Tributes have been paid to a prominent leader in Preston’s Muslim community, who has died aged 70.
Zulfiqar Ahmed, affectionately known as Sadar Saab or Uncle Zulfiqar, served as president of one of the first mosques in the city, the Raza Mosque, for 20 years.
The ‘devoted community champion’ died peacefully on Monday, April 9.
Mr Ahmed was well-known and much-loved in Preston as an excellent storyteller who enjoyed making people smile and laugh. He had a reputation for being the life and soul of the party with a tremendous sense of humour.
In a joint statement paying tribute, Mr Ahmed’s family said: “He was a lovable father and he was a caring friend to all of us but we know he also gave his all to other people too. The recurring statements that we have heard from people are that our father was ‘irreplaceable’, ‘one in a million’, ‘he always made us laugh and left us with a smile on our face’, ‘he has left a big void in the community that can’t be filled.’”
Preston MP Sir Mark Hendrick said: “Zulfiqar was always warm, caring and extremely passionate about helping the people in his community.
“He was a community leader in the truest sense - very proactive and practical in leading his community on matters that affected them and also encouraged the younger generation to take more of an active role in issues.”
Mohammed Shafait Khan is chairman of Raza Mosque and a friend of 38 years to Mr Ahmed.
He said: “He was a dear friend who touched the hearts of many people. A man of honour, respect and beautiful character. Zulfiqar was a committed family man. He showed great devotion and passion to the up keep of the mosque.
“I will dearly miss his sense of humour, smile, and words of inspiration. The passing of Zulfiqar has left a deep void in my heart, however his legacy will remain with us. May God have mercy on his soul.”
Zahid Dhudia, Lancashire Constabulary police link worker, said: “Uncle Zulfiqar, as he was known as, was very well known in the community and played an important part in community cohesion.
“He was always happy to facilitate visits to the mosque and hold community events at Raza Masjid to raise awareness of issues affecting the local community.
“Uncle Zulficar was always smiling and courteous towards everyone he met. He will be missed dearly by everyone that knew him.”
Mr Ahmed’s life and legacy was honoured by hundreds of people at his funeral on April 9 at Pleasington Cemetery in Blackburn.
He was born in Jhelum, Pakistan in 1947 before emigrating to the UK aged 14, living most of his life in Deepdale. He started his working life at fabrics manufacturer Courtaulds Red Scar before becoming a bus driver.
Mr Ahmed is survived by his wife Shahida, six adult children and six grandchildren.