British imams plan new progressive national council

Qari Asim
Qari Asim

Some of Britains leading imams are considering a new centralised body to become a “progressive” voice for Islam in the UK and issue “authoritative” religious rulings on issues such as terrorism and honour killings.

The national council is expected to become the first central religious authority for British Muslims, delivering edicts on Islamic doctrine and providing a UK-wide voice on social issues, The Times reported.

Qari Asim, an adviser to a House of Commons inquiry into Sharia councils, said imams from groups such as the British Muslim Forum and Imams Online were deliberating on setting up a theological group of senior imams to deal with “interpretational issues”.

Imams from different denominations would be nominated to this new board by their mosques.

“The conversation is taking place. There is a need and internal pressure as young Muslims want to see more clarity,” he told the newspaper.

“The board must take a progressive stance that is in line with Islamic principles and embedded in a British context. For instance, Islam strictly prohibits honour killing and forced marriages, but misogynistic cultures have disempowered women,” he said.

Describing yesterdays terror attack in Barcelona as “depraved”, the imam said the new board would act as a “sensible voice” and provide “authoritative rulings”.

Existing British Muslim groups, such as the Muslim Council of Britain and the dormant Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, are umbrella bodies but have no broader say on religious doctrine.

Unlike the Church of England, there is no hierarchical structure to Islam in the UK, with most mosques operating independently.