Qila Didar Singh, Punjab, British India
Bashir Maan CBE (born October 1926) is a Pakistani-Scottish politician, businessman, judge, community worker and writer. In 1970 he became the first Muslim to be elected to a representative office in the United Kingdom, serving as a Labour Party councillor for the Kingston ward of the City of Glasgow Corporation.
Bashir Maan was born in Maan village, near Qila Didar Singh, Gujranwala District, British India (now modern day Pakistan). He completed his high school studies at DB High High School, Qila Didar Singh. He was an undergraduate and worked as a clerk at Lahore. As a student, between 1943 and 1947, he was involved in the struggle for independence of the Indian sub-continent and the creation of Pakistan. Following this, he organised the rehabilitation of Muslim refugees from India to his locality. Ultimately, he decided to leave for the United Kingdom.
Move to Glasgow
He arrived in Glasgow from his native Pakistan in March 1953 at the age of 26. Starting as a student and door to door salesman, in 1967 he went on to open one of the first shops in Glasgow to sell alcohol at heavily discounted prices. He subsequently sold this side of his business concerns due to the conflict that it had with his religious beliefs.
In 1968 Bashir Maan was appointed the first Asian and Muslim Justice of the Peace (in Scotland) for the City of Glasgow. In 1970, he was the first Muslim to be elected to a public office in the United Kingdom, serving as a Labour Party councillor for the Kingston ward of the City of Glasgow Corporation. His political career in Glasgow went on to span 33 years. During this time he also held several judicial appointments such as Magistrate, Police Judge, District Court Judge and Bailie of the City of Glasgow. He retired from politics in 2003 after completing his four-year term as Convenor of the Strathclyde Joint Police Board. He allowed his Labour Party membership to lapse in 2004 when it became clear that the public had been misled by those behind the Iraq war.
Bashir Maan was asked to resign as President of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations in 2006 after deploring the teaching of gay sex education in schools. "These politicians, through certain elements of sex education in schools, are motivating young, innocent children to indulge in premature sex that is resulting in teenage pregnancies. As if that were not enough, gay sex education is being added to the sex curriculum in schools. This will encourage experiments with homosexuality among young children and add to the growing creed of homosexuality."
Bashir Maan spearheaded the campaign by the Council of Glasgow Imams to encourage Muslims not to vote for candidates in Scotland's 2012 local government elections. "Every voter will have to make sure the person they are voting for is not in favour of same-sex marriage. It is up to them who to vote for but they should ask every person who comes to them and asks for their support."
Bashir Maan has played a major role in encouraging the Muslim community's confidence and integration in Scotland especially Glasgow and supporting mutual understanding and respect between communities. In 1966 he became involved in planning and development for what is now the grand central mosque of Glasgow, completed in 1983. He visited Bosnia and Herzegovina with many Scottish Christian leaders and made the plight of the Muslims known to all. He highlighted the positive role of Pakistan Army troops serving as UN peacekeepers there to the world through a series of articles in the press.
Recognition and honours
He has held many prominent positions with both local and national Pakistani organisations, including Founding Chair of the Scottish Pakistani Association and President of the Standing Conference of Pakistani Organisations in the UK and Eire (SCOPO). In 1977, the then Home Secretary appointed him a Deputy Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality for a three years. In 2000, he was elected the President of the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations, an important office that he held until 2006. He has been awarded three honorary degrees of doctorate and 2 fellowships by Scottish universities. He was Convener of the Muslim Council of Scotland and past President of the Islamic Centre Glasgow.
He continues to contribute to the press and has published three books New Scots, The Thistle and the Crescent and Muslims in Scotland. In The Thistle and the Crescent, Bashir Maan states "East and West or Islam and Christianity are not irreconcilable. Only ignorance, bigotry, injustice and double standards on the West's part and genuine grievances and frustration on the East's part are driving them apart." He further comments, "in the light of the great positive values of the teaching of the Qur'an and the practical successes which resulted from it, the inadequate perceptions of Judaism and Christianity cannot be accounted serious weaknesses, such as to negate all that is sound and true."
Bashir Maan has four children, five grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. He and most of his family are the subjects of a photographic portrait included in the series 'A Scottish Family Portrait' by Verena Jaekel, commissioned for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. in Edinburgh until 31 October 2012.
- The New Scots: The Story of Asians in Scotland, John Donald Publishers, 1992
- The Thistle and the Crescent: a study of Scottish-Islam relations, Argyll Publishing, 21 February 2008
- Muslims in Scotland, Argyll Publishing, 2015
- Millar, Lesley (1 July 1999). "Honorary doctorate for Bashir Maan". Glasgow Herald – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- "First elected Muslim in Scotland to retire". The Scotsman – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 13 August 2002. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- "Leading Moslem quits party". Daily Record – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 11 November 2004. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- "Bashir Maan forced to quit charity post over anti-gay stance". The Herald Newspaper. 15 June 2006. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- "Muslims urged to take gay marriage poll stand". The Herald Newspaper. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Robertson, Lynne (6 July 2000). "Role of honour for Scotland's Sir Sean Connery receives his knighthood as an accolade for the country he has never left". Glasgow Herald. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- The Thistle and the Crescent(Epilogue page 239)
- The Thistle and the Crescent(Epilogue page 240)
- "Bashir Ahmed Maan CBE (centre) with his Family, Glasgow, 19 June 2011". National Galleries Scotland. Retrieved 19 December 2014.