Thousands turn out to pay respects to Leicester imam

An estimated 10,000 people attended the funeral of one of Leicester’s first imams yesterday.

Imam Mohamedbhai Peerbhai – known as Maulana Gora Sahib – died on Friday night at the age of 70. He is said to have played a vital role in the growth and integration of the Muslim community in Leicester.

The funeral took place in Spinney Hill Park, Leicester, followed by the burial at Saffron Hill Cemetery, Stonesby Avenue.

The imam was a well-known and respected scholar in Leicester and amongst the first Muslims who moved to the city in the 1960s. He was responsible for setting up the first masjid – a house on Sutherland St – and then later was the first imam of Masjid ul Noor. Along with his work as an imam, the Maulana supported masjids and welfare projects all over the world.

Massive loss

The Federation of Muslim Organisations Leicestershire spokesman Suleman Nagdi said that the death of Maulana Gora Sahib was a massive loss that will be felt by the community at large.

He said that Maulana Gora taught the Muslim community about the need to be loyal to the UK and to contribute towards its advancement. He supported efforts to create a more cohesive society where Muslims would participate fully.

Leicester

Nagdi, on behalf of FMO, further extended his gratitude to the many volunteers that assisted with the smooth running of the funeral and thanked Leicestershire Police for all their assistance.

He added that the Maulana was a most learned and humanitarian individual who inspired reverence and respect from many thousands of people for his actions such as the early promotion of inter-faith iftaars as well as his refusal to get drawn into issues of contention between different schools of thought.

Heart attack

The maulana suffered a heart attack on Saturday 6 July at 1:30pm.

Doctors performed a major heart-related operation after which the Maulana was admitted to an intensive care unit where he remained in a stable condition, but critical. Despite the operation being a success, the Maulana had to be sedated again in the 48 hour recovery period after the operation. When signs of recovery were failing, doctors decided not to perform a second operation as the chances of his condition improving would have been remote.

He leaves behind 11 male and female children who are either hafiz of the Qur’an and/or scholars – notably Sheikh Riyadh ul Haq – and have become themselves an integral part of the Muslim community.

The daughter of the Maulana sent a message of gratitude to the attendees via FMO Radio Ramadhan yesterday evening, stating: “Masha Allah my dad was blessed by Allah to pass away on a Friday in the month of Ramadan and to have his janazah salaah read by thousands, now his journey to the next abode has started, please pray that his qabr has become a garden from the gardens of jannah. May Allah keep him happy, and give me the taufeeq to do amal on what he has taught me.

“He was known for his simplicity piety, hospitality, and humbleness. A great loss for the city and beyond. May Allāh grant him mercy, forgiveness and peace, and bless him with the highest of ranks in Paradise. Ameen.”

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