Imams are important figureheads of the Muslim community. They aren’t just leaders of the Mosque, but teachers, role models and authority figures.
However, it can be difficult to feel a personal connection with them when you know little about their life and what drives them.
Here I attempt to break down this barrier and share with you the life and work of an Imam who has been an inspiration to his community.
This is an opportunity to get to know what drew Dr Musharraf from being a scientist to becoming a spiritual leader.
He has dedicated his life to guiding the Muslim community and tirelessly worked to bridge the divide between Muslims and the wider society. Born in Pakistan in 1958, Musharraf Hussain came to Britain in 1966 with his parents to Halifax.
It was here he memorised the Quran and learnt tajweed. After completing a degree in biochemistry at Aston University, he went on to gain a science doctorate and worked in the scientific field.
As a university student in the seventies, he was the president of the Islamic Society of Aston University. He was always at the forefront of teaching, preaching, and standing up for truth and justice.
Dr Hussain worked as a scientist till 1990 and then decided to dedicate his life to serving the community. He decided to study Islamic studies in Pakistan and Al-Azhar University, Cairo.
His extensive community work led him to establish his own Islamic education hub, Karimia Institute, in 1990. Karimia Institute is an innovative and dynamic Muslim organisation which runs various projects.
These include community development, interfaith work and adult classes. In 1997, he was appointed Director of Karimia.
‘I have known Dr Musharraf for over 15 years, as an Imam, community leader and more recently for the last two years as my manager, mentor and coach. He is of the highest integrity, his vision and commitment for the community he serves is founded on inclusion, and equality and diversity. I have found Dr Hussain to be a fair and an honest individual in all his endeavours. ‘ – Ahmed Belim, Fundraising Manager.
Broxtowe Councillors presented with copy of the Quran, July 2022
Dr Musharraf has done an amazing amount of community and interfaith work, both in and outside the Muslim community. He was the chair of the Christian Muslim forum for six years.
Formerly, he was the director of a postgraduate course in education, and vice chair of the Association of Muslim schools.
In 1995, Dr Musharraf helped to establish Al-Karam Muslim boarding school for boys in Retford, where he was the headteacher for 3 years.
‘I found Dr Musharraf to be an inspiration and a role model for me and the community, his constant drive and commitment to Islam, the Quran and community relations has inspired both my professional and personal life. Working with him has been a guiding light, providing mentoring and clear leadership. As an Imam, he preaches with candour and positivity. His sermons and conversations inevitably hover around moral, spiritual and social values.’ Muskaan Jamsheid, Humankind project co-ordinator
In September 2003, he made efforts to help the release of British hostage Ken Bigley in Iraq. He flew to Iraq with Dr AJ Daud, where they appealed to the captors to release Ken. In 2006, he was asked by the prime minister to chair the UK Indonesian Islamic advisory group.
The group’s remit was to “advise on countering radicalism and promoting mutual understanding between Islam and West.” The group made several important recommendations; some have been implemented while others are in the planning stage.
Julian bond, director of Christian Muslim forum referred to Dr. Hussain as ‘a leading exemplar of inter-faith relations and of the inclusive and welcoming values of Islam over the last 8 years.’
Formerly he was a trustee of Muslim Hands and the National Centre for Citizenship and Law, a charity dedicated to reducing crime. He was an advisor to three major citizenship projects (Nasiha, ICE, and UKREN) which promote citizenship education in mosques and madrassas.
Promoting interfaith harmony and understanding between groups is vital to his work.
“Interaction and dialogue amongst faith communities leads to a better understanding of one another and removes misunderstandings.” Says Dr Musharraf.
“The opportunity to meet and share stories brings people closer. For the past twelve years I have worked tirelessly promoting interfaith work both at the local and national level.
“ I have been at the frontline developing grass root interfaith work. I started this journey with my local Anglican Vicar, URC minister and Roman Catholic Church. We established a local interfaith body (Faith In Action) and worked with the Nottinghamshire Interfaith Council. I believe we have had a visible impact on local communities.
“In 2008 I was appointed the Chair of the Forum and have successfully organised five residential conferences for Imams and Christian Ministers. These conferences have developed the leadership potential of more than two hundred Christian and Muslim leaders to weave stronger relationships and promote interfaith in their communities.”
Dr Musharraf always seeks out new challenges, indicating he is propelled by an urge to serve God in ways which will have a lasting impact on the community. He’shas brought passion, humour, commitment and energy to his work.
Dr Musharraf Speaking at Southwell cathedral 2022
He has been bold in his approach and has taken steps where others have not tread before. Dr Musharraf invites non-Muslims to speak in his masjid and does not perceive anyone as unwelcome in the house of Allah.
‘I have known Dr Musharraf for over 30 years now. He has pioneered many achievements for the Muslim Community of Nottingham and is a great role model for many – young and old. He has proven that you can pave the way to new openings with hard work and dedication. He is someone who works at the local grassroots level whilst maintaining his International Icon status. Whilst juggling all of his commitments and achievements – what impresses me most about him is that he is always ready to help anyone who reaches out to him- he is a true example of what Service to Others looks like in the Religion of Islam’. – Robina Din, multifaith co-ordinator at NTU
He also encourages his congregation to engage more with wider society and has set an example that they can follow. He’s one of the few imams in the country who has invited non-Muslims to join him for Itikaf during Ramadan and has not been afraid to learn deeply about other faiths, resulting in personal change.
“Three decades of working with people from different backgrounds has provided wonderful opportunities for mutual learning, enabling me and others I have worked with to serve local communities,” He states.
“This work has not been without its challenges and has led to many a tense exchange of perspectives. However, this is an enriching process vital to creating a plural, socially harmonious and cohesive society. Over the past five decades, we have achieved a great deal in terms of equality, rights of ethnic minorities and social justice. But, there is much more to be done.”
Musharraf Hussain is also the translator of the Majestic Quran in plain English, a best seller on Amazon since 2018. He has also written and translated a multitude of books on Islam, including a secondary school textbook ‘Religion and belief; Islam’ published by Nelson Thornes.
All his hard work has not been unnoticed. In 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Staffordshire University and another in 2009 by the British government for his services to Britain’s community relations.
He was also awarded an OBE by the late Queen Elizabeth II in 2009.
‘I have known Dr Musharaff Hussain for over 15 years as an Imam and community leader. I have worked closely with him on several projects, most notably Karimia’s HumanKind initiative. HumanKind ‘HumanKind’ is an innovative project seeking to better relations and build trust between the British Muslim community and the wider British public and vice-versa. His efforts here and elsewhere have been exemplary and his OBE is reflective of the important work and service for the local community.’ Dr Asam Latif, pharmacist and academic researcher.