Islamic History by the book

‘I thought I should write an autobiography on how I established these communities. I feel very satisfied that I have recorded the events of my life which would relate tp the history of things, particularly my uncle’s part in founding Pakistan’

A PROFESSOR whose uncle plaid a helping hand in founding Pakistan, talks about his life after publishing his autobiography 10 years after starting it.

Matiullah Dard, 75, now lives opposite Belmarsh prison in Thamesmead but was born in the Punjab region of India before partition.

His family, along with more than seven million Muslims, crossed the border to the new country of Pakistan, before living all over the world. He has scores of family who still live in Pakistan but they have all managed to escape the ravaging effects of the recent flood.

The father-of0one, who helped spread the Islamic movement, called Ahmadiyya, to communities worldwide, was asked by the community in Britain to chart their history.

Now a decade later, the book called Ahmadiyya Muslim Autobiography is finished. He said: "I thought I should write an autobiography on how I established these communities. I feel very satisfied that I have recorded the events of my life which would relate to the history of things, particularly my uncle’s part in founding Pakistan." His uncle was the Imam of the first Ahmadiyya mosque in London, which opened in 1926 in Putney, southwest London, and was the only one who managed to persuade Muhammad Ali Jinnah to return to Pakistan to be an advocate for the Muslims.

Proud: Matiullah Dard, left, with the former President of the United Nations, Sir Zafrullah Khan, in the 1970’s.

His nephew, who is now vice chair of Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Bexley and Greenwich, said: "Other people asked him to go to India but he was renowned for being a stubborn and an opinionated man, even Lord Mountbatten said so, and he refused. Had my uncle not asked him there would be no Pakistan. He was the sole leader of the Muslims in India."

Mr Dard’s first stop was Fiji in 1960. He said: "Fiji is where the international date line starts, so I saw it as the corner of the Earth. Prpphet Mirza Ghulam Ahmad said the mission for which I have been appointed is to remove that growing gap with God and his creation and replace it with love and sincerity and allowing truth to manifest itself and cause religious wars and discord to end and just lay the foundations for peace.

"God told him that he shall make his message spread the corners of the Earth. He had established Ahmadiyya mission in 198 countries and there are about 200 million Muslims follow him."

It was in Fiji that he met his ex-wife and had his only child – a son he named Ahmad Krishan. Unusually he chose both a Muslim and a hindu name. He explained: "Naming him both Muslim and hindu name was to bring peace and respect to each other’s views. I believe that Krishnan was a prophet and it was to honour the prophets all over the world." His son is lives in the States and is the director of a global firm based in North Carolina and is the father to five children.

Mr Dard moved to England in 1963, tp Powis Street in Woolwich before becoming an English teacher in Birmingham. It was there that he taught Urdu becoming the first person to introduce the official language of Pakistan together with English, to British schools and colleges. After brief stints in Belgium, he settled in Thamesmead in 2003. Now he is the vice chair of Bexley Multifaith forum as well as vice chairman of Thamesmead Interfaith Faith Forum. His book is available from www.amazon.co.uk

Author: Marina Soteriou

Published on 2nd September 2010 in The Bexley Times (Kentish Times)

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk