Thousands gather to pay respects to renowned Muslim cleric
Transport brought to a standstill for funeral of influential leader
People from across the UK and Europe flocked to Dewsbury last week to pay their respects to one of the most influential Muslim leaders, Hafiz Patel, who passed away aged 92.
A funeral was held for the renowned cleric, who was involved in the creation of the Markazi Mosque in Savile Town, on Thursday 18th February.
Crowds - some of whom had travelled from as far afield as France and Portugal - were described as ‘an ocean of people’ on social media and Twitter was awash with tributes.
It was estimated that 10,000 mourners turned up to Savile Town playing fields for the open air service.
Omar (@opthomar), on Twitter wrote: “Almost feels like a pilgrimage, thousands of people walking the streets of Dewsbury on their way to #HafizPatel's janazah.”
Mr Patel arrived in Dewsbury in 1960 and was instrumental in setting up the town’s first mosque, which is the largest teaching mosque in Europe and European headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat movement.
Even the transport around Savile Town in Dewsbury came to a standstill due to the influx of mourners and was in gridlock for some hours.
Community leader, Solly Adam, said: “He was my relative and also a very close friend. We played cricket together when I was a little child.
“I wasn’t surprised that so many people turned up to his funeral. He deserved double the turnout for what he had done for the community in his lifetime.
“He’s been here for fifty years and changed the country for the good. It is unbelievable what he’s done for the community.”
He added: “Mr Patel was a true gentleman who had a very soft nature. He listened to everyone and would never dictate his views. We went to Germany and Turkey together. He was a genius. He sacrificed his whole life for the sake of his community.”
Councillor Masood Ahmed for Dewsbury South also shared his memories of the cleric.
“Mr Patel was a very approachable and welcoming person,” he said. “Whoever you were, whatever walk of life you were from, he would always give of his time.
“He will certainly be a hard act to follow if anyone has to step into his shoes. It’s a massive loss to us all.
“Mr Patel was the pillar of the community. I can’t fault the man.”