunity for people to meet their neighbous and build on friendships to "ensure a more cohesive and harmonious future for Scotland.".

He played a key role in a very informative event (I learned more about Islam in a few hours than I had in the last 20 years). Mustaqeem was part of a panel that responded to questions and tackled some of the issues that are frequently raised in relation to Islam. There was some debate, for example, with regard to the role of women, and what I particularly found interesting was the informative contribution Islamic women made to this discussion.

As an awareness raising exercise it was a huge success and it was also a very enjoyable evening.

Glasgow has much to tackle with regard to promoting friendship and respect between religions but with people addressing problems like Mustaqeem, with his energy, intelligence and unquenchable good humour, maybe barriers can be broken down.

UK Islamic Mission www.ukim.org
Anyone can contact Mustaqeem regarding about cultural, religious and spiritual information - email



Comments

Mustaqeem Shah is a man of knowledge, he is just 33 years and has achieved a lot. Muslims of Glasgow arelucky to have him

Dr Farooq Tareen | Wed Mar 03 2010

Hi B. Humble, Good questions to ask the imam. From what i have learned about islam, the ultimate reality is that of God. The nature of the world is that it consists of realms, a visible realm, an abstract or subtle realm which one can understand rationally but cannot see, and a spiritual realm which one cannot understand strictly through rationalising or logic but only through spiritual (supra-rational) understanding guided by revelation. At the level of the spiritual realm one 'intuits/experiences' (as opposed to 'sees' or 'deduces') the dependence of everything on the creator of everything, i.e. God. The nature of humanity is expressed ontologically by the purpose of humanity, which is to worship its creator. This nature and purposes is embedded in the meaning of the word 'muslim' which means to submit (to the Creator). The best of 'submitters'/muslims were the prophets, thus in order to see ideal human beings expressing the real nature of humanity one looks at the prophets. The farther one is from the prophets, the less they are in line with their purpose, and the farther we say they are from their 'nature' [the further one is the more of an 'identity crisis' one has]. Humanities main problem is precisely this identity crisis, this has a few stages (1) not knowing what one is supposed to do and not knowing that they dont know, (2) Not knowing who the are and what they are supposed to do but know that they dont know this but doing nothing about it (not caring), or (3) Knowing what one is supposed to do but not doing it. So all problems can be reduced to 1-3. But the root of all this comes from lack of god-consciousness, which can only be ultimately remedied by God but we have to 'ask' for it, we ask for it by contemplation, doing the required deeds, removing bad habits and bad character qualities and such until a time comes where He illumines our hearts. After death is the meeting with God. A joyous occasion for those who worshipped Him in their lives waiting for this moment. A trying time for others who are neither here nor there, due to the uncertainty of what is to be their final abode. And a truly troubling time for those who denied Him when proofs had been presented to them in their lifetimes; but know that God is the best of those who forgive and yet the most just.

to B Humble | Tue Feb 19 2008

Hi B. Humble, Good questions to ask the imam. From what i have learned about islam, the ultimate reality is that of God. The nature of the world is that it consists of realms, a visible realm, an abstract or subtle realm which one can understand rationally but cannot see, and a spiritual realm which one cannot understand strictly through rationalising or logic but only through spiritual (supra-rational) understanding guided by revelation. At the level of the spiritual realm one 'intuits/experiences' (as opposed to 'sees' or 'deduces') the dependence of everything on the creator of everything, i.e. God. The nature of humanity is expressed ontologically by the purpose of humanity, which is to worship its creator. This nature and purposes is embedded in the meaning of the word 'muslim' which means to submit (to the Creator). The best of 'submitters'/muslims were the prophets, thus in order to see ideal human beings expressing the real nature of humanity one looks at the prophets. The farther one is from the prophets, the less they are in line with their purpose, and the farther we say they are from their 'nature' [the further one is the more of an 'identity crisis' one has]. Humanities main problem is precisely this identity crisis, this has a few stages (1) not knowing what one is supposed to do and not knowing that they dont know, (2) Not knowing who the are and what they are supposed to do but know that they dont know this but doing nothing about it (not caring), or (3) Knowing what one is supposed to do but not doing it. So all problems can be reduced to 1-3. But the root of all this comes from lack of god-consciousness, which can only be ultimately remedied by God but we have to 'ask' for it, we ask for it by contemplation, doing the required deeds, removing bad habits and bad character qualities and such until a time comes where He illumines our hearts. After death is the meeting with God. A joyous occasion for those who worshipped Him in their lives waiting for this moment. A trying time for others who are neither here nor there, due to the uncertainty of what is to be their final abode. And a truly troubling time for those who denied Him when proofs had been presented to them in their lifetimes; but know that God is the best of those who forgive and yet the most just.

