This article was present already in English at the end of the book “Tahreek Ahlul Hadith Europe mein” of Shaykh Fazal Kareem Aasim and I have just scanned it. I have added some additions at the end that I have translated from Urdu from the same book.
A MAN OF COURAGE
Though Ahl-e-Hadith seemed to be absent from the stage and invisible as a religious group, some individuals nevertheless felt the need of organizing them. However, nobody had the time and courage to come forward, except one who from his very arrival has involved himself in the service of the community: Moulana Fazal Karim Asim.
Moulana Asim immigrated to Britain in 1962 as a factory worker. He was educated in religious sciences, a holder of “Fadil” degree from Madrasa Ghaznawiyah in Amritsar, and “Moulvi Fadil”, “Munshi Fadil” and “Adib Fadil” from Punjab University. Before he emigrated to Britain, he had worked for 27 years in the educational administration both for the British, and for the Pakistan government.
After his arrival in Birmingham he came across two gentlemen who ran a mosque converted from a small house. They were Moulvi Muhammad Azim and Hafiz Muhammad Ilyas. They ran some small religious activities among immigrant Muslim under the title “Jam’iyyiat al Muslimin”. These activities were run on a voluntary basis. Though neither belonged to Ahl-e-Hadith, Moulana Asim joined them in their religious activities and served also as the “Khateeb” of that mosque.
When in 1963 the U.K. Islamic Mission was founded in Birmingham, he became very active member. He worked as “Khateeb” at the Mission’s Mosque for about one year and taught children as well.
In 1965, he saw the compelling need to establish a proper supplementary school to Muslim Children whose parents were just immigrating to Britain and settling here The main aim was to enable them to learn English so that they could compete in their classes. To this purpose he laid down the foundation of “Muslim Oriental School” at Small Heath, Birmingham.
Moulana Asim, though a staunch Ahl-e-Hadith and ever keen to promote the cause o Ahl-e-Hadith, made great efforts to keep the Muslim Community united, and no divided on denominational lines. He worked with every group of the Muslin community regardless of their ideological inclinations and differences. He even harmonized himself to the extent that he avoided offering prayers according to his own personal conviction.
TAKING UP THE CHALLENGE
Moulana Asim did his best to work in full cooperation with all the groups of the Muslim community until 1974. However, the community appeared to be forming itself along the same ideological and communal lines as back at home. Ahl-e-Hadith were now being excluded or marginalized in various religious and social activities. Other groups speeded up their activities and started forming their own communities on ideological lines. Factional “Ulama” were being recruited from back home to serve this purpose and run the mosques. Differences started to widen, and disunity instead of unity became an instrument to gain some religious or social leadership.
At this stage, Moulana Asim explained, it became imperative for Ahl-e-Hadith to establish their own identity in the jungle of ever-mushrooming organizations. It was vital for them to have their own centre and mosques. It was time to organize the community and start their own activities. He consulted his other colleagues and Ahl-e Hadith friends and with their help he laid down the foundation of “Jamiat Ahl-ehadith U.K.” in the beginning of 1975. Soon after he started the task of gathering information about Ahl-e-Hadith individuals and families.
THE DELEGATION FROM MEDINAH
It so happened that in August 1975, as the organization and its activities was getting under way, a delegation from Islamic University Medinah, Saudi Arabia, arrived in Britain to look into the prospects and need of “Dawah” among Muslims immigrants in particular, and non-Muslims in general. The delegation stayed in Birmingham for about one and a half months, and toured the different cities to meet the Muslim Communities and their organizations. The delegation was made up of two “Sheikhs” and three students. The two Sheikhs were Sheikh Abdul Wahhab Al-Banna, who was the inspector of schools in Saudi Arabia, and Sheikh Nasiruddin al-Albani, a prominent scholar in Hadith Science at Islamic University. The three students who came for the purpose of translation, were Shareef Ahmad Hafiz, Mahmood Ahmad Mirpuri, and Major Mohammad Aslam.
The foundation of the “Jamiat Ahl-e-hadith” came as a happy coincidence for the purpose of the delegation as they found it intellectually and ideologically a like-minded organization. They visited the centre and met Moulana Asim and other members and together with them organized several public and private meetings.
