Continuing the good work

Mabaswir Khan - A man for all the people.

By Professor Omar Faruque, Author: Bangladeshis in Europe

First brick being layed at Oldham Central Mosque by Mabaswir Khan
Mabaswir Khan with the first brick to be layed at Oldham Central Mosque.

Mabaswir Khan was a man who dedicated his entire life to helping people and his community. He has given of his time freely, spending days and nights in an attempt to improving the life chances of others. On a walkabout in Oldham, I met many people who had so much respect for this man that they found it hard to express in basic words the admiration they held for him.

People I spoke to all had one thing to say that Mabaswir Khan was a true leader, the likes of whom are very rare.

Mabaswir Khan was born on April 10, 1935 in the village of Singerkach under Bishwanath Upazilla in Sylhet. His father was the late Mozor Khan and mother the late Bimola Khatun. He studied in Singerkach Primary School and then passed the Matriculation Exam from Bishwanath Ramsundar High School in 1956. He was initially a teacher in Mirpur High School, Jagannathpur Thana.

In December 1962, he arrived in Northampton, United Kingdom.  Prior to him coming to the UK, some of his relatives had already arrived and settled in Halifax, a Yorkshire Mill town. Subsequently, in March 1963, he too came to live and work in Halifax. In May 1963, he moved to Oldham from Halifax and then to Burnley where he stayed for around a month, until returning back to Oldham. 

His first employment was with the 'Talbot Knitting Co' in Oldham where he worked for one month before switching jobs to the 'Werneth Ring Mill' for two weeks. The Unemployment Benefit Office gave him a card and sent him to a knitting mill named 'Pasolds Limited' where he joined as an employee in latter part of 1963.

He worked there until November 1966 and then returned to his motherland of Bangladesh, during his return to Bangladesh he married Somirun Nessa. During his stay in Bangladesh in 1966, he started to construct a building in a locality where there was already a Primary School. In January 1970, he founded the Singerkach Public High School, where he was also a teacher.

In the 1970 general election, he took part actively in favour of General M A G Usmani. One year later in January 1971 returned to the UK. 

After viewing the atrocities let loose on the Bangladeshis in 1971, he along with late Moksud Ali, late Md. Samuj Miah, Md. Abdul Jabbar, Mofazzal Hossain and others called an emergency general meeting where they discussed how they could help the country of Bangladesh. In this meeting they formed an Action Committee making Samuj Miah as the Chairman of the committee. They began to raise money to help the Liberation War.

After the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent state, the Action Committee was converted into Oldham Bangladeshi Association (OBA) making the late Moksud Ali its first Chairman and Mofazzal Hossain its first General Secretary.

In November 1972, Mabaswir went back to Bangladesh.  He stayed in Bangladesh for two years and then he returned to the United Kingdom. In 1974 he returned to England with the bitter experience: high price of commodities, robbery, looting, terrorism all an everyday incident during this time.

From 1974 -77 he acted as General Secretary for the Oldham Bangladesh Association (OBA).  In 1978 Mabaswir Khan
brought his wife and 2 sons to the U.K. In 1978 he joined the Advice Centre in Oldham as an Interpreter and worked there until 31st March 1980. Later, the office was closed down and as a result he had to give up his job. In the OBA election in September of that year, he became the President and held this post until 31st March 1991.

Mabaswir Khan continually took part in social and charitable work to help improve the lives of the people in his community. This led him to actively organising activities and services for the community to access. He was a firm believer in serving mankind and therefore committed his entire life's work towards social development goals. 

Meanwhile, OBA managed to receive a £6000 grant from the Commission for Racial Equality. During this time, Abdul Mannan was the General Secretary of the OBA. The OBA re-opened the Advice Centre, serving thousands of Bangladeshi people who were in need of important services including, welfare benefits advice, immigration, housing, employment, racial issues and other issues associated with a newly migrated community setting up home in a new land.

Mabaswir Khan was blessed with three sons and two daughters.
Muzahid Khan graduated in Business Studies from Manchester Metropolitan University
Moshaid Khan gained an LLB (Hons) from Manchester Metropolitan University
Motahir Khan graduated in ICT from Manchester Metropolitan University and QTS
Shamsun Khatun graduated in Finance from the University of Manchester
Tahera Khatun Social Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University

Noteworthy information
One of the founders of Oldham Bangladesh Association in building the first Bangladesh Cultural Centre.
One of the founders of Oldham Jamia Mosque on Middleton Road, Oldham.
He first proposed the need for a Central Mosque in Oldham and as a custodian trustee coordinated the early activities including securing land from Oldham Council, fund-raising for it before he became ill. On the 2nd April 2010 as founder was given the honour of laying the first brick.

This was to be the first purpose built mosque being built by Muslims of Bangladeshi heritage in Oldham.  This initiative was a response to the needs of fast growing community.

In 1995 his lifetime dedication was recognised in the Channel S community awards.
He raised money for numerous disasters affecting Bangladesh over 5 decades and helped countless numbers of people during the voucher years, to help keep the cotton mills actively working.

He was a founding member of the Oldham Bangladeshi Association who along with the late Maqsud Ali officially launched the new £3.5 million OBA Millennium Cultural Centre.

In his later years he was still a source of wisdom, inspiration and guidance for community leaders and menbers in the Bangladeshi community and beyond.