Thursday, 19 January 2012

British Muslim leaders mourn death of Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha

British Muslim leaders mourn death of the founder
of first Muslim Umbrella Organisation in the UK

Dr. Mozammel Haque

British Muslim leaders mourn the death of Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha, the founder of the first Muslim Umbrella Organisation in the UK, the Union of Muslim Organisations of UK & Eire (UMO). He was very disciplined, enlightened and organised leader the Muslim community of Britain had. He organised and held meetings, seminars, conferences, workshops and Summer camps and never missed recordings the proceedings of the conferences. Even he himself after the conferences sat down with his typewriter to write the press release and posted them to the newspapers and to the different departments and ministries, not only of the United Kingdom; but to other newspapers in other countries. I remembered very well as early as in the mid-70s, we used to get press releases of the conferences held by the UMO from Dr. Pasha for publication and as an editor of the Muslim World League Journal, we used to publish those press releases in our Magazine. Those press releases prepared, written and posted by Dr. Pasha are the primary source and documents of the Muslim community of Britain of those periods.

On the 7th of January, 2012 there was a recitation of the Qur’an programme at the Islamic Cultural Centre, London, organised by the UMO. In spite of my many efforts, I could not attend the programme at the ICC. I was in Saudi Arabia at that time. Though I was not physically present at the recitation of the Qur’an programme, I made special supplication at the Masjid al-Nabawi in Madina Munawwarah and also at Masjid-al-Haram at Makkah al-Mukarramah and also made dua after every prayer for the soul of Dr. Pasha.

Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef
On Sunday, the 8th of January, 2012, I was in Jeddah in the office of Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, former Secretary General of the Rabita al-Alam al-Islami and present Secretary General of the International Islamic Council for Da’wah and Relief (IICDR). When Dr. Pasha passed away, Dr. Naseef was at that time in the United Kingdom and he attended Dr. Pasha’s Janaza at the London Central Mosque at Regents’ Park. I interviewed Dr. Naseef about Dr. Pasha. Speaking about Marhum Dr. Pasha, Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef said, “Dr. Pasha was really an Islamic personality; he was spending all the time to the service of the Muslim community and nothing for his person.”

“He was hard worker and went from here to there and followed up the matters of the Muslims. He used to have good relations with the authorities in Britain. So he could manage to pass many things that are very useful for the Muslims,” observed Dr. Naseef and added, “He was very much really interested in Islam and worked accordingly, Alhamdo Lillah.”

Speaking about his personal relationship with Dr. Pasha, Dr. Naseef, who was Secretary General of the Muslim World League in those days, said, “As far as my relationship is concerned, Rabita al-Alam al-Islam is for everybody and he used to come and discuss the needs of the Muslims. Dr. Pasha put me on the Council of Muslim Education Trust as governor. I attended once or twice the meeting of the Muslim Education Trust as governor. He invited all shades of people from different communities, everybody; not only Indian or Pakistani community, everybody was there at the conferences.”

“As a person Dr. Pasha was really a wonderful man,” said Dr. Naseef and prayed to Almighty Allah by saying, “I ask Allah Subhanahu wa Taala to bless his soul and send him to Paradise.”

Recitation of the Qur’an Programme at
The London Central Mosque at Regents Park
The Recitation of the Qur’an programme for Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha Marhum, the former Secretary General of the Union of Muslim Organisations of the United Kingdom & Ireland (UMO) was conducted at the London Central Mosque at Regents Park on Saturday, 7th of January 2012 after Salatul Zuhr and it was concluded by the time of Salatul Maghreb. There were many lovers of Dr. Pasha present in this meeting. They were Mr. Noon, one of the executive members of the UMO, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and present Chairman of the Muslim Aid Trust, Mr. Yousuf Bhailok, also former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain; Mr. Mohamed Ali from Islam Channel, Maulana Dr. Shahid Raza, Chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board Trusts (MINAB) and the imam of the Acton Mosque. There was an Imam from the Islamic Cultural Centre who participated at the programme and concluded the meeting with dua (supplication).

As I was not at the meeting and as I could not find any recordings of the proceedings or any press releases, I personally contacted those people who spoke on the occasion and I am grateful to those speakers who cooperated and helped me by giving an interview at the eleventh hour about their statements. First of all, I requested Sir Iqbal Sacranie about his speeches at the programme.

Sir Iqbal Sacranie
Sir Iqbal Sacranie said, “The first point the very presence of cross section of the Muslim community is a clear testament of the love and affection towards late Dr. Pasha. Dr Pasha gave his entire life for the betterment and unity of the Muslim community. He was a beacon of light and the principled man who stood firm on the teachings of Islam.”

“I was privileged to have attended the very first meeting of the formation of UMO and was fortunate to work closely with Dr. Pasha in the UMO committees for many years. I learnt a lot from him and was able to utilise that experience and knowledge in my work for the community,” mentioned Sir Iqbal.

Sir Iqbal concluded by saying, “His mission in life was to ensure that Muslims in the UK were united so that they can have effective voice. The most appropriate way to show our appreciation to this wonderful personality is first of all to remember him in our daily prayers and to work for the unity of Muslims in the UK.”

Sir Iqbal also observed, “It is now very important that over the last 25 years, time has changed and it is about time that major organisations, such as Muslim Council of Britain ( MCB), British Muslim Forum (BMF) and Union of Muslim Organisations (UMO) should seriously consider how they can work together for the benefit of the Muslim community of UK.

