Rio Claro’s Imam Zainool Baksh Remembered For Selfless Service To His Congregation

President of ASJA Yacoob Ali (r) presenting to Imam Zainool Baksh (l)

Rio Claro, Trinidad: Imam Zainool Baksh was an Imam for the last 32 years. In 1986 he was appointed Imam at the Rio Claro ASJA Masjid, High Street Rio Claro, (otherwise known as ‘The Big Masjid’). After serving this jamaat (congregation) for five years, he transferred to the Masjid-Us- Salaheen, 2378 Naparima Mayaro, Rio Claro. He served faithfully and diligently as Imam for with this jamaat for 27 years. In February 2018, he retired with his son, Kadir Baksh taking on the role and responsibility to continue his Dad’s service.
Imam Zainool served his jamaat, and all Muslims of Rio Claro and environs, honourably. Zainool’s upbringing was key to his approach to service.

He was born on August 23rd 1929 in the village of Cumuto, the fourth child and second son of Nabbie and Magidan Chadee, both farmers. He attended school until the age of 16, following which he began working, like his parents, in farming. From an early age, Imam Zainool always demonstrated the ability to stand up for himself and to accept responsibilities fearlessly.

Imam Zainool at the podium

His hair had a golden tinge; a trait passed on to some of his children and grandchildren. For this, he was made fun of by the neighbourhood children, and his desire to defend himself, in addition to his quickness and small stature, earned him the nickname ‘Cricket’. Learning at an early age to stand up for right; his drive and commitment to serve, to go anywhere at any time, permeated his tenure, and distinguished his service. He travelled as far as Princes Town to Biche and everywhere in between, leading Quranic readings, and officiated at numerous nikahs and janazah (funeral prayers).

Imam Zainool, with humble beginnings, became a natural leader. When Allah called upon him to serve, he stepped up to the wicket to answer His call.

He was the devoted husband of Hajin Zamina Baksh who provided his support and foundation. The father of 8, the grandfather of 31, the great grandfather of 18, and great, great grandfather of two.

Two of his sons followed his footsteps as Imam. In addition to Kadir who succeeded him as Imam in Rio Claro, Hafeez is Imam of Masjid-Us-Salaam of Claxton Bay. Additionally, he was the grandfather-in-law of Mufti Wasim Khan, Principal of The Darul Uloom, Trinidad and Tobago.

Over the years at Masjid-Us-Salaheen, he led the jamaat in rebuilding the masjid, including paving the yard, construction of a kitchen area and masjid hall area, carpeting and adding a ceiling, and providing air conditioning for the entire masjid. Masjid-Us-Salaheen can boast of one of the most comfortable places to perform the Qurbani yearly, thanks to the leadership of Imam Zainool.

Imam Zainool has left an indelible mark not only on the infrastructure of Masjid-Us-Salaheen but in the hearts of all the people he served. His reliability, honesty, perseverance, determination, integrity, endurance and humility, are all characteristics that define his time as an Imam. He was respected and loved by all. Indeed, when it was time to pass on the responsibilities to another generation, he did so with grace and humility.

To Imam Zainool, we say Jazakh Allah Khair for your tremendous service, and May Allah reward you with Jannat-ul Firdaus for all your efforts. Iman Zainool passed away at 11:20 a.m. on Tuesday, October 27th, 2020.

Inna lilahi wa inna ilaihi rajioon – certainly from God we come, and to Him, we return.

The Anjuman Sunnat-ul Jamaat Association Inc.(ASJA) said: “we express our deepest condolences to the bereaved family of the late Imam Zainool Baksh…”.

ASJA continued “Imam Zainool served his congregation with distinction..”

We pray that Almighty Allah will provide comfort to him whilst in barzakh, ascend him to the highest place Jannatul Firdos amongst the most pious.

(Editor: barzakh is a place where the soul has left the body but has not yet entered heaven or hell.)