Building Leeds Makkah Masjid

29th August 2003 (1st Rajab) was a unique memorable day in the lives of the Muslim community of Leeds. This was due to the opening of a new magnificent mosque in the heart of Leeds city, in Leeds 6, called Makkah Masjid.

Makkah Masjid had been under construction for the last 3 years and it was finally completed last August with the total cost of £1.8 million. Previously, al-Madina Masjid had been fulfilling the needs of the Leeds 6 Muslim community. Al-Madina Masjid was founded in the early 1970s by purchasing 2 small houses and converting them into a mosque. However, as the Muslim community increased around Leeds 6, one house was incapable of accommodating all the attendees of large gatherings such as Friday or Eid prayers. Therefore, expansion of the al-Madina Masjid was deemed necessary. In 1989, some renovation and extension work was carried out at the cost of £60,000. After the extension, the al-Madina Masjid was able to accommodate 700 attendees. As time went by, Muslim population continued to increase in Leeds.

In mid 1990s, al-Madina Masjid again started facing problems in accommodating all the attendees of large events. For instance, for important Friday prayers, such as the Friday prayers in Ramadan, every part of the al-Madina Masjid would become full and people had to find place wherever they could to offer their prayers. Some people even had to pray in the kitchen, corridors or on the landing. Similarly, jamat for Eid prayer was said 2 times in order to allow all the Muslims of Leeds 6 and surrounding areas of Leeds 3 & 4 to perform their Eid prayer without any trouble. However, even with 2 jamaat, the mosque would become full and people would still face trouble to find a suitable place to pray. The problem of limited space became so intense that people stopped coming to the al-Madina Masjid and had to travel to other areas to attend the Friday or Eid prayers.

Leeds Muslim Council (the management committee of al-Madina Masjid) finally decided that increasing the size of the mosque was the need of the hour. However, like last time, this time al-Madina Masjid could not be extended as there was no next-door house which could be included into the existing mosque. It was also felt that a mere extension of the mosque would not be suitable for future needs. As the Muslim population would grow in Leeds 6, the mosque would again become small in size. What was needed was a purpose-built mosque that would be suitable to cater for all the possible future needs of the Muslims in Leeds.

To build a purpose-built mosque, a suitable location and land was needed. As Leeds 6 area is near the 2 universities, all the suitable lands had already been acquired by big businesses or were far away from the Muslim community’s residential area. There was only one property on sale which was thought to be suitable for the construction of a Muslim worship-place. It was a run-down church which had been abandoned for many years. As a matter of fact, it was a unique church which had been constructed with wooden structure and was a registered listed building. The plan was to buy the dilapadated christadelphian church, demolish it and construct a purpose-built mosque on the site. When this plan was presented to the Leeds City Council, they opposed the plan on the basis that the church could not be demolished as it was a listed building. A long and hard battle (with the help of local MPs and councillors) had to be fought with the local city council to convince them that the existing building (the church) was a place of worship, and the new building (the new mosque) would also be a place of worship. A survey of the local residents was also conducted to take their point of view on replacing the run-down church with the new mosque. Muslims and non-Muslims said alike that they were most happy to replace a ruined building which portrayed a negative image of the area with a uniquely constructed building which would add a fresh view to the area.

The new purpose-built mosque, called Makkah Masjid, was given a go-ahead in the year 2000, with the estimated total cost of £1.5 million and a time span of 3 years. As imagined, raising £1.5 million from the local Muslim community was conceived to be the most difficult and hardest part of constructing a new mosque, but with the grace of Allah (SWT) nothing is impossible or unachievable. As a matter of fact, when the plan of the Makkah Masjid was presented to the local MPs, and when they saw that the amount £1.5 million was needed to build the mosque, the only thing they said was: “this is impossible”. But the Muslims of Leeds 6 and surrounding areas of Leeds 3 & 4 put their faith in Allah (SWT) and believed that they were building the house of Allah, and trusted in Him to guide them through difficult and hard times. A great deal of strategy and planning was formulated by the Leeds Muslim Council before embarking on this laborious and demanding task. Before starting the work at the new mosque, priority was given to collect funds as the management committee did not want to stop the work on the new mosque by running short of funds. Only when enough fund had been collected, the work on the new mosque commenced.

