السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ
It’s Thursday 21st May 2020. Let’s talk about ‘Ramaḍān and Bristol‘ today, اِنْ شَاءَ الَّلهُ.
In the seventies, I attended Daisyfield Primary School here in Blackburn, and in 1978, started at Pleckgate High School. I had a number of friends, one of whom was called Hārūn. In the summer of 1982, Hārūn’s father, Marḥūm Hāji Yā’qūb Bhai, enrolled Hārūn at Dārul Uloom (DU) Bury. He then came to my brother, Marḥūm Hāji Yūsuf Dudhwala and informed him that, ‘I have enrolled Hārūn at Dārul Uloom and there are vacant spaces in Hārūn’s room, if you want to enrol your brother Hanif there.’
That was it, my brother Yūsuf was over the moon. Not sure, but I don’t think he asked me whether I wanted to go to DU or not, rather he told me. Believe it or not, even I got excited. Moving to a boarding school, living there and studying sounded like an adventure. I had another friend called Rizvān. My brother Yūsuf approached Rizvān’s father, Marḥūm Hāji Fakir Māmā, and told him that, Hārūn has gone to DU, Hanif is going, do you want Rizvān to go? I don’t think Rizvān had a choice.
So, on a nice Summer’s morning back in 1982, Rizvān and I found ourselves in a classroom in DU, where Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Hāshim Jogwāri Ṣāḥib, مدظله العالی was teaching. We had never seen such big kitabs in our lives. Hāji Fakir Mama knew Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Hāshim Ṣāḥib, so we were both left there with our luggage.
That was the start of my Dārul Uloom Bury days, مَا شَآءَ الله. Almighty Allāh bless Marḥūm Hāji Yā’qūb Bhai, my Marḥūm brother Yūsuf, and Marḥūm Hāji Fakir Māmā with Jannat ul-Firdaus, Āmeen. Two years into my life at Dārul Uloom, I managed to complete my Ḥifẓ, مَا شَآءَ الله, and if I remember correctly, Hārūn had memorised about 25 pārāhs (Juz).
Two months prior to Ramaḍān, our Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Yūsuf Motālā Ṣāḥib, نور الله مرقده would stand all the Ḥuffāẓ in the Jamā’at Khānā (Masjid) in pairs, and make them recite the whole Qur’ān in Nafl Ṣalāh in preparation for Tarāwīḥ. Hārūn and I were partners. In those days, many Masjids of the UK, and also from abroad, contacted Dārul Uloom for Ḥuffāẓ, for Tarāwīḥ. Hārūn and I had also registered our interest.
As Ramaḍān was approaching, we were offered a place in a Masjid in Bristol, where the locals had requested the recitation of the full Qur’ān in Tarāwīḥ for the very first time. Ḥāfiẓ Hārūn and I, both just 17 years of age, got on a National Express coach and arrived in Bristol to lead our first ever Tarāwīḥ.
Bristol turned out to be a beautiful city in the South West of England, on the border of Wales. Our destination was Jami’a Mosque, a beautiful green domed Masjid in Green St, in the Totterdown area. The building was formerly a church that was converted into a Masjid in 1968.
It was the long summer days, but we had a wonderful Ramaḍān. The locals enjoyed our company very much, and we were made to feel at home. We were given a room in the Masjid, where a few locals would congregate every night after Tarāwīḥ. The Imām Ṣāḥib was Mawlānā ‘Abdur Raḥmān Ṣāḥib of Vorā Samni, presently residing in Ilford (London).
I remember him advising us when we got to reciting Sūrah Yāsīn in Tarāwīḥ, ‘make sure you don’t make a mistake in Yāsīn Sharīf, because everyone knows it off by heart, and everyone will speak out‘. We completed The Holy Qur’ān in 25 nights, I think, and returned back to Blackburn to celebrate ‘Eid ul-Fiṭr, مَا شَآءَ الله.
I conclude with 2 points about Bristol. A Muslim gentleman passed away during Ramaḍān. His wife was a non-Muslim, but she allowed us, at the Masjid, to carry out all the funeral rites and rituals, مَا شَآءَ الله. However, she insisted that her husband’s coffin should be taken to the cemetery in the black cars provided by the English funeral company she had hired. When the coffin was put in the hearse, Ḥāfiẓ Hārūn and I were given the privilege of sitting in the black car behind, accompanying the deceased. It is a scene engraved on my mind, forever.
Finally, not for the light hearted, an ‘Āmil (one who does ‘Āʿmāl to help people affected by Jinns or magic) once told me that there is a big Dārul Uloom where Jinns study, situated at the bottom of the River Severn. A beautiful bridge known as the Severn Bridge is built across this river, connecting England with Wales. Almighty Allāh knows best.
Almighty Allāh keep all of us in His Protection, Āmeen.
جَزَاكَ اللَّهُ خَيْرًا
Request for Du’ās
وَالسَّلَامُ Hanif Dudhwala