Remembering the Life and Legacy of Professor Ataullah Siddiqui

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Tuesday, 23 November 2021: Markfield Institute and the Islamic Foundation held a tribute event to mark the first anniversary of the passing of Professor Ataullah Siddiqui. Amid a packed hall, speaker after speaker, from friends, colleagues and family,  paid tribute to this remarkable, unassuming and humble former Professor of Christian-Muslim Relations and Interfaith Understanding.  His teaching, compassion, wisdom and foresight touched the lives of thousands of people across the world, while his interfaith work bridged divides. 

The event brought together a diverse range of people who knew and had worked with Professor Ataullah Siddiqui on various projects and to develop Markfield Institute. They expressed the importance of continuing his legacy to facilitate dialogue and understanding among the UK’s faith and non-faith communities. 

Tributes celebrating and commemorating his life were offered by the Reverend Canon Andrew Wingate, Founding Director of St. Phillips Centre; Dr Manazir Ahsan, Chairman of the Islamic Foundation; Dr Zahid Parvez, Rector, Markfield Institute;  Sughra Ahmed, Director of Education at Robert Kennedy Foundation; Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Chaplain at Canary Wharf Estate and former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain;  Dr Abdul Karim Gheewala, Chairman of the Federation of Muslim Organisations;  Leicestershire; Dr Zavid Chariwala, Sheikh Osman, Sajad Akram, Head of AlKhair School; Farooq Murad, CEO of the Islamic Foundation, and lecturers of MIHE including Dr Haroon Bashir, Fatima Khan, and Ruqaiyah Hibell, among others. 

Ataullah’s life and work spanned continents, undertaking extensive travel across the globe – he met the pope, leading political and religious figures alongside engaging in extensive charitable initiatives in India to support the poor and needy. Canon Andrew Wingate spoke of their travels together – most aptly to Konya, Turkey, the spiritual home of Jalal as-Din Muhammad Rumi – their shared love of India – and witnessing Ataullah praying in temples, churches and places of worship – steadfast to his own religious ideals while celebrating those of other faiths. Sughra Ahmed recalled his inspirational teaching while a student at Markfield Institute on the MA in Islamic Studies degree course and the Certificate in Muslim Chaplaincy programme, which Ataullah pioneered, and how his example and encouragement fostered her desire to follow a vocation in interfaith relations, where she has continued to flourish both in the UK and abroad. Professor Ataullah’s wife, Alia, provided endearing and heartfelt insights into his family role as a husband, father, son, brother and friend. Sarah, one of his two twin daughters, recalled her memories of God’s gift of a wonderful father, his love, humour, patience, grace and care – emulating the footsteps of our dearly beloved Prophet Muhammad (bpuh).

Markfield Institute will endeavour to continue and develop this important legacy through:

  • The Professor Ataullah Siddiqui Scholarship Award will annually support a student to undertake the MA Islam and Pastoral Care degree programme.
  • Enhancing relations through interfaith and non-faith dialogue across the religious and non-religious spectrum.
  • Development of Muslim scholars – through academic programmes and professional training.
  • Pastoral care and counselling training courses in new CPD fields including – addressing trauma and abuse, domestic violence, addiction, end of life care, building resilience and safeguarding.
  • Please see our website at www.mihe.ac.uk for regular updates on new courses and degree programmes.