It was an evening of glitz and glamour at the 5th annual British Muslim Awards held at The Athena in Leicester celebrating the achievements of Muslim Individuals, organisations and businesses. We were there in attendance for MyMuslimMall.com being shortlisted as a finalist for services to creativity and technology award.
It was my first formal awards ceremony and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but being my first time I wasn’t sure what to expect, driving down from Oldham I was a bit nervous but also excited at the prospect of meeting new people and having good conversations; the thought however in the back of my mind was, is it going to be a room full of business individuals in their close knit circles talking about only business. Although maybe not true, these are the thoughts that crossed my mind.
As I walked into the venue, it seemed to be a bit quiet, I was thinking everyone is either in the main hall and started or not many have turned up yet, the time specified was 6pm, but being a Muslim Awards Ceremony, ‘Muslim’ being the primary word, I thought it would probably be the latter. My assumptions were proved correct when I made my way to the gents bathroom, only to be taken aback by about 10 waiters, who were getting dressed for the evenings dinner shift; they were more surprised to see me as I was surprised to see them, safe to say I was there in good time.
As the corridors started to fill up and pods of conversations started to form, I started to wander around to meet new individuals, I took it upon myself as a challenge that I would introduce myself first and let the conversations start from there. Growing up I wasn’t the most confident of individuals and very much anti-social, but that changed over the years, but still have these slight tendencies in the person I am, so I thought this is a new experience to boost my confidence, so let’s have a go. I was pleasantly surprised that conversations were not just about business although there was a lot of business talk, but I also had conversations about community, about development, experience, about Zakaat and its impact on business with the National Zakat Foundation, which by the way are doing some fantastic work (they didn’t pay me to say this).
One thing which was prevalent was that, everyone else was pretty much there doing the same thing which I was trying to do, but they were seasoned professionals at it; they were engaging individuals and groups, having light conversations, exchanging business cards and moving on, I mean if I’ve understood it correctly, that is how networking happens right! Noted for next time.
The awards ceremony got under way as we were presented with some fantastic appetizers to start us off on the food for the evening. There were 27 awards to be presented across various categories, some of my favourites were, Young Achiever of the Year, Community Organisation, Entrepreneur of the Year, Services to Science & Engineering, The Noor Inayat Khan Muslim Woman of the Year, Charity of the Year and Spirit of Britain. Well, they were all great to be honest and congratulations to all the finalists and to the winners who thoroughly deserved the awards for their many years of hard work and dedication in their respected fields, professions and organisations.
Throughout the course of the night I had many conversations, one fascinating one was with Dr Kal Karim, recipient of the services to Science and Engineering Award and a leading expert in Bio & Nano Technology. As a fellow computer scientist myself, I was interested in where the world is going in Nanotechnology and its application, I have to admit some things did go over my head. Through this conversation one thing which Dr Kal mentioned and is a lesson for us all, was about being humble and remembering our roots, it is something from his early years as a research fellow and a piece of advice which was given to him by his supervisor, ‘Never says it’s not my job’, who regardless of his position as a world renowned academic and professor, still would be in the lab mopping the floor when there was a spillage left by someone and everyone had gone home.
Anyway, back to the Awards, you’re probably waiting to hear if we won the award in our category, but unfortunately we didn’t, but huge congratulations does go to Safwan Ahmedmia for his Youtube channel SuperSaf TV which as of yesterday reached half a million subscribers, a fantastic achievement and a well deserved win.
One thing which was wonderful to see was the number of women who were being recognised and presented with awards for their contributions across many fields including and not limited to Services to Art & Culture, Community, Education, Medicine, Public sector, Media, Business, Entrepreneurship and so on. In the bigger circle amongst everyone present what I was even more proud of, was seeing the diversity and contributions being made across so many fields, professions, organisations and communities by British Muslims. Proud of the impact individuals are having in society and the positive changes that they are making whilst keeping their Muslim lifestyle. All in all a fantastic night of conversation, food and sharing of successes of British Muslims. Congratulations once again to all the winner’s on the night.