My Thanks To Glasgow’s Muslim Community
Yesterday evening, I stepped foot inside the Glasgow Central Mosque for the first time, having been invited to attend the annual dinner which they host during Islam Awareness Week. As one would expect, this invitation alone was an honour. After all, to be invited into a community’s house of worship for a fantastic dinner and a guided tour – all free of charge – was a great privilege in itself.
And yet, somewhat ironically on the day of Scotland’s first solar eclipse for sixteen years, these honours – great though they undoubtedly were – were eclipsed by what happened at the end of the evening. Previously, I had been told via email that representatives of the Glasgow Central Mosque and Feed Glasgow – the Muslim run community group whom this website raised funds for last season – wished to give me a token of their appreciation.
Naively, I presumed this would perhaps be a certificate or something similar, and I also took it for granted that several such small presentations would be made, but this was not to be the case. In fact, as the evening drew to a close, prior to the last prayer and blessing rounding off the seated part of the event, a gentleman took to the stage and began to speak of the great charity work carried out by one individual in attendance. Typically, it took a good minute or so before the proverbial penny dropped that the man in question was talking about myself. A few moments later, amid more than a minor flurry of nerves I must confess, I was invited onto the stage and given a rousing round of applause. As someone who generally attempts to avoid public speaking unless it is absolutely essential, I declined the offer to take up the microphone, said my thanks, and returned to my table, but having stayed silent last night, I felt the least I could do was to write this article today.
Now, those of you who know me personally will be able to attest to the following fact – I am not someone who particularly seeks any sort of recognition for my charity work, nor am I an individual who enjoys the so-called limelight. In fact, generally speaking I’d much rather be the person sitting away up the back of a room applauding someone else than I would be the person receiving the applause front and centre. In all honesty, I could have shed the odd tear or two last night, because whilst neither adulation nor applause are things which I seek, that does not mean they do not mean a lot to me when they do come along.
Latterly, we were treated to a tour of the Mosque, including the prayer hall itself. This tour was not simply informative, but very enlightening also. Whilst it will come as no surprise to you all to know I often do not trust sections of the mainstream media, even as someone who doesn’t believe everything they see on the television or read in a newspaper, the number of misconceptions which are often spouted by the aforementioned sources became abundantly clear.
Do not believe any individual, be they a politician, media representative or any other, who tries to suggest that the Muslim Community of Glasgow or Scotland harbour any ill intentions whatsoever. These are a peaceful, honest and spiritual people who deserve love and respect rather than vilification. They are Glaswegian and Scottish, and form an integral part of our modern, ever more inclusive society.
In closing, ladies and gentlemen, I would firstly like to thank all of you who have contributed to any of our previous or ongoing charitable appeals. This award may have been presented to me last night, but without your continuing generosity, neither this success nor any of that of our other appeals would have been possible, and for that you all have my unwavering gratitude.
Secondly, I would like to thank all of those involved with Feed Glasgow, who work tirelessly to aid Glasgow’s homeless community. Although I wish to one day see a world where no such work is required, I know that the real world is not so idealistic as that sadly, and therefore I hope you continue to go from strength to strength.
Finally, my thanks must go to all of those at the Glasgow Central Mosque, and to Glasgow’s Muslim Community in general. I genuinely cannot put into words how much the honour which you chose to bestow upon me meant to myself and my family. It is sufficient to say that it was an experience which will stay with me forever. You are a credit to yourselves, to your city, and to Islam, and I wish you all the very best for the future. Thank you.