Friday, August 14, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part CXLI: Fiyaz Mughal


Fiyaz Mughal is a former Deputy President of the Liberal Democrats and Chief Executive of the Enfield Citizens Advice Bureau. His blog is Is it cos I am a North Londoner?

What made you decide to start blogging?


I was tired of seeing bloggers talk about issues that were not really relevant to my life and so I decided to undertake a blog to further engage and interact with others on the net. I also wanted to be more accessible to others.


What is your best blogging experience?


Getting responses to blogs and seeing responses from other countries is always exciting. You suddenly realise that we are part of an increasingly connected world and that someone somewhere has read what you have written.



And your worst?


Getting poor one line responses which simply are unhelpful nor warrant a response.



What do you regard as your best blog entry?


My best blog entry took place after 7/7. I wanted to reach out and say that what took place in London affected us all as communities and as a Muslim, I deeply felt the impact and also felt that we all had been violated and affected by the actions of those who knew nothing about faith, nor about the spirit of resilience that binds us together irrespective of culture, faith, race or gender.



Favourite blogs?


My favourite blog has to be Guido Fawkes, though I have to say that I don’t agree with his political positions. Nonetheless, he does come up with the best scoops.



What inspired you to go into politics?


Sounds lame, but I thought I could make a positive change and I always felt comfortable working within communities and with people. I come from a deeply politicised family where one of my close relations is a Conservative, another a Labour member and with me holding up the Liberal Democrat flag. Conversations in the family home make for an interesting documentary!


Do you plan to run for Mayor of London again?


Yes, if the opportunity comes up again since I am a Londoner through and through and love this great City. Getting the nomination for the Liberal Democrats for the London Mayoral elections is something that I will continue to focus on. Hard work and perseverance – that is my motto.


You are keenly involved in promoting better relations between Muslims and Jews. How did that come about and do you see any sings of positive progress?


Yes, it came about after 2002 when military actions took place in Jenin and the West Bank . Now I am not going to get into the debate as to whether Jenin was a massacre or not since both Muslim and Jewish communities will already take polarising positions on this. Innocent people died and that is a fact and Palestinian areas were affected. That is not disputed. However, for me, it finally dawned on me that neither Israeli Jews nor Palestinians could ‘win’ by annihilating or completely destroying each other. For me, it became clear that dialogue and negotiation was the only way and this also led me to look at ways of bringing Jewish and Muslim communities together here in the UK .

It is also a fact that Muslims and Jews are probably two of the most closest faith groups around. When Islam was embraced in the Saudi Arabian peninsula in the 6th Century, prophet Muhammad undertook treaties and worked with Jewish communities who were present in the region. It is also a fact that even if we look at the life of the Prophet, he married a woman of Jewish heritage called Saffiyah. She was with him when she died. So, if this is how close our faiths have been linked, it is imperative for Muslims and Jews to overcome and find ways of working, standing up and advocating for each other. The narrative of Israel and Palestine (whilst extremely important), should not be the over-riding narrative which drowns out common sense and other bonds that we can develop. This is key.

Positive progress is slow, yet I think we are over the worst time in relations between both faith communities. I see more interaction between Muslim and Jewish communities and I will continually strive for these links and bridges to be made.


Is there anywhere abroad you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?


Yes, Timbuktu , once the centre of North African civilisation and a place that was the thriving heart of this region. I was born in Africa and the soil of Africa pulses in my veins even though home is now the UK .



Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?


Yes, Jerash in Jordan is beautiful. Built by Arabs under the occupation of the Romans, it is a City that takes away your breath since it is based on such a large site. It is also visited by a handful of people so the site is mostly empty and is built on a hill that sits so beautifully against the bright blue skyline.

Jerash is also a place of enduring love. Recent excavations unearthed small bottles at the site and these were used by wives who had lost husbands. At the burial, they would place their tears in the small bottles that were buried with their husbands.


Who, excluding the present leader, do you regard as the best Liberal Democrat/Liberal/SDP Party leader, and if different, the best Prime Minister?


Charles Kennedy and his brilliant oratory always captivated me. He was a man of great principle, integrity and most of all, a style that was down to earth and always friendly. A truly remarkable man who made an inspirational decision to go against Blair and Bush’s war in Iraq that led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people, both Arab and non-Arab.


Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?


Akbar for in him you found an individual who believed in pluralism and who held major interfaith discussions with scholars and faith leaders from Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and Hinduism at the height of the Timurlaine Mughal Empire in India . That was in the 1650’s and the plurality that built the foundations of his reign led to all faiths living side by side. Today we would call that community cohesion and that was 360 years ago.


Favourite Bond movie?


Moonraker


Favorite Doctor Who?


Tom Baker


Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?


Mint


Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?


Oasis


In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford , Cambridge , or Barsby, Leics..?


Oxford


Favourite national newspaper?


The Independent


What would you say your hobbies were?


Collecting Mughal antiques from India and travelling across the globe. Also, might sound weird, but I enjoy plane spotting J


And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?


Lady in red – Chris de Burgh

Fields of Gold – Sting

Rocketman – Elton John

Three Favourite Books

The Last Mughal – William Dalrymple

The White Mughals – William Dalrymple

Pity the Nation – Robert Fisk


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