Dr Syed Mitwalli Darsh
DR Darsh, who died aged 66, was an outstanding scholar, thinker and journalist. He was highly respectable, approachable and sensitive.
He was born into a religious family in a village in the Eastern Delta region of Egypt and by the age of 12 was a Hafiz. He graduated from Al-Azhar University and was appointed an Imam and lecturer in the university's faculty of theology.
In the mid-1960s he spent a year at Dundee University, where he received a diploma in English. He followed this with teaching and missionary work in Lagos, Nigeria.
In 1970, ad-Darsh and his mentor and friend, Shaykh Abdul Halim Mahmoud, rector of the Al-Azhar, introduced a plan to guide Islamic missionary work, the university's publication policy and the strategy of sending graduates to work abroad. With the mission completed, ad-Darsh was posted to London.
He arrived in December 1971 and for the next nine years was an Imam at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Regent's Park Mosque. In 1980 he left to embark on a second career as columnist and broadcaster. Ad-Darsh contributed to Al-Sharq al-Awsat and Al-Muslimoon, two of the leading London-based Arabic newspapers, and to an Arabic satellite station.
His other contributions ranged from youth work to relief efforts. He was one of the founder trustees of the charity, Muslim Aid; a patron of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies in the UK and Eire (FOSIS) and the Muslim Student Societies (MSS). He was also the President of the UK Islamic Shari'ah Council.
Born in 1963 in Bushey, Hertfordshire and brought up into a service family. My father, originally from Singapore served in the Royal Air Force and we moved between locations. Though born into a Muslim family, I discovered Islam in 1980 through my best friend Peter Kelly and sparring partner (really - he was a brown belt karate-do at the time). Peter subsequently became Ismail Hamzah.
In 1986, graduated from University College London with a chemical engineering and after marrying a Malaysian, left the UK to live in Malaysia.
After 15 years of business, I am now on my UK sojourn and am going through a career change. Don’t intend to be here forever though!