Professor Hafiz Fateh Muhammad Sahib is one the few Ulama belonging to Ahle Sunnah school of thought in UK who have equal command of religious as well as contemporary knowledge. He has been serving as head teacher and Khateeb at Al-Madina Jamia mosque functioning under the auspices of Leeds Muslim Council.
Professor Hafiz Fateh Muhammad was born to a landlord family of Chaudary Roshin Deen in Jammu city of Indian Occupied Kashmir in 1942. He started his education by memorising the Holy Quran by heart. The first ever teacher of Professor Sahib was his brother in law, Hafiz Umar Deen who was a resident of Bern village of Occupied Kashmir. He migrated to Sialkot via Phukhliaan, Gondal after establishment of Pakistan in 1947. After suspension of his Quranic education for some one and a half year, he completed it form Hafiz Umar Deen in Sialkot. He started contemporary modern education after that and continued his religious education simultaneously. He got the Quranic education including the art of Qir’at and Tajweed from the teacher of the teachers, Qari Abdul Rahman, Shaikhul Qurra, Qari Abdul Aziz Chishti and his cousin, Zeenatul Qurra, Qari Muhammad Hussain.
He passed all the examinations right from primary to M.A with distinction and won scholarships. He got eighth position in the University of the Punjab in B.A. He did his M.A in English in 1965, M.A Islamic Studies in 1967 and M.A. Arabic in 1968 from the same university. After doing his M.A English, he joined education department in 1965. He was appointed as English Lecturer in Jinnah Islamia College Sialkot. He was transferred to Government College Shakar Garh in 1969 wherefrom he came to M.A.O. College Lahore in 1972. He taught English there for six months. When late Zulifqar Ali Bhutto nationalised the educational institutions he returned to Jinnah Islamia College Sialkot and remained the head of the English Department there for a long period.
When International Islamic University was established in Islamabad in 1981, he joined it and remained the head of the English Department for two years. He came to England in 1984 for higher education and did his Masters in English Language Teaching and Linguistics from the University of York. Then he stared work for his doctorate, however, he has to discontinue his education due to ill health. He returned to Islamabad two year’s later and resumed his responsibilities at the International Islamic University. He came to Britain permanently in 1988 and joined the Al-Madina mosque of Leeds Muslims Council. He had also remained attached with the same mosque when he had come to England for higher education.
Professor Sahib told that he also visited Occupied Kashmir in 1982. His father got a grand mosque constructed from his own pocket and at his own land at Subhaash Nager of Jammu city. During this tour, Professor Sahib also went to Srinager and was greatly impressed by the love of Kashmir people especially the school children for Pakistan and Islam.
Professor Sahib also visited New York at the invitation of his pupil, Muhammad Ahmed in 1983. He recited the Holy Quran at a mosque of Jersey City during the Taraweeh prayers in Ramadhan as well as delivered Juma sermons. He said that after witnessing the love and sincerity of the newly converted black Muslims there, he was fully convinced that Islam is not only the religion of the East but it was also the religion of the West. He said that the prophecy of the Holy Quran about sending his Holy Prophet to teach humanity the true religion is about to be materialised. This prophecy has been made at three different places in the Holy Quran with slight change of words. Professor Sahib said that he was doing his PhD from the Leeds University on the exegesis of the Holy Quran, particularly the Coherence of the Holy Quran. At the same time, he continues to render services as Imam, Khateeb and teacher at the mosque. Both his sons are also Hafiz and Imams.
Professor Hafiz Fateh Muhammad said during the course of the conversation that he was always attached with the saintly people. He had special spiritual relation with Hazrat Allama Peer Muhammad Husain of Sialkot and after his death with his son, Hazrat Peer Bashir Ahmed. He also delivered Juma sermons at Kashmiriaan Mosque at Rangpura, Sialkot, after peer Sahib’s death probably in 1964. This service continued for some twenty year till 1984. He has also been linked with Syed Muhammad Ashraf Alias Kashfi Shah Nizami who is the father of prominent lawyer and former law minister, S.M. Zafar and Doctor S.M. Iqbal. He was the spiritual successor and Khalifa of Shamsul Ulama Shaikhul Mashaikh, Hazrat Khawaja Hassan Nizami Dehlvi in Pakistan. Professor Sahib also got the honour of leading his funeral prayers at Chak Qaziaan near Shaker Garh. However Professor Sahib swore the oath of allegiance to Zial-ul-Ummat Peer Muhammad Karam Shah Al- Azhari.
Talking about religious services and activities after coming over to England, Professor Hafiz Fateh Muhammad said that when he came to England in 1984, the number of people who came to say the Juma prayers at the mosque was very low. However, he thanks God that now some eight hundred people offer Juma Prayers. Nearly two hundred children are getting religious education here. Interested children are memorising the Holy Quran by heart as well. Some children have already memoried the Holy Quran by heart and are now getting education in universities.
When asked whether lack of command of English language on the part of Ulama can be held responsible for the estrangement of the youth from religious, Professor Fateh Muhammad Sahib said that it is correct. If we do not give education to the new generation in English, they would not become fully conversant with the religion. Even under ordinary circumstances, when people migrate to another place, their children do suffer due to the language problem. The regrettable thing is that like in Pakistan, parents in England do not take interest in the education of their children. On their part, the children do not take interest either. He said that he delivers a lecture daily on Quranic teachings and explains it both in Urdu as well as in English. It is important for us to give religious education in English in order to make the new generation understand religion of Islam fully well.