As mentioned above, the construction of the Makkah Masjid was estimated to cost £1.5 million which is a vast amount of money to be collected by one community. The Muslim community of Leeds 6 and surrounding areas does not comprise of big businesses or entrepreneurs, but of standard jobs such as taxis or take-aways. But when it came to contributing for the new mosque, the Leeds Muslim community opened up their hearts and contributed generously for this great cause. The Muslim community realised that the new mosque was an important factor in their lives and a mark of Muslim identity in general, and they did not fall short in making their donations according to their best capacities. Some creative strategies were devised by the people to raise the level of funds. For instance, one person who used to work at a taxi stand, started collecting £1 each week from other taxi drivers and gave this money to the new mosque funds. Following this good example, other people from other taxi stands also started contributing in a similar way. Similarly, one barber shop started giving £10 each week to the new mosque fund. Following this step, other barber shops also started giving £10 weekly to the new mosque. It is often said that good behaviour in people leads to good behaviour in society, and construction of the new mosque is a good example where people contributed open heartedly by observing good actions of others. Collection of such vast amount of funds was made possible by constantly encouraging the Muslims to contribute to the mosque fund.

The members of the mosque committee set-up a good example by donating from £10,000 to £30,000 each. This good example inspired other members of the community and almost each household in the community donated at least £3,000. The whole process of building Makkah Masjid, including planning, raising funds and the construction work, took only 4 years. The construction of Makkah Masjid in such a short time was only made possible by the hard work of Leeds Muslim Council who were committed to put sleepless nights and long hours into this project and to see it to a successful completion. Leeds Muslim Council kept extremely good and close liaison with the Muslim community, created successful relationships with the local government, entrusted the jobs and duties to the most suitable persons and financially kept within their limits. With the grace of Allah (SWT), blessing of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), generous contributions of the local Muslim community and the unwavering commitment of the Leeds Muslim Council, Makkah Masjid was finally opened on 29th August 2003 (1st Rajab 1424).

The opening of the Makkah Masjid coincided with the month of Rajab in which the ummah of the Prophet (PBUH) was given the gift of 5 daily prayers. Makkah Masjid is another gift of Allah (SWT) given to the Leeds 6 and surrounding areas of Leeds 3 and 4 Muslim community to establish the 5 daily prayers. Makkah Masjid has 3 floors and can accommodate over 2700 people, which is more than enough for the coming generations. There are 2 main halls for men to use and there is another main hall for ladies.

The mosque has 3 minarets and one dome. The mosque also includes rooms for computers and a library. The worshippers who attend the mosques are the actual beauty and charm of the mosques. However, while constructing the Makkah Masjid, the outward beauty and attractiveness of the mosque was also taken into consideration. Therefore, the outside walls are beautifully crafted by using a combination of blue, green and cream coloured tiles.

The old mosque, al-Madina Masjid is also open for prayers and will remain running in future since mosques cannot be closed down. In conclusion, construction of Makkah Masjid was a huge project not undertaken by the local Muslim community previously. However, the Muslims knew that the new mosque was extremely important for them and then they stood united and committed and donated generously. Leeds Muslim Council, the management committee of al-Madina Masjid and Makkah Masjid, created a strong relationship with the local Muslims and the local government and spent a lot of their precious time and energy to ensure Makkah Masjid was completed successfully.

In 2009, Madina Masjid was renovated from this:

to this:

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Professor Hafiz Fateh Muhammad sahib

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)

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A tribute to Professor sahib from All Hallows Church

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.

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A tribule to Professor Hafiz Fateh Muhammad sahib (RA)

The following article was written by Choudhary Maskeen sahib of Leeds 12 and it appeared in Daily Jang on 3rd May 2006.

Please click on the image below to view the full article. 

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Shaykh Professor Hafiz Fateh Muhammad – An Ideal Imam

It is three years since our Imam departed from this world in April 2005 to live in the ever-lasting world. Below is an article written by one of his students highlighting some aspects of Hafiz Sahib's life:

Shaykh Professor Hafiz Fateh Muhammad Sahib, affectionately called Hafiz Sahib by all those who knew him, (May Allah have mercy on his soul) was the great Imam of Madina Masjid from 1984 – 2005 and of Makkah Masjid from 2003 to 2005. He passed away suddenly on the evening of 25 April 2005 (17th Rabi ul-Awwal 1426) whilst reading a biography of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). His sudden departure from this world was a tragic loss to the Muslim community of Leeds which he had ardently and diligently served for over 20 years of his life.

