Islamic scholar Maulana Nazir Ahmad Simab came from Lahore, India, in 1935. In the “History of the El Socorro Jamaat”, Muzaffar reports that “In 1934 the association delegated Syed Mohammed Hosein to India in search of a qualified Moulvi. At the end of 1935 Syed Hosien arrived with Nazir Ahmed Simab Munshi Fazli.” “At the end of 1936, the excutive of ASJA held a meeting at the residence of Mr. S. M. Mustapha, El Socorro Road, San Juan, and decided that the services of Moulana Nazir Ahmad Simab be dispensed with, no just cause being given for his dismissal. The Mowlana sailed from Trinidad in the middle of 1937 for his homeland.” (Muzaffar 1967 Pgs 61-63). In 1939 Maulana Nazir Ahmad return to Trinidad was arranged by some of his dedicated students, Kamaluddin Mohammed amongst them. He continued to teach, give khutbahs (sermons) and publish his writings until his early demise in 1942.
The Trinidad publication, the Muslim Standard, eulogized Nazir Ahmad Simab, in its 3rd issue published in December 1975 as follows:
years ago, on December 10 1942, at
Waterloo Road in Arouca-thousands of miles away from his birthplace in Lahore-
Nazir Ahmad Simab died. He was exactly 52 years
old. He was buried at the far southwestern corner of the El Socorro Muslim cemetery
in San Juan. His funeral was attended by thousands of Muslims from all over the
island-a testimony to the high esteem in which he was held and to the great and pioneering
contribution he made to the Muslim community in Trinidad.
he spent only five years in the country, (from June 1935 to August 1937.and
from March 1939 to his death in 1942) his work
stands out perhaps
more prominently than that of any single individual in the history of
Muslims in Trinidad. Even now there is much that can be gained from
a study of the character and the achievements of Nazir
Ahmad Simab, achievements which seem all the more impressive bearing in mind
the conditions under' which he worked.
His selflessness, his dedication and hard
work his uncompromising attachment to the Qur’an and
the Sunnah and his breadth of vision are qualities which we need urgently and
desperately to attain.
Ahmad was a teacher arid a writer in the Punjab where he lived with his wife
and five children. ''I was
well happy at my home,” he recalled, “drawing a handsome salary.” He was a member of an association called the
Anjuman Khuddam-I-Islam – the Servants of Islam Association. Recommended by this body, without his even
asking, he came to Trinidad under the auspices of the
Anjuman Sunnat wal Jamaat to do missionary work without even discussing pay and
almost five months after his arrival in Trinidad he was not paid and he had to
send for money from India to defray his personal expenses. The Anjuman acknowledged its deficiency in
an appeal (15 April 1937), which spoke of
"the great inconvenience and material loss to himself, loss of 22 years service, pension and finance, which loss we are
afraid the Muslims in Trinidad will not be able to make good".
spite of these hardships in the first period of his stay, Nazir against the
wishes of his family, decided to return to Trinidad to continue the work he had
started ‘in the path of God’ - fi sabilillah. It is painful
to recall that during this second period he was accused of hatching a
"scheme to disorganize the community, and forming a third party for the
sake of Dal Rotee". He replied to
these charges saying,
"May the curse of God be upon the liars" and "requesting the
Muslims to say AMEEN". He went on to make a plea
for "drastic reformation" of the Anjuman. The details of these
events show the great integrity of the man and how incorruptible he was in his
dealings with others.
Ahmad's efforts as a missionary were concentrated on teaching and writing His
students speak of his "great energy and his
enterprising efforts". He lectured
throughout the island. He held large classes, to which students cycled for
miles to attend, at San Juan, Charlieville, Bank
Village, Debe, Arouca and San Fernando. He taught
Arabic, Urdu and Qur'anic exegesis.
the second period of his stay, Nazir Ahmad started a weekly
publication in English and Urdu which he wrote himself and distributed free of
cost. The publication contained the weekly Friday sermon and a Children's Page
dealing with Islamic advices and Islamic history.
had to raise funds for most of his projects and was even instrumental in
setting up a dry goods store in Arouca.
Ahmad's knowledge of the Qur'an and the Hadith was very profound and so was ~
his knowledge .of Islamic history. He was
a vigorous pamphleteer and many
were the occasions on which he took a fearless and courageous stand when he
felt hat the foundations of Islam and Islamic principles were being
example, he spoke out against the Anjuman Sunnat wal Jamaat for presenting 48
copies of an Urdu translation of the Qur’an
to the Imams of the country with
instruction to use it for their congregations. He commented on this as follows:
translation in question teaches that (a) to call the prophets Bashar (or human
being) is Kufr, (b) that he Holy Prophet Muhammad was only in outward
appearance a human being, (c) that the Holy Prophet is Omnipresent
and Omniscient, (d) that the sins of all the past, present and future Muslims
have already been forgiven for the sake of the
Holy Prophet, and (e) that the Holy Prophet
knows all the Unseen of the past, present and the future and God
taught him all the
Unseen and (f) to invoke
the dead saints and prophets for help is lawful,
the dead 'hear our prayers and help us. These teachings are nothing but KUFR and SHIRK
…” When these things were objected to, they (the Anjuman) began, to defend
FALSEHOOD … "and thus they are endeavouring to disorganize the solidarity of
the community, but to fool the Muslims they lay charges
against me …”
was over this issue that he came into sharp conflict with Haji Ruknuddin Sahib, the Qazi of Trinidad. On this issue he was accused of being a Wahhabi
and of "making mischief in the community".
he also "raised his voice" against the unlawful trade of selling pork
"which was being carried on by one of the prominent officials of the
Anjuman Sunnat wal Jamaat " during
his first stay. The Anjuman in a "fit of
fury" dispensed with his services.
example of his uncompromising stand was his efforts to have Captain Daniel,
Deputy Director of
in the Colony and author of the West Indian History book to have a statement
alleging that Islam was spread by the sword deleted. In this
he succeeded. In spite of his uncompromising
stand, Nazir Ahmad was known to Muslims and others at
large for his genial countenance and affability; his outstanding trait'.
Ahmad saw the pressing need for education in the Colony. This is where
he made his most significant
contribution. With “almost superhuman efforts"
he established in January 1942 the first lslamia school in the territory, at
San Juan. It was the first non-
Christian denominational school
to gain government recognition.
saw also the necessity of
introducing English .as the medium of instruction not only in Trinidad but in
the other British-held territories. To this end he started writing a series of
books – the Highroads of Islam-but this task remained, uncompleted although the
Urdu- version is still extant. He was also the first
to deliver khutbas in English in the territory.
also saw the need to present Islam to the non-Muslims by personal example and
by organised efforts. If this
aspect of his work was acted upon, the present Muslim community would probably
not have been the introverted one it is today.
of the attitudes which Nazir Ahmad fought against, or was the victim of, unhappily
still persist. Much of the work, particularly in the field of education, which
he started has not developed along the lines he intended and devoted his life for thousands of miles from his home and family. There
is much that can be learnt from his example and from his total and
uncompromising commitment to Islam.
God bless and reward him!