1946: A tribute to Syed Abdul Aziz (ra) – Khalifa of the Muslim Community of Trinidad

This is a tribute to Syed Abdul Aziz (ra) published in 1946 in an Eid-ul-FItr brochure.  The tribute is on behalf of the entire Muslim Community which is signed by the community’s surviving leading pioneers of his time.  Syed Abdul Aziz was conferred the title of Khalifa of the Muslim Community of Trinidad upon the abolishing of the Ottoman Sultanate and then the Muslim Khalifate by Kemal Ataturk the founder of modern Turkey.  Prior to that Syed Abdul Aziz was made Kazi (Judge) of the Muslim Community who earlier in his life founded the East Indian National Association and the Islamic Guardian Association. Thanks to Maulana Kavir Mohammed for providing the copy.

Syed Abdul Aziz, the pioneer of Islam in Trinidad was born in the City of Hazara, Afghanistan in the year 1862.  He was  descended from the tribe of Koriesh tracing his silsila from Zainul Abdin to Ali and then to the Holy Prophet Mohammed.  He was the 4th son of the late Syed Ghulam Muni-ud-Deen of Kabul; was educated privately by the Ladies of the House  and at a later period at the Religious Seminary at Peshawar, India.

He was an able Arabic, Urdu and Persian scholar, he served in the Afghan War at the age of 15 years for a period of 4 years under Lord Roberts (then General Roberts).

He arrived in the Colony at the age of 21 years in 1883 in the immigrant ship “Lee” (Editor: records show that Lee arrived in Trinidad on January 8th, 1882 having left with 566 souls on board and 21 dying enroute – see link) and went to El Dorado, Tacarigua for a term of 5 years, and in a short time became the favour among the people.  In the space of six months he freed himself  and settled at Iere Village and then later at Princes Town where he lived until the time of his death.

Settling down at Princes Town, he founded the East Indian National Association in the year 1893 and was its President for many years.

He devoted much time and energy to the Registration of East Indian Marriages, he also strongly supported the abolition  of East Indian Immigration.

In the year 1906 he founded the Islamic Guardian Association which was registered in the year 1913, and was its President for a long time and was Honorary Vice-President until his death.

He was also the Patron of the Y.M.M. Association of Princes Town.  He built several Mosques and rendered valuable services to the Muslim community of this Island.  The title of Kazi was conferred on him in the year 1907, and then again he was given the title of Khalifa in August 1923 by the leading Muslims, Imams and he also founded together with the leading Muslims of the Colony the Tackveeyatul Islamic Association of Trinidad Inc., and was its first President in the year 1927.

He died on Sunday 21st August, 1927.

Tribute to Syed Abdul Aziz

To Mrs. Syed Abdul Aziz and Children, Princes Town.

Dear Madam and Children,

We the Officers and Members of the Tackveeyatul Islamic Association representing the entire Muslim Community have gathered here today to be allowed to pay respectful tribute and honour to the memory of a departed soul, a faithful servant and a hero of Islam.  In all reverence we mention your beloved husband, your reverend father, and our esteemed Khalifa Mian Syed Abdul Aziz whose services and sacrifices made and rendered to the Muslim Community shall ever be green in our memories and in the annals of Islamic History in Trinidad.

From the time of his arrival as a youth in this Colony, we found in him those virtues of a true and loyal Muslim, full of vigour and zeal in the patriotism of his religion and people, he was a profound student of the Holy Quran, the Fiqha and the Bible, and was always able to defend Islam successfully from attacks which were often launched against it by others when they sought to mis-represent the teachings of our noble and respected religion.  He was a very generous and broad-minded man, he was highly esteemed by all with whom he came in contact, his opinions were respected by high officials of the Government, he was always willing to give a hearing and assistance to the poor and needy, and he associated himself with every movement for the upliftment and improvement of his race, so much so, that on July 26th, 1907, the title of Kazi was conferred on him, and on August 5th, 1923, at Chaguanas the title of Khalifa was conferred on him by the leading Imams and Muslims of Trinidad and acknowledged as the Head of the Muslim Community.

He was the founder of the East Indian Association and the Islamic Guardian Association, and at the time of his death he was President of the Tackveeyatul Islamic Association.  His position in every respect will be hard to fill.  He was often called upon to represent our people on high occasions, and was one of the delegates to meet the Rt. Hon. Major Wood (later Lord Irwin) and Mr. Ormsby-Gore, then Parliamentary Under Secretary of States for the Colonies, and H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, on their respective visits to this island.

As an Adviser, he possessed those sterling qualities which won him the affection and respect of the entire East Indian Community.

As a mark of our high esteem and in gratitude of the services rendered to our community and as a small mark of our appreciation of him, we beg you to accept the accompanying gift.

We pray that the blessing of Allah be with him and his descendants always.

For and on behalf of the Muslim Community.

Yours very respectfully,

Haji Ruknudeen Miam – Elahi Baksh – Emam Baksh – Rahamut – Shaffie Mohammed – Mohammed Yakub Khan.

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