All those who had the honour to meet him will testify that Hafiz Sahib radiated love for the Holy Quran and our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). He dedicated his life to gaining knowledge of Islam, living in accordance with its principles and encouraging others to do the same.

Hafiz Sahib was one of very few distinguished Ulemas who excelled in both worldly and religious knowledge and understanding. He first came to England from his native Pakistan in 1984 to undertake a Masters degree in English Language Teaching and Linguistics. He had previously held the esteemed post of head of the English Department at the International Islamic University at Islamabad. He returned to Pakistan for a short while, before permanently settling in England in 1988 and taking up the post of Imam and Khateeb of Madina Masjid and spiritual guide for the community he served.

 

Hafiz Sahib – an ideal Imam

Hafiz Sahib was not only a religious instructor but had also been a professor at one of the most prestigious Universities in the Muslim world. He was therefore passionate about ensuring that religion was accessible to second generation Muslims in the UK. He reminded Muslims that they had not come to the UK as Pakistanis, Indians etc, but as Muslims. He advised Muslims to leave aside cultural issues and concentrate singularly on the cause of living Islam as it was given to them by the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Hafiz Sahib was always mindful of the numerous examples in the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) of living peacefully alongside those of other faiths, whilst not loosing one's own faith and identity, and he strived to follow these examples.

He emphasised that Muslims should earn their place in society and win the hearts and minds of the host community by showing that the values taught by Islam are the same values that all human beings hold dear. For this reason, a long before there was any wide-spread recognition of the fact that there was a danger of youngsters losing touch with their religious identities as a result of the fact that most religious sermons were being held in Urdu, Hafiz Sahib was preaching in both English and Urdu. He attached great importance to ensuring that youngsters had access to Islamic knowledge in their first language, English. Thus his professionalism enabled him to pursue and resolve intricate issues and challenges faced by the second generation with clarity and conviction, always preferring debate and discussion whilst observing the Islamic etiquette rather than just demanding that youngsters did as told.

Another issue close to Hafiz Sahib's heart was ensuring good relationships between people of different faiths. To this end, he was an active participant in the Leeds multi-faith forums, which saw him recite the Quran at inter-faith events and welcome those of other faiths into the Masjid.

 

Hafiz Sahib and the Quran

Hafiz Sahib led a simple life which revolved around his role as Imam. His first love was the recitation of the Quran, which he did alongside whatever other task he was doing. Those who had the honour of hearing him recite the Quran know that his pronunciation was impeccable and his voice was melodious and full of emotion. The hearts of his listeners could not help but be moved, and through him his audience felt closer to Allah.

Hafiz Sahib was also passionate about ensuring that Muslims did not blindly follow what they were told, but had a real understanding of the principles of Islam. His aim was to fill the hearts of the Muslims in his community with a love for the Quran as immense as his own, and instill in them a desire to understand the Quran as he did. Over the last 10 years of his life, Hafiz Sahib held daily study circles after prayers. During these study circles, he provided detailed analysis and commentary on almost half of the Holy Quran in a combination of both English and Urdu. His daily classes were attended by both old and young.

 

Distinguished Personality

Hafiz Sahib's distinguishing trait was his unpretentious appearance and remarkable simplicity. Despite being well-versed in religious and worldly matters, he never promoted himself or tried to seek fame. Instead, he followed the way of his predecessors who worked behind the scenes, displaying profound insight and solicitude for the Ummah andshowing exceptional acumen for resolving the challenges presented by modernity.

Despite being a great scholar and leading a very busy life, Hafiz Sahib never shied away from doing mundane tasks. He used to say that given the fact that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) assisted his wives with household jobs, it could not be a stain on one's status or masculinity to following his example. He was also proud to clean the mosque, saying that not everyone is given the honour of cleaning the house of the Lord.

 

Hafiz Sahib and Makkah Masjid

The biggest aspect of Hafiz Sahib's legacy is without doubt Makkah Masjid, which was his vision and which only came into being as a result of his tireless efforts. For many years, Hafiz Sahib was deeply concerned that the converted terraced houses which formed Madina Masjid were not adequate to cater for the growing Muslim populations of Leeds 3, 4 and 6. His vision was that the community should have a Masjid of which it could be truly proud, which was not only aesthetically pleasing but which would also meet the practical needs of the Muslim community it would serve. He talked about a Masjid that would elevate the spirits of all who saw it and symbolise the beauty of the religion of Islam.

To this end, Hafiz Sahib worked assiduously firstly to help find the perfect location in which to build his dream Masjid, and then to raise the £1.8 million required to fund its construction. The passion with which he talked about the new Masjid encouraged the local communities to donate the staggering sums needed; very few individuals have the charisma and zeal to convince others to donate so generously. He reminded everyone that if they contributed towards building a house for Allah (swt) in this life, then, as is promised in the Holy Quran, Allah (swt) would build a house in Paradise for them in the hereafter.

Following years of hard work, Makkah Masjid opened its doors in June 2003. Without doubt, it would never have come into existence without Hafiz Sahib firstly having the vision of a magnificent Masjid located in Headingley, Leeds and secondly having the dedication to make his dream a reality.

Those who knew Hafiz Sahib as their Imam, their teacher and their spiritual guide are only too aware that he was a truly unique individual, who cannot be replaced. He was a very inspirational and dynamic person. He wanted to see the learned and professionals work together to advance the position of the Ummah, and reach mutual understanding and respect throughout the world. In a life span of 63 years, he will be remembered for, among other notable things, being a great scholar of Islam who practiced what he preached and instilled love for the religion in those who came into contact with him. His entire life was dedicated to steadfastly serving Islam and Muslims.

There are too many details about his life to cover in such a short article. However, to note a few, Hafiz Sahib emphasised greatly – and showed us practically in the way he lived – the following matters :

1. Love of the beloved Prophet and the Quran,

2. Love for seeking knowledge and displaying love for the people of knowledge;

3. Simplicity in our whole way of life

4. The importance of making an effort in one's life to improve one's status in the world and the hereafter.

 

We pray to Allah (swt) that He grants Hafiz Sahib the highestplace in Paradise, and makes the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and the Holy Quran his intercessors on the Day of Judgement. Ameen.

 

Saleem Alam

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A Poem In Memory of Hafiz Sahib

 

The lover of the Prophet, the advocate of Islam
The ambassador of peace, the beloved of us all
Lived his entire life in Masjid and Mihrab
Left for the heavens having enlightened us all
g
He was available to us day and night
Dedicated to his mission of spreading the light
Constantly in the Masjid reading the Quran
Always smiling, illuminated by Allah's light
g
The news of his sudden departure rendered us lost
Memories of Hafiz sahib remains alive in our hearts
How he instilled in us love for the Prophet
And opened our eyes to the wonders of the Quran
Four years have passed since he left us for the heavens
Yet the void in our hearts is as vast as ever.
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Comments about the life of our respected teacher – Shaykh Professor Hafiz Fateh Muhammad (RA)

The following are some of the comments made about Professor Hafiz Qari Fateh Muhammad (May Allah shower mercy on his soul):

  • "I will miss his inspiring conversations full of humour, wit and insight", a PhD students from the Far East
  • "His optimism, his compassion and, most important of all, the love he always had for his faith and community was remarkable." A Roman Catholic Vicar
  • He was "a wonderful mix of spirituality and practicality", Faith Advisor to the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
  • His death was "a blow to the whole community." a local MP.
  • "He was a reformer in that he began calling for imams to start using English in their sermons and in their teachings so that the British Muslim youth could learn something about their faith when attending the mosques." Chair of a leading British Muslim Organisation.
  • "He was a true lover of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and that is why he was always at the forefront of any cause and campaign dealing with Tahafuz-e-Namose-e- Risalat", Secretary of Ahl-Sunna wal-Jamaat.
  • "He effectively gave me a new life", a revert who embraced Islam at the hands of Professor Qari Fateh Muhammad.
  • "His intelligent conversations, his ability to listen to opponents' views, his inner beauty, his immense love for the Prophet, the Ahle-bait and the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) made me reconsider my beliefs", a shia Professor from Iran.
  • "He was as friendly and hospitable to his opponents as he was towards his friends and followers", a young enthusiast who enjoyed debating with Professor Qari Fateh Muhammad.
  • "Through his guidance and mediation, he saved my marriage", a young newly married sister.
  • "He was an inspiration to me. If it had not been for him, I would not have had the love of my religion in my heart today", a pharmacist.
  • "He helped me find myself", an investment banker.
  • "He was always there for my family", a mother of six children.
  • "If it had not been for his financial support, I would not have been able to do an MBA", a student who went on to become an entrepreneur.
  • "Whenever I followed his practical advice, I never regretted it", a father of four and politician.
  • "I always confided in him and he counseled me", a granddad and community leader.
  • "If it had not been for him, my children today would have been somewhere else rather than in the mosque. He brought faith into our hearts", a mother of three.
  • "He was my guide, my teacher, my source of inspiration, my role model and my spiritual father", a student of Islamic sciences and Tassawuf.
  • "He was a truly humble and sincere servant of Allah, who was not after worldly positions or wealth; he declined whenever he was given a position of power and rather recommended his colleagues to take those positions", founder of the British Muslim Forum.
  • "He was a man of extraordinary vision. He sat on a prayer mat but touched the hearts of thousands of people from all walks of life whether they be doctors, Imams, builders, politicians, professors, taxi drivers or entrepreneurs. It was his simplicity and spirituality, combined with his wisdom, that made him everyone's hero", a medical doctor.
  • "It was his love for the Noble Quran, his constant recitation day and night, which brought me closer to Allah", a Hafiz and recite of the Holy Quran.
  • "He sometimes would give money in charity when he did not have much in his own pocket", Trustee of a Charity.
  • "He was the father figure for our community", teenage attendee of the mosque
  • "He was a shining star; people like him are not born everyday", a professor colleague at Islamic University Islamabad, Pakistan.
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Shaykh Hafiz Fateh Muhammad – Spiritual Guide

I first met Imam Professor Hafiz Fateh Muhammad sahib some 15 years ago. My first session with him completely changed my life! I was going through some difficult times in my life. Things were not "working out" at home. I had a very "good" job with a reasonably "good" salary but there was still some void in my life. I felt something was missing from my life. I had recently moved to Leeds for my job and did not know many people. I could easily make friends in the lifestyle that I was used to but I wanted to move away from that life-style.

Being born a Muslim, the obvious thing was to turn to Islam but I did not know much about Islam. I was afraid to learn about Islam because I felt that learning more about it would make me realise my own shortcomings and weaknesses. I did not want to feel more depressed. I wanted to meet someone who could unlock my mind and spirit, who could direct me to my Lord, who could hold my hand as I treaded on the path of Islam and got myself back on track. The experience that I have had of mosques did not fill me with confidence that I would find someone like that in a mosque. My first thought was that if I went to a mosque, I would be frowned upon, I would be told off, there would be no one to understand my condition, there would be a language barrier etc.

Then one of my clients told me of an Imam in a mosque nearby in Hyde Park and everything he told me about him was a great shock to me.

My client said that the Imam spoke English and had a lot of young people coming to his mosque. I found it surprising that he was an English Professor and an Imam at the same time. I could understand someone being a Professor of Arabic or Islamic Studies and an Imam but not an English Professor and an Imam.

My client told me that he was a humble man but dignified in his humility and that he always made time for common people and he cared about people – religious or irreligious. I could only remember people inside the mosque who assumed that they were better than others because they came to the mosque to pray.

My client also said that that Imam always has a huge welcoming smile on his shining face. Again, it was hard for me to imagine an Imam with a beautiful smile on his face. I could only remember these guardians of mosques being stern faced, feeling tense and angry with everything.

My client carried on telling me about the knowledge that this Imam possessed and other characteristics that he had had but my mind was wondering off, trying to imagine the Imam in mind and burning with the desire to meet him.

After a few days, I pulled myself together to meet this great personality, with a mixed feeling of awe and yearning. As I approached his room inside the mosque, he was sat on the floor studying a book. As soon as he saw me, he welcomed me with a smile and started chatting to me, listening to me attentively. He was not only hearing me, he was also waiting for his turn to speak. Although it was the first time I had met him, I felt that I had always known him.

As I sat listening to the Imam discussing the intricacies of the Glorious Qur'an with references to modern intellectualism, my eyes grew wider and I distinctly remember thinking 'so that's what it means!'

I left that brief meeting with a very light heart, feeling good inside. I had a strange feeling inside me; I felt that I had done a good deed just meeting him and listening to his melodious voice. I still cannot describe that feeling.

From that day onward, whenever I got the chance to come and sit with him, I would do so. I would go to meet him during lunch time and he in his kindness would welcome me each time I went to meet him. I would always leave him with a heavy heart, wishing I could have extra time to stay with him. In his gatherings, he used to feel spiritually immersed in the light of the Qur'an. He was a walking encyclopedia/dictionary of the Glorious Qur'an.

I am sure that anyone who had the privilege of visiting the Imam and spending time with him felt uplifted and enriched by his humanity, his wisdom and his spirituality. He was positive and motivational. He always showed you the bright side of any situation that you were in. He used to make things perfectly clear by using simple language and examples. He would come down to peoples’ level, despite himself being an ocean of knowledge. For him lecturing or writing was not about scholastic manipulation of intellectual constructs but rather a means to connect people to Allah and the spiritual reality. He would de-mystify things so that people could understand the Word of God and the sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). He always reminded his students to use simple language with people in accordance with the prophetic saying: "Speak to people at their level". But at the same time his colourful talks were full of gushing flow, treasure of vocabulary and tremendous appealing.

I love him dearly because, through him I came closer to My Lord and gained an understanding of what a logical and balanced the religion of Islam is. It is through him that I have been able to tell people around me something about my faith. It is because of him that I am proud to call myself a Muslim. He wanted young British Muslims to be good and great. Work hard to unlock our potentials with the key of the Qur'an and Sunnah.

Unfortunately, after a few months of coming to stay in Leeds, I got transferred to another city and our enlightening and refreshing meetings came to end. At first I did continue to phone him and seek his advice on important matters in my life. Then with the passage of time, I got busy and the contact became less and less.

The memories that I have shall remain ingrained on my mind forever. He is always in my prayers. My Allah grant me his company under the banner of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

Zahid Hussain

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Shaykh Hafiz Fateh Muhammad- A Man of People

When I first became interested in Islam, I was overwhelmed by the information that I needed to learn. I had friends who were telling me all the things I needed to memorise; the Arabic terms and verses which I had to recite. There was an expectation on everyone's part that I should be better than them; I should practice more than them; I should know more than them. It was all too much for me. Information was being fed to me as to what I should wear or should not wear, what I should eat and should not eat. The whole issue was complicated by the fact that there was slight difference of opinion between the scholars and each friend of mine was at pains to drag me to their reasoning. In the midst of this, another revert brought me to Imam Hafiz Fateh Muhammad.

When I came to see Hafiz, he calmed my worries and reassured me that living under the shade of God's mercy, being a Muslim, was a process that required hard work and endurance. He reminded me of the saying of the Prophet that the religion is ease and that if you take one step to Allah, He comes ten steps towards you. He asked me to learn about my new faith step by step and not be overwhelmed by it all. As Allah had accepted me into his chosen faith, I could only come closer to Him by learning more about this faith. Since then whenever I had a particular dilemma, I came to Hafiz sahib for his spiritual and practical advice and sometimes I brought other reverts with me. He never made us feel intimidated by his knowledge

He was truly a man of people. He would often remind those close to him of the saying of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) 'the best amongst you is the one most beneficial to them'. He was sincerely interested in providing religious advice in a practical form. People of all backgrounds; Muslims, non-Muslims, young, old, men and women would come to him regarding private and personal matters of love and life, family and faith. Despite the fact that these meetings with people affected his routine of doing set remembrance of Allah and recitation of the Glorious Quran and his studies and writing, he always gave time to the people who came to him and listened to their heartache.  He never judged people and would not talk behind their backs about their private and personal matters. Instead he guided with compassion and always tried to make the religion easy to practice.

Another key characteristic of Hafiz sahib's personality was his altruistic, selfless and self-sacrificing personality. He did not want people to praise him for how close he was to Allah or recognize how high his status was in terms of spirituality or how much insight/farasah of a believer he had, rather he wanted people to turn to Allah and develop those characteristics in themselves. He wanted to empower others rather than hold all the power to himself. That is the reason that with his practical advice, he would always ask people to either recite a particular surah or verse of the Noble Quran or some other zikr. It was his quality of serving His Lord by helping people that people not only from all over the UK but even from outside the UK would call him and discuss their matters with him. He knew a lot of people in Europe and the US who would invite him to visit their countries but he always declined saying that with the time that he had, he was even unable to serve people locally.