to B Humble | Tue Feb 19 2008

First of all I must thank you for the Question you asked. I try to answer your question God willingly and Allah knows best. Ultimate Reality Reality, as we tackle and practice it, is the product of our minds. But what we mean by Ultimate Reality is autonomous of our observation or logical reason. Most religions would compare Ultimate Reality with the Creator; those who deny the existence of God would call the Ultimate Reality nature or primordial energy or something of the kind. There is no doubt that we humans have only limited powers of reasoning and comprehension. But, from the point of view of scientists, we have enough brain power to comprehend reality, and religions base their beliefs upon faithful acceptance of revealed truth that exceeds our common understanding. Judging from the order discernible in the world around us ? from the minutest atom to the colossal galaxies ? we cannot rule out the existence of a super designer, who created and organized everything in due proportion: *{Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of humankind; in the rain which Allah sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth;- Here indeed are signs for a people who are wise.}* (Al-Baqarah 2:164) Thus, we see that the Ultimate Reality according to Islam is God (Allah in Arabic), the Creator, Sustainer, and Law-Giver of the universe. The Qur'an says: *{He is the First and the Last, the Evident and the Immanent: and He has full knowledge of all things.}* (Al-Hadid 57:3) *{And verily, it is We Who give life, and Who give death: it is We Who remain inheritors after all else passes away.}* (Al-Hijr 15:23) The above verses clearly point to the fact that God is the Ultimate Reality, and all other things we see as existent have only a transient existence, which they owe to the Ultimate Reality. And as free and responsible beings, our ultimate concern must be to have undiluted and total faith in the Ultimate Reality. To quote the German-American theologian Paul Tillich (1886?1965), our faith ought to be "a cognitive affirmation of the transcendent nature of Ultimate Reality. This is achieved, not simply by a process of intellectual inquiry, but by an act of acceptance and surrender." (Paul Tillich, Dynamics of Faith. New York: Harper & Row, 1957) In Islamic parlance, faith must be based on strong conviction as well as unconditional submission to Allah Almighty. Conviction is possible when faith is compatible with reason. In Islam, there is no conflict between faith and reason; rather, faith complements reason and vice versa. And both faith and reason derive their validity from the Ultimate Reality.

mustaqeem shah | Thu Aug 23 2007

Hi Mustaqeem I would like to thankyou in helping me brainwash the girl I needed to marry marry. Inshallah within a few days I shall have a permanent visa to stay in the u.k. We shall now be able to meet up more often. I cannot call you as I do not have much money. I am hopin that the girl will leave me her cashcard soon.

Inam | Thu Jul 26 2007

Dear Sir I am a Christian and I would like to know more about Islam. I would really appreciate if you could please take a few minutes of your precious time to answer a few of my curious questions? I am on the road of research and would like some information regarding your faith. Below are five questions listed that I am curious about in relationship with your faith: 1. What is ultimate reality? 2. What is the nature of the world? 3. What is the nature of humanity? 4. What is humanity's primary problem? 5. What happens after death? Your time in the matter is greatly appreciated, Sincerely, B Humble

B Humble | Mon Mar 05 2007

Thank you for this lovely insight into one of our local Imams. I found out a lot I didn't know!

Sohaib Saeed | Mon Feb 27 2006

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