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Thousands mourn loss of Islamic figurehead
7:00am Friday 15th February 2013 in News
More than 5,000 mourners turned out to pay their respects to a figurehead from the Islamic community who set up a youth peace organisation after the Bradford riots and was at the forefront of a £500,000 mosque built in just six months.
Khwaja Sufi Mohammed Aslam, who was chairman of the Naqshbandia Active Development Association (NADA), died aged 63 on Saturday.
Nazim Ali, NADA’s General Secretary, said Mr Aslam’s death had lost the city “a great leader”.
Mr Aslam’s teachings were followed by many, not just in Bradford but across the whole of the UK and in Europe.
After the funeral at Jamia Masjid Naqshbandia Aslamia mosque in Manningham, Mr Aslam’s body was taken to Pakistan where his burial was attended by crowds of up to 15,000 people. Mr Ali said the mosque in Bradford had been so full for Mr Aslam’s funeral service that people had to pray out in the streets.
He added: “The large turnout shows that he was held in much reverence by everyone. Students from the UK and Belgium were in attendance.
“He lived a life of piety, always helping the less fortunate in society, often changing the lives of disaffected young people previously engaged in the Bradford disturbances of 1995 and 2001 and making them role-models by engaging them in civil renewal.”
The mosque in Tile Street was built in six months at a cost of £500,000 by community fundraising and its members donating savings and earnings.
As well as being a base for NADA, it also provides a space for social activities such as a homework club, advice on benefits, a deaf youth club and IT classes. The centre is also used to help tackle environmental issues and promote anti-drug campaigns.
NADA’s annual Bringing Communities Together Football Tournaments, now in its fifth year, was just one other example of how Mr Aslam spread the Islamic principles of tolerance, underpinning peace, love and purity, said Mr Ali.
He added: “The loss of the Shaykh (Mr Aslam) is heartbreaking especially for all his devout students, but we will endeavour to honour their legacy by continuing their mission in helping others by continuing our renowned hospitality and open-door policy.”