Ustadh Abdur Rashid Siddiqui sadly passed away on Monday, 23 December 2019. He was a member of the board of directors of the Markfield Institute of Higher Education and a trustee of the Islamic Foundation,
I have worked closely with him since 1985, particularly in the Young Muslims, Islamic Society of Britain and the UK Islamic Mission, where he was my mentor and murabi. His commitment, piety, moral character, humbleness, and sincerity always amazed and inspired me. He frequently shared with me his insights into some Quranic verses and Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him). I also turned to him for advice and guidance on some very complex issues that I faced. His advice was always sound and balanced.
Ustadh Abdur Rashid Siddiqui was born in Bombay, India, in September 1932, and came to the UK in 1963. He engaged himself in Islamic organisations soon after arriving in the UK. Over a period spanning almost 60 years, he has been active in Islamic work and worked with a number of organisations including the UK Islamic Mission, the Islamic Foundation, Muslim Council of Britain and the Islamic Society of Britain. He played a leading role in these organisations. He has been a long-standing trustee of the Islamic Foundation and the Markfield Institute of Higher Education. In the UK Islamic Mission, he took on a range of responsibilities including Senior Vice-President, Secretary-General, Head of dawah, and Head of planning during his 55 years of active membership.
Abdur Rashid Siddiqui was known for his moral character, humbleness, sincerity, scholarship and insights into the Quran, as well as a deep commitment to dawah and tarbiyya. He has left behind a number of books including Living in Allah’s Presence; Treasures of the Qur'an; Tazkiyah: The Islamic Path of Self-Development; Qur'anic Keywords: A Reference Guide, and Lift Up Your Heart. He has also translated and edited a number of works by other scholars.
In his early life, Ustadh Abdur Rashid Siddiqui studied Economics and Politics, and Law at the University of Bombay before coming to the UK to complete his postgraduate studies in Librarianship in London. He worked at the University of Leicester as a librarian from 1966 until his retirement in 1997. He also served as a Muslim Chaplain at the University and delivered Jumah Khutbahs on a range of topics, which were later put together by himself in his Book Lift Up Your Hears (in two volumes). He was elected an Associate of the Library Association.
Below he explains in his own words how he developed a deep understanding of Islam, his commitment to Dawah, and his motivation to write.
He said “Looking back at my life, I see that I was a young and unconcerned college student in Bombay when a close friend of mine, Zakir Ali Siddiqui introduced me to Islamic literature which I started to read and was much influenced by. Then, I started to attend the weekly Dars-e-Qur’an circle led by Mawlana Shams Pirzadah (may Allah bless his soul). That made a great impression on me and for the first time, I realised the real value of the Qur’an whereby instead of just reading it one should try to understand it. This also led me to the discovery of the other source of guidance, the Sunnah. In turn, this helped me understand the affairs of the world from an Islamic perspective. It also awakened hidden talents in me, talents I did not know I had. Essentially, it taught me to speak and write. Up until then, I had no ability to write anything but suddenly I was asked to compile reports of the meetings and issue press releases and somehow I learned to do these jobs. I had no experience of conducting a study circle and giving Dars-e- Qur’an. I was a shy person with a very shrill voice and no courage to speak in a gathering. So, here again, I had to overcome my nervousness and take up the challenge. At the age of 25, I was made Nazim of Bombay, a large city with an equally large number of circles. These, I was required to visit, giving Dars-e-Qur’an, and making speeches and organizing the work. It was a training ground which enabled my talents to flourish…”
“Then, I came to the UK and soon after the establishment of the Mission I was made the editor of its monthly magazine Paigham. It was a struggle to write editorials, solicit articles and collect news from the various branches every month. For this, I had to read and reflect and spend time further equipping myself with the necessary skills…”
“I am sure Allah, Subhanahu wa Ta‘ala, has given talents to everyone and if one makes an effort Allah always helps one to excel. The Mission gave me the ideal, the sense of responsibility, the passion to achieve the goals for which I was striving. This provided the motivation to do things. Not just doing things haphazardly but trying to excel in doing things. Then, whatever responsibility I was given by the Mission I tried my best to perform diligently. I was made its secretary-general in 1984: this entailed organizing and planning the Mission’s work. To this end, I had to learn the science of management and organization and as a result, I managed to produce plans and strategies for implementation. During this period, Afghanistan was under Russian occupation and every year on 26th December, the Mission, with the cooperation of other organisations, used to organize a demonstration marching to the Russian Embassy and then assembling at Hyde Park Corner for formal speeches. On one occasion, given I was representing the Mission, I was asked to make a speech from the platform and with this a sea of an audience in front of me. I had never faced such a large crowd in my life; I was terrified and trembling about what to say. Somehow though I did climb up and speak but to this day I still do not know where that courage came from. Thus, the Mission equipped me to face even more challenges. The Mission also made me live an organized life. It made me aware of the importance of utilizing time effectively, instead of wasting it on frivolous things: so, to this end, I spent my time reading, reflecting and writing…”
He will truly be missed by everyone who knew him. We Pray Allah accepts all of his efforts for promoting good, forgive his shortcomings and grant him a high place in Jannah.
Dr Zahid Parvez