On Tuesday evening, 26th April 2005, as the Christians count time, Fateh Muhammed, Imam at the Makkah Masjid and Al Medina Mosques in Hyde Park, died in his room while reading. Earlier he had led the evening prayers. He had been unwell for some time.
Some will remember the big interfaith gathering at the Civic Hall, organised by the Leeds Faiths Forum, on Sunday 8th May 2000 on Islamic Social Action, when Fateh Muhammed opened the session with a recitation or Tilawat from the Quran, Surah 13:11. He did it with such poise and clarity that every heart stilled. He later completed a glossary of all the Islamic terms used in the conference report.
Others will remember Fateh coming to All Hallows at the invitation of Ray Gaston on the Sunday after 9/11 and reciting from the Quran in such a way that opened the hearts of many in the congregation that day to the real beauty and wisdom present in Islam.
It was Fateh who then read out at the Friday community prayers at the mosque, a few weeks later, the statement All Hallows Church had issued against the war on Afghanistan in solidarity with local Muslims.
He was a man of deep faith and humility. Ray remembers arriving at the mosque for one of his many discussions with Fateh, over sweet tea and fruit, to find him sweeping the stairs on his hands and knees. He loved poetry and the welcome from this prayerful man of faith was always warm. He entered into discussion with energy and readily debated issues of concern to Muslims and Christians. David remembers a graciousness that seemed to swell up from a deep well of faith.
Fateh was a scholar of Islam and English literature and had held an important post in Islamabad. He had come to the little Al Medina Mosque and loved and was loved by his people as he worked with them in bringing to realisation the vision for a new mosque in Hyde Park. He will be greatly missed.
A tribute from the Revd Ray Gaston, Vicar of All Hallows Church, and the Revd David Randolph-Horn, Associate Director, Leeds Church Institute and Secretary, Leeds Faiths Forum.