British-Muslim entrepreneur ‘felt so privileged’ after performing call to prayer in London’s Canary Wharf

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Kazi Shafiqur Rahman performs the adhan in Canary Wharf. (Supplied)
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Kazi Shafiqur Rahman performs the adhan in Canary Wharf. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 May 2020

British-Muslim entrepreneur ‘felt so privileged’ after performing call to prayer in London’s Canary Wharf

  • Rahman is no stranger to performing the adhan in public
  • He has spent years perfecting the delivery of it in the style of the Grand Mosque’s head muezzin

LONDON: When Kazi Shafiqur Rahman performed a call to prayer in the heart of London’s financial district, he had little idea of the scale of reaction his performance would draw.
Within hours of delivering the adhan at sunset in Canary Wharf, the video had gone viral and Rahman was flooded with messages of goodwill from people of all faiths worldwide.
Rahman, 34, told Arab News that he thought nothing of performing the adhan, which he does in the style associated with the Grand Mosque in Makkah, when he was first asked.
But he said once he was in position outside the One Canada Square Skyscraper with sunset approaching, he started to feel the pressure.
“When I did the sound test, I could see passers-by and drivers stopping to have a look, and by the end of the test there were quite a few people watching me, waiting to see what was happening,” the British-Bangladeshi entrepreneur said. “This is when I started feeling nervous and could feel the pressure.”

Rahman is no stranger to performing the adhan in public, and has spent years perfecting the delivery of it in the style of the Grand Mosque’s head muezzin Sheikh Ali Ahmad Mulla.
Mulla has been a muezzin at the Grand Mosque since 1975 and his voice is recognized by Muslims worldwide regardless of whether they have visited the holy city.
His voice, which featured on cassette tape recordings of the Qur’an in the 1980s and 1990s, is broadcast on Arab TV channels, and more recently has been used by prayer apps.
Mulla has also been labeled the Bilal of the Grand Mosque, an honorific reference to the Prophet Muhammad’s companion Bilal who was chosen by the prophet to be Islam’s first muezzin because of his beautiful voice.
“I’ve been a huge fan of Sheikh Ali Ahmad Mulla since I was a child,” Rahman said. “I have a talent for mimicking people, and as a child I’d accompany my father to Islamic talks and events.
“For the sunset prayer, my father would always put me forward to perform the adhan. He would even talk to the organizers and ask them to allow me to do the adhan.
“This put me under a lot of pressure to perfect the Makkah style adhan, and I’d listen to cassette recordings of it repeatedly every day.
“When I went to Makkah in 2008, I heard Sheikh Mulla perform the adhan live for the first time and I was blown away. It was then that I fine-tuned the version I’d learnt, and I perfected it when I came back.”
Rahman said there is much more room for improvement as Sheikh Mulla’s adhan is “absolutely amazing.”


The London-based entrepreneur was asked to perform the adhan in public in Canary Wharf as part of an event organized by Tower Hamlets London Borough Council, Tower Hamlets Homes and Canary Wharf Group.
“The organizers wanted to show appreciation to the Muslim community and engage with it. Many Asian Muslims live in this area, and this was a goodwill gesture to them during lockdown Ramadan,” Rahman said, adding that he agreed to the request without hesitation.
“The most important thing is that the comments were so positive. Even non-Muslims were commenting on how beautiful the adhan was. It’s amazing. I feel so privileged when I look back at the event.”
Wearing a Saudi thobe and ghutra added a finishing touch to Rahman’s performance. “I performed the adhan in the style of Makkah’s head muezzin, so the way I dressed completed the whole performance,” he said.
“People from all over the world have reached out to me saying how inspired they’ve been by me performing the adhan in Canary Wharf.
“My brother posted the video of me performing the adhan on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. It went viral and spread like wildfire. I didn’t imagine the event to become so big.
“Mohamed Hadid, the father of Gigi and Bella Hadid, also shared the video of me performing the adhan on Instagram.”
The event has motivated Rahman to learn how to perform in styles associated with different regions of the Muslim world.
“After performing the adhan in Canary Wharf, I’ve been inspired to practice performing the adhan in different styles, including the Madinah one,” he said.
“My dream is to be able to perform the adhan at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, even if it’s just a one-off.”

 


Exposed: UK Daesh cell fundraising for jailed jihadi brides

Updated 29 November 2020

Exposed: UK Daesh cell fundraising for jailed jihadi brides

  • Fake donation by undercover reporters reveals sophisticated terror network

LONDON: A Daesh fundraising operation based in the UK seeking to free Western jihadi brides from Syrian refugee camps has been exposed by the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
Undercover journalists spoke with a “fixer” in Turkey before exposing a “courier” in London collecting what he thought was a £4,500 ($5,987) donation to the operation.
But the brown envelope hidden at the “dead drop” by undercover journalists contained only a crossword book. In response to the revelations, London’s Metropolitan Police have opened an investigation.
The Syrian camps targeted by the operation for escape bids include Al-Hol, where Shamima Begum, who fled Britain aged 15 to join Daesh, was held.
A report last week revealed the existence of an Instagram group called Caged Pearls, run by British women detained in Al-Hol who are raising money to finance their escape from the camps.
The page promotes awareness of its mission through a poster reading: “Al-Hol — The cradle of the new Caliphate.”
One woman raising funds in the camp was named as “Sumaya Holmes,” who had been smuggled out of the camp and traveled to Turkey.
Holmes is said to be the widow of a British Daesh fighter who died in Syria, and the current wife of a Bosnian extremist serving jail time in his home country.
Holmes asks for donations on her Facebook page and posts pictures of women holding up posters begging for help.
One poster said: “I am a sister from camp Al-Hol and I need $6,000 so that I can escape from PKK (the Kurdistan Workers’ Party). Please, I ask everyone to help me and donate as much as they can.”
Holmes captioned the image: “This is my friend and she is in need of help. She sent me this photo yesterday. Please, even if you can’t help, pass it to those who can donate to her.”
Another image posted by Holmes shows a woman holding a piece of paper that says: “I am your Muslim sister in Al-Hol camp. I need help from my brothers and sisters to be freed from the hands of the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces). I need $7,000 to be able to get out with my children.” The message added: “You can trust Sumaya Holmes on Facebook, she is trying to help me raise money needed.”
A Mail on Sunday reporter posed as a drug dealer who had converted to Islam. They messaged Holmes on Facebook to offer support and money.
Holmes then requested to communicate on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app favored by extremists and criminals for its high levels of security and privacy.
She asked for a Bitcoin donation but the undercover reporter declined. She then suggested making a bank deposit in an associate’s account in Jordan, and then hawala, an Islamic method of transferring money that uses a broker system. But the undercover journalist declined again.
Holmes finally provided details of a man called “Anas” in London who could collect funds in person. When an offer to donate was made, Holmes accepted.
In the meantime, she had been actively posting her support for Daesh on Facebook. In one post, she described the Chechen who beheaded teacher Samuel Paty last month as a “hero.”
In London, a second undercover reporter set up a meeting with “Anas” to deliver cash for the operation.
But the reporter changed the plan and left an envelope containing only a crossword book at the agreed-upon location.
As the journalists watched carefully, a man wearing a white crash helmet soon arrived on a scooter.
He found the package and messaged the reporter: “File received, let me check the money and tell you.”
He soon discovered the ruse, telling the undercover reporter: “There are no money in the envelope, there is only a book? It seems that you are not serious about your subject.”
When confronted again, “Anas” denied any involvement in the exchange, which would be illegal under British law had the envelope contained cash. “No, no, I don’t take anything, you are wrong,” he said.
Later, Holmes also denied her involvement. “That’s not true, good luck with publishing your lies,” she said.
The latest estimates suggest that about 300 of the 900 Britons who traveled to Syria to join Daesh are back on British streets.
Dr. Vera Mironova, a Daesh expert and research fellow at Harvard University, said: “To escape from the camps costs about $18,000 and the success of these campaigns shows the sheer amount Daesh are able to raise online.”
She added: “Once the women are smuggled out, it is impossible to monitor them. The women who collect money online are still with Daesh and are trusted and supported by members worldwide. They work with a network of supporters globally.”