The East London Mosque (ELM) and London Muslim Centre (LMC) was humbled by a visit from His Excellency Ebrahim Rasool, South African Ambassador to the United States on 29 January 2014.

The event ‘Remembering Mandela: Authentic Leadership and the Future’ was hosted in the LMC at an event organised by Murabbi Consulting.

Rasool was the keynote speaker, alongside representatives from other high profile Muslim organisations such as, Sir Iqbal Sacranie OBE − Trustee of Muslim Aid, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari MBE – Former Chairman of the ELM and Farooq Murad – Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain. Sadia Kidwai, Policy Analyst at Islamic Relief who is distinguished for her community activism chaired the event.

Rasool is a politician for the African National Congress (ANC) and was also a close friend of Nelson Mandela. They had both met in prison during the ‘Apartheid’ era, and were incarcerated during their struggle to freedom under the National Party government. Rasool has experienced firsthand what life was like under the Apartheid government − when his local district was declared ‘Whites Only’. He has campaigned with Muslims against the injustices faced by South Africans at the time including the apartheid.

In remembering Nelson Mandela, Ebrahim said: “Nelson Mandela was a leader who did not feel the need to act out certainty and not consult anyone, not speak to anyone, not listen to anyone.”

He continued: “So many people look at Nelson Mandela and ask me, are you sure his not Muslim? And while it’s a cute question, it is almost a perverse recognition that what we [as Muslims] stand for has been exemplified in someone that does not say lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, muḥammadun rasūlu-llāh [Muslim testimony of faith], and we wonder how is it possible that this man who has never uttered those words can exemplify soft power, can find the balance, can be compassionate, can be the symbol of peace, can reconcile contending factors. Is that not our domain, do we not have a monopoly on it? And so we ask, are you sure he is not Muslim?”

Rasool is brazen and unafraid to speak his mind. Talking about Muslim leadership in the West, Ebrahim said: “A victory that does not open up hearts is not a victory. A victory that closes hearts to our message [Islam], is not a victory. Muslims have abandoned the soft power of Islam, for the allure of hard power.”

The evening’s event ended with Ebrahim Rasool summing up that “the next generation of leadership, must be ones that carve out a middle path, between the inertia of orthodoxy and nihilism of fundamentalism.”

> Watch full video


Notes to Editors:

  • The link to the full video can be found here:
  • The East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre serves the largest congregation of Muslims in the UK. With a rich history spanning over 104 years, it is London's oldest Mosque, dedicated to providing a range of holistic, culturally sensitive services for the communities of London. For further information visit:
  • Murabbi Consulting is a Training and Consultancy firm in the field of Leadership and Management. For more information, visit or email [email protected]