30 September 2023 Dr Hani El-Banna’s advice to a community body

Extracts from a motivational talk by the legendary Dr Hani El-Banna, co-founder of Islamic Relief, to the Muslim Council of Britain’s National Council, at its meeting held at the West London Islamic Centre on 30th September 2023:

First, your role is to leave a space for young people to come in. If you want to plant crops, you cannot just put every seed next to another. They will never become very fruitful. If you don’t leave the space you will never discover the ability of anyone.

Give a space for the Secretary General, for your Executive, for them to grow. This will allow for their creativity of mind. In Islamic Relief there was a good relationship between myself and the trustees. They give us a space – that’s why we grew very strongly as executives, even though this could often be challenging for the board members. That’s why we still have an organization functioning after 40 years . . . I am a person of acronyms: LAS – leave a space; CAS -create a space; FTG – fill the gap.

Second, never give up learning. I am very proud to come here today because I’m listening to your discussions which will teach me more and more. Nobody ever should consider himself or herself above learning. We should learn till we die. Why only bring to the table the people whom we like to be with?

Do we listen to the troublemakers in our organizations? Do we listen to the sisters, or just push them out when they become vocal? Even our children, sometimes we don’t listen to them. Listening is part of creativity because when I listen to you, I might discover something in what you’re saying. We are always living in our comfort zone which can be self-destructive and deadly.

Third, MCB is about research. It’s about training, it’s about capacity building, its about thinking, its about community networking. It’s about building partnerships. This is MCB. When Sister Zara asked me to come here, I could not say no, because MCB is something I believe in.