Marwan Sarwar Gill, Missionary, Argentina
One of the countless blessings of being a student and graduate of Jamia Ahmadiyya UK is that our spiritual, moral and intellectual training is supervised by such people who have dedicated their entire lives for this purpose.
The late Salim Malik Sahib was one of those devoted individuals who wasn’t just highly qualified in academics, but also a role model for us in obedience, sincerity, humbleness, hard work and many other virtues. He was much more than just our English teacher; he was a mentor, a friend, a fatherly figure for many of us.
His relationship to us would extend beyond the four walls of the class room and the English syllabus. For example, I personally felt deep admiration and respect for him since my time as his student, but after graduating, my relationship with him became much more personal.
I remember when I told him that I had been appointed as a pioneer missionary for Argentina; he was extremely happy. Before departing to Argentina, he said that I should stay in constant touch with him and keep informing him of my work.
Sometimes, if I would fail to keep my promise, he himself would contact me, enquire about my work and express his prayers and best wishes.
At the occasion of the Jalsa UK 2019, I had the opportunity to see him – this was the last time I met him. Due to his health, he wasn’t able to attend the Jalsa. After Jalsa, he invited me and some other graduates (mostly those who are appointed outside the UK) to his house. Despite his frailty, it was astonishing to witness his kindness and hospitality. Before leaving, he gifted each of us a book from his personal library.
After a few months when I thanked him again for his gift and told him that the book he gave was proving very useful for me, it pleased him very much and he told me that he had a similar book which he would send to me in Argentina.
So, just after a few days, I received another book from his personal library.
Salim Malik Sahib had an impact on all his students, some of whom have expressed their attachment with him. All such students were his students at some point and are now serving as missionaries in various parts of the world.
A missionary who is now based in Ireland said:
“It always used to surprise me to see that despite his old age, he would drive every single day all the way from West London to Jamia to teach us. One of his very loving characteristics was that even if he would be displeased with anyone of us in the classroom, outside the classroom, he would always meet us with a smile and would give us the impression that he was not at all displeased.
“My first appointment as a missionary was in Hounslow, the local Jamaat of Salim Malik Sahib. From the very beginning, he would constantly show support and guide me. Shortly after moving there, he offered me his printer and desk for my office. Both items were in very good condition and are still used in the office of the mosque.
“When he realised that I didn’t have a car, he let me borrow his own car. During my seven years as a missionary in Hounslow, I observed that he would regularly attend the Friday prayers. Due to his health, even if he couldn’t drive himself, he would ask someone for a lift to attend Jumuah.”
One of his students, who is now serving as a missionary in Hounslow, the area where Salim Malik Sahib lived, said:
“Before lockdown, when we offered congregational Tahajud prayer for the last time, he was also present. Afterwards, during breakfast, with great love, he shared his memories of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra and how he was brought up in a spiritual environment of Qadian.
“The last time I visited him at his home, before he was admitted to hospital, he was working on the translation of an article. I asked him to send me this article. Alongside the article I received this message:
‘Thank you for taking the trouble to come to visit me. You brightened my evening. Thank you. God bless you.’
“He would always be updated about the work of his students who were appointed in foreign countries and would affectionately share their news with me.
“When he returned home from hospital the first time during lockdown, he called me and asked me to bring him the print copy of an article. When I went to his house, I expected to see him resting, but I saw his laptop opened next to him on his bed. He told me that he had been assigned to translate that article into English. Then, he gave me two cheques and told me that one was for Masroor Eye Institute and the other one for Majlis Ansarullah. Whenever a new scheme was launched by Huzooraa, he told me that he would always participate.
“The Jamaat members of Hounslow also told me that whenever they would go to visit him in hospital, he would always be working on his laptop. You can say that literally until his last moments, he had devoted himself for the service to the Community.”
A missionary belonging to Germany and serving the Jamaat there said:
“When Jamia UK was inaugurated in 2005, Salim Malik Sahib was a member of the panel to select the students for the first batch. The interviews and selections were already done when I applied for admission. Coincidentally, around that time, Salim Malik Sahib came to Hamburg to visit his relatives. Therefore, he took my interview personally in the mosque and afterwards, by the grace of Allah, I was admitted to Jamia UK.”
Another of his students who now serves as a missionary in Iceland writes:
“I was fortunate to have him as a teacher, mentor and friend from the very day Jamia Ahmadiyya UK opened in 2005. There was more than just a teacher-student bond between us. He was more of a fatherly figure to me, always concerned for my well-being and progress as a missionary.
“When I joined Jamia in 2005, I was a somewhat ‘heavy’ student. It wasn’t long before I started losing weight during the first year at Jamia. I remember that during the early days of my weight loss, Salim Sahib approached me and said, I suppose by way of encouragement, that if I managed to lose a certain amount of weight (I do not recall whether it was 10 or 20 kg) he would give me £20. Some other students were present when he made this promise. I was certainly not losing the weight for the £20, but as soon as I had lost the weight, one of my class fellows mentioned to him that I had in fact lost the weight. He happily and proudly called me to him and gave me £20 and encouraged me to carry on, though he did not promise any more money! From thereon, our relationship continued to grow and strengthen.
