Khadija Leadership Network (KLN), a registered charitable organisation for the Muslim community, hosted its third annual NZ Muslim Awards on Sunday, January 17 at Sorrento in the Park in Auckland.

KLN was founded by Tayyaba Khan in 2017 with the aim to see Muslim women in society revived to the actual teachings of Islam. They host regular lectures, networking events and a bi-annual conference with the mission to nurture and develop leaders who serve the community.

The annual award event recognises the work of members in the Muslim community who make an exceptional contribution to the New Zealand society.

“The awards are our opportunity to reflect on, celebrate, and raise awareness of some of the amazing people who make up the Muslim community in Aotearoa, New Zealand,” Farhana Bhamjee, a spokesperson from KLN said.

The Community Service Award was given to Syed Khurram Iqbal of Hawkes Bay, a representative of the Pakistan Association of New Zealand, Hawkes Bay chapter.

Ilm (Knowledge) Award was given to Farid Ahmed of Christchurch. Mr Ahmed’s wife was killed in the March 15 mosque attacks, but he forgave the perpetrator of the attack and his message of forgiveness and love echoed with millions all around the globe.

Sportsperson of the Year award was given to Mariam Bahar of Auckland. She is recognized for breaking stereotypes and becoming a CrossFit Athlete while being a Muslim Hijabi and a mum. Boxing Coach Imran Khan from Auckland was a runner up in the category.

The Young Muslim New Zealander of the Year was awarded Laiba Batool of Auckland, a university student of computer science, physiology, media, film, and television.

Muslim New Zealander of the Year award was presented to Bariz Shah of Christchurch. Bariz Shah is an aspiring civil, humanitarian engineer, community advocate, and a humanitarian activist.

Earlier in 2019, Bariz Shah and his wife Saba Afrasyabi worked to establish 51 micro-businesses in Afghanistan in memory of 51 people who died in the March 15 Christchurch attacks.

The idea to establish micro-businesses were conceived before the massacre, but the couple put a figure to the number of businesses to be established in honour of the martyrs of attack.

Present at the event were National List MP Melissa Lee, Labour MPs Vanushi Walters and Marama Davidson and Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon.

The event also congratulated Rising Stars in the community in a way to encourage them to continue the good work.

Sania Ashraf was recognised for being the first female Justice of Peace in Auckland from Pakistan, and Pearl of Islands Foundation for their work on social cohesion in New Zealand in the Community Service Category.

Sadia Malik was acknowledged for her ongoing efforts to educate the Pakistani Muslim community about Islam in the Ilm/Knowledge Category.

Hone Fowler was recognised for encouraging participation and access to sports for Muslim New Zealanders, and Mohammad Ebrahim Smith for his achievement and aspirations in sports.

KLN was awarded a major grant by UNESCO NZ in support of their ‘Our Hijrah’ project that will capture spoken histories of Muslim migration to New Zealand dating back to the 1950s and earlier in 2020, administered Zakat to those affected by Covid-19 through the Helping Hands Project.

In June 2019 it hosted the “Let’s Deal with It: A Trans-Tasman Conference Towards Racial Equity” conference which focused on creating A Trans-Tasman framework for collaboration towards racial equity, critically examining the role of the media in promoting racial harmony and migrant and refugee women’s role in promoting integration.

For know more about Khadija Leadership Network and connect with the team, people can visit www.khadijaleadershipnetwork.org.