Lord Sheikh

The website of Lord Sheikh, Founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum

Category: Education

Book Launch – Emperor of the Five Rivers, The Life and Times of Maharajah Ranjit Singh

The launch took place at the Nehru Centre in Central London and was attended by a range of prominent community members from a spectrum of backgrounds.

Speeches were delivered by Lord Lexden, Lady Singh, Mr Hardyal Luther and the author, Lord Sheikh. Their words and the excerpts read from the book inspired an audience which was already intrigued about this book which has stemmed from years of research and dedication. Lord Sheikh pledged that the full proceeds from the sales of the book will go to Orphans in Need; his generosity inspired the same from the amazing crowd and all copies of the book were sold out on the night.

The book is on general sale and with all proceeds going to Orphans in Need, we encourage all of your supporters to read this inspiring biography whilst helping orphans at the same time.

 


 

Lord Sheikh BookAbout the book:

Ranjit Singh was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire and one of the greatest figures in the history of the Punjab. Despite the difficult conditions he faced, including harsh terrain, a mixed ethnic population and surrounding aggressors (particularly the British in India), Ranjit Singh managed to unite the various Sikh factions and built a nation that neighbours soon learnt to treat with respect This new biography sheds new light on this important figure in Sikh history. Lord Sheikh’s accessible account of Ranjit Singh’s life illustrates the extraordinary leadership qualities, military prowess and political skills which ensured his success as a leader in challenging circumstances.

About the author:

Lord Mohamed Sheikh is a Patron of Orphans in Need. He is also Chairman of the Conservative Ethnic Diversity Council and the founder and Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum. Lord Sheikh, who was made a life peer in 2006 is a prominent promoter of interfaith activities.

Amazon Link below:

Outstanding Achievement Awards

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Lord Sheikh was asked to speak and present several awards to high achieving Bangladeshi GCSE and A Level students at the Outstanding Achievement Awards organised by the Bangladeshi High Commission. Lord Sheikh commended the children on their achievements and acknowledged their parents for their involvement.

Bangladeshi High Commission Awards

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The photographs above show students receiving awards from Lord Sheikh and the High Commissioner of Bangladesh.

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Lord Sheikh attended and presented awards at the Bangladeshi High Commission Awards Ceremony on the 9th February 2014. The awards were given to GCSE and A Level students from all over the UK who had attained excellent results. This event has been organised annually by the High Commission for the last eight years.

The performance of the Bangladeshi children is improving year by year and they have made the biggest progress of all ethnic groups over the last eight years. The students received awards for grades A* and A’s.

The photograph above shows students who had received awards for GCSE results (back rows), front row (from left to right) Rt. Hon. Simon Hughes MP, Lord Sheikh, H.E. the High Commissioner of Bangladesh Mr. Mohamed Mijarul Quayes  and Rt. Hon. Frank Dobson MP.

Jamiatul Ummah – East End School

Lord Sheikh was one of the keynote speakers at the annual event organised by the Jamiatul Ummah which is a faith school in the East End of London. Lord Sheikh presented awards to some of the winners and congratulated the school as well as the students for the excellent results which have been achieved. Jamiatul Ummah is indeed a success story. Lord Sheikh stressed the importance of education which he said was reflected in his own coat of arms. Lord Sheikh has been an academic and felt that the way forward for the community is by educational attainment which would be a passport for future success. Lord Sheikh also made the comment that he was sure that the school would move forward from strength to strength and continue to achieve excellent results.

Inclusive Education

Lord Sheikh was asked to speak at a Conference organised by the Muslim Teachers Association at University College London, please find a transcript of his speech below:

 

Education is extremely important to me. I was the first Muslim to be appointed a Peer by the Conservative Party and it is a privilege to have a Coat of Arms. My coat of arms, which was designed by the College of Arms when I was made a Peer, has the motto “iqra” which means “read” and it also shows a peacock holding two quill pens with a row of books.

 

These all signify the importance of my educational background and also the fact that I am very keen to promote education.

 

I am active in the House of Lords and speak on a variety of subjects. Over the past two weeks I have spoken on issues relating to women, the ethical fashion industry, Zimbabwe and the European Union.

 

In fact I have quoted from the Holy Quran and also the sayings of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) in the House of Lords. I believe that we are ambassadors of our religion and need to convey the true message of Islam.

 

Tony Blair was not the first person to say “Education, Education, Education”.  It was Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, founder of the Aligarh University in India, who first coined the phrase and it was actually his motto.

