OFFICIAL guidelines that women should have more influence in running mosques have been criticised by a Lancashire mosque leader.

The Mosque and Imams Advisory Board, MINAB, wants to reform and regulate Islamic places of worship and has also asked for sermons to be held in English.

Salim Mulla, the chair of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said the advice was ‘unhelpful, impractical and an interference’.

But Anjum Anwar, Blackburn Cathedral’s dialogue development officer, said she has invited MINAB’s chairman to Blackburn to discuss the guidelines.

She said it was important to begin a discussion on how mosques can be more inclusive of women.

Coun Mulla said of more than 100 mosques LCM represents there was not a single woman on management committees — and that was ‘unlikely to change’.

And he said calls to complete prayers in English would not be adhered to.

MINAB was set up after the 7/7 attacks on London as a result of consultation between the government and Muslims.

Its new guidelines were sent out last week.

The Lancashire Council of Mosques is not a member of MINAB.

Coun Mulla said: “The central mosque in Blackburn, at Cumberland Street, already has an English speaking imam, who explains the prayers in English before they get underway.

“To translate the prayers would take too much time.

"Islamically, the prayer is not valid if it's not done in Arabic.”

He said that many mosques in Lancashire had a proud record of involving women and that all had an ‘open door policy’ for any women who wanted to get involved.

But he said that it was unlikely that any management committees would make changes to allow women to join as ‘there is no need to change a situation that is working’.

Many of the mosques were engaging with women such as asking them to run madrassas for children, he said.

Coun Mulla said: “We see this as interference in privately run and funded places of worship.”

Mrs Anwar said: “Both men and women have a role to play in all religions.

"It is important, not simply to sit back and accept the guidelines, but to meet and talk and find a way forward that is inclusive.”