The British Board of Scholars & Imams

Category: Statements

The Global Imams & Scholars’ Charter – The Global Imams & Scholars Network

The Global Imams & Scholars’ Charter – The Global Imams & Scholars Network

The Global Imams & Scholars’ Charter

Seven of the world’s leading scholars and imams councils and boards have developed a historic charter for Western imams and scholars.

The British Board of Scholars & Imams (BBSI), Australian National Imams Council (ANIC), European Council of Imams, Canadian Council of Imams (CCI), North American Imams Federation (NAIF), United Ulama Council of South Africa, and Ulama Council of New Zealand have come together to collaborate on mutually beneficial work.

The Global Imams and Scholars Network aims to share knowledge and promote traditional and orthodox principles and the message of Islam and preserve the Islamic identity for Muslims living in the west.

The Global and Imams & Scholars’ Charter are general principles the network seeks to inculcate within their work and encourage other imams and scholars to adopt.

Download the PDF: Global Imams & Scholars Charter

BBSI Eid ul Fitr Guidance – 1442

BBSI Eid ul Fitr Guidance – 1442

BBSI Guidance – Eid 1442 – Turning to Allah in Ease and Hardship

To You, our Lord, do we complain of our weakness, our lack of support and the humiliation we are made to receive. O Most Compassionate and Merciful! You are the Lord of the weak,
and You are our Lord.

To whom would You leave us? To a distant stranger who receives us with hostility? Or to an enemy whom You have given power over us? But as long as You are not displeased with us, we care not what we must face. Yet, O Allah, we would be more pleased with Your mercy.

We seek refuge in the light of Your Blessed Countenance – by which all darkness is dispelled and both this life and the Life Eternal are put in their right course – against incurring Your wrath or being the subject of Your anger. To You do we submit, that we might earn Your pleasure, for everything is powerless without your support.

The month of Ramadan is one in which, as well as our spirits drawing closer to God in worship, our hearts grow closer to our fellow human beings through the feeling of hunger and fatigue, and through our supplications for them by night. As the month has drawn on, our hearts have been filled with grief and hurt about the situation of oppressed and persecuted communities, particularly Muslim ones, throughout the world.

Whether the ongoing oppression of the Uighurs in China, the ongoing and needless devastating famine in Yemen, the continuing plight of the displaced Rohingyas, the brutalised Syrians, or those in developing countries being overwhelmed by COVID-19, it is both right and natural to feel a deep sense of empathy and compassion for their suffering, as well as a burning desire to somehow rectify their circumstances. This is the definition of raḥma (mercy), and we are the Community of the Mercy to all creation (peace and blessings upon him).

The latest news about the dreadful events at Al-Aqsa, Jerusalem, Palestine and now Gaza: yet more Palestinians being forced from their homes, thousands of worshippers being assaulted by the Israeli army during prayer on the most holy nights of the year in one of our most sacred places, have served as a grim capstone to this feeling. Many Muslims, from the relative comfort and safety of our lives in the UK, feel increasingly helpless about what we can do to assist our brothers and sisters – in Islam as well as in humanity – elsewhere in the world.

At present, it is not the role of the BBSI to put out statements or calls about events occurring beyond our borders, though many of our Council have done so in our personal and other organisational capacities. However, it is very much the role of this fellowship of scholars to provide guidance and theological leadership for the community in such circumstances. In recognition of this, we humbly offer up this guidance for constructively channelling the human feelings that we all experience for the suffering of our fellow human beings and believers into holistic action, at spiritual, physical and emotional levels.

Responding Spiritually

The first of these is to turn to God in earnest worship, sincere repentance, and heartfelt supplication. This is especially but not exclusively so during blessed times such as the nights of Eid, the last third of the night, at fast-breaking and after prayer. Unfortunately, this is something that is often dismissed by those who feel that more tangible action is the only true action. Yet this is not an alternative to physical action, but rather the true basis of all our deeds. 40 times a day, we recite in prayer “You alone we worship, and to You alone do we turn for aid, guide us to and along the straight path”. This is the basis of all our interactions with the world around us: we first turn to our Lord, acknowledging His lordship, His power, His wisdom in directing the events of creation, and seeking to act based on His infinite strength and wisdom, rather than our own weakness and fallibility.

We strongly encourage every Muslim, no matter whether you think your du’as are worthy of being answered or not (they are), and no matter how religious or not you consider yourself to be, to sincerely supplicate to Allah to relieve oppression, to end persecution, to provide consolation, to bring relief, to rectify affairs, and to cover all in His merciful embrace. In addition, always remember that everything that occurs falls under the decree and destiny of Allah, and nothing escapes His Knowledge, His Will and His Power. There is no place for hopelessness, helplessness, despair or futile rage in the heart of a believer, and if you experience any of these feelings, then turn back to Allah, for ‘in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace’.

We encourage the recitation of the powerful du’as that have been transmitted from the Prophet (s), his companions and successors, and the righteous of this Umma for relief and success, including the prayer of need, the Du’a al-Nasiri, and others. Additionally, we strongly encourage mosque Imams (and individuals) to consider the performance of the Qunut al-Nazila (the prayer to avert calamity), to be recited aloud after the ruku’ of the last rakat of any of the 5 daily prayers. This is a confirmed sunna during periods of great crisis, particularly but not exclusively according to the relied upon (mu’tamad) position of the Shafi’i school. The Hanafi school’s position is to recite the Nazilat at Fajr prayer after the second ruku.

All other actions, whether financial support, information raising, and protests of different types, are to be undertaken with the firm conviction that it is Allah who rectifies affairs and brings success; human endeavour in this regard is thus primarily about fulfilling our responsibilities to God and the community to ‘stand as witnesses for justice, even if against our own kin’, to ‘assist one another in righteousness and taqwa, and not assist one another in fomenting sinfulness and enmity’, to ‘stop evil, whether by hand, tongue, or to detest it in one’s heart’ and to ‘bring forth the good, for Allah loves those who bring forth good’.

Responding with Knowledge and Action


Seek to learn about the situation of Muslims around the world, especially those in states of difficulty and hardship.
This should go beyond simply regurgitating snippets of information from social media, which may or may not be verified, and apprising oneself of the nuances and complexities of the circumstance (or at least, to realise that there are complexities).


Based on this, seek to work towards strategic, achievable and concrete solutions or assistance, rather than tokenistic gestures that are quickly forgotten.

Inform others of the plight of Muslims in a clear and fair-minded way. Consider your audience, and what element of the situation is likely to appeal to them most.


In terms of the land of Bayt al-Maqdis, specifically, one should seek to understand and distinguish between the theological and ethical aspects of the conflict.

The latter relates to acts of oppression and persecution, such as state-sanctioned indiscriminate killing, seizure of people’s homes, the use of state power to terrorise and dominate a largely helpless population, discriminatory policies, unfair and unequal distribution of resources, and so forth, which have all been documented by Palestinian, Israeli, and international rights organisations.

This latter element is common to many conflicts and the source of much human misery – whether Muslims are the victims, perpetrators, both, or neither – and we should always be vociferously opposed this no matter where it occurs.

The former relates to, for example, the importance of the land to all three Abrahamic faiths, and the specific importance of the region in Prophetic discourse. Syro-Palestine (Shaam) and al-Aqsa specifically have a very special place in the hearts of Muslims: our first qibla, the setting-off point of the Mi’raj, and the place where all the Prophets were honoured to have our Prophet (s) lead them in prayer. It was a place that he (s) spoke about many times – there are over forty Prophetic narrations on the blessedness of this land.


Fulfil your responsibility to both speak out against injustice, oppression and persecution in a general way, but also to raise awareness of the ‘Palestine Question’ and its importance to Muslims around the world.

Supporting charities and other agencies working to alleviate the suffering of those who are oppressed, wronged and downtrodden, financially, by volunteering and by offering your own skill set to their disposal. Support movements such as BDS, which are peaceful means to raise awareness.

Additionally, once it is safe to do so, every Muslim from the UK should make a firm intention to visit Jerusalem at least once in their lives. There is nothing that the inhabitants of that land wish for more than for the world to know that the Muslims have not forgotten Palestine, and nothing that makes them happier than our visiting them and thereby showing that solidarity with them.

At the same time as visiting the holy sites, visit Palestinian families, send gifts for their children, support their businesses and economy however you can. If possible, also visit one of the interfaith organisations in Jerusalem – some set up by Israeli Jews themselves – that work tirelessly to hold their own government and people to account and to bring about fairness.


Learn and raise awareness about the causes of the occupation – some historical, some contemporary, some theological and others political – that fuel the ongoing conflict.

Seek to understand the reasons for, signs of, and ways to overcome bias in the media.

At the same time, learn about the complexity of the situation, and the complicity of some Muslim countries in the ongoing persecution – whether occurring in Palestine, Syria, China, Myanmar or elsewhere.

Recognising when the Muslims themselves are committing wrongs, and clearly distinguishing between the action (which may be wrong) and the reason for the action (which may be justified).


Work together in a strategic, cohesive manner to find effective ways of both supporting organisations and individuals that are supporting truth and justice, and calling out and holding to account those that propagate falsehoods, support oppression.

Pressing our elected representatives to raise these issues in the corridors of power, and supporting them when they do so.

Developing effective media strategies (and supporting those with the ability to do so) to challenge distorted narratives, including coordinated campaigns to demand fairness in media reporting.

Working with other faith-based, or secular organisations to build bonds based on mutually agreed objectives and ideals, on the basis of the Quranic dictum: ‘Come to a word (agreement) common between us’.

Lastly, we urge all believers, during this blessed time, not to lose hope in Allah’s mercy, wisdom and power. There are many individuals and organisations working tirelessly both at grassroots and within the corridors of power and influence who have started to see a deep-rooted change in attitudes towards some of these adversities – particularly Palestine.

More broadly, though it may be difficult to believe, the Umma of Muhammad (s) has been in a worse position than this, and it has survived. It will survive this too. Place your trust in the Decree of Allah, and set your hands, minds and tongues to work in fulfilling His command. Be peacemakers. Be witnesses for truth, justice and reconciliation. Be beacons of mercy and compassion for all mankind, yet unafraid to stand up to tyranny, following the Sunna of the Mercy to all Creation (s).

Lastly, remember that we are created for the hereafter, that this world is only a temporary abode, that after hardship comes ease, and that the reality of things is not the same as its appearance. Many of those in states of hardship and suffering have been raised – by that very suffering – to such states of Iman that they will look to us with pity on the Day of Resurrection, as we look towards them with pity now. As He told the Prophet (s) at the outset of his mission,

‘Your Lord has not abandoned you, nor is he displeased, and what is to come will be far better for you than what has gone past.’

Celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week with Five ways to Wellbeing and Islam

Celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week with Five ways to Wellbeing and Islam

Monday 10 May 2021, marks the launch of Mental Health Awareness Week, the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health.

COVID-19 has impacted the whole world; for almost everyone, life has had to change profoundly with an increase in a range of mental health conditions for adults, from emotional exhaustion, sleep problems and anxiety to depression. In response, the Good Thinking team has been developing the service making changes to offer better and more relatable support to Muslim communities in London. Millions of us have experienced a mental health problem or seen a loved one struggle and we understand that people might be feeling anxious, stressed or struggling with other mental health concerns.

As part of the awareness week, Good Thinking has been working in partnership with Muslim communities in The London Borough of Newham, Newham Council’s Public Health Team, and the Mental Health Lead for North East London CCG to create the Five Ways to Wellbeing and Islam, as recommended by the NHS. This expanded resource is to meet the growing demand for mental health support across London and its diverse communities and to provide curated resources that feel more culturally appropriate for faith communities.

The five ways to good mental wellbeing and Islam, are based on NHS advice and are also encouraged in Islamic teachings, they are:

  1. Connect with Allah and with people
  2. Be physically active
  3. Learn something new each day
  4. Give to others
  5. Pay attention to the present moment

Endorsed by the Muslim Council for Britain, British Islamic Medical Association and The British Board of Scholars and Imams, the Five Ways to Wellbeing and Islam will be available in seven languages English, Bengali, Gujarati, Urdu, Somali, Hindi and Arabic as part of the wider toolkit. The toolkit provides a series of videos and accompanying animations on the five ways to wellbeing that can be shared on WhatsApp and across various social media platforms.

It has never been more important to look after your mental wellbeing and help your loved ones.

Dr Wajid Akhter, Vice President, British Islamic Medical Association, said:

“In order for communities to improve their mental health, they need to be able to view it in terms that they recognise and empathise with. The “5 ways to good mental wellbeing and Islam” developed by Good Thinking is a perfect example of faith-based and mental health expertise combining to produce guidance that is not only accessible but hopefully inspirational.”

Sheikh Hasan, Founding Trustee, The British Board of Scholars & Imams (BBSI), said:

“With our communities feeling worried, anxious and isolated during these challenging times, Good Thinking highlights that there are lots of things we can do to look after our mental wellbeing and help others. We are pleased to endorse this campaign and commit to working alongside Good Thinking and other key partners to play our role in supporting our community.”

Zara Mohammed, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said:

“There has never been a more crucial time to support mental well-being initiatives due to COVID-19. The Good Thinking campaign will provide a range of resources to help Londoners improve their mental health in so many ways. It is my pleasure to support this initiative along with key partners in this vital work they are doing for our communities which is needed more than ever.”

Dr Imrana Siddiqui, GP & Clinical Lead for Mental Health North East London CCG, said:

“Islam promotes a holistic way of life and encourages good mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Good Thinking, by meaningfully co-producing with Muslim communities and experts, has produced a compelling resource incorporating values of Islam harmoniously into NHS guidance. We hope Muslim communities will find these culturally tailored resources relatable and practical in promoting wellbeing and self-care during these challenging times and beyond.”

Cllr Zulfiqar Ali, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Newham Council, said:

“Newham Council is delighted to be collaborating with Good Thinking to raise awareness of mental health wellbeing within the Muslim community, especially in this extraordinary climate. It is vital that communities recognise that poor mental health is an illness and treat it with the same seriousness as poor physical health. It is comforting to know that there are many resources available to help treat mental illness, and I urge residents not to suffer in silence. The first step is acknowledging it and then talking to your GP who can refer or signpost you to the right services.”

Muhammad Uddin, Newham Muslim Forum, said:

“We’re living through incredibly challenging times and our communities are facing intense pressures. People are worried, anxious and feeling alone. The Good Thinking app gives us some very important tools that we can use to help manage our mental well-being, while engaging with our faith-based traditions. We can only help others if we first help ourselves. Newham Muslim Forum are pleased to endorse this campaign and commit to working alongside Good Thinking and other key partners to play our role in supporting our community.”

Some of the ways you can support this campaign during Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond:

For more information, visit


Notes to editors

For more information or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact

About Good Thinking

Good Thinking is an online mental wellbeing platform that helps Londoners look after their mental health and wellbeing in a way that works for them. Since its launch in 2017, more than half a million people have used our digital service to tackle anxiety, stress, low mood, sleep problems and other concerns. Good Thinking is free for those that live, study or work in London thanks to the support of the Mayor of London, London Councils, Directors of Public Health and Public Health England. It is delivered by Healthy London Partnership.

Available 24/7 on any device and completely anonymous, Good Thinking provides a range of resources to help Londoners improve their mental wellbeing, including free NHS-approved apps, articles, blogs, podcasts, self-assessments, videos and printable workbooks. All the apps we recommend are independently assessed and our clinically validated self-assessment tool is powered by DoctorLink.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have expanded our resources to meet the growing demand for mental health support across London. Londoners have told Good Thinking that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to their health – they want information and support that reflects how they live and what their values are.

So, Good Thinking has been working with a variety of organisations, faith communities, academies, charities, and many others to create tailored, impactful content. Everyone’s mental health is different – we are here to help you find your own path to improve your wellbeing. Visits to our website and downloads of our resources have increased significantly during the pandemic.

For more information, visit

BBSI Ramadan 2021/1442 Guidelines for the UK Muslim Community

BBSI Ramadan 2021/1442 Guidelines for the UK Muslim Community

This guidance will address the most salient issues that affect the community in this blessed time. It is based on sharia guidelines about the performance of these central acts of worship, but also takes into consideration the health and safety guidance from Public Health England, as
well as government guidance and regulations relating to lockdown. The major points have been discussed and agreed with central government representatives just prior to publication, and should serve as evidentiary in discussions with local authorities and health boards.

We pray that this month is one filled with spirituality, charity, striving, mercy and forgiveness for all of us, through which we draw closer to our Lord and one another – emotionally, not physically!

To read and download the full guidance please click bbsi ramadan guideline 2021 V6blue



Reports suggest Batley Grammar School used materials that depicted the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) wearing a turban with a bomb in it. Such caricatures are extremely offensive and distressing which only serve to play into the stereotype of Islam and Muslims being synonymous with terrorism.

The BBSI has undertaken to prepare a clear statement about the status of the Holy Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, explaining precisely why Muslims are so hurt and distressed at such insulting depictions of him.

Schools have a responsibility to provide an environment in which children can feel safe, valued and respected and wherein their learning is carried out without ridicule of their beliefs and practices.

We welcome the acknowledgment of Batley Grammar School that the material used was inappropriate and was not conducive to a safe and healthy teaching environment, and note the steps they have taken in engaging with the local Muslim community to resolve the matter together.

We would also like to commend the various Batley Muslim community organisations on how they have constructively engaged with the school and are confident that an appropriate resolution will be reached.

Further, we support the right to publicly express views in a responsible and legitimate manner, which is also part and parcel of the Islamic tradition.

Finally, we encourage all Muslim communities in the UK to engage positively with their local authorities and schools on appropriate teaching materials which are age appropriate and sensitive to the pupils’ religious and cultural heritage.

Mental Health Toolkit for Imams and Scholars

Mental Health Toolkit for Imams and Scholars

The British Board of Scholars & Imams (BBSI) developed a unique mental health toolkit and delivered mental health training webinars to over 200 imams, scholars, chaplains and mosque committee members across the UK and abroad. Please see below the toolkit and a brief report of the webinars conducted. We would like to thank everyone for their participation. If you would like to organise a webinar please contact us:

To download the toolkit please click Mental Health Toolkit

To download the webinar report please click MH_Toolkit_Webinar_Report_Final

Regulation permits Madrasas to open for face-to-face teaching, subject to conditions being met

Regulation permits Madrasas to open for face-to-face teaching, subject to conditions being met

Following a meeting on 23 March 2021 with a Government adviser, BBSI has confirmed that current Regulations in force from 8 March 2021 permit Madrasas to open for the purposes of supervised activities for children, that is for face-to-face teaching but only for a select group of children including:

  • where the child or young person is vulnerable, and
  • the provision or activities are reasonably necessary to enable the parent/person who has parental responsibility for, or care of the child, to work, search for work, to undertake training or education, attend a support group or to attend to a medical need.

Please read the Regulation and relevant Government guidance(s) including on out of school settings and on what is understood as vulnerable children – see links below.

Madrasa Managers who consider opening for face-to-face teaching as well as remote teaching must ensure risk assessments are updated including to take account of local infection rates and to implement reasonable precautionary measures to continue to ensure staff and students are safe at the Madrassah.

Regulations on Madrasa, i.e. supervised activity for children is likely to be eased and changed on 12 April 2021 to allow ‘all’ children to attend for face-to-face teaching.

If Madrassah Managers decide to open for face-to-face teaching, please consider as best practice:

  • To notify the Local Authority and Police of any permitted activity at the Masjid/Madrassah incl. sending a link of the Regulation to explain what it permits to pre-empt and avoid any complaints being taken seriously,
  • To post the relevant passage of the Regulation or its summary on the notice board – see link below.
  • To obtain appropriate support and advice


24 3 21

  1. Summary of the current Regulation can be found on page 23 of the College of Policing website


  1. Protective measures for holiday and after-school clubs, and other out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak Updated 11 March 2021


  1. Children of critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings updated 9 March 2021




Top Ten Questions Imams & Scholars Get Asked About Vaccines

Top Ten Questions Imams & Scholars Get Asked About Vaccines

The British Board of Scholars & Imams (BBSI) is a national board of traditionally trained scholars and academics, some of whom are senior medical doctors, expert researchers & practitioners, including in fields such as sociology and anthropology. The BBSI has consulted its expert members and other Muslim scholarly and professional bodies, both from the UK and around the world, to produce these questions and answers. We have also liaised with official and independent bodies in preparation of this report.

A longer guidance, which will explore the issues in more detail, is also being produced, which will examine, among other things, how jurists take decisions on such issues, and how they select and appraise the information they rely upon to do so. It is critical to note that much of the current controversy surrounding vaccination is premised upon what information is considered to be factual and which authorities are trusted. Muslims have a long and proud history of examining exactly these questions, and the scholars consider them carefully.

This preliminary report has been produced to answer common questions that Imams and scholars are asked about vaccination, in order to help them to tackle these questions when they come. We pray it will be of some benefit. It should be noted that this is an evolving situation, and as some of the guidance here is based on current circumstances, it is accurate only insofar as the medical information we have relied upon remains accurate.

It should also be taken on board by the general public that a number of the legal rulings and advice noted in this report are differed upon by some scholars. The BBSI respects qualified difference of opinion, which is a central tenet of traditional Islamic knowledge, and advises individuals to discuss their own personal circumstance with their own scholars and health professionals.

Allah knows best.

To read the full guidance please Download: BBSI-Vaccines-2020

Open call to end Islamophobia faced by Muslim staff and students in Higher Education Institutions

Open call to end Islamophobia faced by Muslim staff and students in Higher Education Institutions

The recently published EHRC report (November 2020) has shown evidence of institutional and structural racism experienced by ethnic minority academics. Empirical research focusing on Muslims provides evidence of widespread experiences of Islamophobia (anti-Muslim discrimination) (Allen, 2014; Awan and Zempi, 2019).  Islamophobia has been reported in Higher Education (Scott-Bauman, 2019; Stevenson, 2018); NHS (Malik et al, 2019); and when seeking employment (Wykes, 2018).

In Higher Education, research confirms that Muslim staff and students, as well as those perceived to be Muslim, experience varying forms of Islamophobia which go beyond social exclusion (Hopkins, 2011; NUS, 2012). These include microaggression, increased surveillance and anti-Muslim prejudice. Muslims continue to report discriminatory incidences which are defined as Islamophobic (Saeed, 2018; Thomas, 2016). Since the ‘war on terror’, increased securitization relating to legislation and policies together with religious profiling of staff and students have become acceptable and regular at UK universities. Islamophobia is tolerated in HE, with increased incidences and non-existent institutional response procedures (Tyrer and Ahmad, 2006; Ullah, 2016).

Ramadan (2017) shows Muslim academics are casually associated with the discourse of terrorism by others on their campuses. Respondents recount being questioned by colleagues on local and global events which are framed in the public domain through the lens of ‘Muslim extremism’. Furthermore, Islamophobia is gendered, and visibly Muslim women academics experience a range of Islamophobic microaggressions in their interactions with staff and students (Ramadan, 2017; 2020).

A common finding across these studies is that Islamophobic incidences on campus continue to go largely unreported, unacknowledged and unchallenged. Thus, universities have become places of hostility for many staff and students who are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim.

The anti-Islamophobia BBSI working group urges the Higher Education sector to urgently tackle Islamophobia on campus by:

  • Redressing the lack of recognition that Islamophobia is distinct from other forms of racism and needs to be challenged at all levels of the university.
  • Providing a consultation with Muslim students and staff to raise their concerns and involving them in framing campus-based policies and strategies.
  • When signing the ‘Race Equality Charter’ (REC) institutions should incorporate detailed assessment of what constitutes Islamophobia and anti-Muslim prejudice.
  • Implementing REC assessment which investigates and addresses the impact of Islamophobia on academic appointments and promotions procedures.
  • Setting up robust reporting, complaints, grievance, and wider reporting procedures which specifically include recognition of Islamophobic behaviour, its consequences, and appropriate institutional responses.
  • Including well-developed anti-Islamophobia training for EDI postholders across all HE institutions.

Notes to Editors

  1. The BBSI is an apolitical national assembly of imams, traditional scholars and Islamically literate Muslim academics.
  2. The BBSI supports Muslim academic staff and students and supports #IAM2020 Islamophobia Awareness Month 
  3. For further information, please contact


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    From the exec summary of BBSI-G10 – Published on 8 Nov 2020

    There is latitude within the current wording of the guidance and regulations for madrassas, including in places of worship, to remain open for ‘reasonable and necessary education’. This may change if the regulations change. Madrassas should consider on their own facts whether this is the case for them, and liaise closely with their local authority and the police, as well as ensuring that the education can be delivered safely. Online education should carry on where possible.

    A more detailed discussion:

    The importance of education in our religion cannot be understated; the very first revelation received by the blessed Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was to ‘read’, and the Quranic verses and hadiths about the merit of seeking knowledge are too plentiful to mention. This importance, not merely to the education of children (and adults), but also in terms of secondary benefits of freeing up parents and carers to seek work and income, as well as rest and respite, has also been recognised by the government.

    Safety remains the key consideration. As with prayer and opening places of worship, our position is that cessation of such activities as congregational worship or education can only be countenanced because of an over-riding preventative (mani’) – here, maintaining the health of attendees and the community in general. As such, our position is dependent upon whether or not the preventative measures will actually achieve this end. It is recognised that we now know a lot more about the virus than we did six months ago, especially in terms of who is affected, how it spreads and how to mitigate transmission.

    In this, we rely on expert opinion, who now indicate that such gatherings are safe enough to be allowed. Hence a major difference between the first and second lockdown is that places of education – schools and universities – are open this time. However, this blanket permission has not been extended to out-of-school settings, such as madrassas.

    The BBSI fully recognise that religious education is just as important as (if not more so than) mainstream education, and continue to advocate for this position in the forums in which we are involved – although it should be noted that our taskforce does not advise directly on the question of education. This is the responsibility of Department for Education. Our position is that, given that education is important and schools are deemed safe enough to be open, madrassas should also be open as long as: (1) educational gatherings are deemed safe by the Public Health experts, and (2) they are sure that they can follow the government health and safety guidelines.

    However, there appears to have been significant confusion about whether madrassas can in fact remain open during this period of lockdown. This confusion is caused, it seems, by the apparent contradiction between the government guidelines and the wording of the legal regulation. In the most recent update, including the legislation that has been passed in parliament, it is apparent that the default position is that madrassas should not be open, except in particular exceptional circumstances: that they are providing “necessary and reasonable” “education”. The regulation is silent on what this means, and leaves the determination of whether this is the case up to interpretation by the providing bodies; the guidelines on the other hand provide examples which do not appear to be restrictive (ie: there may be other examples). The most important of these is that if the madrassa is providing an essential child-care service to parents who have to go out to work or study.

    As such, this is a legal test which each madrassa will need to look at on its own facts.  It should also be noted that this may well be resolved one way or another in updates to either guidance or regulations, and that ultimately it is the local authority that will determine how the rules are to be interpreted and understood. Our advice, therefore, is to liaise closely with the Local Authority and Police, and provide clear examples of the types of permitted activity occurring on one’s premises. In summary, there appears to be latitude within the wording of the guidance and regulations for madrassas, including in places of worship, to remain open for ‘reasonable and necessary education’. What precisely this entails should be a matter for discussion between madrassas and the local authority, unless and until the ambiguity in the central guidance is resolved.

    We will continue to advocate for the importance of religious education, as we are advocating for the centrality of places of worship and communal prayer. We would also encourage the use of online education where possible, and remind all of the importance of containing the spread of the virus, especially in our community which has been affected in an outsize way.