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Bashir Maan CBE

Scotland’s first Muslim councillor.

Civic Life

Bashir Maan was born in Maan, Gujranwala, Pakistan, in 1926, and moved to Glasgow in 1953. He worked as a travelling salesman, before managing a chain of grocery stores. Maan became Scotland’s first Muslim councillor when he won the Kingston ward (now Govan) for Labour in 1970. He also became the first immigrant and ethnic minority to hold the post of Justice of the Peace in Scotland in 1971. You can see Bailie Maan receiving his certificate from Lord Provost Michael Kelly on his appointment as Deputy Lieutenant of Glasgow in the photo below. The photo was published in the Glasgow City Council newspaper The Bulletin in February 1983.

Maan’s life was ground-breaking. He was a founding member of many organisations, and played a significant role in developing the infrastructure of the Muslim community in Glasgow. He held civic appointments including: President of the National Association of British Pakistanis, Scottish Representative on the Executive of the Muslim Council of Great Britain, Chairman of the Glasgow Central Mosque Committee, Chairman of the Strathclyde Joint Police Board, and Deputy Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality.

Books on Muslim and Asian Scotland

He also published three books: The New Scots: The Story of Asians in Scotland (1992); The Thistle and the Crescent: a study of Scottish-Islam relations (2008); and Muslims in Scotland (2015). The Thistle and the Crescent was hailed as ‘a very readable groundbreaking book which traces the history of contact between Scotland and Islam from the late 7th or early 8th centuries to the present day’ (Muslim Heritage).  In the book we learn, among other things, that Scots learned the art of distillation from Arab culture. Who knew whisky had multicultural origins? We also learn that in the 18th century, both the East India Company and the British Army condoned, and even encouraged, marriages or relationships between British men and Indian women. Some of the children of these relationships were sent back to Scotland and assimilated into the Scottish population. There must be many Scots with no idea that they have Muslim ancestry.

Scottish Family Portraits

On Father’s Day of 2011, Maan sat (centre) for the family portrait below, which included his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, who travelled from across the United Kingdom to sit for this portrait. The image was taken by German photographer Verena Jaekel, for the Scottish Family Portrait series, which was commissioned by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

The Bashir Maan Archive and Colourful Heritage

In 2014, Colourful Heritage teamed up with Glasgow Life to create Scotland’s first physical archive dedicated to preserving the contributions of South Asian and Muslim Communities in Scotland. The Bashir Mann archive is based at the Mitchell Library (level 5 archives), Glasgow. The archive contains photographs and documents from as far back as the 1930s which have been contributed by various members of the community. You can watch an interview with Maan on the Colourful Heritage website.

You can learn more about Bashir Maan by talking to Colourful Heritage at SGHET’s Southside Heritage Celebration on May 19th at Pollokshields Burgh Hall. The free, family friendly event, from 1-4.30pm, is part of Southside Fringe. See you there!


By Saskia McCracken



Bashir Maan. The New Scots: The Story of Asians in Scotland (John Donald Publishers, 1992)

Bashir Maan. The Thistle and the Crescent: a study of Scottish-Islam relations (Argyll Publishing, 2008)

Bashir Maan. Muslims in Scotland (Argyll Publishing, 2015)

Colourful Heritage: Bashir Maan Archive

Colourful Heritage Interview

National Galleries Portrait

The Glasgow Story

The Glasgow Story II

Review of The New Scots by the Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism

Review of The Thistle and the Crescent by Muslim Heritage



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