My Memoirs part 21
Below is the translation of the first article of Shaykh Suhaib Hasan about his Memoirs in UK. I have named it “Memoirs part 21” as his previous English articles about his Memoirs from the time of India, Pakistan, KSA and Africa reached part 20. The name of the Urdu article is “Gahe Gahe Baz Khawan e Qissa Pareena ap Beeti” part 1.
“My Memoirs” part 21 by Shaykh Suhaib Hasan, translated by Ali Hassan Khan
1) My first residence in London
I was totally new in London with my wife and 5 children. May Allah (Ta’ala) reward one of my friend who studied with me in Madinah, Hafiz Nithar Ud Din Ahmad, who welcomed us at Heathrow airport and had rented for us a temporary house in Shepherd Bush. We went to his house first and afterwards to our residence.
The houses in London are mostly of 2 or 3 levels with their walls touching each other as if they were built by the same company. If you want more spacious places, then you will have to go for a semi-detached house.
My first temporary residence was from the first of its kind. After 2 or 4 houses, it was a (former) pub, a public place were alcohol used to be drunk. What is funny is that this building of 2 levels did not have a bath. A public Hammam was present at the end of the street to compensate this absence, but going there was impossible for us. Hence in the first level of this house, a shed at the back side attached to the Kitchen was used as a temporary bath, and a large sheet was put on one of its open side to make it totally veiled.
I remained there approximately for a month. In this period of time, I came to know the ancient Masjid of East London. This Masjid at the time was a big hall composed of pre-fabricated sheets, it was not in the form of a building yet. I had the pleasure to start weekly lessons of Tafsir of the Quran there. Mostly Bangladeshi Muslims live in East London but due to Bangladesh being formerly East Pakistan, they knew Urdu very well. That is why they welcomed lessons in Urdu.
The lessons started in August 1976 and continued with consistency for 13 years. I reached approximately Surah Ash-Shu’ara there and then decided to move these weekly lessons to the Masjid that I had established, meaning Masjid Tawhid. Shepherd Bush is in West London and the tube station near the Masjid (Aldgate East) is in the East, so the travel had to be done by underground trains.
The causes to leave this temporary accommodation occurred soon. We saw one night that a knife crime was committed next door and a great number of policemen arrived and arrested many people. O Allah! In which neighbourhood did we arrive? We came to know afterwards that on many occasions at night in the back garden, some drug users would cross the fence and use drugs in our garden. We should keep in mind that this occurred in August when the weather was hot and the days were very long.
At this time, I had met Rasheed Ahmad Siddiqi who was attached to UKIM (UK Islamic Mission). I had an old acquaintance with him. Around 1957, he was the headmaster of a school in Lyallpur and he had a deep link with my noble father Shaykh AbdulGhaffar Hasan. He and his wife would come to our house at the time I had passed exams of Matric and joined Government College Lyallpur (Faisalabad now). At the time I became the first student of Jamiyah Ta’leemat Islamiyah established by Shaykh AbdurRaheem Ashraf and my noble father was its first teacher.
When I mentioned to Rasheed Ahmad Siddiqi about my accommodation, he informed me that he has a house in his area (Wood Green) under his management, and the owner of this house was a Pakistani teacher who had gone for 3 years to Nigeria on deputation ,so we found peace by moving there. It was a
small house on Granger Rd in Wood Green but we considered it as an immense blessing. The children’s primary school was at few steps away and the post office was round the corner.
We spent our next 3 years in this house. Radiators were not common at this time to keep houses warm in the winter. We purchased a heater running on kerosene oil which would provide us heat in cold days and extremely cold nights. To obtain electricity and gas, we had to use 10 pence coins and we tried to keep a great quantity of these coins so we could keep having electricity and gas.
2) Da’wah activities
As mentioned earlier, may Allah (Ta’ala) reward the committee of East London Masjid which welcomed me on the First August 1976, 3 days after I had arrived in London, to give a Friday Khutbah and on the 24th of September, I gave the Khutbah of ‘Eed. I started my weekly lessons of Tafsir which continued for 13 years consecutively.
I became attached to the Pentonville prison in London and from December 1976, I started to come there on a weekly basis to lead the prayer for the Muslim prisoners. Fulfilling the obligation to provide them with religious guidance was my primarily aim. After being known a bit more,, I delivered Khutba in East Ham Masjid then in many other mosques in and around London.
In February 1977, I felt happily surprised when I received the invitation to participate in a conference on the topic “Da’wah and Dua’at” from my beloved Islamic University of Madinah. More than 300 scholars and thinkers were invited. The name of Shaykh AbdulAziz ibn Baz, who was the president of Dar Al-Ifta in Riyadh and the Grand Mufti of KSA , was suggested to be the president of this conference but he insisted that Shaykh AbdulMuhsin Al-Abbad, the president of the Islamic University of Madinah, should preside the conference. As for the decision on who will be the secretary of this conference, the previous Mufti of Egypt Shaykh Hasanyn Muhammad Makhluf recommanded the name of Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qardawi, but acting on the Sunnah of Shaykh Ibn Baz, he advised that Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ghazali should be the secretary and this suggestion was supported by the famous Syrian scholar Muhammad Al-Mubarak. Thus Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ghazali became the secretary of this conference.
It is worth mentioning that the Saudi TV requested the permission to show the conference live but Shaykh AbdulMuhsin Al-Abbad opposed it arguing that taking photos is Haram and he cannot allow such a forbidden matter.
Some Sub-committees were formed, I was part of the 5thcommittee whose aim was to analyse the movements against Islam. Upon the recommendation of our teacher Shaykh AbdulQadir Shaybah Al-Hamd, the president of this committee was Ustad Mahmood AbdulWahab Fa’id and I was nominated as its secretar.The secretaries of the other 4 committees had guidance from Shaykh AbdulMuhsin Al-Abbad, Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ghazali and Ustad Mahmood Shith Al-Khattab. Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qardawi prepared the paper of the resolutions of the conference, and 25 out of the 39 recommendations of our committee were presented at the announcement of the conference.
I met many old friends in this conference among whom Muhammad Ibrahim Khalil from Mombasa, the leader of those sent in Africa (by Dar Al-Ifta) Muhammad Ahmad Madkhali, Muhammad Ali Mirza from Kenya, and a friend from the Islamic University of Madinah from Brazil, Ahmad Salih Al-Muhayiri. Al-Muhayiri was (originally) from Syria and he was a class fellow of Allamah Ihsan Elahi Zaheer. He was also always accompanying him even when drinking and eating.
I do not recollect more details of this conference. From one of my old writing, I remembered that on my way back to London, I met two important personalities from Pakistan travelling on the Saudi flight. One was Qadhi Humood Ar-Rahman who was formerly Chief Justice of Pakistan and he was famous for his report on the incident of East Pakistan. The Second was Sharif Pirzadah who was a minister in the Ayub Khan era. Sayid Saleem Kayani came to the airport and dropped me to my house.
This year, the personal secretary of Shaykh AbdulAziz ibn Baz, Shaykh AbdulAziz ibn Nasir Al-Baz, who was also his paternal cousin, came to London with his wife for a private visit. I had close links with him, hence I took him to visit different establishments in London. He took me with him to meet the Saudi Ambassador. I met in the embassy the first secretary Abdullah Bari. When he saw me, he said that he was
in search of someone who could inform him of the needs and issues of the Muslim community. Shaykh AbdulAziz ibn Nasir without any hesitation suggested my name. Thus Abdullah Bari established this link with me which continued for the next 15-20 years. Later after his retirement he was appointed Ambassador to Bangladesh..
In this long period of time, when requests of help to establish Masajid or Madaris or for their improvement were reaching the embassy, Ustad Abdullah Bari would send them to me to gather more information about them. I would travel for this purpose in the whole of England, rather also Scotland and Ireland, and some events from these travels will be mentioned in my next episodes.
Link of original Urdu article written by Shaykh Suhaib Hasan: