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Tributes to Anwar Khan after life of community work in Medway

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Tributes have been paid to Anwar Khan, who overcame muscular atrophy to spend decades carrying out community work and building bridges between faiths.

A prominent member of the Gillingham based Kent Muslim Welfare Association, Mr Khan, of Downsview, Chatham, died aged 80 on September 10, having left an indelible mark on Medway society through a lifetime of service.

Tributes have been paid to Anwar Khan
Tributes have been paid to Anwar Khan

But as his brother Brig Naseem Akhtar Khan noted, Mr Khan's story was one of personal triumph in the face of adversity - as he overcame muscular atrophy disease to remain independent and have a positive impact on other people's lives.

In an obituary in Pakistan Observer, his brother said his life had been a "perfect example of a purposeful life".

Born in a remote village in Kashmir, one of seven children, Mr Khan was educated in the village school, graduated from university in Karachi, and moved to the UK to pursue his career in accountancy, which led him to found his own accountancy firm and become renowned in the field.

His brother writes: "While all was going well, his family nicely settled, kids going to good schools and life fun at its best, there came a tragic phase in his life to confront.

'A perfect example of a purposeful life...'

He was diagnosed for muscular atrophy disease of a very severe intensity, affecting half of his body. The most demoralising was the opinion of the doctors that his muscles may give up completely in a year or two and that he should plan his life and activities accordingly.

"It was a very shocking moment, not only for him but the entire family was almost paralyzed. From here starts the story of a great fight back that itself is an explanation of what a purposeful life really means.

"Instead of bowing to the circumstances, the man decides to stand up to the challenge and fight back.

"Ignoring all the times lines suggested by the doctors, he choose to live his life to its best, fulfilling the very purpose of life; providing a guideline to make decisions, influence behaviour, shape goals, offer sense of direction and correct meaning to everything else that was linked with his family.

"He did not limit himself to this, instead, became highly active in social work, as well.

'He choose to live his life to its best, fulfilling the very purpose of life...'

"He got actively involved in community projects of bigger magnitude, made significant contribution in uplift of Muslim community and acted as a bridge between them and the local community/government departments.

Resultantly, the inter-community culture in Kent, where he resided for more than 50 years, has been exemplary. He was a true example of people’s person and was always available to provide necessary support and guidance that anybody was looking for.

He also remained actively involved in charity work."

"His unparalleled contribution and hard work in making a visible difference in the socio-cultural settings, earned him huge respect and honour in the society."

Anwar Khan was known for his dedication to the community
Anwar Khan was known for his dedication to the community

Incredibly, having been told by doctors that his condition could severely restrict his life within two years, Mr Khan managed to remain active for a further forty years.

And his brother noted he did so without being a burden to anyone, adding: "Instead, he was always at the giving end. He had a sterling reputation for excellence, honour, and integrity.

He had an irrepressible goodness and sense of humour which the trial of life could never overcome. He remained particularly attached with all his family members back in Pakistan and was always there to support us, in thick and thin.

"He was a fatherly figure and a great mentor to all family and friends and will remain in our thoughts and prayers forever.

"I thank God for all the blessings He had bestowed upon him, even as my heart aches and my thoughts turn to Heaven.

To conclude, a few words to my dear brother: Hats off to you, my brother… Anwar Khan, 'Your actions were always kind, A generous hand and active mind. Anxious to please and loath to offend, A loving brother and faithful friend!!!'

Rizwana Shelley, coordinator Kent Muslim Welfare Association, said Mr Khan's passing was a great loss to the Medway community as well as for the Kent Muslim Welfare Association.

She added: "Anwar Khan Sahib spent decades in the Medway Towns working hard to build bridges with people of all faiths in the Medway Community as well as helping the wider community to understand Islam and the Muslim way of life."

"Anwar Khan touched countless lives in the Medway Towns."

Mr Kahn was known for helping individuals with their personal problems, and strived to advance the cause of the Muslim community by developing working relations with statutory authorities.

Over the years he nurtured good relations with the authorities, and ensured the Muslim viewpoint was represented to local authorities and police, education, social, and health services.

He welcomed Muslims moving into the area and was forever on the lookout for people who could help contribute to the greater good of the community.

Over the last three decades he was the driving force behind the KMWA’s search to find land for a new mosque and facilities for the Muslim community, which outgrew the current mosque many years before.

It took years of persuasion and meetings with politicians and council officers before a plot was identified for community use and was purchased, which would not have been possible without Mr Khan's relentless efforts and optimism.

Mr Khan's funeral was held on Tuesday September 15.

He is survived by his wife Jamila Anwar Khan - a supportive companion who Mr Khan referred to as his companion "his VIP" - along with five children and 12 grandchildren.

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