Bismillah. A touching piece by Rashad Yaqoob:
Please circulate to all concerned parties. It is very difficult to inform all my friends relatives and acquaintances of the passing of my dear father. Please spread the word . We ask all of you to make dua for him as many people have expressed concern that the news did not reach them. Public meeting at Paigham-e-Islam mosque Stratford Rd Sparkhill Birmingham where dad was Chairman, this sat at 630 pm
My dear father Hajj Muhammad Yaqoob born on 10th July 1935, left this world on Sunday 2nd November 2014 at zuhr time whilst making ablution for prayers in his local mosque.
It is at times of such loss that the importance of our contribution to humanity becomes the only issue of importance and business and work important yet a means to an end.
My father provided me with the earliest memories of an activist, a revolutionary, a thinker and someone who refused to accept the status quo.
I have vivid memories of buying him his daily Jang to keep him informed of his homeland in a language I was yet to perceive. He was unrelenting on his questioning of the printed and more recently televised world. Despite his linguistic talents in English Urdu Farsi and Arabic , often quoting Iqbal, Rumi and Shakespeare to my ignorant ears he displayed a passion for the mystical as well as the pragmatic revolutionary in his Bond of Mayfair threadbare red tartan nightgown.
I don’t recall him ever with hair on his head, always bald despite a picture in noire which shows a dashing young 60s man with thick jet black hair whom I never reconciled with my older looking dad.
I recall the thickness of the skin on his feet as we massaged them after his overtime shifts at the Royal Mail, and walking on his back and legs to ease his pain, a routine which as a 12 year old I never questioned as mom instructed us and as a teenager I reluctantly executed due to selfishness and teenage sloth.
He forced us on a diet of English Grammar and literature to practice the 11 plus at a time when holidays for were an opportunity for time and a half , and like all rebellious youth i resented his obsession with all things academic, a frustrated headmaster from Gujarkhan who had emigrated to England for medical treatment alone and traded scholarship with factory labour.
A trade off which he never complained about or requested acknowledgement. The respective strains of massaging him were I supposed the confirmation that we all 7 of us did acknowledge our debt, and his sacrifice.
He named me in true theatrical fashion after Rashad Minhas, a Pak airforce pilot who downed his aircraft to prevent a saboteur co pilot from stealing the jet across to enemy territory. They say names are important as they set the tone … He wanted Rashad’s martyrdom and valour perhaps to imbibe my soul.
As the eldest son of 3 sisters and four brothers I know as I am sure my other siblings will challenge that I was his favourite even though he was too busy working to attend my birth, delegating the azaan to my mamoo in Bradford where mom was visiting her sis while they were resided and settled in St Albans.
He walked with a noticeable limp something my siblings and I secretly emulated and I possibly was embarrassed about as a kid. It took several decades to appreciate that limp which followed rickets as a child and a 20 ft fall off a roof in Pak was a sign of this man’s stoic resilience. He came alone to the land of hope and glory to fix his leg saving his last few headmaster rupee earnings without any wife, father or friend.
Instead of returning due to extended medical treatment to break and fix the bow of his leg he had to take labour jobs in lister mills in Bradford in jobs which as an academic he was ill-equipped to handle . He was never one of the lads, always preferring the company of heavy books rather than ‘fazool baathe’ [idle talk]. However his language skills caught the gaffer’s eye and he moved quickly into translatory roles and documenting the applications and immigration requirements of his unlettered comrades.
Thus this gave him the lofty title of ‘Maaster Sahib’ from St Albans, Birmingham to Bradford from those he served .
He established a mosque in Sparkhill, he established a school by offering his house in Gujarkhan to the AlHijra school charity which he was visiting this week for orphans and talented youngsters in the neighbourhood who can’t afford private fees yet he still failed up pass his driving test 7 times until he deferred to mom’s superior navigation abilities and preferred to be a co-driver from the passenger seat with a supreme judge authority of how one should drive a motor car.
He was the last of the Godfather generation, he was 82, he said to me overdue to visit his maker since his bypass 15 yrs ago. I used to stress to my other half that I fear his time is up and we should not move to london back in the day yet he outstripped all his younger siblings bar one.
