Muslim Council of Britain elects first female leader

The Muslim Council of Britain has elected its first female leader.

Zara Mohammed, 29 from Glasgow, said it was an “honour” to be appointed as the new secretary general after winning the most votes in a poll of affiliate groups of the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella organisation.

She succeeds Harun Khan, who completed a maximum of four years as the head of the MCB. Mohammed said she hoped more women and young people would be inspired to seek leadership roles.

“I think women sometimes hesitate to take on leadership roles even though they are more than qualified to do so. It is really important to engage young people, engage more women and diversify the organisation and the work we are doing.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted congratulations to Ms Mohammed, saying: “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.”

Ms Mohammed is a masters graduate in human rights law and a training and development consultant. She said that she aimed to “continue to build a truly inclusive, diverse and representative body”, driven by the needs of British Muslims “for the common good”.

Mohammed is also the youngest person to head the Muslim Council of Britain, which was founded 24 years ago. Mohammed will hold the secretary general post for a two-year term for the organisation supporting 500 mosques, schools, community groups, professional organisations and charities across the UK. 

Mohammed expects her unique position as the youngest and first female leader of her organisation to come with added scrutiny. She is acutely aware of the challenges ahead but determined to meet them head on.

“This is a time when we need strong, collaborative leadership. I hope to do as much good as I can but I’m also aware that, as a woman in leadership, I’ll be heavily scrutinised. There will be challenges and curve balls but now is a time to be a little bit fearless. If I can make a little change and space for more young people and women from ­different backgrounds to ­follow me, it will be worth it.”

As she steers the council through unprecedented times, Zara’s first objective is to continue supporting and advising mosques on implementing health and safety strategies, and offering online access to key services and sermons during the pandemic.

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