Irshad Munawwar (1956-2010)

Leader and Visionary

Remembrance Program – 24th. Jan 2010

Irshad Rabbani Munawwar Butt, president of World Islamic Mission Canada, died on Tuesday  12th. Jan, 2010 (26th Muharram 1431) at Centennial Hospital in Toronto peacefully after a heart failure.

Anyone who knew Irshad Munawwar will tell you that he was a person whose heart was made of gold. He would always go out of his way to make people feel welcomed and well taken care of. Irshad arrived with his family in Toronto in the early 1970’s as a teenager from Lahore, Pakistan. His family originates from Jilander before partition. Upon arrival he assisted his elder brothers in their family gas-station business and later at the age of eighteen began working for GM in Scarborough.

During his tenure as a car assembly technician, he gained a knack for having good relations with, what was then, an almost exclusive white work force. Thereafter, he became very popular amongst his workmates as an energetic young man full of dreams and aspirations for his fellow workers and became involved with the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW). In his mid-twenties, Irshad was one of the first non-whites at that time to become elected as a shop steward to represent his comrades in the CAW with a deep commitment to represent those whom he felt was unfairly treated regardless of race, religion or nationality.

Irshad’s life was tremendously influenced by his pious father, Haji Abdur Raheem Butt Saheb who passed away in 2004. His father was a religious man and a true servant who, from a young age, worked for Islam by being involved in dawa and in the construction of religious institutions in Lahore. He was also deeply spiritual and had tremendous love and connection to Allah’s Beloved Prophet Salalaahu ‘alahi wa sallam, the Sahaba Ikram and the Awliya Allah Ridwan ajma’in.

Having left Pakistan at such an early age, Irshad yearned for deep religious experiences by wanting to be connected to Islamic scholars and the shuyukh whenever they visited Toronto.

In 1992, for the first time he met Qari Ghulam Rasool Saheb who was a student of Qari Abdul Basit of Egypt. Irshad having never met Qari Ghulam Rasool before invited him to be his guest at his home for almost six months. Later that year, he also met His Eminence Maulana Shah Ahamd Noorani Siddiqui Rahmatullah ‘alaih during a visit to Canada at a program at the Ramada Hotel in Toronto sponsored by Br. Sabihuddin Mansoor.

Irshad was moved by the words of Maulana Noorani after a beautiful tilawtul-Quran by Qari Ghulam Rasool when he said, “The miracle of the Holy Quran is that it was revealed to Rasoolulaah Salalaahu ‘ alahi wa Sallam in Arabia. It is being best recited in Cairo, Egypt. And, it is being studied and understood in Pakistan.”

Wanting the best Islamic education for his two sons Zafar and Usman, Irshad moved close to Islamic Foundation in 1993 which was under construction at the time. His younger son Usman was amongst the first set of students to enroll in the Islamic school. Not surprisingly, Irshad took an active part in the affairs of the Nugget mosque. Later on Usman became a hafiz-ul-Quran within six months. He sought the best Arabic teachers for his children and strongly believed that Arabic, the language of the Quran, should be
the first language within all Muslim homes for Islam to take effect in Canada. Irshad became actively involved in the advancement of the cause of the Ahl Sunnah wal Jamaat.

He worked with like minded brothers to launch the International Milaad-un-Nabi Conference in 1993. These conferences played a significant role to re-kindle the love for the Holy Prophet Salalaahu alahi wa Sallam in the hearts of common folks who had arrived in Canada from all parts of the world. These conferences paved the way for the ahl sunnah to become organized as the majority of Muslims in Toronto. As a result, a number of traditional sunni masajid were established and several sufi tariqahs became active in Toronto due to the annual visits by ulama and shuyukh to these conferences from various parts of the world.

In 1998, His Eminence Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani launched Masjid Noor-ul-Haram in Oakville with Qari Atta Ullah as the president and Irshad Munawwar being the vice-president. Since then Irshad dedicated his time, efforts and resources for the establishment of an Islamic Centre in Oakville to serve Muslims in all aspects of their lives.

From 2002, throughout his role as president he was the main source of motivation for all members of World Islamic Mission (WIM) to work for the cause of Islam here in Canada. The high standards of his leadership was exemplary in the way he treated people and the way he remained truthful to the core teachings of the Ahl Sunna wal Jamaah. His contribution to Islam is immeasurable and his absence amongst his friends and community will be long felt.

Irshad is buried next to his father two steps away from Masjid Noor-ul-Haram in Oakville. We pray that Allah T’ala will shower His maghfirah on Irshad and will continue to raise his rank amongst the siddiqeen, shuhadaa and the saliheen. Ameen.