Most reverts to Islam are usually so disillusioned with the world and its attractions that they want to run away from the ordinary life and perhaps try to create a new world for themselves. However, Hafiz sahib always motivated reverts to not isolate themselves from the world. Muslims must live in the world but not let the world live in their hearts so much that they forget the Creator of the world. We often spoke about the challenges of our times and the difficulty of balancing student life, professional life with spiritual life. He once said that he went through the same emotions during the early days of him teaching English Literature in a College and in order to create emotions conducive for nurturing the soul, he increased his portion of daily recitation of the Holy Quran.

 

Muhammad Dawud

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Founder of Leeds Makkah Masjid- An Inspiration to the Youth

We are all familiar with the famous Prophetic saying <em>Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave</em>. Few people implemented this hadith into their everyday lives with as much dedication, ardour and passion as the late Shaykh Professor Hafiz Fateh Muhammad (may Allah have mercy on his soul and grant him the highest ranks of paradise). 

I was fortunate enough to have known Hafiz Sahib (as he was fondly known by his students and congregation) practically my whole life. I was even more fortunate to have been taught to read and memorise surahs from the Holy Quran by him. Seldom did I enter Madina Masjid, where he was based before the construction of Makkah Masjid, to find him doing anything other than seeking knowledge, either reading a book on Islam or reading the book he loved above all other books, the Holy Quran.

When Hafiz Sahib read from the Holy Quran his love for the book that is the fountain of all wisdom and knowledge was apparent to all fortunate enough to witness him. The love emanated from his face, which glowed when he recited the words of God. The love resonated in his voice, which frequently trembled with emotion as he was reciting. It poured out of him and into the hearts of the listeners. Who could fail to be moved by the sight of this great man reciting Surah Ar-Rahman with tears streaming down his face as he read the verse: <em>Then which of the blessings of your Lord will you deny</em>Because you knew that Hafiz Sahib thanked his Lord for all the blessings he had been bestowed with every second of every day, and you knew that he himself was a blessing sent by Allah Almighty for the benefit and betterment of the community of Leeds. 

Hafiz Sahib held education and knowledge in the highest esteem. Not only his own education and knowledge but also that of the community he served. That is why he held daily tafseer classes after prayers. Most importantly, Hafiz Sahib understood the importance of educating the Muslim youth long before his contemporaries had grasped the idea. As far back as the mid-eighties, when many of the first generation of Muslims who had migrated to this country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India were still dreaming about returning to their home lands with their families after a few years of working in England, Hafiz Sahib was delivering his Friday sermons in a combination of his native language Urdu and the native language of the youngsters in his congregation, English. He understood that unless Islam was accessible to the youth in their mother tongue, it would become an alien concept to them that would ultimately get lost in translation.

Hafiz Sahib was acutely aware that in order to counterbalance the attractions and distractions modern day Britain posed for Muslim youngsters growing up in the country, the Muslim youth needed to be spoken to in their own language and at a level that was accessible to them. His door was always open to youngsters, and one of his most memorable characteristics was that youngsters flocked to him for advice and solace. He was a sympathetic ear and a source of practical guidance  â€“ he was a mix between a loving parent, a concerned uncle, an understanding teacher and inspiration to everyone. He was seen as so much more than simply the Imam. 

Hafiz Sahib used every opportunity to stress to the youth that it was incumbent upon them to make the most of the advantages of the British education system so that they could grow up to be professionals and Muslims could be represented in all walks and at all levels of British life. Unlike his contemporaries who did little other than stress the importance of seeking Islamic knowledge, he placed almost as much importance on secular knowledge as knowledge of the Sharia. He was himself a unique blend of a Professor of English and a Qur’an Hafiz. He saw no reason why the two cold not go hand in hand, and he was keen to stress this to the youngsters in his congregation. His message was simple; lslam does not preclude its followers from seeking success in this life as well as in the life after death. While we must not ever take our eyes off the ultimate goal – seeking Allah’s pleasure and attaining paradise – it is perfectly permissible to seek the fine things in this life also. And in order to attain these fine things, education is the key. 

Hafiz Sahib was truly a man who led by example. He led a simple life that seamlessly blended excellence in the religious and secular fields. He demonstrated to the youth that it was possible to strive for success in worldly affairs, and he was therefore seen as an accessible figurehead who many leaned on for support. His presence is to this day sincerely missed in the community of Leeds. 

 

<em>Reflections of a female Student</em>

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