11 January 2022 In memory of Hashir Faruqi

Muhammad Hashir Faruqi passed away in London on 11th January 2022. His name will forever be associated with  Impact International, the bi-weekly (later monthly) that he launched in London in May 1971, as “a newspaper which seeks to interpret the ethos of the Muslim world; [provide] balanced reporting and analysis on education, society, economics and politics; book reviews, briefings and other special features”. It lived up to this ambition for over 35 years. It was the stable where many aspiring writers cut their teeth, benefitting from his ideas and guidance.  The image in the minds of many who saw him at work in the offices of the journal in Finsbury Park will remain of a thoughtful man with a ready smile, loyal to his tweed jacket, a cup of carefully prepared tea at hand, with pens and pencils sticking out of a side pocket, behind a desk piled with newspapers where he had marked the cuttings to be filed away for future reference.

Hashir Faruqi was born on 4th January 1930 in UP. During his student years he was an activist in the Pakistan movement and served as secretary of the Muslim Students Union and its Urdu literary society at Kanpur Agriculture College (later University)He trained as an entomologist and settled in London in the mid-1960s. He was an important contributor to the weekly Saturday meetings of the London Islamic Circle at the Islamic Cultural Centre, Regents Park, and also wrote under the pen name  ‘Scribe’ a column in The Muslim – the monthly magazine of the Federation of Students Islamic Societies in the UK & Eire (FOSIS)  This column was a combination of political satire and analysis and was a first in English-language Muslim journalism.

Impact was an amazing tour-de-force, faced with perennial financial problems, but sustained through a sense of duty to the ummah.  At the outset it was a simple 16-page publication. In an obituary of his friend, M. Ashiq Ashgar, Faruqi Sahib described the early days,

The idea of impact had long been in theoretical planning and contemplation, at least since the mid-1960s. By the end of 1969, we were looking for an office, easy to reach by public transport and, quite frankly, as inexpensive as possible. Ashiq Asghar not only offered a two-floor space at the premises he owned – 33 Stroud Green Road – but in a sense forced us to move in and forced the pace upon us to bring out the magazine as soon as possible.

It took brother AbdulWahid Hamid (the writer and scholar) and his brother, AbdulAhad, another few months, to do up the place, filling the cracks with polyfiller, papering the walls, painting the doors and windows, thus giving it the looks of an office. The doing up took that long because the volunteers, AbdulWahid and his brother, could only do something during the evenings and weekends. After he had finally cleaned his hands off the paint and glue and taken off his apron, AbdulWahid sat on an old secondhand chair and desk as associate editor. Such is the modest history of impact, and Ashiq Asghar was part of this struggling history. The rent was modest and payment at leisure. [Impact, April 2003]
 

in its golden years Impact extended to full-colour 50 pages. Many of Faruqi Sahib’s article were unsigned, with some rare exceptions. He could wield a pen on matters of deep spirituality or political upheavals in the Muslim world.

His travels allowed him to obtain unique access to forums of world Muslim leaders. His interviewing technique was precise and perhaps not very uncomfortable for Muslim leaders. This was his opening salvo with someone he admired, Tunku Abdur Rahman, first Secretary General of the Islamic Secretariat (later IOC),

His small flat in Kilburn was an essential stopping point for scholars, poets and activists from across the world. Friends will long remember these salons – such as the evening with the famous composer of naaths, Mahirul Qadri, or the ease with which he and friends would slip into an impromptu mushaira.

There was one occasion when Faruqi Sahib was in the news rather than reporting or analysing it: this was the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980, where he was among the hostages. Accounts written about those dangerous days refer to his attempts to find ways for ending the saga peacefully and coolness under fire.

Faruqi Sahib personally and through the columns of Impact played a crucial role in mobilising Muslim public opinion on the publication of the sacrilegious Satanic Verses in 1989. The editorials and reporting in the magazine made of the book went viral and spurred on the British Muslim community to action. His lobbying was dignified and consistent. While he battled with the liberal establishment against the book, he did not join any of the calls for violence.

In 2003 he was among the welcoming committee that organised HRH The Prince of Wales’s visit to the Islamic Foundation, Markfield, and presented a token of appreciation to the royal visitor on behalf of its trustees.

