Six years ago today I lost a near and dear friend.

Salim Akbar from south London was only 34 when he suffered five fatal heart attacks on the night of Friday, 16 December 2010. I was in HM Prison Manchester at the time.

His funeral prayer was attended by 600 people who came in the cold and snow to bury him.

Salim spent many years campaigning for me to come home from prison. He dropped off my parents to the airport once when they were travelling.

A week before he died, Salim organised a vigil for Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer through the streets of Clapham Junction (see photo of him below, with a placard).


Salim would have been thrilled to know that both I and Shaker eventually came home.

Salim wasn’t rich or famous. But he was loved by all those who were honoured to know him. We miss him.

Last week Junaid Jamshed passed away and is being buried as I write this.

Yesterday, the mother of Shaker Aamer passed away in Madinah and was buried along with the Sahabah in Al-Baqi cemetery adjacent to the mosque of the Prophet (pbuh).

For 14 years she prayed day and night at the Prophet’s mosque for her son to be freed from Guantanamo.

Although Shaker was unable to meet her in person after his return, at least she lived to see the day when her prayers were answered and her son came home from Guantanamo.

May Allah have mercy on Salim Akbar, on Junaid Jamshed and on the mother of Shaker Aamer.

Let’s face it, people don’t like to talk about death.

But it is death that puts life in context. It is death that reminds us that we have only one chance, one life, to send forward as many good deeds as we can for our Eternal Abode.

One week before Salim died, he sent an email round to all the volunteers that were helping to organise the vigil for Shaker Aamer.

He wrote:

“We know that one day we will all die and become like dust, and that we will only have our deeds that we sent before us…”

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