Yacoob Ali, born in 1875, at age thirteen in 1888, was sent back to Oudh, India by his father Shaikh Bahadoor Ali to get an Islamic education. He returned ten years later as a hafiz (one who memorize the Holy Qur’an in its entirety – ed) and qari (one who masters the art of reciting the Holy Qur’an -ed)and could chant the inspiring verses in a very melodious tone. This was a great honour and it won for him the admiration of the Muslims of the island. Hafiz Yacoob established several maktabs (classes to provide religious instructions -ed). Hafiz Yacoob is pictured here (facing the camera).
During the Holy Month of Ramadan, he visited several mosques and completed recitations of the Holy Quran in a period of five nights per Jamaat. On one occasion he was approached by a Charlieville Jamaat to a Khatam-ul-Quran (complete recitation of the Holy Quran) when there were only two Taraweeh left in the Holy Month. He accepted and was able to complete fifteen “Siparahs” that is half the Quran Shareef in that time. He is credited with having trained hundreds of Muslims in the Arabic and Urdu languages.
He was the father of Haji Sheik Fazloo Rahaman and former President General of ASJA, Haji Shaffick Rahaman. He was the brother of succeeding Imams of San Fernando Jama Masjid, Sheik Kurban Ali and Sakawat Ali. He was also the brother-in-law of Imam Syed Muhammad Hosein.
Reverend KJ Grant1 in his works, “ My Missionary Memories”, states-
The followers of Mohammad were not ashamed to declare their faith or offer their prayers wherever they may be .Vividly before my mind is a picture of a company of twelve to fifteen men, who met together for prayers…the scene was most impressive and could be witnessed every Friday wherever there was a Mohammadan group…… a devout Muslim of considerable wealth and living not far from us sent his son to be educated as a mullah or priest. He returned after a period of five to six years bearing the title of “Hafiz” which is given to one who committed to memory the whole Koran in its original Arabic.
Investigations reveal that this youth, and certainly the first local Hafiz referred to by Rev. Grant, was Yacoob Ali, the father of the late Haji Shaffikul Rahaman (former president general of ASJA). According to Azam Rahaman, Hafiz Yacoob Ali’s grandson, Hafiz Yacoob donated the land to build the Jama Masjid in San Fernando (pictured below). His son Mohammed Shafik Rahaman became the President General of ASJA Trinidad, succeeding Haji Ruknudeen Sahib.
1. Reverend K. J. Grant was one of the clerics, who in the tradition of the Presbyterian Canadian Mission, came to Trinidad in the 1870s to minister to the Indentured Indians.