The Muslim community in east London’s Whitechapel area are mourning the death of a well-respected exorcist who was stabbed to death on Monday.
Father-of-three Zakariyya Islam was killed at the Ruqya Therapy Centre in Whitechapel.
Police and paramedics rushed to the scene and found the married 46-year-old “raqi” (Islamic healer/exorcist) suffering critical injuries.
Despite desperate attempts he could not be saved and was pronounced dead a short time later.
A 43-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder. He was treated in hospital for hand injuries and was questioned yesterday by detectives who recovered a knife following the attack at 6.30pm on Monday.
Mr Islam was a co-founder of the Ruqya Centre based in a complex in Greatorex Street. He had been treating people who were allegedly possessed by jinns, and had black magic done on them for more than a decade.
The centre was sealed off by police who were carrying out forensic searches.
One of Mr Islam’s three daughters said they were “in shock” and too distraught to speak about the tragedy.
His sister-in-law Shazeda Khanom, 41, said they could not believe what had happened.
She said: “He was a very nice man and we don’t know who would do something like this or have any reason to.”
A Met Police spokesman confirmed the victim and suspect were known to each other.
Friends described him as a “popular guy with a big heart” who was well-known within the Muslim community.
Mozahid Hussein, 46, a friend from childhood, said: “I saw him three days ago and we were laughing and joking. He was a loving person, full of energy. Even last week we were talking about our businesses.
“The whole of East London will be in shock. His humour was brilliant. He grew up around here and we played football together as children.
“He was someone you could go to for business advice. He was well respected. I never knew him to argue with anyone. He would listen to you and make you feel special.”
Neighbour Alam Ali, 28, said: “He was a normal guy and family man. I went to his daughter’s wedding and he was a wonderful man. His daughter only got married last month so it’s very unfortunate because this was a happy time for the family.
“Everyone’s just in shock about it.”
Tasawer Islam, who also works at the Ruqya Centre, wrote: “He was friend, a teacher and a great helper and supporter. He will be missed by many.”
East London Mosque issued the following statement yesterday:
“The East London Mosque is in great shock at the news of the murder of a well-respected and much-loved member of our congregation, Zakariyya Islam. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un – “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.
The Mosque’s trustees, staff, volunteers and worshippers extend their sincere condolences to Zakariyya’s family and friends. May Allah give you comfort and strength in your time of need.
“Zakariyya worshipped at the East London Mosque for over three decades. He volunteered and supported the Mosque since he was a teenager. His loss will be mourned and felt throughout the community. We pray Allah grants him the highest level of Jannah (Heaven).
The Mosque will inform the congregation about the Janazah as soon as it is arranged.
We kindly request members of the press to respect the privacy of Zakariyya’s family at this deeply sensitive time.”
Scotland Yard said it was not looking for anyone else in connection with the killing, and a post mortem examination will take place in due course.