My last encounter was approximately a week and a half ago in his bedroom in the house he always referred to as Rash’s house because of my attempts to have moved him from our terraced Victorian maze of a house to a corner plot next to my sister Sally’s [Salma Yaqoob] following a good spell in earnings. Reality was this short yet stoic man never borrowed a penny from a bank, devoured a pound of interest and saved his meagre Royal Mail income to buy one, then two, properties in cash after years of slum dog property renting often sharing bathrooms and kitchens with other ‘undesirables’ such as the Irish and blacks in the 60s and 70s.
He being a model tenant impressed his only landlord who happened up be Muslim. Tekdaar sahib who having witnessed the loss of Pakistani immigrants to teddy boy culture decided this quiet and pensive man befitted his daughter.
Dad obliged and in true 60s style bought an Austin Cambridge new and got his then hoodlum bus driver brother Ayub (chaacha) to drive him to Pak by road where said Austin made it without drama until it ditched in the village mud road.
There he married mom that led to the genetic expansion that straddles two decades of 7 siblings.
I took him on umrah in April and to Palestine where he shed tears in front of the martyrs’ wall and translated his vista of book knowledge into architectural history before my eyes. The accurate picture was that he did not allow me to even find his trip instead insisting he pay as for me as he was my father and he was still a man of means Mashallah with his Royal Mail pension. Now I treasure those small narrations, walking him to the mosque, managing his toilet breaks with a weakening bladder, tolerating his frustrations at not being able to reach the black stone with his fraying limbs.
As he rocked on the edge of the bed and asked me for the last time a week and a half ago to do his back almost in a child like manner, the penny finally dropped. His job was done in this world, his battered frame had taken him to ends of the world that the young, wide eyed and flat nosed mohammed could not have imagined, he had been my father, my protector, my provider, my educator, my facilitator and now he was my friend, under my protection wanting only to know I was ok and that my life was happy and moral.
I never saw him miss a prayer, a fast, [omit to] pay his welfare tax or lie, cheat or misrepresent or resort to hyperbole. Understated and humble his motto was ‘kar ke dakaoo’ lead by action…. And ‘aage dekaw peeche Nehru’. Look ahead not backwards.
I am in a good place with him despite my heart trembling as I get off this plane and embrace my mother who is now without companion. This is because my massaging tired hands told him I loved him, I acknowledged my debt to him, that I respected him for all he had done and the prayers he continues to make.
He forced me to leave, full of concern always for my welfare and I leaned in and kissed his shiny forehead and hugged him close without a word and tucked him in and wished him safe travel to Pakistan saying enjoy your trip to your motherland .
The mother land decided her child should return and took him at 2 pm whilst making wudu at a mosque I am yet to visit.
A most befitting last act for a man who is in my veins, my heart and my soul. I carry his mantle of trust with his name and hope to be a befitting emissary to pass on his legacy to my children.
I look forward to seeing you dad in a few hours where I know you will be in the the best of sleeps, without any arthritis pain and in a rush to meet your Sustainer.
From Him you came and into Him we humbly deliver you.
Salaam my father.
May your example inspire us all to express our feelings to parents we still have x
May I live up to the words of one of your favourite intellects and poets Allama Iqbal who inspires me to attempt to live a life which is limitless and to rock the world just a little towards a path of justice and equilibrium:
‘Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har Taqdeer se Pehle
Khuda bande se khud pooche bata Teri Raza kya hai’
‘Elevate yourself so high that even God, before issuing every decree of destiny, should ask of his created being, tell me what is it that you desire ?’
‘Tundi e Band E Mukhalif de na ghabra, Uqaab
Yeh to chalti hai tujhe uncha udane me liye ‘
‘Don’t you get frightened of these furious, violent gusts of wind O Eagle! These blow only to make you fly higher’
Phir milenge inshallah [we will meet again, God-willing] under the ‘shady tree’
I am back in london receiving people at home by appointment.
Make dua [prayers] for him and his surviving family:
Mrs Gulzarda Yaqoob
Dr Najma Siddiqui
Dr Fozia Yaqoob
Dr Hassan Yaqoob