Over the past few days, we as a family have been overwhelmed with kind messages of support and love. The amount of people who have mentioned such lovely things about my grandfather has been heart-warming and this has eased the pain at this difficult time.
I never had the chance to say some words about my grandfather during his Janazah, so I thought I would try to put them into short piece of text.
Born in 1930, he saw the independence of Pakistan from India and then Pakistan from Bangladesh. After his studies, he became a senior land registrar in Sylhet.
He came to Luton in 1962. The day he landed he found out there was a factory in Luton, which went by the name Vauxhall, supposedly they were providing a number of people production related jobs. The next day he went there to the factory and after a short conversation he was told to start. He worked at Vauxhall until the age of retirement. I asked him once how did you know where you’d be staying when he arrived and he replied that he had a road name, they also knew the colour of the door and there was going to become something of significance outside to mark the house e.g. a plant pot.
Lesson 1 from his work life – Tawakkul of Allah.
Once he quit work, because they refused to give him time off for Jamaat. When he finished his time in Jamaat he came back and was employed by the same employer, with the same job.
He bought his house on Waldeck Road in 1975 and this housed not only our family, but many other Bengali and Pakistani families. I remember little things when we were young, he liked everyone eating together, sticking to the Sunnah of eating while sitting on the floor.
He was one of the founding members of Bury Park masjid and he was instrumental in the opening Madrasah Al Hikmah. He dedicated his life to the masjid even until the most recent lockdown where he was turned away from the masjid. This was really the catalyst for his health deteriorating as most people who remember him, always reiterate how he lived his life in the masjid. You would see him walking to the masjid with his zimmer frame rain, snow or shine. He would be the first one there and last one to leave, even at the age of 90. He was truly ‘cut from a different cloth’.
Lesson 2 – resilience
He caught an inflection 4 years ago, the doctors gave up on him. For 6 months he was bed bound, Subhan’Allah he came back stronger than ever. This is a man that never gave up.
This is a man who Allah called to Hajj over 30 times, this excludes the numerous Umrah trips. He was not a tour guide, but someone who Allah loved dearly.
Most of the international phone calls for Grandad have been from people he has met during his experiences on the effort of dawah and tabligh. Travelling was a huge part of his life, he has been around the world twice on Jamaat, he has traveled to more than 55 countries, including places like Fiji and Hawai.
His Jamaat stories were the best! He would tell us of literal miracles that happened when he was lost in Moscow to the time they gave Dawah to villages, in the most remote parts of Mongolia. Hundreds became Muslims during their visits to places like Mongolia, they taught these people Islam, from the Shahadah to how to pray. When they were leaving, people cried, crowds were chanting their names in appreciation. Subhan’Allah he was truly a giant and Wallahi I wish I could be like him and have his experiences.
I remember once being so proud telling him I was visiting Al Aqsa for 3 days. He looked back at me chuckling saying 3 days, come back to me when you’ve stayed there for 40 days and helped build parts of the masjid. Lets just say I left feeling very humbled!
Lesson 3 – When your intention is sincere, Allah will give you more than you can imagine.
My grandmother passed away 19 years ago, so he lived much of his life as a widower. This love he had for my grandmother was unparalleled, so much so he wrote a book for her. This book was entitled the ‘Adorsho Mohila’, which translated to the perfect woman.
He then compiled a book of numerous key Duas and Surahs – his ‘Wazifa’. Every week there are requests made to my mother and to my grandfather to have these books shipped out. I have been to numerous houses and seen on bookshelves his Dua Book, Subhan’Allah! He paid for the printing and publications cost and handed to people for free.
Lesson 4 – with difficulty comes ease (and goodness!)
In between writing this, my father takes a call from someone in Sweden. Just the sheer numbers of people he knew was astounding. He has 4 sons, 2 daughters, 21 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. Amongst his offspring are a Hafiz and an Alim. He has grandchildren who are: teachers, engineers, accountants and 3 of whom are currently completing their Hifz. One of his great-grandchildren is also attending his beloved Al Hikmah school. He had so much love for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, he would occasionally walk to the homes of his family members, near or far. He loved walking, but everything would revolve around salah times at the masjid.
Lesson 5 – love the masjid and Allah will love you
I remember once saying what time shall I come to see you, he responded, “You know where you will find me, from Zuhr to Isha I’m in the masjid”. He did Itikaaf during Ramadan every year in the masjid, asides the years he was unwell. He was also one of the privileged few who even had the keys to the masjid.
He was a very regimented man whose daily routine consisted mostly of ibadah. He disliked engaging in idle conversation and I remember my Ustaad once telling me to have friends that remind you of Allah. Dada never had a conversation without mentioning Allah. His conversations only consisted of the deen and anyone that met him would be taken away by his outstanding character.
Even his diet was amazing, he has been a pescatarian for the last 30 years and he didn’t drink tea or coffee. As long as he had good health, he fasted throughout the whole year except the days it was impermissible to fast.
Lesson 6 – eat well and have structure in your life
He would give ‘what his left hand didn’t know’, he genuinely lived his life supporting the needy. There are numerous projects he initiated and supported. Many we do not know of. One example is when I was told by my aunty, that there is a village in Bangladesh crying for him. I asked “Why?” She responded that he once visited there and realised they needed a mosque, so he paid for one.
There is a whole Madrasah that is sustained by the financial support of my grandfather, he has left a model behind where even for the next 20 years his money will support and aid this institute.
Lesson 7 – “If you disclose your charitable expenditures, they are good; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, it is better for you.” [Quran 2:271]
‘If you do good deeds in private – Allah will elevate you status in public” [Ibn Taymiyyah]
His mantra was always to spend in the way of Allah. He tried to emulate the Sahabas with his conduct and he would give sadaqah like Abu Bakr Siddique RA. He wouldn’t accept new clothes as he would say he would rather have holes in his clothes like Umar bin Khattab RA.
Lesson 8 – live simply
This is the way he lived his life and the way he passed- without a fuss. Our family homes would have struggled to accommodate for the visitors after his passing, but his time was now. To pass as a shaheed In Shaa Allah. A simple man and Allah took him in a similar manner.
There are so many things I have missed, but please ask anyone that knew him and they will tell you more. These are just a few of my memories of him. I wish I could get just ten more minutes to talk to him or to hear him laugh. I miss the times where I would literally have to shout into his ear because he was hard of hearing.
He was our teacher, our guide and our role model. You will be missed Dada and I don’t think that there will be many individuals that will grace this earth like you. You defined humility, resilience and charity.
May Allah SWT accept you as a shaheed and may he reunite us all with you in Jannatul Firdaws. Ameen.