[Please note date of birth and death to be verified].
Through most of the 1960s, it was difficult to talk about the East London Mosque on Commercial Road without reference to Haji Taslim Ali and his close friend, Sulaiman Jetha, secretary and later chairman of the Mosque’s Trustees. Haji Taslim (Syed Abdul Momin Ali) was invited by Sulaiman Jetha (see above) to sign up as a member of the East London Mosque Trust in 1955, and subsequently appointed (and re-appointed every few years) as the Mosque’s ‘honorary welfare office’ and superintendent. In 1960, based on a formal agreement with the Trustees, Haji Taslim began providing a Muslim funeral service from the Mosque.
Haji Taslim was born in Sylhet, north-eastern Bangladesh (then East Bengal), and began working as a coalman in the boiler room of British merchant navy ships that would take on crews in Calcutta. By his early twenties he had travelled the world, but during the Second World War his ship was torpedoed in the English Channel. The crew were rescued and taken to Chatham, where he was offered the choice of staying in Britain till the War was over, or a passage back to British India – he decided to stay, taking up odd jobs, mainly as a kitchen hand, eventually finding a job in the Daimler car factory in Coventry. There he met his wife, Josephine Mary Morgan, a divorcée later known as Hajja Mariam Ali.
After various business ventures, including employment in Saudi Arabia, Taslim Ali returned to London because he felt a calling for religious and community service. East London residents today recall how Haji Taslim would drive his own car to pick up children for the madrassa, and then drop them home afterwards. In April 1970 he was attacked by skinheads as he was locking up the mosque at night and hit over the head with an iron bar. He recovered well, and with Sulaiman Jetha was a keen participant in the work of the Muslim missionary association, Tablighi Jamaat, offering facilities to visiting groups at the Mosque till around 1974.
‘Haji Taslim Funerals’, located at the East London Mosque’s new Maryam Centre, continues to provide an essential community service, under the management of his son Gulam.
Compiler: J. Sherif