Glasgow Central, Scotland’s largest mosque was officially opened in 1984 in the Gorbals. Some of the founding fathers now in their late eighties, have watched the predominately Pakistani Muslim congregation they once led, change rapidly in terms of size, language and ethnic origin.

Whilst Central Mosque for years traditionally served as a symbol of continuity and stability the last several months has seen it gripped by vicious civil war between the old guard and young reformers. This old guard included ‘trustees’ who were turfed out by the young ‘reformers’ of the Mosque Committee.

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Yet one of the reformers happens to be Maqbool Rasul, president of the Mosque. Following the Charity regulators intervention he remains the only trustee left holding the reins, but at the age of 63 and one of Scotland’s richest men he grew increasingly tired of the lack of accountability and old men opposing change in the name of religion.

A year ago the Scottish Charity regulators OSCR were called in by the new mosque committee after they noticed worrying financial irregularities. OSCR were scathing in their criticism and said the conduct and behaviour of some of ‘these trustees was not of a standard expected of people involved in a charity.’

OSCR gave a stark warning in its interim report last November saying: “All charity trustees must follow the terms of the charity’s constitution as it is their statutory duty, and failure to do so would result in a breach of charity law.”

But many in the community don’t care too much for the civil war, seeing it as the usual clash of egos, with a turf war being fought between rich old business men and the young guns classed by the media as ‘liberal reformers’.

But anger has wrongly been directed at the ‘reformers’ for going to the media, despite the fact that the first shots were fired by those ousted, who ran to a local Asian Paper to moan about the charity regulators OSCR and Police Scotland’s financial crime unit being called in over alleged irregularities.

Some of the elders claim that bad publicity gives succour to the Islamaphobes, whilst undermining the good name of the community.

But even if it is possible to cover up the serious allegations of financial irregularities or the controversial "gifting" of £50,000 pound to the fundamentalist ‘Tabliqi Jamaat’ Dewsbury Mosque, the problem with the ‘laissez faire’ approach is that it has been their attitude to each and every crisis to hit the Muslim community in the last thirty years.

Whether it be forced marriages, child abuse, domestic violence, honour killings, inter-Muslim racism, sectarianism, they have been consistent in their response ‘don’t wash our dirty laundry in public’.

Analysis: David Leask on the dividing line at Glasgow Central Mosque

Yet those attitudes have meant they are ill equipped when along comes someone like Glasgow’s ‘Jihadi Bride’ Aqsa Mahmood who went off to Syria and overnight became a poster girl for ISIS.

Some of our so called community leaders find themselves ridiculed by our youth as caricatures of the BBC’s ‘Citizen Khan’. After each terror attack community leaders are rolled out to apologise, recite a verse of the Koran and tell us that Islam is a religion of peace, yet they are unable to explain why young people with everything going for them would want to join a death cult like Daesh.

Even those in Counter Terrorism privately recognise that Central Mosque is the last place that young people on the cusp of radicalisation would seek help, whilst they have expressed grave concerns at some elders who wasted their time by using their officers to settle scores, i.e. if you argue for change they will report you to Counter Terrorism as an extremist.

The ‘Citizen Khan wannabes’ are in essence frightened old men, who fear losing their status, discarded because they are not fit to represent men and women of the Muslim faith in the 21st Century.

But they refuse to go without a fight, behind the scenes some of the imams and elders have been busy issuing religious edicts against committee members for allowing ‘interference in the private affairs of the mosque’.

Ironically they were silent for over three decades about a corrupt incompetent system of mosque management which allowed for little accountability or positive change.

Grown men have been ushered to meetings and patronisingly told to bring their fathers and explain their actions to Imams and elders.

One community activist in his thirties scared of being named said of the elders: “Some of these guys are millionaires and they wouldn’t let a penny go missing from their own businesses, so why shouldn’t we want to know what is happening to the hundreds of thousands we raise. They demand respect as though they are our feudal lords, but this isn’t the Punjab and no man owns the house of Allah.”

Only last week Scottish Government Minister Humza Yousaf tweeted: “Whatever your view on internal wranglings at Glasgow Central Mosque it is a disgrace that not a single woman has ever been appointed to committee.”

One would have hoped others would have joined his calls for equality, but most have been noticeable by their absence - whilst some politicians have even shown cowardice in supporting the old guard.

When it comes to women, it’s a standing joke that the same hypocrites who exclude them, would have no problem in standing in photo calls with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, yet find it so difficult to call on Muslim women to join them, even for a photo.

For many women the mosque is increasingly irrelevant to their lives. After all why would any woman want to be part of a ‘boys only club’ which either excludes them or treats them as second class citizens, ushering them in through a back door, forcing them to sit at the back of events and denying them the right to vote or be heard.

Such practices in mosques throughout the UK are an affront to the core values of Islam, claimed as equality, justice and dignity. Yet for some reason men and women are taught from an early age that Islam frowns on women attending the mosque.

Orthodox leaders at some mosques in Glasgow will argue a woman’s presence ‘creates sexual temptation’ and ban them from attending, whilst others who consider themselves as ‘modern’ will tolerate women by creating a space with rotten facilities - usually out of sight.

Historically there is no religious justification for such practices. The prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) emphasised the importance of communal worship with women at mosques in a collection of his sayings known as the Hadith.

He openly welcomed women as equal partners and campaigned for them to be engaged in the private, public, political and theological life of the community, with the mosque at the heart of those radical calls for equality.

Meanwhile every Muslim, male or female is required to perform the pilgrimage to the birthplace of Islam in Mecca at least once in their lifetime.

Yet at this holiest mosque there are no separate entrances, no back doors, no back rows to pray in, no segregation, women allowed access to every part of the mosque will pray alongside their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons.

Which begs the question if it’s good enough for the mosque in Mecca, then why not Glasgow Central Mosque?

Ironically only this week one of the new committee members, Jamil, showed me a letter his grandfather Ashraf Mogul had written to the President of the mosque calling for the inclusion of women voters in the mosque.

In tears he said: ‘My grandad wrote this letter in 1996 but two decades later we are still having the same debate, there are no female trustees or committee members, meanwhile the old guard are busy trying to oust me as a trouble maker.’

Shaista Goir, a prominent activist and Chair of the Muslim Women’s Network UK was criticised for exposing ‘misogyny’ at the heart of Birmingham’s Central Mosque.

For her the problem is that ‘men have played God with women’s lives, creating fear and exploiting women’. She said: ‘It takes courage to tell the truth but also to accept the truth. Muslim communities will not prosper until they give women their dignity. Some Muslim men want to keep us powerless and voiceless so we do not challenge them, but it is really up to us as Muslim women to change it.’

But courage is something the new committee does not lack, despite being bullied, screamed at and even threatened with violence - however the pressure is becoming unbearable.

They are desperate for support, because for the very first time someone is finally challenging the status quo, they know if they succeed it will mean a better future for their sons, daughters, and future generations.

One taboo which repeatedly permeates the Pakistani community is the question of marriage. We call ourselves Muslim, but woe betide a Pakistani Muslim woman who marries a white convert never mind an African Muslim.

Yet that prejudice runs even deeper with the ‘tradition of caste’ and marriages along tribal lines which reflect cultural traditions imported from the sub-continent, rather than Islamic ones.

Such traditions are in direct contradiction of a practice which sees millions of Muslims pray five times a day in the direction of Mecca.

When they do so in Mosques, there is no hierarchy, a rich man and poor man from every cultural and ethnic background will pray side by side. Sadly this powerful message of the universal brotherhood of man is overlooked not just when we step outside the mosque but within its very doors.

Friday prayers at Central Mosque is awash with a sea of humanity as over 60 different nationalities walk through its doors, yet not one member of the eleven person mosque committee or seven trustees is a non-Pakistani or a woman.

Of course every Muslim condemns racism, and from childhood the standard argument advanced against racism is the respected status of the closest companion of the Prophet Mohammed, a freed Abyssinian slave called Bilal.

Hand-picked to lead Islam’s first call to prayer as the muezzin, he is cited as proof of Islam’s intolerance of racism. Malcolm X and Mohammed Ali are regularly advanced as role models for our young people but almost in a way that is a colour blind, dismissing their struggle against racism as though becoming a Muslim meant they overcame the adversities they faced.

The question I have asked for years is how can Central mosque preach about diversity when they are not practicing it or fighting for it.

One prominent Iraqi woman activist, Fatin Hamid, based in Glasgow for over 30 years, said: “Irrespective of gender, race and age, all must be represented and heard. The ideal scenario would be to see a more diverse committee including but not limited to mixed national identity, females, youth and disabled. The most pressing of these which has been absent even now is females, where not even Pakistani women, who to be honest assist in the daily running and success of Central mosque, have not had a voice in management.”

Black Africans I spoke to, talk of how they feel ‘excluded from any involvement in the daily life of the mosque’ and whilst they may pray alongside their Pakistani brothers, few of them will strike up a conversation or be invited them to their homes.

One elder when challenged on the deep rooted racism pointed to an African car park attendant employed by the Mosque as proof of their anti-racism.

White ‘converts’ talk of deep rooted prejudice and tokenistic dealings whilst the father of one foreign Indian student nearly brain damaged following a vicious street attack, was in tears when he spoke of the horrific prejudice he suffered at the hands of so called Muslims he had to share accommodation with at Central Mosque, just because he happened to be Indian rather than Pakistani.

But change is taking place as the new Mosque committee reaches outwards, arguing that the rich diversity seen at Friday prayers is reflected in the management of the mosque.

Meanwhile those arguing against the involvement of women in Central Mosque, have little explanation of how in 2013 the leading organisation, Islamic Society of Britain, elected a woman as its first female president.

Since then other organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain have implemented a 20 per cent female quota for its National Council elections, whilst in Scotland the Federation of Student Islamic Societies has regularly elected female presidents.

The Quran is ‘explicit and unequivocal on the spiritual and moral equality of men and women’ but there is a danger if the changes proposed by the new committee do not take place and the old guard reassert their control then the Mosque in the long term will become as irrelevant as Churches have for the Christian community.

The Mosque was once a place for spiritual growth and the development of all Muslims, equally accessible to both genders. Mosques are supposed to serve the local community, which of course includes both men and women, yet since 9/11, a climate of fear imposed through the War on Terror, and a 300% rise in Islamophobic attacks has threatened desperately needed change.

A new younger generation of committee members driven by spirituality rather than status, is fighting for the soul of Central Mosque.

Of course there is no magic bullet but surely if they are given a chance to thrive, rather than the impotent “community leaders” who have proved so ineffective up until now, then other Mosques will follow suit and the people of Scotland will be the winners.

Aamer Anwar is one of Scotland’s leading criminal defence lawyers and a prominent human rights campaigners on issues such as racism, Islamophobia, terror laws and asylum. As a lawyer he is regularly instructed in some of Scotland’s highest profile cases including the first Islamist terror case, the Ice Cream Wars appeal and presently he is acting in the controversial Sheku Bayoh death in custody case, the M9 crash, as well as for the family of Aqsa Mahmood.