 

In Islam, education is seen as vital. There is a verse in the Holy Quran which reads as follows:

 

“Read in the name of your Lord who created.  Created man from a clot of blood.  Read! And your Lord is the most generous.   Who has taught by the pen.   Taught man what he did not know”

 

This verse shows that Muslims believe Allah created humanity and that he commanded us to seek knowledge in order to become stronger in our faith.

 

The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) has also said the following:

“Seek knowledge even unto China”

“Acquire knowledge for he who acquires it performs an act of piety, he who speaks of knowledge praises God”

“The ink of the scholar is more precious than the blood of the martyr”

 

The importance of education for the betterment of society is also something that is highlighted by both the Qur’an and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who asserted that for a Muslim to fulfil their role to serve humanity, they must acquire knowledge for the common good.

 

For a better idea of the role of education in Islam we can look back at historic Islamic civilisations most notably in Spain.

 

Islamic contributions to medieval Europe were numerous, affecting various areas such as art, architecture, medicine, agriculture, music, language, education, law and technology. This period is sometimes referred to as the “Islamic Golden Age” or the “Islamic Renaissance”.

 

From the 10th to the 13th Century, Europe absorbed knowledge from the Islamic civilisation. In the early 20th Century a large number of scholars recognised that the influence of the Muslim civilisation as a whole on medieval Europe was enormous in such fields as science, philosophy and literature.

 

Contributions from the Islamic world have had a considerable effect on the development of Western civilisation and contributed to the achievements of the Renaissance.

 

During this period, the Islamic world developed its own sciences such as algebra, chemistry and geology which were later transmitted to the West.

 

I have visited the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, and in fact was invited to its opening by the Qatari government.  I was very pleased to note that some of the scientific instruments used by the Muslims in Spain and other countries are displayed in the Museum.

 

We are proud of our past and we did indeed lead the world in the field of astronomy, science, mathematics and medical knowledge. 

 

We cannot live in our past and it is therefore important that we continue with our educational knowledge and rise to a premium position.

 

Back in that time, the Madrassa was the centre of learning, where everyone would go if they were seeking knowledge. Deen and Duniya, Islam and the World.

 

One of the earliest Madrassas to be established was in 959 in Cairo, Egypt and it is now known as the Al-Azhar University.

 

In my own family there is a great emphasis placed on education.

 

I used to be a lecturer but I reached a point where I had to decide whether to go into full-time lecturing or to go into business. But I worked out a compromise and I became a visiting lecturer as well as going into business.

 

I am now Chairman of 4 companies which include 2 insurance organisations and 2 property companies but I continue to have a deep knowledge of education and I am pleased to be here to speak to you today.

 

Inclusive Education covers issues such as ensuring that children with Special Educational Needs are given equal access to mainstream education – a view I strongly support.

 

A more topical interpretation of Inclusive Education deals with ensuring that individuals from all religions and socio-groups are given equal opportunities in education.

 

Education is a key pillar of social mobility and economic growth. 

 

It is also extremely important to integration and social cohesion, especially in the diverse multi-cultural and multi-faith society that we live in today.

 

It provides individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to increase their incomes, boost their employment opportunities and fight social inequalities.

 

I value the importance of education in giving people the opportunity to improve their future prospects and have better prospects for employment and conduct of business or becoming professional.

 

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation estimates that just one year of schooling has the potential to increase a person’s income by 10%.

 

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, “everyone has the right to education”.

 

It is an unfortunate reality that the educational attainment of a significant number of Muslim pupils and students is below the national average.

 

We must take action to remedy this situation as our children are our future.

 

Muslims are also disproportionately over-represented in the prison population. The total prison population is about 80,000 and about 10,000 of them are Muslims which is around 12%. The Muslim population in the United Kingdom is approximately 3%. This is a statistic that would surely get better if educational standards were improved.

 

We must remember that one third of Muslims in this country are under 16 years old, compared with one fifth of the whole population.

 

Therefore, I cannot stress enough how important it is that Muslim children are highly educated. It not only will help the Muslim community in the future, but the whole of society will benefit.

 

Parental education and involvement is proven to have a positive impact on the outcomes of pupils and students.

 

I have been informed that in some areas with a high population of Muslims, some parents do not attend Parents’ evenings which is not satisfactory.

 

Muslim community organisations and individuals have a crucial role to play in this regard. Parents need to be more involved in their child’s education and this point is very important.

 

We need a greater participation by Muslims in all aspects of the education system, the number of Muslim governors and teachers is low.

