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Last Updated: Friday, 10 June, 2005, 23:13 GMT 00:13 UK
Faith leaders knighted in honours
Jonathan Sacks and Iqbal Sacranie
Two leaders of the UK's Jewish and Muslim communities have been knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Dr Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, and Iqbal Sacranie, head of the Muslim Council of Britain, welcomed the recognition on behalf of their faiths.

Both men have been at the forefront of promoting their respective communities.

Dr Sacks has been chief rabbi since 1991 while Mr Sacranie has led the Muslim umbrella group in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

The Chief Rabbi is being knighted for his services to the community and to interfaith relations.

Mr Sacranie, made an OBE in 1999, receives a knighthood for his services to the community, charity and community relations.


Mr Sacranie said he was personally delighted to be honoured.

"I believe this honour represents recognition for the positive work carried out by all at the Muslim Council of Britain together with the British Muslim community in building better relations and playing their due role in mainstream society for the common good of all," he said.

"The over-riding objective of all Muslims is to work to seek the pleasure of our creator."

Mr Sacks told his office and family about the honour shortly before the start of the Jewish Sabbath on Friday afternoon.

"This is an honour not just for me but for the Jewish community and its contributions to British life, as well for the continuing inspiration of Jewish teachings," said Dr Sacks.

"I hope it encourages further progress in good relations between the faiths."

The Home Office and prime minister have urged the two faith communities to strengthen their ties, saying interfaith understanding was crucial amidst the continuing crises in the Middle East and the 9/11 attacks.

Distinguished theologian

Dr Sacks became the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth in 1991.

The post means he speaks for orthodox Jews, but not those belonging to other branches of the faith such as the liberal or reform synagogues.

A distinguished theologian, Dr Sacks studied at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and gained his PhD at Kings College London.

He began his rabbinical work at two London synagogues before being made a professor of modern Jewish thought.

Dr Sacks has urged more dialogue between different groups.

However, a 2002 book giving full voice to his ideas, considered by many to be the culmination of his work, caused uproar among more orthodox rabbis when he said no one religion contained all truths.

He later revised the book to clarify his thinking, a decision which sparked an angry reaction from those who had supported his calls for greater openness and tolerance of other faiths.

Mr Sacranie has been active in the Muslim community and charity work since his family first came to the UK from Malawi.

He was one of the founder members of the Muslim Council of Britain, the umbrella group representing hundreds of organisations and communities throughout the UK.

The MCB has won regular audiences with the prime minister and other ministers - but has witnessed some division within its audience over whether that access has brought with it influence.

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