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My Memoirs Part 15

Memoirs 15: Lake Victoria, Cessnas and jungles.

Part 15 (1971 – 1972)

First: some short notes:

  1.  I travelled to Lyallpur (Pakistan) to sit in the exams for M.A in Arabic organised by the Punjab University.
  2. My third son was born in Nairobi in October 1971. My wife told me that it was a Friday when she gave birth to Usama at around one o’clock when I was on the pulpit delivering the Jumma khutbah.
  1. One of the most saddest moment in the history of Pakistan; the fall of Dhaka and the end of East Pakistan. The only source of news we had was a small radio with interrupted transmission. I remember attending a gathering at the house of Aziz family where Pakistan High Commissioner Mr. Amanullah Khan was honoured as a special guest. I was not aware that a Pakistani singer, Surraya Multani had to grace this meeting with her song. However, I was well-equipped with an article on how a great veteran and supporter of Pakistan, Molvi Farid Ahmad off Bengal was brutally tortured and killed by the notorious Indian-led Mukti Bahani. I read this article with a sad tone and tears in the eyes. The gathering was moved and was in tears as well.
  1. In June 1972, My Father, Sheikh Abdul Ghaffar Hasan came to visit us in Nairobi. There were my colleagues, the delegates from Darul Ifta of Saudi Arabia and a number of my friends who had been eagerly awaiting his visit. I took him in my car to Kampala Uganda, 400 miles away towards the west. We passed by Jinja, the source of the river Nile when our colleague Syyed Abul Farooq held a ceremony in his honour and asked him to lay the foundation stone of a mosque amid the campus of the Islamic institute of Jinja. My other friend Abdul Khaliq Tariq was there as well to show him around his field of activities
  1. Then we continued our journey towards Kampala, a city of seven hills. Brother Siraj-ur- Rehman Nadawi welcomed him in his Darul Uloom, a vast complex of Islamic knowledges in the Ugandan capital. A visit to Kibuli mosque, on the top of the hill, a land mark of the city, was part of our busy schedule. Not far from Kampala was the shore of Lake Victoria which gave the Africans amidst the continent a taste of sea but with sweet waters. You can see the planes flying across the lake and landing at Entebbe, the gateway to Uganda. Our stay was short and soon came back to Kampala.
  1. A day later we were once again on our way heading on a 400 miles journey back to Nairobi. It was amazing to see a leopard somewhere near Eldoret walking beside the road. Normally even in a Safari Park you have to struggle to have such a sight. At another spot we have to halt to allow a herd of giraffes crossing the road. I had the memory of a news item about a bus which turned over completely after hitting this giant animal on the road. Then we had to witness a heavenly sign: a very heavy downpour which almost stopped us for a while.
  1. Rain in East Africa had always been an amazing adventure. On Equator, it becomes pleasant, charming and enjoyable. Back in Nairobi brother Mutiul-Rahaman had organised for us another adventurous journey: a flight to remote town of Garissa by a four-seater Cessna plane. First time in my life, we could fly so close to the earth with a clear view of pastures, thick jungles and that of wild animals running around.
  1. In Garissa Mutiur Rahman was looking after an orphanage which housed a good number of Somali children. In a vast area, the newly built buildings had emerged in a plain covered mostly with bushes where the sight of wondering marabou storks was common. He managed to secure the supply of water through pipe-line from river Tana which was running at a distance. It was a privileged project of the YMO (young Muslim organisation) of Kenya and was well represented by Mr. Abdul Hamid and Farooq, the talented sons of Mr. Muhammad Luqman, our closest neighbour in Pangani. They saved us from a hazardous journey if we had to come by road: an unpaved dirt passage which passed through a number of seasonal rivers crossing without any bridge at all. You are always at the mercy of the flowing water. You may cross it if it was shallow and may be cut off for days if it was flowing in full swing.
  1. We were back to Nairobi within the daylight. A number of receptions, in honour of my father by Islamic foundation in Nairobi, Madrasa-tul-Falah in Mombasa were graced by his presence and his speeches before his journey back to Madinah. 

2.Mr Amanullah Khan

A great ambassador of Pakistan known as High Commissioner due to our membership in the Commonwealth. A very compassionate and friendly person who was kind enough to accept my invitation and honour us with his presence in my house at Pangani. A host of my friends were there to have a cordial chat with him as well. One day I heard the sad news of his accident on the road to Kampala inside Ugandan territories. He was travelling with his family, his wife and two sons on their Mercedes. At one point the driver wanted to overtake a huge truck with a with a long tractor at its back fenceless portion. As soon he was passing by it, the tractor fell on the car crushing completely its left wing. Both Mr. Amanullah and his son sitting in the passenger seats at the left died instantly while his wife suffered injuries on her face. The driver and the son on right side escaped unharmed. “inna lillahi wi inna ilayhi raajioon”. I do not remember which year the terrible accident had happened. We visited, sometime the end of the year, the aggrieved family at their ancestral home in Kirshan Nagar, Lahore, on my annual journey to Pakistan.

3. A doomed flight of Lufthanza

One day the news reached us of a Lufthanza plane which took off from Nairobi airport, just fell down as soon as it lifted upwards. The rear part was torn apart completely. There were some survivors who were rushed to the hospital. Again, it was a terrible sight when we passed by the accident scene the following day.

4. Some of my services In the field of knowledge

  • During my stay in Nairobi, I was able to translate the Urdu book entitled: socialism and Islam by Moulana Mas’ood Alam Nadawi into Arabic. He himself was a prolific writer In Arabic but he wrote this particular book in Urdu. Islamic socialism was a popular brand admired and preached by a number of Muslim rulers, topped by Jamal Abdul-Nasir of Egypt. It was quite appropriate to present the Arabic version of this book to the Arab readers.
  • I was much impressed by the Urdu treatise of Dr Israr Ahmad entitled: “What the Muslims owe to the Quran.” I started translating into Arabic until I competed it. Both these translations appeared in instalment on the pages of Arabic monthly “Al-Ba’ath al-Islami” which used to be an organ of Nadwatul ulama of Lucknow, India. Later, I was able to print them in Karachi.
  • Qazi Abdullah al-Farisi of Mombasa was very fond of Maulana Abul A ’la Maududi, especially because of his enormous work in the field of tafsir. He compiled a poem in Kiswahili in praise of his work and services to Islam. I rendered this poetic work into Urdu which later appeared on the pages of Qaumi Digest of Lahore, Pakistan.
  • I came across a book on the message of our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) by Alfred Guillaume. It contained a lot of misconceptions, distortions and misguidance. I started writing a rebuttal of his deliberations and was able to cover a lot of his points but, sadly the manuscript was lost in one of my shifting from one house to the other. Anyhow, that was my first attempt to read and analyse the writing of an orientalist which helped me later to familiarise myself with more of this kind of discussion. 

    5.My activities in the field of teaching and Dawah:

  • After the construction of the boarding house in Eastleigh and an admittance of fifty lodgers, I used to attend the Madrasa twice daily. To teach the elder students in the morning till Zuhr time. Then after a break till Asr time, I would come back to teach the younger children till Maghrib. That had been my routine apart from the Friday morning which was devoted to the preparation of the Friday sermon.
  • I was invited to give lectures to the students of a secondary school known as “Istarehe” situated very near to Madrasa as well. On few occasions I was invited by the Muslim girls school at Park Road to address some of the girls classes.
  • After a short experience of delivering Friday sermon in the Jami’ mosque (the Central Mosque near Indian Bazar in Nairobi), I became a regular Friday speaker (Khateeb and Imam) at Landhies mosque which was manged by the two noble brothers: Sheikh Ismaeel and Sheikh Yaqoob. I used to deliver a part of sermon in the local language; Kiswahili which as described previously, I learnt during my stay in Mombasa with brother Khalid, the German new Muslim.
  • On some weekends or holidays, I used to take a day trip to visit our Muslim brothers in a locality around us. I found our colleague in Machakos, Sheikh Mohammad Ibrahim Arkekonil, a marvellous tutor the way he used to address the gatherings, it was through dialogue, through questions and answers and not through a constant flow of speech.

One of our very interesting journeys was the one which took us to the border with Ethiopia and lasted five days and nights. First it ran through hills and pastures covering Thika, Forthall, Nyeri and Nanyuki. Then it turned towards the bushes and jungles visited by wild animals, through the dirt road leading to Isiolo, where we were welcomed by our friend Muhammad Salafi, then through the longest stretch of our adventures travelling to Marsabit, a small town near the border. So difficult and dangerous was the approach to this distant place that it brought a lot of pleasure to its small inhabitants of the Muslim community who could hardly expect some Imam coming a long way to visit them. They gathered in the mosque to show their admiration and joy. One of them said that he had seen some signs of blessings in a dream prior to our arrival. It was already dark when we reached there and with the flood water on the dirt road behind us, we had no choice but to stay in the house, which was more like a hut, after a lively evening in the mosque. It took another day to drive back to Nairobi, dashing through the flood water coming across the herds of gazelles and Giraffes, monkeys, baboons, and the sight of zebras and other wild animals. Once we left Isiolo behind us, the tarmac road from Nanyuki seemed as we had landed on a runway after a very rough and turbulent descent through a layer of thick clouds.

With no phone facilities, our unexpected delay in returning home caused a lot of anxiety to my wife who even took the assistance of the local police to discover our whereabouts. Of course, they had no more information than she had.


  1. Nyeri is the burial place of Baden Powell, the founder of Scout discipline.
  1. Distance: Nairobi to Marsabit: 531km, Isiolo to Marsabit: 250km


About Me

Sheikh Suhaib Hasan Abdul Ghaffar is the Secretary of the Islamic Sharia Council of Great Britain.

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