 

Muslims need to be in more positions of power within educational establishments in order to help them contribute to the important decisions that they have to make.

 

This year, the United Nations theme for International Women’s Day is equal access to education.

 

I recently spoke in a debate held on this subject in the House of Lords. I referred to this earlier.

 

Women have historically been deprived of chances to gain access to and further their education, and this has contributed to inequality in the workplace.

 

It is estimated that 16% of the world’s adult population lack basic literacy skills, two thirds of which are women and young girls.

 

Education plays an important role in ensuring that males and females have equal opportunities to grow and develop skills which enable them to reach their full potential.

 

Muslim girls from less fortunate backgrounds are still proven to have a lower chance than their British counterparts of furthering their education especially at tertiary level.

 

This is particularly worrying as the benefits of female education are most noticeable at this stage.

 

The importance of access to a broad and inclusive education cannot be overstated especially in the difference it can make to the lives of girls and women from poorer backgrounds.

 

By broadening their knowledge, Muslim girls and women will be empowered to make their own choices and determine their own futures.

 

The school establishment is the earliest social institution with which children come into regular contact, and the lessons they learn while at school help prepare them for integration into society and life after school.

 

Going to school also gives children an opportunity to create and develop bonds and friendships across different racial and religious groups which will help them to flourish in future and be part of British society.

 

I feel it is important to make reference to the shocking case of Gary Smith.

 

He is a teacher in East London who was brutally attacked by four Muslim men because he taught Muslim girls about other religions.

 

These men not only slashed his face but also fractured his skull.

 

I condemn their actions in the strongest terms. Mr Smith was merely doing his job as Head of Religious Education at the Central Foundation Girls’ School.

 

When I was at school in Uganda I had several friends of different religions and I also learnt to speak six different languages.

 

Learning about other religions is important as it enables children to develop an understanding of the various groups that live in their community.

 

It is absurd that Muslims should miss out on learning about other religions just because a select few view this as unacceptable.

 

One of the problems in this respect has been the doctrine of state multiculturalism.

 

Under state multiculturalism, we have a situation where different cultures have been encouraged to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream.

 

The Prime Minister made clear that we must build stronger societies and stronger identities at home, promoting values such as freedom of speech.

 

This is what defines us as a society. We need a clear sense of shared national identity that is open to everyone.

 

I feel that we also need to look at what we want the children to achieve by going to school.

 

High grades and qualifications are something that obviously are very desirable and will help the children in their lives going forward.

 

But another aspect that is often overlooked is that our children should come out of school as good Muslims and well-rounded human beings that are also a benefit to society as a whole.

 

I believe that schools should not just be an academic institution but should also promote civic values.

 

They must also encourage ways to promote cultural and community awareness and cohesion.

 

This was made a requirement for schools in the Education and Inspections Act 2006.

 

I am pleased that the Government is continuing to promote this in the Education Bill.

 

The Bill stipulates that Ofsted must consider how well schools provide for different cultures and how understanding the world around us promotes an understanding of the community.

 

I am proud that the Muslim faith views knowledge and educational attainment as invaluable.

 

Some Madrassas have historically gained unfair media attention for accusations of breeding extremist views.

 

We here today are aware that this is simply not true.

 

It is therefore our responsibility to express this message clearly to the wider British society.

 

One way of doing this would be to bring Madrassas under the mainstream school curriculum and make them subject to Ofsted inspections.

 

This would give communities and teachers greater confidence in the Madrassa system of education.

 

It is important that our children have access to a universal education of high quality.

 

I would like to say a few words about the importance of volunteering and public service.

 

I feel that Madrassas could incorporate an element of community volunteer work for students and also encourage them to choose careers where they have the opportunity to serve the wider British public.

 

These proposals are certain to dispel unwelcome myths about Muslim schools.

 

I have also encouraged young Muslims to join the Army and the police force.

 

I supported the Armed Forces Muslim Association and its patron is General Sir David Richards who is the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces.

 

Faith schools are an important part of the education system, offering diversity and choice to parents, as well as helping improve standards.

 

Faith-based Academy and Free schools are expected to have inclusive admissions policies.

 

The Department for Education has established a due diligence committee that will monitor all Free Schools applications to ensure that religious extremism is not promoted.

 

Furthermore, Free Schools have to admit 50 per cent of pupils without reference to faith.

 

They will also be subject to meeting rigorous inspection criteria and performance targets.

 

The success of the school will be judged on its ability to provide a well-rounded, good quality education.

 

The School Standards and Framework Act 1998 states that schools with a religious charter must provide specialist teachers selected to teach religious education.

 

These teachers must not exceed one-fifth of the total number of teachers in the school.

 

This will ensure that non-faith based pupils are given equal opportunity to focus on academic education outside of the faith-based school ethos.

 

It is important to broaden the appeal of schools with a traditionally high population of Muslims by welcoming those from outside the faith.

 

Religion can help to bring local communities together and can promote a neighbourly society that too often seems to have been eroded.

 

We can only benefit from our religious diversity if we sustain the freedom for religions to reflect their differences.

 

It is through reinforcing such ideas that strong community links will be forged. This will also ensure that our children are taught the importance of cultural and community values.

Education: Special Educational Needs

 

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what provision is in place for children and adults with special educational needs who want to enter tertiary education.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): Young people with a statement of special educational needs (SEN) also have a transition plan from age 14 to help them make the transition from school to further studies and adult life. The local authority Connexions service is responsible for arranging assessments of all young people with SEN who are in their last year of compulsory schooling and who are planning to go into further education or training.

Provision in tertiary education in the further education (FE) system for children and adults with SEN is based on assessed need. There are discrete courses for those with complex and profound disabilities, sometimes in a residential setting, while FE providers are able to offer places on mainstream courses as part of inclusion policies, having made reasonable adjustments to enable access.

Provision for adults will range from introductory courses on a part-time basis to full-time vocational courses.

From April 2010, foundation learning will be offered, which accredits all learning undertaken and enables learners to study at their own pace.

Foundation learning will cover all provision at level 1 and pre-entry and will provide structured pathways to employment wherever this is appropriate and improve learning outcomes generally.

More broadly, the Government help remove the barriers which prevent disabled students from entering and completing higher education by providing substantial financial help through the disabled students’ allowances.

 

Schools: Special Educational Needs

 

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what additional support has been given to schools that have children with special educational needs.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): To support local authorities and schools to fulfil their duties towards children with special educational needs (SEN), the Government have increased investment with planned expenditure on SEN rising from £2.8 billion in 2000-01 to £5.1 billion in 2008-09.

We are improving school workforce skills, with the Inclusion Development Programme cascading in-service training for the school workforce. The first year of the programme covered dyslexia and speech, language and communication disorders, this year is focused on autistic spectrum disorders and next year the focus will be on behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. Nationally accredited training for all those new to the role of special educational needs co-ordinator in schools started in September 2009.

We have published the Better Communication Action Plan, to improve services for children and young people with SLCN, supported by up to £12 million, and we are funding training for up to 4,000 specialist dyslexia teachers over the next two years.

The £31 million Achievement for All pilots started in 10 areas this September to demonstrate how to improve outcomes for children with SEN.

Education: Special Educational Needs

 

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what extra training has been given to teachers and carers involved with children with special educational needs.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): There are a wide range of activities currently under way and in the planning stage that the DCSF is co-ordinating in relation to improving training for the school workforce in relation to special educational needs.

From 1 September 2009, new regulations have come into force which mean that SENCOs in schools are now required to be qualified teachers and, if they have been in post for less than 12 months, they are also required to undertake new mandatory training to assist them in their role.

The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) is also in the process of strengthening the coverage of SEN and disability issues in Initial Teacher Training and Induction for teachers—primary materials were launched in June 2008, secondary materials in June 2009 and PGCE materials will be available from November 2009. Also in November this year, the TDA will be launching a modular postgraduate course to provide opportunities for specialist SEN study for experienced teachers.

The National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services are in the process of developing the Achievement for All programme which will aim to improve SEN and disability coverage in school leadership programmes.

In partnership with the national strategies, we are also in the process of creating and rolling-out the Inclusion Development Programme which will deliver specially designed training resources for the school workforce that address areas of SEN that we know some find difficult—these include communication and autism and behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD).

Speech made by Lord Sheikh at the Saudi International Conference

I am very keen to promote the values of education.  I used to be a visiting lecturer and have written educational material.  I feel that education is the way forward and it is very important that we make every effort to educate our children.  To enable us to achieve this it is important that there is parental involvement and every parent must give encouragement and help to the children in order to further their education.  Unfortunately the performance of some Muslim children in United Kingdom is not adequate and I have travelled to various parts of the country to stress the importance of education.  I have also spoken in the House of Lords on this subject.

 

Some people say that Tony Blair was the first person to say Education, Education, Education.  This is not true; there was a Muslim leader in India called Sir Syed Ahmed Khan who talked about Education, Education, Education in the 1870’s.  Over a hundred and thirty years ago Sir Syed Ahmed Khan stressed the importance of education to the Muslims and he founded Aligarh University in India which is a premier university with very high standards.

 

I see that some of you have come here from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries.  It is important that we do not rely on the oil revenues but we need to put in resources and promote education at every level.  We must set up Schools, Colleges, Universities and Centres of Excellence.  All these institutions must be of high standards and their qualifications must be meaningful.  We need establish educational institutions of high calibre and perhaps set up links with top universities in the West.

 

I have visited Qatar twice over the last year and was most impressed by the activities and success of the Qatar Foundation.

 

I did state earlier on that my motto was Iqra which means read.  The total verse in the Holy Quran is as follows:

 

“Read in the name of your Lord who created.  Created man from a clot of blood.  Read! And your Lord is the most generous.   Who has taught by the pen.   Taught man what he did not know”

 

This verse clearly shows that Muslims believe Allah created humanity and that he commanded us to seek knowledge in order to become stronger in our faith.

 

Islam also affirms the right to education for all without gender discrimination. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also encouraged the education of even the most marginalised communities including slave girls. He said:

 

“He who has a slave-girl and teaches her good manners and improves her education and then frees her from slavery and marries her, will get a double reward.”

 

Here the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was promoting the education of women as well as trying to abolish slavery.

 

The holy prophet (peace be upon him) has also said the following:

“Seek knowledge even unto China”

“Acquire knowledge for he who acquires it performs an act of piety, he who speaks of knowledge praises God”

“The ink of the scholar is more precious than the blood of the martyr”

The importance of education for the betterment of society is also something that is highlighted by both the Qur’an and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who asserted that for a Muslim to fulfil their role to serve humanity, they must acquire knowledge for the common good.

 

For a better idea of the role of education in Islam we can look back at historic Islamic civilisations most notably in Spain. Islamic contributions to medieval Europe were numerous, affecting various areas such as art, architecture, medicine, agriculture, music, language, education, law and technology. This period is sometimes referred to as the “Islamic Golden Age” or the “Islamic Renaissance”.

 

From the 10th to the 13th Century, Europe absorbed knowledge from the Islamic civilisation. In the early 20th Century a large number of scholars recognised that the influence of the Muslim civilisation as a whole on medieval Europe was enormous in such fields as science, philosophy and literature. Contributions from the Islamic world have had a considerable effect on the development of Western civilisation and contributed to the achievements of the Renaissance.

 

During this period, the Islamic world developed its own sciences such as algebra, chemistry and geology which were later transmitted to the West.

 

I have visited the Museum of Islamic Art and in fact was invited to its opening by the Qatari government.  I was very pleased to note that some of the instruments used by the Muslims in Spain and other countries are displayed in the Museum.

 

We are proud of our past and we did indeed lead the world in the field of astronomy, science, mathematics and medical knowledge.  We cannot live in our past and it is therefore important that we continue with our educational knowledge and rise to a premium position.

If we as countries, people and parents make the efforts this can be achieved.

 

I would like to talk further about my Coat of Arms.  On my coat of Arms I have two doves as I want to give the message to the world that Islam is the religion of peace.  Because of shortage of time I cannot talk about it in greater details.

 

I am the Chairman of an Insurance Brokering organisation and I have set up a company which provides advisory and consultancy work on Islamic Finance and Insurance.  I have made several keynote speeches on this subject and we are going to discuss this fully tomorrow.

 

I would however like to say today.  The whole world is suffering from the financial crunch which has come about as a result of bad practises and lack of appropriate housekeeping.  The concept of prudence was thrown out of the window and there was greed and short-term bad practises.  The crunch has adversely affected the economies of many countries and people are in dire straits.  The scenario is totally undesirable.  If more institutions had followed Islamic values then perhaps the situation could have been alleviated.

 

Modern Islamic finance emerged in mid 1970’s but the growth has been very rapid since 1990’s.  The market is now worth 750 billion globally.  The annual growth of Islamic Finance exceeds 30% a year and it’s the world’s fastest growing financial sector.  There are now Islamic institutions in 47 countries.

 

Very briefly Islamic financial transactions are mutual arrangements and there is prohibition of gambling or speculation or uncertainty or payment of any interest.  These are called maysir, qimar, gharar and riba.  We will indeed discuss this more fully tomorrow.  

 

I would however end up with the words education, education, education.

 

Thank you

 

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