A mosque imam and madressa principal has asked whether ‘representatives’ have the interests of the community at heart.

Maulana Suhail Manya from Masjide Tauheedul Islam, one of Blackburn largest mosques, sent a message in both Urdu and English to worshippers on the eve of the second lockdown.

The comments have been described as causing 'unnecessary disunity' in the middle of a pandemic.

Religious buildings can stay open but only for individual prayers and no congregations are permitted. Madressas have also closed and classes have been switched to online sessions.

In a long message where he talks about the government restrictions Maulana Suhail asked whether ‘representatives had the right intentions’ and asked ‘whose agenda they were following’.

He does not name any specific organisation or any one individual.

The present restrictions in place are part of the UK’s wider lockdown which are dictated ultimately by the government.

On madressas closing Maulana Suhail is heard saying, “Face to face learning for eight hours in schools can continue but face to face learning in our madressas for 2 and half hours cannot continue. We are not going to oppose it. It should be challenged. But there are avenues and ways of challenging.

“And this is my question. Those organisations that claim to represent us the Muslim ummah at every given opportunity they stand before cameras and they give their statements for them to be printed in the newspapers. Whose agenda are they following?

“Whose interests are they keeping in mind? Do they have mine and your interests at heart?

“Do they have the interests of our children at heart? Why is it they are not being represented? Or their interests and our interests cannot be represented in a better manner.”

He further asks if the representatives are ‘colluding’ with those who do not have the ‘same imaan, faith as us’;.

He says, “There should be certain questions arising in your minds as to why is this happening.

“Particularly why is one small community which is a minority in the United Kingdom affected by these restrictions in comparison to the other community.

“Why are they so gravely affected by these restrictions affected in comparison to the other community? And think about your representation. Those claiming to represent me and you. Who are they representing? Whose interests do they have at heart? Who are they colluding with? Who are they meeting with? How are they making decisions?

“When you come to the bottom of that you will come to realise that the people they are colluding with and sitting with they are not of the same imaan, faith as us.”

He ends with, “So a few points, May Allah protect the masjid, May Allah protect the madressa, May Allah protect the Muslims, May Allah protect the non-Muslims.”

The comments were lambasted on social media with some users saying he was criticising unpaid workers and representatives who are trying their best in testing times.

They have also been described as ‘unwise’ by one leading community activist.

Asif Mahmud, said, “In these challenging times, it’s unwise and unhelpful to add further anxiety and division within minority groups.

“Minority groups are already facing economic and social issues which are acute and such ‘speeches’ are designed to undermine the hard work volunteer and representative groups are engaging in for no personal reward.

“Comments like ‘whose agenda are they following’ or ‘colluding with people who don’t have same imaan, faith as us’, are ‘Trumpesque’.

“I am really disappointed that someone in this position is comfortable making such statements when what we need now is unity and understanding. Many of us want to hold representatives to account but this seems to me to ask questions of ‘intentions’ of hard-working people in these testing times.

“I understand many mosques and volunteer groups have already done a lot to help their community.

“Instead of making these such accusations, we should be encouraging people to work together for the betterment of the wider community.”

Earlier in the speech Maulana Suhail​ asks worshippers to attend the mosque but asks people to keep to all the government rules and regulations. 

He is heard saying, “As we know the government has announced a second lockdown and this announcement was made last week and there were certain restrictions brought into place.

“From these restrictions the one pertaining to the masjid is very simple. As of tomorrow (November 5) morning congregational prayers (namaz with Jamaat) is not permitted. Only individual prayers are permitted. So how we did through lockdown that is how the imam and the muezzin will continue to do their salah (prayer).

“But we as the Muslim community will continue to come to the masjid because there is no restriction. We will come to the masjid at the time of salah. We will do our individual prayers and inshallah Allah will reward us as if we perform salah with jamaat (congregation).

“Because we are compelled to follow the law of the land our intention and our wish to perform salah with jamaat. But because the law does not allow us we will perform salah on our own.

“We will come to the masjid at the time of fajr. We will come at the time of Zuhr, at the time of Asr, at the time of magrib, at the time of Isha because coming and going from the masjid is Mubarak. It is blessed and we are blessed.

“Because Allah allows us to come towards his house five times a day. This must continue and it must continue with more vigour. It must continue with more energy. It must continue with more vibrance. It must continue with more love. It must continue with more dedication because we as a Muslim community have a responsibility to Allah and to our children.

“So, the masjid will remain open throughout the day as per normal and we will not restrict that in any way. There is only one restriction that is namaz with congregation. But as I have said there is no government that rewards us for coming to the masjid.”

“Allah gives us the tofeeq and Allah rewards us.”