“Salim Sahib pushed me to chase higher ambitions on numerous occasions, but I do not have the slightest of doubts that he wanted the best out of me. The relationship that we shared allowed him to broaden my horizons.
“Another memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life, for which I am extremely grateful, is to do with my handwriting. My handwriting was terrible and although it is still not the best, it is much better than what it used to be. I used to join all of my letters together and during exams, it could become extremely illegible. Salim Sahib, being one of my teachers and having to read and mark my exams, would always deduct some marks due to my handwriting.
“On one occasion, he strongly advised me to change and improve my handwriting, otherwise he would deduct more marks. Hence, I immediately started working on this and to this day, I am grateful for this push of his as this has been helpful to me in many regards.
“One of the greatest qualities of Salim Sahib and what made him so likeable to the students was his calm personality. He was much older than us and certainly had much more knowledge than us, yet it was extremely easy to approach him about literally anything, whether it was a personal matter, related to our studies, or of any other nature – he was always there for you.”
A missionary now serving in London said:
“Islam educates us on the great significance of teachers and by reflecting on the life of Salim Malik Sahib, one really does come to understand why our religion holds such importance for our teachers.
“I had the honour and privilege of not just being his student, but also as supervisor for my thesis. When I approached him to ask if I could suggest him as my supervisor, his response touched my soul and taught me an invaluable lesson in humility. He said, ‘I don’t think of myself to be qualified for such a task, but if you would like me to be your supervisor, then I most certainly will.’”
Another missionary serving in London said:
“I was extremely fortunate to have Salim Malik Sahib as supervisor for translating Jang-e-Muqaddas. Initially he expressed concern at this project due to it being a challenging book to interpret into English; however, he wholeheartedly endeavoured to help me complete its translation. Not only did he check every single word that I translated, but he would also translate many parts of the book himself.
“Many times, we would sit down and he would go over the translated part and explain every small detail to me with love and affection. I had the good fortune to visit his house a few times and I found him to be very hospitable each time. He would often give me books to read from his personal library.
A missionary serving in the UK said:
“He taught our class English and his English was indeed very high. He wanted each one of us to also reach a high standard, but as some of our class fellows were from abroad, he would take his time to go through the fundamentals of the language. This also showed his humility and was always amazing for me to witness a former lecturer at a university teaching basic English to foreign students.
“During my final years of Jamia, Salim Malik Sahib was appointed as my end-of-year thesis examiner. The amount of detail with which he went through my thesis was surprising for me. Wherever he thought I could have done better, he would mark it and send it back to me. I must say, I had submitted my thesis twice and both times, it was not up to the mark. This was simply because he wanted the standard of English in future missionaries of the Jamaat to be very high. One thing he taught me, which I will never forget is that one should never take any Jamaat task lightly.”
One of his students, now serving the Jamaat in Germany, said:
“Once, Salim Malik Sahib saw that I was very anxious. He came to me and gave me some advice. He told me that a missionary should always have a living relationship with God and his Khalifa. Then, he quoted the following couplets of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra:
عاقل کا یہاں پر کام نہیں وہ لاکھوں بھی بے فائدہ ہیں
مقصود مِرا پورا ہو اگر مِل جائیں مجھے دیوانے دو
“‘Mere intellect cannot succeed here; even thousands of intellectuals are futile. My goal can be attained through just two ardent, passionate souls.’”
One of his students, who now serves as a missionary in the UK, writes:
“It was a great honour to have Salim Malik Sahib as the supervisor of my thesis. In this regard, I had the honour to go and visit him many times. Despite his poor health, each time, he would stand up and greet me. Then, despite suffering severe back pains, he would sit with me for hours working on my thesis. During such meetings, he would also affectionately narrate his memories as a lecturer at Reading University. He would describe how several times during a week, he would drive from Reading to London to see Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh and present him the translations and different tasks that he was entrusted.
“Often, he would also speak about different intellectual topics and would guide me on how to increase my knowledge. He would express his desire that the students and graduates of Jamia should have a very high academic standard and Jamia should be considered amongst the most academic institutes in the world.”
Another missionary of Germany writes:
“I remember that there was a time when Salim Malik Sahib, due to his weak health, had to walk with the support of a stick, but he would still come to Jamia and teach us.
“Once, some students recommended to stay home and return to teach when he was better, to which he replied, ‘It is not possible that Huzoorra assigns me a task and I sit at home. As long as I have the strength to stand, I will continue to come and fulfil my task.”
May Allah elevate his status in paradise and also enable us (graduates of Jamia UK and indeed every Jamia around the world) to follow his example in being a loyal, sincere servant of Khilafat.
May Allah enable us to perform sacrifices and services for Islam Ahmadiyya until our last breath, just as our beloved and respected mentor and teacher Salim Malik Sahib did. Amin