In 2013, Hashir Faruqi was recipient of the Editor’s Lifetime Achievement award at the Muslim News Award ceremony. On the occasion, Ahmed Versi, editor of The Muslim News, observed

For me, he was an inspiration to establish the Muslim News, and was a true pioneer for his unflinching journalism. To others, he was an innovator in the British Muslim community, being an intellectual lynch pin for many of our struggles as a burgeoning community. And for his readers, he is our connection from the world we inhabit to now to a Muslim world that began its uncertain journey in the midst of decolonization, war and new modern identities . . .

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun. He was predeceased by his wife, Fakhra Begum. Friends the world over pray that Subhanahu Ta’ala raises both their status and forgives shortcomings. His children, daughter Sadia, and sons Ausaf, Rafay and Irfan may be comforted to know that their loss is shared by many. Condolences too to Saleem Siddiqui Sahib, his steadfast associate in Impact.

JS

Obituary note – Islamic Foundation – including reflection from Professor Khurshid Ahmed, click here.

Obituary note – Milli Gazette click here

Obituary note – M. Ghazali Khan click here

From Professor Dr. Abdullah Jibril Oyekan, Lagos

Innaa lillah wainnaa ilaihi raji’uun. I, on behalf of the FOSIS fraternity, offer our deepest condolences to all the members of his family over the passing away of our dearest Brother, Hashir Faruqi, a.k.a.  ‘Scribe’ in his innumerable contributions to past volumes of our monthly magazine, The Muslim.

Words that come to mind  in describing him include simple, humble, self-effacing, amiable, hospitable, discreet, zealous, devout, committed Muslim, dedicated da’iyyah, deep thinker, incisive analyst, dogged campaigner, inspiring conversationalist, who threw all he had into raising high the banner of Islam at any and every opportunity. 

We pray that his long bout of illness before his death would have served as ‘kaffarah’ for him and cleansed him of his sins.
We strongly beseech Almighty Allah to accept all his tremendous contributions to His cause as ‘ibadah, incline mercifully to him, illuminate his grave, grant him special comfort in his barzakh and number him among the inhabitants of Aljannash firdaus.”

From Professor Zubair bin Umer, Los Angeles

Hashir Farooqi Bhai reminded me of those selfless men of yesteryears who worked for a cause  without caring for any personal worldly gains. He lived a simple life and was always content with frugal means he got as means of subsistence from the newsmagazine he founded and edited for decades. It was a daring adventure keeping in view the lack of support from businesses, media and the limited resources he got from his comrades.


He did not think of buying a good accommodation or transportation and spent his life till his last breath in a barely livable house with his two unmarried sons  after death of his wife who sometime reminded him of doing something for himself and his children. She spent a long time in comma suffering from a terminal illness. Hashir Farooqi spent his time looking after her and caring for her.

He could have made a fortune after leaving a lucrative job in Karachi and moving to England in early 60s as most people do and it was not difficult for a man of his talent, substance  and many elements. But he chose to devote his energies for a cause of Dawah and remained involved in it till he became too weak and his hearing ability was impaired.


He left behind him  almost nothing or scarcely worth mentioning except his children – all of them struggling to keep the good memories of their learned father.. a noble man and great Muslim  alive.


This one exceptional trait of his character  has left great example behind in circles of ‘Tahreek e Islami’. The Global Dawah missionaries  must think of establishing a trust or ‘endowment’ .- something in his name to give an scholarship or token awards to those  young journalists of the Muslim world who show courage and speak the truth in difficult times like ours.

From Malik Mujahid, Chicago

He may be the most influential British Muslim leader who is perhaps the least known to Britain because he carried himself so humbly.


It was because of his magazine Impact, that I came to know about Alija Izetbegovic and the Bosnian Muslims way before their genocide, thus uniting Muslims in Bosnia Task Force to stop that genocide.


Hashir Faruqi Rahimulla Alaih remained a mentor. It was a must for me while visiting London to see him in his humble office or home.


I have never seen a Muslim magazine as beneficial to me as Impact. Thank you Hashir sahib for keeping me connected with the Ummah. May the breezes of Jannah reach your grave before you are laid to rest.