A woman is to lead the Muslim Council of Britain for the first time, in a move hailed as a landmark moment in the UK Muslim community.
Zara Mohammed, 29, a training and development consultant from Glasgow, was elected on Sunday as the MCB’s secretary general by 107 votes to 60 in a virtual annual general meeting. Her opponent was Ajmal Masroor, an imam and teacher.
In a statement, Mohammed said: “My vision is to continue to build a truly inclusive, diverse and representative body; one which is driven by the needs of British Muslims for the common good.
“Being elected as the first female secretary general is quite an honour and I hope it will inspire more women and young people to come forward to take on leadership roles. They are the future of this organisation and our society.”
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said her election was “terrific” news.
Mohammed told the Guardian it was “an honour and a blessing” to be elected to lead the umbrella body for the UK Muslim population. “Making history is a tremendous responsibility, but it’s very exciting to be a young female in this role, and I hope it will inspire others.”
She added: “I’m about as different as it gets to the traditional leadership in our community.”
The most urgent issue facing Muslims was the consequences of Covid-19 pandemic, she said. “We’ve seen emerging themes around mental health, the economic impact, the vaccination programme and the need to protect lives. The Covid work will be a huge priority.
“For me, it’s really critical to continue to engage young people and women as well as the diverse ethnic makeup of the Muslim community, and beyond the Muslim community to build interfaith partnerships, civil society organisations and alliances.”
Shelina Janmohamed, the author of Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World, said Mohammed’s election was “a cheering moment for Muslim communities as well as the UK as a whole. To see young, bright, energetic and visionary women being elected into positions of leadership at a time of social and community challenges is a landmark moment.
“Her election also demonstrates the importance of voices from across the UK, and reflects the communities diverse geographic spread. As the UK navigates social, political, cultural and economic shifts, her voice will be important on the national stage.
“I hope her leadership will crush the tropes about silent submissive Muslim women and usher in a new era of engagement with Muslim communities.”
Mohammed succeeds Harun Khan who was secretary general for the past four years. He said: “I wish the very best of success to Zara Mohammed – may she continue to lead this organisation to greater heights for the betterment of our communities across the country.”