Obituary: Haji Mohammed Rafiq rahimahullah (1930 – 2020)
Early life in Kashmir
Born on the blessed Day of Ashura, our grandfather was brought up in Thothal, Mirpur, Kashmir. This was British India before the partition and later becameAzad Kashmir, Pakistan. He was the 2nd eldest amongst 4 siblings and educated to Metric Level qualification (A-Level). He spent his early adult life as a farmer, then a teacher before moving on to becoming a CID officer in the Kashmir police force.
Growing up through the partition and creation of Pakistan he witnessed many tough times including the relocation of the ancestral home to take shelter from the bombing that was taking place over the village. He also regularly told a story about how he was able to look after one of his non-Muslim teachers who was being held in a deportation camp set up in their high school. He snuck in some water for this teacher without the soldiers noticing. This was a great example of his soft nature from an early age.
Settling in Halifax
In 1958, he decided to migrate to the UK alongside his childhood friend, Haji Abdul Malik (May Allah have mercy on him). His life in the UK started with brief stopovers in Chesterfield and Bradford, before settling in Halifax where he spent most of his career working in a textile factory (starting at the Moderna and Ratcliffe blanket factory and ending with Calvert & Clapham).
His early life in the UK was spent helping many other migrants settle in the country and support them through free accommodation until they were fully independent. We loved asking him to tell us a story about how in his first year he spent a couple of early morning hours waiting for a bus to take him to his factory in Mytholmroyd, only to be eventually told by a passerby that it was Christmas day so everything was closed!
He was an integral part of the early Muslim diaspora in Halifax and was one of the founding members of the first masjid (Rhodes Street) established in the town.
Moving to Luton (1988)
The late 1980s saw the closure of the textile industry coincide with our grandfather’s retirement. He decided to relocate to Luton in order to seek better career opportunities for his children. He seamlessly settled into the area and was most comfortable as an active member of the Luton Central Masjid.
Our grandfather would spend most of his time reciting the Quran, attending the masjid for congregational prayers and visiting a wide network of family and friends.
Remembering his Character & Love for the Sunnah
Our grandfather had an immense love for the masjid and for the best part of 30 years he would often be seen walking the 1.5 miles return journey along Leagrave Road for each of the 5 daily prayers.
During Ramadan 2010, at 80 years of age, he sat I’tikaf (seclusion in the last third of Ramadan) in the Central Masjid alongside some of his closest friends. His embodiment of the Sunnah was evident in his efforts to maintain ties of kinship.
Visits back to Halifax would always entail checking in on a long list of his friends and families who he had built connections with since he settled in the UK. He always led by example and encouraged his family to offer prayers for the deceased and visit the sick in the community. A sweet example of this was his concern for our elderly neighbour Mary; who in her old age became very frail and vulnerable, he’d always demand that we check on her wellbeing and help her where possible.
His love for children was legendary and exemplified by the fact that he was always known to carry a supply of sweets.
His love for animals started in the early years in Pakistan, where he took up the prophetic sunnah of horse riding. Most recently, this love manifested in the care shown to Bambi; the family cat. He’d make sure she was fed and safe inside the house before he would sleep himself. A miswaak was a permanent fixture in his top pocket up until he lost all his teeth, and he would also be seen proudly wearing a badge of the Na’layn Paak (the Prophetic Sandals) on his clothes.
Sojourn to the Blessed Lands
Performing his first Hajj in 1972, he visited the Haramain on numerous occasions. The Umrah trip in 2011 was particularly memorable as he was accompanied by 26 of his immediate family across 3 generations. In 2017, at the age of 87 he was blessed with an opportunity to travel to Masjid Al Aqsa in Jerusalem during the final 10 days of Ramadan. He was accompanied by his brother, his youngest son and eldest grandchild.
This completed his visit to the three most blessed lands on Earth. His wider travels included family trips to Belgium, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
His Final Year
The lockdown in March 2020 was a traumatic time for most people and hit him particularly hard due to the fact the he couldn’t attend the masjid nor see his closest friends. He even called the Imam at the masjid to check if they were actually closed as he thought the family were just telling him this story to keep him safe!
We celebrated his 90th birthday during lockdown in June; surrounded by all his closest family either in person or through video calls from Kashmir and Halifax. This was followed by one of his happiest moments in the year when the mosques reopened, albeit with strict restrictions.
His desire to attend the congregational prayer led him to sneak out of the house and walk to pray Asr in the masjid, returning extremely fatigued and out of breath.
His final trip to Halifax was in August to say farewell to his dear cousin, who had passed away. He was in no shape to make such a long journey but insisted that he attend and also used the opportunity to visit his beloved brother for the final time in person.
His final trip to the masjid was on Sunday 27th September; only a few days before falling ill.
He never over-ate and maintained a very healthy lifestyle. He was slim and physically fit, and this was testimony to the independent life he had led with the will of Allah (SWT) .
Our grandfather was happily married for 56 years and leaves behind his wife, 5 children, 25 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren who will miss him dearly. May Allah (SWT) have mercy on his soul and accept all his good deeds whilst forgiving any shortcomings
– Loving testimony from his Family