Saleem Kidwai, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales, fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming part of Cardiff University when he became an honorary fellow.
In 1972, I came to Cardiff as a trainee accountant. I had lived in London, but wanted to come to a cosier city in Britain. My office was on Park Place, and after work I would go to the library in the law building until 10 p.m. to study. I envied all of the students there. I always wanted to be a student at Cardiff University. That was when I began to get involved in the University.
Education has been close to my heart for a long time, and I’ve always looked for ways to develop relationships between the community and the University. This is what led me to working as the Secretary General for the Muslim Council of Wales and beginning the Ethnic Business Support Programme. It also led me to the Lifelong Learning Centre, where I helped shape some of the courses on Islam. Then, I was asked to serve on the advisory board for the University’s Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK.
I always dreamed of being part of the University. In 2007, I had the privilege of becoming one of the first Muslims to be awarded an honorary fellowship at Cardiff. It was particularly special because this is my home town now. I came to Cardiff from Karachi, Pakistan, and started a family. This is where I grew up and where my children grew up. To be honoured in this way was beyond my expectations. I’m humbled to have received this fellowship. When I was walking through the procession, words cannot describe the feeling I had.
Through my work as the Chief Executive of the Ethnic Business Support Programme, I have forged links with the Cardiff Business School, particularly in the area of Islamic finance.
My personal belief is all the world’s prejudice stems from ignorance. The only way we can tackle ignorance is through education. Cardiff University is one of the best universities of the world. When I invite anyone to come to Cardiff, I introduce them to the University. We’ve got something unique and exceptional.
Cardiff is, energetic, vibrant, enthusiastic and innovative. May Allah take it from strength to strength.