Talking about the future of the new Muslim generation in Britain, Professor Fateh Muhammad said that despite their ignorance of English, Ulama have been making efforts to attract the new generation to Islam. God willing, the future of the Muslim youth is very bright in this country. The new generation is becoming more and more inclined to Islam and if we compare the situation with that of Pakistan, more Namazis are found in British mosques than those in Pakistan. Our mosque is jam-packed during Friday prayer. However, hard work and affection is the basic condition to keep the love of religion kindling in the hearts of the new generation.
Referring to his services in the field of writing and compilation, Professor Fateh Muhammad said that he could not do any considerable work in this field so far. He said that when he was working for Doctorate, four or five of his articles were published in international journals. Hazrat Peer Muhammad Karam Shah had desired that the exegesis of the Holy Quran, Jamalul Quran, authored by him should be translated into English. God willing, it would soon be published.
Professor Hafiz Fateh Muhammad said that the Leeds Muslim Council does not only run the affaires of the mosque but also actively participate in other issues and affairs of the Muslim community. He said the Council did an excellent work against the blasphemous and cursed writer, Rushdi. We also collected funds for the Muslim community of Bosnia as well as the suffering people of Afghanistan. We also collect funds for the oppressed people of Kashmir and send it through the Muslim Hands working under the patronage of Sahibzada Syed Lakht-e- Hasnain Shah or through the All Jammu and Kashmir Sunni Hurriyat Council, Britain or nay other Muslim organisation. We also collected two thousands pounds for the self-reliance fund raised by former Prime Minister, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. Besides we have been asking the people to contribute for the fund and remit their money to Pakistan through banking channels instead of Hundi.
Professor Sahib said that presently, Doctor Haji Muhammad Jamil Malik is General Secretary of the Leeds Muslim Council, who is PhD in Economics. He has his own firm of Accountancy. He is imbued with the spirit of Islam and urge to serve the cause of the Muslim Ummah. He is assisted by Joint Secretary, Chaudhary Haji Muhammad Munir who has been associated with the council from the very beginning. He had also been Chairman of the council. He is very sincere, humane and gentle person, Chaudhary Haji Qurban Hussain, is the Chairman and chaudhary Haji Fazal Rahman in the treasure of the council. All the colleagues are imbued with the spirit of serving Islam and are actively participating in collecting funds and donations for the mosque.
People from Leeds, 3,4 and 6 and adjoined areas come to our mosque to offer Friday prayers. Sixty to seventy people offer daily prayers. It is reflective of the attachment of the people to Islam and the same love and attachment is required construction of bigger, expansive and grand new mosque. Professor Sahib said that a new expansive and grand mosque is under construction under the auspices of Lees Muslim Council near the Madina mosque. This new mosque would be called Makkah Mosque, and an amount of a half million pounds has so far been spent on its construction. Whereas the total cost is estimated the 1.5 million pounds. Basic infrastructure has been built. It is expected that the mosque would be completed within next two years. The present Al- Madina mosque would continue to function at its present site Madina mosque would continue to function at its preset site even after the completion of the Makkah mosque, which will accommodate about 2500 people in its three floors.
To a question, Professor Sahib said that Islam spread in the Indo-Pak Sub-Continent due to the efforts of Sufis. Similarly efforts are underway in this country to attract the non-Muslims to Islam. Different Mashaikh pay visits to this country every now and then. Some of them have established centres here in which Zikr gatherings are held and work for the promotion of Islam is carried out. Some forty men and women have embraced Islam since his coming over to this country. For students of Leeds University embraced Islam last year. They are leaving for Morocco to learn Arabic. All this is due to the efforts of Sufis and religious scholars. Thanks to Allah Almighty a prominent orientalist of Leeds University also embraced Islam recently.
Referring to the occurrence of unwantedd incidents in some mosques, Professor Sahib said that the main reason is politics. Since are community cannot take part in the local politics, most of the politics centre round Pakistan and Kashmir. If a person gets a post in the mosque committee, it satisfies his egotism. There are other factors as well. The effects of the days of ignorance and lack of love for religion are also visible. Then we have prejudices on the basis of family background. Added together, all these factors make the situation complex.
Talking about unity and harmony among Ulama belonging to Ahle Sunnah school of thought, Professor Fateh Muhammad Sahib said that all the Ulama are working actively in their respective areas. However, a wrong impression is being conveyed to the people due to their disunity. That is why we are making efforts to unite the Ulama because better results can be achieved through coordinated and united efforts. It would be possible only when we rise above ourselves and work together for the cause of Islam and show tolerance towards others.
Professor Sahib said that he has two sons, Hafiz Qari Muhammad Asim and Hafiz Qari Muhammad Qasim. Qari Muhammad Asim has done his L.L.B from the Leeds University and is getting training to become a solicitor. He also renders the service as Khateeb at Al-Madina mosque during the absence of his father. He also Leeds Taraveeh prayers during Ramadhan. He is an eloquent speaker. Hafiz Qari Muhammad Qasim is conducting a computer course at Bradford University.
(This biography is taken from ‘Ulamas of United Kingdom’ by Khalid Athar)