Mr. Yousuf Bhailok
Mr. Yousuf Bhailok, former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said, “The late Marhum Haji Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha was a God-fearing man; above all, of such taqwa! Man of integrity and a man of service to the deen of Islam. Right to the last breath.”

“Dr. Pasha was a wonderful human being, an old-fashioned charm and sharp intellectual with vision for the future,” observed Mr. Bhailok and mentioned, “We held for the UMO 25th anniversary in 1990 an international three-day event at Earls Court. We lobbied at many political conferences and attended many international functions.”

Mr. Bhailok said, “Dr. Pasha always said blunt truth, without fear or favour, even to the highest dignitaries he reminded them of duty and accountability to Allah swt.”

Recollecting to his last visit to the hospital, Mr. Bhailok mentioned, “Dr. Pasha was a decent man, in the last visit to him in hospital, he said to me, first do your salaat, then sit with me. He trained many of us, we were young men then, who later took prominence in UK, but without doubt he was our senior Statesman. He had commitment, passion and energy to serve.”

“He inspired me and was my mentor. I had great respect for him as a good human being and an example in this modern society,” said Mr. Bhailok and added, “We had a selfless individual, whose lifetime and dedication to UK Muslims is second to none. He was the conscience and voice of UK Muslims.”

Mr. Bhailok concluded by praying, “May Allah Subhanahu wa Taala accept his services. I will surely miss him.”

Maulana Dr. Shahid Raza
I interviewed Maulana Shahid Raza about Dr. Pasha. Speaking on the life and services of Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha Marhum, Maulana Dr. Shahid Raza said, “Since I came in this country in 1978, from that time until the end Dr. Pasha always advocated unity among the Muslims and I considered it as one of the great contributions to the life of the Muslim community in this country. Perhaps he was the only Muslim leader who genuinely and in reality made all possible efforts in order to achieve unity of the Ummah in this country.”

“Dr. Pasha never supported or never favoured any of the groups. This country has so many groups, so many organisations, different Mazahebs and different Sects; but he was, in my opinion, loved by all, respected by all. In his programme, I have seen all the groups, all the schools of thoughts present, even the non-Muslims. But among Muslims, all the Muslim groups were represented in his programme. That was in my opinion one of the unique features of Dr. Pasha’s life that he was the symbol of unity; he was great advocate of the unity of Muslims in this country,” said Maulana Raza.

Speaking about another quality of Dr. Pasha, Maulana Raza mentioned, “The second thing I have very strongly and distinctly noticed in the life of Dr. Pasha is that he was a very bold person, a very courageous person. He used to speak in front of Prime Minister, Home Minister and other Ministers and whatever he felt truth, he never compromised. I can tell you that he never compromised. Look that I am sitting with the Prime Minister and if I say something he might be upset, he might be angry. He did not care about it. Whatever he believed to be correct, he used to speak boldly and clearly.”

Maulana Raza said, “Dr. Pasha was a messenger of truth. The Hadith (the Tradition of the Prophet peace be upon him) of the Prophet says: “If you say the truth in front of a ruler, this is one of the biggest Jihad. Dr. Pasha was a Mujahid. He continued this Jihad throughout his life in front of Prime Minister Tony Blair, in front of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, in front of Home Minister Jack Straw and whenever he used to meet the ministers in front of many other Muslims and in front of many other non-Muslims, he always used to say what he believed to be correct and true. So this is something I believe everybody will agree that Dr. Pasha was a true bold courageous leader in the Muslim community in this country.”

Speaking about Dr. Pasha’s contribution, Maulana Raza said, “Dr. Pasha’s contribution is something which we will never forget; about organising Summer camps for the training of Muslim young boys and girls and I personally know many Muslim boys and girls who attended his Summer camps of moral, spiritual and Islamic training and after attending those camps these young Muslim boys and girls became practising Muslims and they came back from his camps as genuinely interested in learning Islam. I know some of those who attended these Summer Camps, now are doctors working with big companies, in big organisations, but they still practise Islam. So Dr. Pasha, through his company, through his discourses, through his trainings put Islam and love of Islam in the hearts of thousands of young Muslim boys and girls. He also trained so many young people who later on became leaders of the Muslim community in this country.”

I enquired whether someone has suggested how to remember the services of Dr. Pasha. Maulana Raza said, “Unfortunately, there were no suggestions about how Dr. Pasha needs to be remembered regularly by us all; it could be an annual memorial lecture, it could be, for example, an annual conference dedicated to Dr. Pasha.”

I mentioned that throughout his whole life Dr. Pasha never missed the celebration of the Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him; it was a sort of interfaith conference where people of all different religious communities were invited, people from the government and political parties participated and attended in the celebration. Maulana Raza said, “This is something Dr. Pasha was unique that he celebrated Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi all the years as an interfaith programme. I think it was the first Milad-un-Nabi in the history of Muslims in the United Kingdom to be celebrated in that way where representatives from political parties, from the government, from the police and from other faith communities, they used to join Muslims and we used to share with them the great miracles and message of our great Prophet peace be upon him. So it was a wonderful programme and he was the founder of this programme and he took it at the peak and I think it would be something wonderful if the UMO can carry this programme of Milad-un-Nabi exactly as Dr. Pasha designed it. It would be a great tribute to Dr. Pasha if UMO can continue with this programme.”

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