As the delegation was preparing to return to Madinah, Moulana Asim requested them to help Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith both financially and with able and learned people. As the delegation had seen the situation very closely, and felt a need to speed up the prospect of “Dawah”, they promised to bring this to the attention of benevolent organizations and people. They also requested Moulana Asim to come for the pilgrimage that year, so that they could arrange a meeting for him with Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ibn Abdullah Ibn Baz, the chairman of the presidency of Dar al-Ifta in Saudi Arabia.
Moulana Asim left for Saudi Arabia to perform the “Hajj” which was held in December 1975. A meeting was arranged as planned between Moulana Asim and Sheikh ibn Baz. The Sheikh listened to what the Moulana and his delegation had to say, and asked how he could help. Moulana Asiin with the help of his delegation put forward two requests. As the Jamiat needed to purchase a property where it could base its activities and promote its “Dawah” mission, they asked the Sheikh to help them, if possible, financially. Looking at the shortage of learned and expert people in the Dawah field they also requested him to send graduate students from the Islamic University Madinah to help strengthen the organization and widen the scope of its mission, suggesting the names of the three students who had earlier come to Britain. The Sheikh initially agreed to both requests. However, it seems that he has never been able to send any financial help. Though reminded and requested again, financial constraints may not have allowed him to help in this way, and his promise may have exceeded his organization’s financial ability.
However, Sheikh ibn Baz fulfilled his second promise and sent two of the three students named who graduated in 1976 from the Islamic University: Mahmood Ahmad Mirpuri and Shareef Ahmad Hafiz. They arrived in Britain at the end of 1976. Meanwhile another graduate from Islamic University, Abdul Kareem Saqib, who had already arrived in Britain on his own, happened to meet Moulana Asim and joined the team. He also became an appointee from Saudi Arabia like the other two students requested by the Jamiat.
Moulana Asim served the “Jamiat” in his capacity as “Amin” from its foundation in 1975 until 1991. Hafiz Muhammad Yaqub was chosen as its first general secretary, though he was forced to resign in 1983 owing to the demands of his Halal meat business.
AN UNEXPECTED OFFER OF HELP
Moulana Asim did not succeed in securing any financial help from Saudi Arabia. Large premises were needed for the purpose of the Jamiat’s activities and donations and collections did not raise sufficient amounts.
Meanwhile a huge building which used to be a public library and leisure centre in Small Heath, Birmingham, was put up for sale by the Council in early 1976. The building seemed to be potentially suitable for all activities of the Jamiat. The building was on an offer of 124,000. The solicitor advised Moulana Asim to accept the offer and buy the building. However, the shortage of money was the greatest hurdle.
While efforts were being made to secure the purchase of this building, a Kuwaiti businessman happened to visit Birmingham. His name was Abd al-Aziz Al-Mutawwa’. He came to know the activities of the Jamiat and the financial problems it was facing. Sheikh Al-Mutawwa’ donated from his own pocket a huge amount of 120,000. With the help of further local donations the building was purchased and a centre for the Jamiat established.
MOULANA MAHMOOD AHMAD MIRPURI
Without doubt, the credit for establishing the Jamiat and initial organization of Ahl-e Hadith goes to Moulana Fazal Karim Asim, who was its Amir from 1975 till 1991.He made his best efforts under the circumstances for the cause and benefit of the ‘Jamiat”. Although, from the foundation of the Jamiat, he had a good and sincere team of people who gave of their time and worked hard for the Jamiat, he nonetheless felt the need for somebody who was not only able and active, but who could be devoted full-time to the cause and mission of the Jamiat, understanding the situation and circumstances and working accordingly.
Moulana Asim, in his search for such a person, found his hopes realized when he met the Islamic University delegation. He found all three students very able and apparently dedicated, in particular, Mahmood Ahmad Mirpuri.
Moulana Mirpuri, as he toured the country with the delegation and met people, expressed a desire to come to Britain after the completion of his studies in Medinah and work for the Jamiat. A request was therefore put forward to the officials at the Islamic University, and at the end of their term he and Shareef Ahmad Hafiz were sent to work in Britain.
Moulana Mirpuri was born in 1945 in a small village near Mirpur. In his childhood he lost his parents and was brought up as an orphan. He had no brothers or sisters. However, although his family had no educational background, he became a learned and highly educated man.
After his early education, he went to Gujranwala (Punjab, Pakistan), where he completed “Dars-e-Nizami” in a well known religious seminary: Jamia Islamia. Later he moved from Jamia Islamia Gujranwala to Jamia Islamia Bahawalpur, which was raised in 1975 to the Level of university under the name of Islamic University Bahawalpur. Here he attained a degree in Islamic studies and moved to Lahore where he enrolled in the department of the Arabic Oriental College, Punjab University Lahore, and received his master’s degree in Arabic in 1971.
During his stay in Lahore, he became deeply involved in the activities of the Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith Pakistan, and became a member of the editorial board of the Jamiat’s organ “Ahl-e-Hadith”. He resided in Begum Kot, in the suburb of Lahore, where he used to deliver his Friday sermons. Both these activities helped him to gain substantial experience and fame as a journalist and orator.
In 1971, he received a scholarship for higher education in Islamic studies at Islamic University, Madinah. The atmosphere in Medinah helped him develop his abilities and knowledge both of Islamic sciences and the Arabic language. He also took the opportunity to develop a relationship with prominent Saudi scholars.
After being appointed to Britain by the Saudi religious authority, Dar al-Ifta, he found a vast and enormous field to exercise his abilities. The Jamiat was at that time barely two years old, still in its early process of organization. The task was challenging and demanding and Moulana Mirpuri seemed happy to take it up, with a full realization of the responsibilities ahead. He became the mind and soul of the Jamiat and the driving force behind all its activities. The Jamiat became known among Ahl-e-Hadith as well as among other Muslim groups and organizations.
Moulana Mirpuri came from a region which for a long time has been an area of confrontation between India and Pakistan. This background, together with his other communicative abilities, provided him with a chance to speak out on political issues. This developed in him a taste of politics and he soon became known in political circles. People from Mirpur came from both Ahl-e-Hadith and non-Ahl-e-Hadith backgrounds. To make a good politician he had to establish relationships with both groups, which was also good for his religious mission.
On the one hand, while he speeded up the activities of the Jamiat and the strengthening of the organization, while on the other hand, he maintained a very good working relationship with all other religious organizations, and good personal relations with community leaders. The most vivid example of his sincere efforts to bring together the scholars of different schools of thought was the foundation of the Islamic Shariat Council.
When Hafiz Yaqub, due to personal reasons, resigned in about at the end of 1983 as General Secretary of the Jamiat, Moulana Mirpuri was elected in his place, and then was re-elected in 1986.
He toured the whole country, searching for Ahl-e-Hadith wherever he had any clues, and established branches. He reinvigorated and activated the whole body of the Jamiat, not only in Britain but in Pakistan and some other countries.
He proved himself a Muslim leader of International calibre by organizing the first European Islamic conference to co-ordinate the activities of European Muslims to preserve their identity and to promote the cause of Islam. The conference was held at Olympia in London and was attended by hundreds of delegates from all over the world.
Moulana Mirpuri had also a great desire to unite Ahl-e-Hadith with alt-its factions and organizations in different countries. To this end, he was planning to set up the movement’s international headquarters in Britain, from where it could supervise all the activities run by Ahl-e-Hadith all over the world. This would have been his greatest contribution to the movement. However, his brilliant career came to an untimely end on 10th October 1988, on the M6 Motorway in Cheshire. He was travelling from Edinburgh to Birmingham with his wife, mother-in-law and two of his sons when a lorry ploughed into the back of his car. He, his mother-in law and son Faisal died instantly while the other passengers were injured.
Shaykh Mirpuri would eat mostly in his office and only return late home. He revitalised the magazine “Sirate Mustaqeem” in Urdu and made it of international stature, and he launched the English magazine “The straight path”. The shaykh had to travel a lot because he was paid by Saudia Arabia and had to attend different conferences around the world. He trusted his companions Shaykh Hafeezullah Khan and Shaykh Abdul Hadi Al-‘Umari that in his absence they would carry on work with the Jamiyat and the magazine “Sirat e Mustaqeem”.
Shaykh Mirpuri also tried to unite the two factions of the Markazi Jamiyat Ahlul Hadith Pakistan, he invited Mian Fazl Al-Haq and Allamah Ihsan Ilahi Zaheer in UK and played a key role in forcing the two sides to reconcile. Their photos and news of reconciliation came in the newspapers, but then further in Pakistan, they still remained divided, yet Shaykh Mirpuri tried to convince both sides to unite and went two years before his death to Pakistan to try to unite them again.
Scholar’s condolences at his death:
Shaykh ibn Baz said to MJAH UK: “The news of the death of Shaykh Mahmodd Ahmad Mirpuri reached me, may Allah forgive his mistakes and admit him in His mercy, and may Allah give you patience. May Allah give tawfeeq to his children to walk upon his steps and may Allah give us a good substitute for him. We all belong to Allah and to Him we will return”
Shaykh Abdullah ibn Abdil Muhsin At-Turki said: “I have heard with great pain and sadness the news of the death of Shaykh Mahmood Ahmad Mirpuri, his son faysal and his mother in law, and of injuries of other family members…I am fully aware of the Jihad the Shaykh waged for spreading the true teachings of Islam and fighting the matters that opposed the Deen.”
Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdillah As-Subayal, Imam of Makkah: “I have heard with great distress the news of the death of Shaykh Mahmood ahmad Mirpuri, genral secretary of MJAH, we all belong to Allah and to Himw e will return. May Allah give him the highest place in His paradise, may Allah give you and the Shaykh’s relatives patience. Ameen.”
Shaykh Muhammad ibn Qu’ud and ‘Ali ibn Fahd ibn Ghayth for dar Al-Ifta in Riyah wrote:
“With great sadness we heard the news of the tragic car accident of Shaykh Mahmood Ahmad Mirpuri, may Allah envelop the Shaykh in His mercy, may Allah forgive him, you and us and give us a good substitute for him. We hope that you will transmit our condolences to the family and friends of the Shaykh. We all belong to Allah and to Him we will return.”
The Jama’ah of Shaykh Jameel Ur Rehman, Afghani Ahlul Hadith wrote a long message of condolence in which they said:
“We request directly and from the whole “Jama’ah Ad-Da’wah ilal Quran wa Sunnah Afghanistan (Ahlul Hadith) and from his leader Shaykh Jameel ur Rehman to transmit to the family and Jama’at (MJAH Uk) that we are partners in their pain, and we feel this loss as our own loss.”
Shaykh Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri wrote: “The Shaykh had raised the banner of Islam in the land of Kufr and raised the banner of Islah in the land of Fasad. With his efforts, Tadabbur, wisdom and perspicacity, he raised the Ahlul Hadith in Uk from being unknown to high stations, and without doubt, each member of the Jamiyat played a role in it and will insha Allah have the best reward for it, but the Shaykh played such a key role in it that is not hidden to anyone…”
Shaykh Abdul Qadir Habeebullah As-Sindhi wrote: “Me, my father and all people of my family are equally partners in your sadness. Please transmit this condolence message to all members of the Jamaat (MJAH UK) and relatives of the shaykh, sons and tell them that I am a member of this Jamaat. I praise all the works of MJAH UK and I am impressed by the Shaykh’s character and his noble efforts, and I ask Allah to accept all these efforts and to give him a good substitute for the Jamaat Ahlul Hadith…”
Shaykh Badiudin Shah Ar-Rashidi wrote in his message: “I was in state of great shock (Sadmah) after the news of the death of noble Shaykh Molana Mahmood Ahmad Mirpuri reached me. May Allah accept all the efforts of the Shaykh to spread Islam in Dar Al-Kufr, and may Allah forgive his mistakes and raise his status and give the whole Jama’ah the patience over this shock. Ameen. I am a partner in the pain of the Jama’ah.”
Prince Bundar ibn Sultan ibn Abdil Aziz, Saudi ambassador to the US wrote: “I felt great shock hearing the news of the death of Shaykh Mahmood Ahmad Mirpuri. I came to know the one who spent all his life spreading the true Islamic creed and doing Islah of the Aqeedah and behaviour of the Ummah, passed away in a car accident. I invoke Allah to give us a good substitute for the Shaykh, and forgive the Shaykh, may Allah reward him in abundance and give him a place in Firdaws.”
May Allah send Salah and Salam on the Prophet (saw), his family and companions!