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Shamsuddin Ismail Agha: linguist, writer, academic, actor

27th Aug 2021
Shamsuddin Ismail Agha: linguist, writer, academic, actor

Shamsuddin Ismail Agha, June 19, 1936- July 21, 2021 (Photo courtesy of Shamsuddin Ismail Agha’s family)

Shamsuddin Ismail Agha, President of the Indian Muslim Federation (UK), was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India. He received his BA (Hon) and MA from Bombay University and theatre training in Bombay and London. Agha was a lecturer in classical Persian and English in India. He came to England in 1964, and after working in different jobs and living for a short period in Bolton, he worked as a teacher in London. He was a linguist and later a curator at the Leyton Library before retiring 25 years ago as the head of the Translation Unit at the London Borough of Newham.

He was a founder member and trustee of the Indian Muslim Federation (UK), established in 1969 and the largest and oldest organisation of Indian Muslims in the UK. Its offices and a community centre are in east London. Under Agha’s leadership, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has organised many seminars and meetings on the plight of Indian Muslims and has held protest marches against anti-Muslim pogroms in India. After being accredited NGO status by the UN in 1999, the IMF delegation under Agha’s leadership attended many UN conferences and meetings in Geneva, New York and South Africa to raise the plight of Indian Muslims at the international level and published papers and booklets on the plight and suffering of Muslims in India.

Agha was a linguist, writer, academic and, above all, a community person. He has written and acted in many plays in India and Britain.

He handled the production and direction of a series of one-act plays in Urdu, Gujarati, Marathi and English. His books of plays in Urdu “Wahshat Hi Sahi” (Madness Rules Okay) and plays “Mirza Ghalib in London”; “Tipu Sultan” and “Flight Delayed” were published in India and the UK and were well received in the academic circle.

His funeral was held on July 22 at Muslim Burial Trust Cemetery, Waltham Forest, London, and was attended by many leaders across the community. Condolences were received from many organisations with whom Agha worked closely, including cabinet members and councillors of Waltham Forest Council and Newham Council, General Secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain and Minister Co-ordination of the Indian High Commission, London. Agha is survived by his daughter Mehtab, son Al Hasan and granddaughter Qudsiya.

Irfan Mustafa,
General Secretary,
Indian Muslim Federation (UK)

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