He was a founding member of one of the North West’s first mosques. Here we take a special look at the life of Hasan Mama Karolia who died on 20 December 2019. Submitted by Ismail Patel.

The Islamic Educational Society of Blackburn was established in 1967 with 50 members, one of them being Hasan Mama Karolia who was also one of the founder members of this organisation - using a spare room in one of the member’s house as its first Madrassa.

Shortly thereafter, the Society purchased and converted a terraced house at 40 Lambeth Street, Blackburn to provide a Masjid (place of worship) and a Madrassa to educate our Muslim children in an Islamic environment. 

This was named Masjide Noorul Islam, and was one of the first Masjids in Blackburn. As the community and membership grew, Hasan Mama and his fellow colleagues had a fikr (worry) and a concern for the future generations, a further two adjoining houses were acquired (one purchased by the society and one donated to the Society by a member), one property was to provide extra classrooms for the Madrassa, and the other to provide a home for the Imam and his family. 

Due to further growth again Hasan Mama and his colleagues were once again worried about the community and future generations in terms of upbringing and receiving an Islamic education, they were also worried about the fact that where the current masjid operates the area was due to be demolished, the Society then purchased a warehouse and adjoining house at 108 and 108a Audley Range, Blackburn. 

The warehouse was renovated and converted into a Masjid and the adjoining house provided classrooms for the Madrassa, this was opened in 1978. 

The demands of an ever-growing community over the coming years were met by purchasing and renovating a further shop, two houses and adjoining land (previously occupied by a Church which was then demolished), the Masjid and Madrassa were extended in 1984. 

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As demand grew again with the ever growing community, not just for additional prayer facilities and Madrassa, but due to the challenges facing the modern Muslims living in 21st century Britain, Hasan Mama and the team after consultation with the membership and through Allah’s guidance, it was decided to build a purpose built Masjid to provide a modern facility to meet these challenges and needs, on the adjoining land (garden and car park).

In September 2007, the foundations were dug, and by November 2007 the steel structure was complete. 

The new purpose-built Masjid was opened in July 2010, Rajjab 1431 Hijri. The Masjid has the following facilities: Prayer facility for 1500 in 2 Halls, Meeting / conference rooms, classrooms, Ladies facilities, Ablution and toilets on both floors, disabled facilities inc lift, Kitchen, Jamaat room and Offices.

Hasan Mama along with Lord Adam Patel was also a founder member of the Lancashire Council of Mosques.

Through the worry and concerns for the community and future generations Hasan Mama and his fellow colleagues never gave up and continued providing a service to the community of Blackburn and overseas.

Hasan Mama Karolia passed away on the 20 December 2019 left a legacy of positive experiences for anyone who took the time to know him – which wasn’t a hard thing to do, he had a passion for serving the public.

His passion and hard work led him to become a great leader with the ability to lead such a big organisation, and take tons of public criticism with finesse and grace.

Hasan Mama loved people, and was willing to do the hard work it takes to build all kinds of relationships. He intentionally built the kind of relationships in the communities he worked in that would bring people together and along. Because he was so good at relationship building, things got done.

Being humble helped him to be known as someone who acted out ethically even while others in similar positions did not.

His humanity extended to his family, friends, and anyone else who knew him. People liked him. He was easy to know, an open book. We all thought we knew him, but now we know that we would have liked to have known him even better and had him stay around longer.

If he could look back on who he was and what he did, I think he might be more than a little surprised to see that not only did his passion for leadership drive the town he lived in to be better than he found them, Hasan Mama not only made positive changes in the communities he was a part of, but he also cared about people. He believed that positive change and caring about people were intricately linked.

Hasan Mama was known for mentoring others in the profession he loved; he was the “go to” person for young leaders to gain the self-confidence needed to do the difficult work of public service. He sought to develop the people who volunteered alongside him because he knew they would be better leaders as a result of what they learned.

Hasan Mama will be missed, or that he went away too soon.

 But it’s true. The bottom line is that he was a great leader. And when you pulled back the curtain of all that entails, you can also see that he was also good person who cared about others. We can all learn a lot about leadership and humanity by following Hasan Mama’s example.

May the Almighty reward everyone involved for their efforts and for Hasan Mama and the ones that aren’t here with us today may the Almighty fill their graves with Noor, make it a garden of paradise and elevate their statuses to the highest level, Ameen

Submitted with permission of the Islamic Educational Society, Masjide Noorul Islam, Blackburn.