THOUSANDS of people gathered at Warrenstown House – a three-acre property in Blanchardstown that widowed neurosurgeon Dr Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar had bought for the use of the local community – for the funeral of his wife and three children, who were killed in a house fire in Leicester last month.
Dr Sattar led the funeral prayers during an emotional service in which he told mourners that "this was a very sad occasion" for him and how he was "a bird without wings, I have nobody with me now".
The grieving father and husband told the congregation how his "wise wife" had used "all of the family savings, every single cent, we did not get any mortgage" to purchase the Blanchardstown Road property earlier this year.
Zainaba, a female member of the Muslim community who is originally from Sierra Leone, told the Sunday Independent that "interest on loans is not a part of Islam".
Dr Sattar and his wife were planning to turn the property into an educational centre and a place of worship for the local people. That is why Mrs Shehnila Taufiq and her three children – Zainab, 19, and sons Bilal, 17, and Jamil, 15 – were living in Leicester. They were studying in the Islamic schools and universities there, with the aim of returning to run and teach in the Blanchardstown centre.
A composed and dignified Dr Sattar told the congregation: "I will work until I die. I will continue to work in my full capacity as a neurosurgeon and at the same I am going to dedicate my life, day and night and the weekend for community and society work in this land [Warrenstown House]."
He intends to live in a one-bedroomed apartment on the first floor of the property.
After the funeral prayers had finished, the Beaumont neurosurgeon walked around and spoke to both the male and female congregation as the coffins were being prepared for burial.
Separate tents had been erected for men and women because "free-mixing" is not permitted in Islam.
Speaking to the females, Dr Sattar told of how his "dedicated wife" had cooked everyday for 30 days at the centre during Ramadan, feeding the community of 150 people for free. She bought all of the food herself and only ever had her daughter Zainab to help.
The three children had urged Shehnila to buy a "house, an expensive house" in Leicester but she said "no", explained Dr Sattar.
She told her children that they would never own a "big house in this life, the house will be in paradise".
"Paradise" is where the doctor said his wife and children were now, adding that this was a place where he would join them when he dies.
Locals described them as "simple, generous and charitable people" and remarked on how Dr Sattar's strength was inspiring the community.
Inspiration was also something the doctor wanted the congregation to take from his deceased wife, telling the thousands of mourners that on the weekend of his family's death,
Shehnila and himself had planned to go together to sell more of her belongings to raise cash to put towards the centre's construction.
Zainab's friend, Meenal Mujahed, 17, and originally from Pakistan, spoke to the Sunday Independent about their relationship and how the two teenagers had discussed their dreams and plans for a life together. Zainab had wanted to return here and preach at the centre her family was building.
Another member of the community described Mrs Taufiq as "very caring, happy and energetic" and said: "She was always smiling and always had a smile for everyone."
The doctor thanked the entire congregation for their support on the "cold" morning, as well as Irish Ferries, which had helped them with the return of the bodies yesterday morning at Dublin Port, and the local gardai.
The highly regarded surgeon, who has received hundreds of letters and emails of support from former patients, emphasised that the centre he was building was not just for Muslims but for the "Irish community and all denominations".