Aishah Ali, Birmingham
Dr Mohammed Naseem, founder and long term Chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque, died aged 90 in Birmingham on April 22. Thousands filled the mosque for the funeral to pay their final respects.
Faith and community leaders gave heartfelt tributes. Birmingham City Council Leader, Sir Albert Bore, said, “He was committed to community cohesion and passionate about interfaith understanding.” He described him as a prominent Muslim leader who had a “strong sense of justice” and was a “peace advocate.”
Dr Naseem was actively involved in several community organisations over the past few decades and became a leading figure in the city. He was a founding member of the Governing Council of the Human City Institute and Chairman of the Birmingham Mosque Trust since 1975. He was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Birmingham in 2005.
Dr Naseem was also known as a medical doctor; he set up his own GP practice in Birmingham in 1962. He specialised in the medical procedure of circumcision, particularly for the British Muslim community. He qualified in 1953 from King Edward Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan, and arrived in the UK in 1959 to work as a Senior Health Officer at Queens Park Hospital.
Leading representatives from the Sikh, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu faiths expressed their sadness. A few said that although they did not always agree on issues “he was always respectful, curious and welcoming. He contributed enormously to interfaith relations in the city and will be greatly missed.”
Tributes were also given by West Midlands Police Deputy Chief Constable, Dave Thompson. A message was read out on behalf of Rev David Urquhart, the Bishop of Birmingham: “His commitment to building links between people of all faiths has encouraged and united others to follow his example.”
Birmingham Faith Leaders group added that he “demonstrated his willingness to challenge and stand up for the rights and responsibilities of faith in wider society.”
In a statement, the Muslim Council of Britain expressed their sadness. “For over fifty years he had dedicated his life not only as a Muslim but as a citizen of Birmingham and the United Kingdom. Dr Naseem was a passionate advocate of cordial community relations. The Muslim community of the UK and the city of Birmingham has lost one of its most dedicated servants.”
The most heartfelt tribute was given by Dr Naseem’s younger brother Naeem Tahar, who arrived for the service from Pakistan. “Dr Naseem was my only brother, and perhaps my greatest friend,” he said. He added that his brother would always help others, especially those that “nobody else would help” and he became a “warrior on all fronts.”
“The condolences offered to me and my family must be shared with you, because he belonged to you, and you were his family.”
The burial took place at Birmingham’s Handsworth Cemetery.