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Maulana Bostan al-Qadri, a prominent religious and community leader in Birmingham, passed away on 21 May. He was head of the Confederation of Sunni Mosques and amongst the early backers of the initiative to establish an umbrella body for Muslims in Britain – which resulted in the founding of the Muslim Council of Britain in 1997. He remained engaged in the MCB’s work, attending its AGMs and other events in the Midlands, and hosting meetings of the MCB Central Working Committee at the Ghamkol Sharif Mosque and Centre in Small Heath.

Islamic Calendar Committee 3Maulana Bostan al-Qadri (top of table) at an MCB event in October 2005 – ulema discussing the hilal issue

He exemplified the struggles and efforts of an earlier generation of Muslims. A profile  published in 2008 provides a moving insight to his life and times,

Qadri’s uncle came to Britain in the 50s. “He explained that the new families coming to England needed help, they needed religious leaders,” says Qadri. “We had a need to explain what Islam was.” In Kashmir, he worked as an administrator for mosques, but when he came to Bradford to live with his uncle in 1958 he started working in a textiles factory; his wife and first child (he has three) came five years later. “I had read about Britain – the history, empires, the government. When I came here, it was very different from I imagined – it was cloudy, rainy, small houses. There were problems with the language. I had spoken a little bit of English in Pakistan, but not much.” However, he spoke more English than some and would help other immigrants with filling in forms and visits to the doctor.

He worked in the factory for three years and there he learned the importance of bridging the gap between his faith and the culture of his new country. “There were problems,” he says. “The next month was Ramadan and we approached the manager to give us sufficient time for fasting, and we had to pray in the factory.” His wife says something to him again. “Would you like another cup of tea? And with Eid, the factory manager couldn’t understand that all the Muslims who worked in the factory would want to take it off … With different communities and different cultures – we must understand and respect each other.”  Emine Saner in The Guardian, 2008.

He will be remembered as a gentleman of great courtesy, inna lillah wa inna ilayhi raji’un.

 

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