Thousands turned out to pay tribute to a ‘father’ of the community.
Former councillor and mosque leader Sardar Ali, 86, passed away on Sunday, August 31 surrounded by friends and family at the Raza Jamia Masjid Mosque on Grimshaw Street, Accrington.
The dad-of-five, who moved to Accrington from Pakistan in the Sixties, suffered a heart attack during afternoon prayers at the mosque where he once served as chairman.
A ceremony to commemorate the life of Mr Ali, of Blackburn Road, was held at the mosque on Monday, September 1 and more than 2,000 people attended to pay tribute.
Son Purves Ali said people came from far afield to pay their respects.
He said: “It was an unbelievable and overwhelming experience, people were praying outside, in the mosque, in alleyways. It was the biggest turnout they have ever had, people came from all over the UK to pay tribute.
“My father was a very well respected man in the community. He was always helping people and he was a people person, if anyone had a problem he would always visit them, he would always help people out.”
Son Sarfaz Ali, who just managed to make the ceremony after travelling back from his home in Australia late Sunday evening, said his father was a ‘great man’.
He said: “I got the call on Sunday and of course I got on the next flight home, I arrived in Manchester at quarter to eight on Monday and then got to the mosque at quarter to nine just in time for the service. I couldn’t believe the amount of people there.
“My dad was a great man who lifted this whole community. He lived in the mosque and died in the mosque.”
Jawid Hussain, vice chairman of Raza mosque added: “I have known Sardar for 46 years. He is an example for everyone to follow, he was a real role model for the whole community, for us he is a big loss.”
The Mayor of Hyndburn, Coun Munsif Dad also paid tribute. He said: “Sardar Ali was a father figure to the Asian community, living in Hyndburn for over 50 years.
“He has served the community in a voluntary capacity for decades. His sudden death is a loss to us all and we pray for him and his family.”
A funeral was held for Mr Ali at Burnley Cemetery on Tuesday, September 2. Mr Ali leaves sons Javed, Purves, Tahir, Tariq and Sarfaz and wife Reshme.