Lambeth’s “Inspirational Individual” Umar Mahmood Recognised at London Faith & Belief Community Awards 2018

Londoners working to serve their communities and bring people from different backgrounds together were recognised during the London Faith & Belief Community Awards held at the Royal Society of Medicine. During the ceremony, Lambeth resident and youth leader Umar Mahmood was recognised for organising countless events to support interfaith engagement, building trust and leading to strategic level dialogue between community leaders to tackle faith issues and to come together at times of need. Through liaison with statutory bodies, such as the Metropolitan Police, on behalf of the Muslim community, he has helped develop mutual trust; promoting regular dialogue, interaction and initiatives positively affecting thousands of people.

Around 40 projects run by individuals and organisations, inspired by their faiths or beliefs to make a difference, were given awards for their work in areas ranging from inspiring youth and wellbeing to interfaith relations and inclusion. Alongside the 40 projects given awards, the achievements of several inspiring individuals were celebrated.

Supported by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Greater London’s Council on Faith, the Awards are an initiative of the Faith & Belief Forum, formerly known as the 3 Faiths Forum. The Awards aim to shine a light on the great work done by ordinary people to make London a city where everyone belongs and feels welcome – work that often goes unrecognised.

Bringing together people and organisations from across London, the Awards highlighted the tireless efforts by these communities for interfaith harmony and inclusion.

Sir Ken Olisa, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, said “There are three pillars that define people: Heritage, Faith and Employment. These three are powerful defining factors. These three factors drive a sense of belonging for people. Some people disagree, especially about faith. They say that faith is the cause of world problems but actually, evil people are the cause to problems that plague us. Not enough people know that. Too many people are embarrassed of their faith but if you stop them from practising their belief it could lead to more evil.”  People of faith are about doing good for people and this is clear with charity. Here tonight, we want to tell the story loud and clear and get the message out there. We do not make enough noise about the contribution of faith communities to the betterment of society and it is time we shout about it”, concluded Sir Ken Olisa.

Receiving his award from Sir Ken Olisa, Umar Mahmood said “I am grateful Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Greater London Sir Ken Olisa and the FBF’s Phil Champain for this recognition of the work I have been doing – this will serve as encouragement and inspiration for other young Muslims in London who are serving their community by bringing people and organisations of different backgrounds together. We do this not for recognition, but for the intrinsic reward and contentment we feel seeing someone benefit from the help, especially when that strengthens the community.” Umar Mahmood was recognised for his work with statutory bodies and in particular his efforts to act as a conduit between the Muslim community and bodies such as the Metropolitan Police. “It is important that the Muslim community have an open and frank relationship with the Police, Local Authority and Parliament because these are the bodies that are serving the community. This relationship has been under strain during certain times but initiating that engagement has led to strategic action such as training of Muslim organisations in the area”, he added.

He stressed that it was important for there to be interfaith dialogue given the current political climate in the UK, around Europe and the US, “Young people must engage with others that are different to them in order for there to be an understanding between them, especially as they will be leading us in the future. Without engagement, we will not be able to learn about one another’s culture, faith and beliefs which can lead to misconceptions and confusion. The personal connection between two people can demystify the propaganda spread around by the likes of the far right.” Umar Mahmood expressed his goal to be on the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London’s Council on Faith in the future, received positively by Sir Ken Olisa who urged for more diversity.

Earlier in the year, Umar Mahmood was recognised for over a decade of service to interfaith harmony and community development on two separate occasions by interfaith leaders and members of parliament including Rt. Hon. Stephen Timms MP, Helen Hayes MP, Dr. Harriet Crabtree OBE, Afzal Khan MP, Mayor of Southwark Catherine Rose, Dr. Rosena Khan MP and others.

Organisations in Lambeth that were recognised included Ebony Horse Club, Kennington Spear and Abraham’s Tent Project at South London Liberal Synagogue. Nighat Khan was also recognised as an inspirational individual during the ceremony.

Umar Mahmood can be reached on @faith_tweeting


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