A leading member of Lanarkshire’s Muslim community has been honoured with the MBE for his sterling work in creating racial harmony over more than 30 years.
Ghulam Siddiquie modestly claims the distinction belongs to the whole community, and particularly to the local councillors and volunteers who have devoted so much effort to making a success of the Lanarkshire Muslim Welfare Association.
It is a massive and ongoing project built (his colleagues and admirers insist) on the solid foundation of his drive and determination.
When Mr Siddiquie arrived in Britain to study medicine in the 60’s there was “literally nothing” for the local Muslim population in Lanarkshire.
The normal staples of life which everyone takes for granted - such as being able to get married locally in your own religion and, of course, the proper rites associated with a funeral - were absent.
He said: “Now if, for example, somebody has died their relative makes one phone call and everything is taken care of - everything.”
Despite his own fully absorbing career Mr Siddiquie started to build the fabric of the local community from the ground up, staging meetings in his own house for lack of any other suitable place to gather.
It was a far-sighted endeavour fraught with challenges, one which ultimately began to pay important social and cultural dividends to the upcoming new Muslim generation.
Mr Siddiquie arrived in Holytown in 1980, and ran a business there, while tirelessly setting in motion the means to effect real cultural change.
Now the magnificent Masjid in Mossend is the lynchpin of a well-organised and flourishing local Muslim society.
Committee members are at pains to point out that it is open to all, not just at the special open day staged in September, and that everyone is welcome.
Meanwhile there are clubs and organisations for both men and women to enjoy, and help services freely available.
Mr Siddiquie is hugely proud of the efforts of the local community in making it all happen - for example £3 million was made available for the creation of the mosque entirely from public donations.
However while for him his religion is paramount it has also been the cornerstone of an ever-growing cultural endeavour from which the entire wider community is reckoned set to benefit.
His award appears to have been long expected by members of the local Muslim community, but Mr Siddiquie himself says the Lord Lieutenant, Mushtaq Ahmad, has been instrumental in bringing it about.
“We have come a long way, but have much more to do - there is always something new and better to look forward to and get involved in,” he said.