I was born in South Africa. From a very early age I had yearning for truth and knowledge, much of this sparked by being a first hand witness to the atrocities that were being committed by the Apartheid regime at the time.
I was curious and inquisitive young man and was keen to travel and explore the world that was opening up to me. I studied in Pakistan for three years at Jamia Islamia Binori Town, travelling back and forth to South Africa whenever I have an opportunity to do so. A friend of mine had applied and was admitted to the Azhar University in Eygpt. By now I had developed a wanderlust and also applied to study Arabic/ Islamic Studies and was accepted. I then spent the next two years living and studying in Cairo.
One of the highest learning academies in Islam is the Medina University in Saudi Arabia and it was my ambitions to study there. But its prestige meant that they were very selective in who they admitted. From South Africa they usually only admit around about 9 or 10 students a year. There are a number of quirky facts and coincidences involved in how I applied for entry, including a dream which my mother had, and prospective in –laws, but I was honoured that in 1994 I was the only South African admitted to their Faculty of Hadith in that year. I spent the next 4 years immersed in scholarly learning on the origins and interpretations of Hadith (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadith)
At the end of 1998 I travelled to London as a stop-over to attend by brother-in-laws wedding in Portugal. Again, by another series of coincidences. I had the opportunity to study at the School of Oriental Arts and Science (SOAS) at the University of London where I undertook an MA in Islamic Studies which I completed in 2001. An opportunity came up to teach at Balham Mosque where I was also appointed Part Time Imam and undertook a number of duties including teaching primary aged children in Quran and undertaking community work.
The spark for social justice that was first stirred in me in South Africa was beginning to reignite as I saw injustices emerge around me, and I started to spend more of my time opening up the Mosque to community-led campaigns and promoting alliance building for community cohesion. I was particularly keen for the Mosque to be seen as hub for the local community and to be used much more by our young people, of all faiths and none. Amongst the events which we organised were regular Open Days, Exhibitions on the contribution of Islam to the development of science and media and Inter-Faith events. One of my initiatives was a Community Radio Station which we ran through the Holy Month of Ramadan onto which we invited a wide range of people to share information and views with the local community, including the Borough Commander of Police, the Director of Public Health and the local Mental Heath Trust.
Amongst the positions that I took up was to act as Muslim Chaplain and St Georges Hospital, where I offer pray and support to those who request this, and have been able to comfort many people, of all faiths and non. I also act as an enabler of conversations between Muslim patients and hospital staff whenever called upon. I continue to be active campaigner for social justice, and travel around the country visiting mosques and community gatherings sharing the faith of Islam and its teachings.
I live in London