Dr. Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, Leader of the Muslim Parliament
The Muslim Parliament of Great Britain emerged from a study into the Muslim situation in Britain by the Muslim Institute, London, under the leadership of Dr Kalim Siddiqui, during the Rushdie affair in 1989-90. Unfortunately it was to decline rapidly following his death in 1996, and is now defunct to all intents and purposes.The Rise of the Muslim Parliament
The Muslim Parliament was led by Dr Kalim Siddiqui until his death in 1996, and depended on the facilities and infrastructure of the Muslim Institute. During this period, the Muslim Parliament was subjected to intense attacks from the British government, establishment and media. These obviously feared the emergence of a truly independent and popular Muslim political organization, preferring to promote community 'leaders' and 'representatives' who would be more malleable and co-operative.
Despite this hostility, the Muslim Parliament quickly became the most popular and influential Muslim community body in Britain. It established successful community projects in the areas of education, social welfare, halal food and charity work. Much of the Muslim Institute's traditional work in the area of the Islamic movement was also done in the Parliament's name.
However, in organizational terms, the Parliament remained embryonic, largely because of the emphasis on project work. The Muslim Parliament groups which it aimed to establish in every area of the country did not develop as quickly as had been hoped. The dependence on the Muslim Institute infrastructure was also problematic. Dr Siddiqui revised his initial estimated time for the full organizational development of the Muslim Parliament from 3 years to 6-8 years.
Unfortunately Dr Siddiqui did not live to see the Parliament through this period. He left the Muslim Parliament as an organization with a massive public profile, good will in the Muslim community, and unlimited potential, but also a difficult task to consolidate that potential in organizational terms. The leadership that succeeded him, under Dr M Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, proved unable to meet this challenge.
The decline of the Muslim Parliament
The Parliament had only one more session, in November 1996, before collapsing into disputes over Dr Ghayasuddin's authoritarian style of leadership (typified by the habit of personally appointing and dismissing Members of the Muslim Parliament (MMPs) without going through the normal procedures). There was also increasing dissatisfaction with other areas of his leadership, not least his inability to accept people who disagreed with him. This inevitably led to a loss of confidence among MMPs. The leadership also proved unable to sustain the Parliament's projects, which quickly collapsed. The Parliament's relationship with the Muslim Institute also broke down. In 1997-98, the Parliament dissolved into a number of squabbling cliques. Its projects have all collapsed.
Dr Ghayasuddin still operates as 'Leader of the Muslim Parliament', supported by a small number of MMPs (many of them his own appointments), but the institution he claims to lead no longer exists. Allegations about the use and misuse of charitable funds have raised widespread concern.
The collapse of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain is tragic for two reasons. Firstly, it was an institution with massive potential to serve the Muslims of Britain, and provide a model of community organization for Muslims elsewhere. And secondly, its collapse has been used by critics and enemies as evidence that the principles on which it was based were wrong. This is incorrect. The failure has been of leadership and management following Dr Kalim Siddiqui's death. The Parliament's success under his leadership from 1992-1996, and the impact that that short institutional life has had on British Muslim community affairs and the community's position in wider British society, show that the principles were absolutely sound. The greater tragedy would be if those principles were buried along with the institution.
Dr Kalim Siddiqui
The Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought
an intellectual centre of the global Islamic movement
When it was inaugurated in 1992, the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain was a radically new sort of Muslim political organization for minority Muslim communities living the west -- a "minority political system for Muslims in Britain" and a "non-territorial Islamic state". Unfortunately, it declined rapidly after Dr Kalim Siddiqui's death, and is now virtually defunct.
This part of the ICIT website gives more information on the Muslim Parliament. It consists of the following sections: