Faith Associates is a strategic consultancy that has been committed to building capacity and developing the leadership of Islamic faith institutions through expert advice, guidance and bespoke training programmes.
A key aspect of the work we do is to engage the Muslim community on an institutional level with a look at improving standards and building capacity. Faith Associates is aware of the impact current counter terrorism strategies have had on the Muslim community and on their key institutions and sees itself in a unique position to be able to provide advice and support to organisations that approach it.
In March 2015, Parliament approved guidance issued under section 29 of the act about how specified authorities are to comply with the Prevent duty. Within this major development of UK Law, Faith Associates feels compelled to help best interpret the law and its implementation guidance within the context of Islamic faith institutions. We have challenged it where its misinterpreted and pointed out excesses that are detrimental to the community we serve, but also support and help people and institutions that are victims of extremism or vulnerable to exploitation.
Faith Associates has provided consultancy support locally in the UK and Overseas on both a paid and pro-bono basis (feesabililah). We have received funding for our consultancy, training, and development work through various means, including:
- Charities and International institutions such as the UN & European Union
- Private Businesses, Mosques & Madrassah
- Local Authorities/Councils (Funds from Prevent, Cohesion, Community Safety and other public authority funding pots). In many cases local community organisations seeks council support and hence we are commissioned to help. There have never been any preconditions imposed on Faith Associates as our products and services are commissioned based on what is in the public domain whether it’s Mosque or Madrassah governance training or capacity building trustees.
Faith Associates Work
The programmes, schemes of work and many of the publications that Faith Associates has produced and implemented were developed before Prevent became law and have not been altered since. The transparent nature of the content of Faith Associates’ work is emphasised in its public availability via the website which includes publications that have been funded and supported by the Muslim community.
The Mosque Management training programme, which has been highlighted, is derived from a toolkit authored and compiled by senior experts at Faith Associates and is extensive in its content as it covers all operational aspects of a faith institution from its management structure, governance, health and safety, terms of employment, finances, communications, accountability, transparency, development, vision and outreach. In addition to all this, reference to legislative compliance makes up small but important element. You can see the full extent of what is covered by downloading the guide here.
The support service offered to Madrassahs and supplementary schools covers similar notions of organisational management with a key focus on training staff and management with the skills and knowledge that will ensure the safety of children at risk of harm. The safeguarding component of our Madrassah Management is again extensive in what it covers and focuses on 11 key areas (as highlighted below) with 4 additional areas of Prevent, Child Sexual Exploitation, E-Safety and FGM. This specialised training has been approved by a number of local authorities and safeguarding boards and reflects what mainstream teachers in schools are required to know and receive.
The key objective for Faith Associates has always been to encourage and establish excellence within the Muslim community through competent management and service delivery. The development of its work precedes the implementation of Prevent as law and extends well beyond it being its key focus. Claims that the work we do has been deliberately produced and is in some way insidiously manipulating the Muslim community is untrue. We have been transparent in our consultations and advice to institutions and faith leaders that have asked us and will continue to operate in this vein. In some cases, where Prevent funding has been offered by local authorities, we have consulted the community, presented the programme and sought their permission before beginning any work.
The Counter Terrorism agenda, compliance with its law, understanding of its need as well as the notion of engagement and having working relationships with statutory bodies and government departments is the conversation that needs to take place within Muslim communities to curb further animosity and fear. Faith Associates will continue to work to protect our community, its institutions and safeguard its interest in the best way possible by seeking advice (shura) from key Islamic authorities and Islamic activists.
With the legitimate concerns the UK Muslim community has against some of the approaches and language being used by politicians and within the media, it is now more important than ever to come together as a collective body to effectively deal with the challenges we face in whatever form they arise.
Clarification on Imams Online Digital Summit with Google
The Imams Online Digital Summit, being held on the 11th January in partnership with Google UK, is an example of us facilitating a conversation between senior Muslim leaders and leading governmental and non-governmental authorities and executives to provide an opportunity for the Muslim community to engage at the highest level and bring their grievances, concerns and solutions to the fore through constructive dialogue and positive engagement.
We would like to clarify that contrary to some false accusations, this event has not been funded by Prevent but is being supported in-kind by Google UK. There is also some confusion around Shaykh Omar Suleiman and the event. Shaykh Omar was scheduled to deliver a special message via live link as opposed to being there in person. Having spoken to him privately, we respect his decision to not be a part of the event in any capacity, we continue to have a good relationship with him.
The programme is open to all and we expect there to be a robust conversation, free from rhetoric and accusations. We are deeply grateful to Google for supporting the event and funding it in kind. We value the trust they have put in us as an organisation and we look forward to developing and deepening the partnership for the benefit of all concerned.
The litmus test for us is how the authenticity of our work is perceived. We will continue to pursue a positive and constructive dialogue with anyone who wishes to support the efforts of Muslim communities or organisations for the benefit of society. We implore the Muslim community to be thorough in their critique of our work and judge it purely on its Islamic ethos. If you find it to be contrary to the Islamic understanding on an issue, we are open to hear your concerns and endeavour to rectify our mistakes.
We thank you for giving us this opportunity to clarify our positions and remove any misconceptions there may be around our work. We are ever grateful for the support we have received from Islamic scholars, leaders of Islamic institutions, local community and the wider non-Muslim community and endeavour to continue working in the same vein for Muslim communities in the UK and abroad.
We will continue to avoid attacking other Muslim groups, organisations and individuals and focus on building coalitions and constructive dialogue for the betterment of all Insha’Allah.
CEO – Faith Associates