Father of fire death family plans Muslim school in their memory
Published 03/05/2016 | 02:30
A cruel act of fate stole Dr Taufiq al-Sattar's wife and three children in an arson attack in the UK, but it didn't rob him of her vision for education in Ireland.
The Dublin-based neuro surgeon, whose family perished in a fire at their home in Leicester, is planning a lasting monument to his late wife's dream for an Islamic education and cultural centre in Dublin.
Dr Taufiq has been liaising with Fingal County Council on ambitious plans for a mosque, primary and secondary school and recreation centre.
Education and faith are close to the heart of Dr Taufiq as they were for his late wife, Shehnila, who was living in the UK to allow her children combine their schooling with an Islamic education.
She planned to return to Ireland with her daughter, Zainab (19) to set up a Muslim school. His late sons, Jamal and Bilal were 17 and 15 when tragedy struck in 2013.
In his darkest days, Dr Taufiq, a consultant at Beaumont Hospital and Temple Street, thought that "we are probably not going or start the school - but God planned it a different way".
Ultimately, he told the Irish Independent that the project "kept me alive" .
Now, he has also found new happiness in his personal life and someone to share the road ahead. He remarried in his native Pakistan in 2014 and his wife Sarwat "is walking with me on this journey".
From the day of the tragedy, Dr Taufiq turned more of his energies to the work of Dawah Community Centre, Warrenstown House, Blanchardstown, a centre for Islamic religious and cultural gatherings.
He said the "educational idea was with our family for a long time".
Dr Taufiq added that he has no time for those who carry out acts of violence in the name of Islam.
"That is wrong. This is not part of the teaching of the prophet Mohammed, that is why we want to teach religion right from the very start."
The Dawah Centre is now renamed the Shuhada Foundation, an Arabic word for martyrs. In its singular, feminine form it is Shaheeda, the inspiration for the name of the Muslim primary school he opened in his daughter's memory in September 2014 at Warrenstown House.
But he has bigger plans and expects to apply for planning permission soon and have building work underway by early next year. The complex will be built on a phased basis, starting with the mosque, with each building named after his late wife and children.
Dr Taufiq said the purchase of Warrenstown House, a former HSE premises, was paid for from family funds.
He has offers of financial support from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia as well as Leicester for the new development.