In Loving Memory of Ustadha Salma Shaikh 1946-2020
On 3rd November 2020, our beloved founder, mentor and teacher Ustadha Salma Shaikh, returned to her creator. She left behind a beautiful legacy of teaching & learning the Quran and community work in the form of Al-Meezan House.
The seeds of Al-Meezan were sown over two decades ago through the diligent leadership and tireless efforts of Ustadha Salma Shaikh and her committed team. What follows is a short biography of our beloved Ustadha and glimpses of the stepping stones which led to the establishment of Al-Meezan House as we know and love it today.
Early Life & Coming to Glasgow
Salma Shaikh was born in India Nasik City in 1946. Her family migrated to Pakistan during the partition of India and Pakistan when she was around two years old. She was third of eight children and had a simple and happy childhood . Ustadha Salma Shaikh showed leadership qualities from a young age – being a head girl in her high school and active in many groups and societies at college and University. She graduated with a Masters in psychology from Karachi University and always dreamed to do a Phd. For this reason, her father looked for a match from overseas and she got married and came to Glasgow in 1969.
Her dream of doing a PHD was never realised with the arrival of her children. The following 10 years were spent in raising her family and helping her husband in his grocery shop in the East End of Glasgow. Eventually her love of learning brought her back to her studies and she received a postgraduate diploma in Social work from Glasgow University in 1990. She had a successful and fulfilling, 20 year long career in social work that ran alongside all her voluntary community and Dawah work.
The Beginning of a Lifelong Journey with the Quran
Around the (mid 80’s) our Ustadha Salma Shaikh was about to embark on another profound journey. This was also part of Allah’s plan for her - and would change the direction of her life forever.
In 1985, Dr Farhat Hashmi (Al-Huda International) and her husband came to Glasgow to do a PHD in Hadith Research at Glasgow University. Dr Farhat held a Quranic darse for the ladies in the West end of Glasgow. Ustadha Salma Shaikh would be picking her children up from the Madrasah at this time and one day out of sheer curiosity she decided to sit in for the darse. She was so inspired with the meaning of the Quran, that from that day on she became a committed attendee and never missed the darse.
Ustadha Farhat Hashmi recognised her dedication and took Salma Shaikh under her wing, taking her through the study of the Quran in its entirety. This blessed journey completely transformed our Ustadha Salma Shaikhs outlook to life and resulted in an unquenchable thirst and love of the Quran that would endure till the end of her life and define the legacy she would leave behind.
From Student to Teacher of Qur’an
As Ustadha Farhat Hashmi completed her Phd at the end of 4 years the seeds of teaching and learning the Quran had become sown in the West end of Glasgow. Ustadha Farhat delegated the honour of delivering the darse to Ustadha Salma. This was a daunting task but one for which Allah had chosen for her. The darse grew from strength to strength and was based in Masjid al Furqan. The Mosque was unique in its support of ladies and youth work.
People found peace and guidance in understanding the Quran rather than only the rote reading of it. As more and more people attended the darse from near and far the learning was embraced by young and old.
Many requests came for similar darses and gatherings from the Southside of Glasgow and outlying areas. As the demand became overwhelming many blessed people came forward to offer their homes, to hold the darse, especially in Ramadhan. The weekly darse on Friday nights in Pollokshields started around this time in such a blessed home and then moved to various locations in and around the Southside of Glasgow.
With mothers, teenage girls and young children learning simultaneously, there was a pressing need for classrooms. Public halls such as Langside Halls and then Langside College were hired to meet the demand this then paved the way to the road to Al-Meezan House.
Al-Meezan House – Dream to Reality
A strong team of committed sisters emerged from these early students of the Quran who were inspired with the vision to establish a centre of learning for women. After attaining charity status, the first board of Al-Meezan came into being in 2003. Registered charity status meant that fundraising could be carried out now in a more serious way and the search for suitable premises was underway.
In March 2005 Al-Meezan House, 1 Rowan Road, was secured and keys were acquired soon after. It was a momentous occasion for the team, as all the efforts and striving were finally bearing fruit. Who could imagine that Al-Meezan, that started as small make shift classes, would grow into an educational charity, teaching hundreds of women and children each year. Projects to support older people, mothers and an early years provision, as well as other social, recreational and environmental projects evolved over time. From beginning to end Salma Shaikh and her team worked with vision and commitment to provide these services to the women and children of Glasgow and Allah (swt) opened doors and blessed their efforts.
Sabr & Shukr in the face of a Long Illness
After she retired from Social work Ustadha Salma Shaikh dedicated her time fully to Al-Meezan, looking over and developing all areas of its work. Her vision for the centre was to oversee its growth into a beacon light centre meeting the spiritual, educational, and social needs of women in the community and their children.
Sadly she fell ill in 2010 and was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition which affected her skin and muscles. Despite her illness she never lost her passion and vision for the work she had founded and continued to oversee the work on the board of directors till December 2019. She gracefully accepted Allah’s will in her illness and was an example of how to live with sabr (patience) and shukr (gratefulness) in the face of the trials and challenges of life.
Inspirational words from our teacher 2010
(after diagnosis of illness)
Long live a Legacy based on the Love of the Qur’an
Al-Meezan was founded upon the love of the Quran. Ustadha Salma Shaikh dedicated her life to this mission and developed a team who shared this vision. The focus of the work of Al-Meezan continues to be connecting hearts and lives with the Quran. Till her dying breath she lived and breathed concern and love for her community and prayed for this work to flourish for our future generations.
She will be remembered as a person from the Ahlul Qur’an (people of the Qur’an), a uniting leader, a humble team worker and a beautiful human being who served Her Lord in every facet of her life.
May the Legacy of Al-Meezan be a means of comfort in her place of rest and a Source of Sadqah Jariyah for her in the Akhira – Ameen!