President of Bradford Council for Mosques (CfM) Zulfi Karim has stepped down as leader after almost three years.
Zulfi Karim was elected as the sixteenth president of CfM in February 2019, replacing the then outgoing president Mohammed Ayub Laher.
As per the CfM’s constitution, the president of the council is an honorary role, and a person can only serve a term of two years before the next president is selected at an annual general meeting (AGM).
Mr Karim, who has worked as a programme director at the NHS full-time since 2018 has served almost three years due to the pandemic.
Mr Karim said: “No matter how much I would have liked to stay on, I have to allow others to take the seat. I should have stepped down after two years but because of the pandemic, I stayed on a bit longer to support the community through this very difficult time.
“It was a very difficult time as president during the pandemic, as it has been for all of us. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the role, I have gotten to meet some amazing people and see the real work that is going on in our mosques and our communities.”
Mr Karim added: “Mosques played a pivotal role in supporting the community during the pandemic, working alongside the NHS, and the Bradford Council. Everyone has played a part and I’m very honoured to serve my time over the last couple of years.
“The last thing you want to do is see people in the community dying and having to deal with funerals, so it has been challenging but it is time for new people to come along.”
CfM marked its 40th anniversary in September, putting on an extravagant celebration in Bradford with over 1,000 guests from across Bradford and West Yorkshire in attendance.
On 28 November, it was decided by the committee that Councillor for Bowling and Barkerend Imran Khan who is the Deputy Leader of Bradford Council and the Education, Employment and Skills Portfolio holder, would take the role.
Cllr Khan was put forward for the role through his local mosque, Nusrat Ul Islam or Preston Street Mosque, as it is more commonly known. However, he has been involved with CfM for several years. His father, Mumraz Khan, was vice-president of CfM many moons ago and so Cllr Khan would attend meetings with him.
Cllr Khan said: “I’m really excited about taking over this role as the new president for the CfM. This role is a challenging one especially given where we are at with Covid-19 and the support needed by the Muslim community and the mosques in Bradford District.
“It is a role I look forward to working in with colleagues to achieve the best possible outcomes for mainly the Muslim communities but all communities in the district.
“There are several things that we look to be doing in the coming months, including consolidating the organisation so that everything to do with representation including graveyards and burial spaces are brought under one organisation to build the trust and confidence of the communities we serve.
“We will also be looking at how we can make the organisation more inclusive to include women and young people in key decision-making processes.
The CfM is responsible for providing Muslim bereavement services in Bradford, operating cemeteries in Lidget Green, Bowling and Utley.
Members of the Council are required to declare their personal and financial interests and any interests that might be seen as prejudicing their decision-making.
Cllr Khan has registered his interest in bereavement services so that his role within Bradford Council and CfM doesn’t get confused. The councillor will have to leave meetings when this topic comes up.
Addressing the potential conflict in interest as serving as the president of CfM and Deputy Leader of Bradford Council, Cllr Khan said: “I’ve been elected as president in a voluntary capacity in my own right, I’ve not been elected because I am the Deputy Leader of the Council, it is because I’ve had the support of the mosques.
“My portfolio is education, not bereavement services so there is a different portfolio holder for that area. I have declared my interests to the Council and will not be in the room when discussions on bereavement services are taking place, but that doesn’t stop me from doing work in the background to make sure that things are being done right.
“The biggest problem we have right now is that we have several organisations sat under the umbrella of CfM that are separate companies or registered organisations. It doesn’t make sense; it all has to be done in-house. The sooner we can clarify this position, so everyone knows what is going on, the better.”
The announcement of the shift in leaders has been kept away from public eye, with no updates across any of their social media platforms or their website. The list of committee members is also not public information, so it is yet unknown who votes and what mosques they represent.