By Hilmy Ahamed –
My friend and brother in Islam, Hameed Abdul Karim is no more. He died in Makkah, Saudi Arabia due to a heart attack after completing his Hajj on Saturday the 26th of September 2015. A death immediately after Hajj is what most Muslims dream of, yet the loss of Hameed Abdul Karim is a great blow to Muslim Civil Society and a greater loss for quality journalism in Sri Lanka. Hameed was a warrior par-excellence, not with the sword, but with his golden pen. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant him Jannatul Firdous
Hameed Abdul Karim was an extremely talented, well-read and knowledgeable journalist/social worker who did not impose his thinking. He was an unassuming person who shied away from pomp and pageantry. His quiet diplomacy and record of service to humanity is exemplary. He has been one of the most vocal Muslim activists for social justice, not just for Muslims, but also to all who are disadvantaged. His activism is a shining example and is clear evidence that the pen is mightier than the sword. His defense of Muslims in Sri Lanka as well as the Palestinian cause globally has been monumental, yet his unwavering commitment for social justice for all was paramount. He found time to attend any event that espoused social justice and committed to write about those issues in well-articulated articles in the local and international press. He has been an active member of the Palestinian cause in Sri Lanka for many years and has written many articles on the struggle of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination. He is one of the very few Sri Lankan journalists who travelled to Palestine and met Palestinian leaders Yasser Arafat and Abbas.
Hameed Abdul Karim was one of the founders of the Centre for Islamic studies (CIS) that brought quality Islamic education in multiple languages, not just for Muslims, but for non-Muslims too, who had interests in learning Islam. The CIS Islamic library is one of the best for Muslims in Sri Lanka. He is an unsung hero, who would truly be missed by the thousands who have been part of the Centre for Islamic Studies. He was also an active founding member of Amal international school for boys in the 1980’s. Further, he was able to mobilize generous support from his Memon Community for a number of projects related to education and social justice. These are little knowing facts of the multi faceted life of Hameed Abdul Karim.
Hameed’s political commentary was ornamented with mature judgment. He had been a vociferous critic of the hate campaign that was targeted towards the minority communities in Sri Lanka. He also bravely opposed corruption, nepotism and misrule by successive governments. This led to most of his writing ending up in the dustbins of the state media, yet he used social media extensively for his activism. His postings on social media are always a good read. His Viber account says “last online on 25/9/2015”.
Hameed’s loss would be felt by friends for generations to come. He fought his battles not for the lure of recognition or wealth, but because of his genuine belief in just causes. His parting words to me, on the eve of his departure to Jeddah for Hajj was, “come hell or high-water, I am going for my Hajj”. He made this comment because of the concern friends had for his safety this Hajj because of the harsh weather that was being experienced in Makkah, which was claimed to be the cause for the collapse of the crane and death of hundreds. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala forgive all his sins and grant him Jennathul Firdous.
*Hilmy Ahamed – Vice President – The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka