This evening I heard of the shocking news that brother Hakeel has passed away.

Words cannot truly express what a loss this is to the Muslim community of Guyana and to all those who over the last thirty five years have worked with him. He was our father, our patron, our elder, our defender, our representative, our politician, our community organizer, our advisor, our supporter, our friend and our teacher.

His home was our “house of Arqam” where we could go anytime and be treated as if we were kings and queens. Brother Hakeel and his late wife sister Neisha made you feel that you were the most important person in the world. Their commitment and dedication to the Islamic struggle was unconditional and pure. They were there for us whenever we called on them.

When I was shot by bandits, it was his home that we were invited to stay for whatever time we wished. Brother Hakeel and Sister Neisha give us their own personal bedroom to stay.

He was kind, humble, engaging and always trying to understand and learn. He would listen quietly to us as we try to explain our limited, growing knowledge of Islam at the time and then would advise us from the wisdom of his experience. He was a person who hated to see injustice and was very active in working for justice.

This simple rice farmer was a giant among men. His children, his blood brothers and sisters demonstrated how Islam must be lived. He treated all of us like we were family. He championed our causes and was firm and outspoken when the situation demanded. His generosity was incredible.

The village of Clonbrook despite being over twenty miles away from the city was like a second home to most of the Islamic workers who relished every opportunity to visit his home. No matter how beaten up we were or how difficult it got, we knew that that verandah in brother Hakeel’s home would heal us as we sip tea and spoke to the cool evening wind.

It is hard to fathom that you have left us to continue on your journey to Allah. Within days, we have now lost another of our champion and hero (brother Asif Rasool passed on earlier this week).

On behalf of all of us whose hearts you touched with your warmth, strength, support and generosity, we want to say thanks. We say to you that your support did not go in vain and as long as we live, we will try our best to emulate your wonderful and incredible example. We will continue the work you held so dear by striving even harder. We ask Allah to give you the highest place in Jannah. May Allah make it easy for the family and give them patience and Imaan during this difficult time.