Grieving Kingston mosque honours "founding father"
Mosque-goers, including Cat Stevens, said prayers today to honour the memory of Kingston Muslim Association's founding father.
Hajee Mubarik Ali, elder and trustee and founder of the mosque died on Wednesday, March 7, at St George’s Hospital after a long illness.
Midday prayers at Kingston Mosque included a Janaza, a one minute section of prayers for Mr Ali.
Crowds of well-wishers waited outside the mosque to pay tributes.
Numerous worshippers paid tribute to him as the man who enabled a mosque to be built in Kingston.
Two police motorbikes led the funeral procession to the Muslim section of Surbiton cemetery where he was buried.
Singer Cat Stevens, known as Yusuf Islam since his conversion, said: "Hajee Mubarik Ali was my father-in-law and I loved him from the beginning. He looked like my father.
"He was a mountain of a man and when mountains disappear the scenery changes. That's what it is like now.
"He was very much bringing people together."
Sir Iqbal Sacranie OBE, 59, former Secretary General of the Muslim Council who lives in New Malden, said: "It is a very sad day for the community, not just for Kingston but I think wherever he was known.
"He will always be remembered for the wonderful smile on his face and the very genuine affection of peple he knew or even when a stranger came in."
The ability of Mr Ali, who worked for the Ministry of Defence in procurement, to provide interest-free loans was vital to the establishment of the mosque in buying the land.
Rashid Laher, former chairman of the mosque and a retired British Army major, said: "That is how the mosque was built. Without his crucial support we wouldn't have been able to get our feet in the door."
Fellow founding member Mohammed Anwar, 65, a former British Airways flight opps duty manager, said: "We used to pray in Surbiton Assembly Rooms.
"This building came up for sale. Mr Ali, Mohammed Karan and myself decided we needed to commit to do this.
"We put £5 each in and made the name of Kingston Muslim Association about 30 years ago.
"He was the first president, I was secretary.
"We bought the building which was a Royal British Legion. It was a dump.
"It was about £40,000 or £50,000, at that time a lot of money."
Uncle Ali, as he was known as an elder of the mosque, was born in 1923 in East Africa where he met and married Muneera.
He had five daughters and five sons, 29 grandchildren and six great-grand-children.
His daughter Fawziah Islam, who married Cat Stevens, said: "The young children in the mosque used to come and read the Koran and they loved him."
Another daughter, Dr Faiza Ali, said: "Although my father was a traditional and religious man he was actually very modern. He believed in education for women.
"There was no such thing that Islamic women were pushed down."
His granddaughter Asma Islam said: "Just as he brought the community together, within his own famly he created a community.
"We have Lebanese, Swedish, Irish and Philippines and Italian. He used to tell us fantastic stories about travelling on ships and visiting all these places.
"He really encouraged us to live our lives."
One of his sons Haroun Ali, 42, who works at the Royal Saudi Naval College, said: "I was surprised thinking he was just my dad but I have had so many people coming up to me saying he was like their father.
"He was a natural born leader and a great role model."
Another son, Iftikhar Ali, 63, who is a GP, said: "He had a very big heart. If you called him any time he would come and pick you up.
Committee member Mohammed Tadimi, a 45-year-old caterer, said: "It is a great loss to us. He treated the mosque like his own. He gave loads of love to the mosque and spent so much time and efforts.
"Without his efforts, all of us wouldn't be here."
The mosque's first Imam, Mamodsafi Amodmia, 52, who returned today to lead prayers, said: "He is a very honest, kind man and treated me like a son."
Mr Ali was given a Mayor's award a few years ago for his role in the community by then Mayor Shiraz Mirza.
Kingston Mosque's community liason officer Rizwan Khaliq said: "He was a fantastic man and had a vision.
"It was due to his vision this mosque was built and around the mosque a community emerged.
"The best thing we can do in service to his vision is to build upon his legacy in a positive way."
John Azah, director of Kingston Race and Equalities Council, said Mr Ali had been involved in the formation of Kingston's first racial understanding council.
He said: "He was, in my book, one of the people who did so much for Kingston but was never really seen."
Kingston Inspector Jaiye Warwick-Saunders, representing borough commander Martin Greenslade at the funeral, said the police escort was "a mark of respect from the Metropolitan Police Service and an acknowledgement of the service Mr Ali provided to the community."
The trial of nine men accused of being part of a mob who attacked the mosque on November 21, 2010, was delayed today to allow witnesses to attend the funeral.