Haji Anwar Khan who died on May 4th 2009 was one of the most influential and charismatic figures of the first wave of immigration to British shores in the 1950's. He set out to take capitalise on the inroads of modern British industrialisation and in return made huge contributions to the development and growth of the Bradford textile tradition. What made him unique though was his intensely compassionate character and a huge commitment to his Islamic faith which to the end he viewed as the panacea of all human ills.
To all whom he touched he was known as "Haji" a term of respect for someone who has made the pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. As both a great moral teacher and one of the first from his native Waisa to make the pilgrimage (one he would make on three more occasions) he would forever be known as "Haji Anwar Khan" or "Haji Sahib".
Haji Anwar Khan was born on April 11, 1923, at Waisa a Village east of Attock City a small state in Punjab, North West Pakistan. The son of Waris Khan he was born in to a relatively underprivileged but significant local agricultural tribal tradition. His father Waris Khan was the second son of Hashim Khan a respected member of the Batakhail tribe in the village of Waisa in the North West of Pakistan. Batakhail's share a reputation for oratory excellence, quick tempers and fierce loyalty and Haji Anwar Khan was the epitome of his tribal heritage.
The young Anwar Khan by his own account had a natural inclination towards knowledge and exploration an enthusiasm that would serve him and many others well in the years ahead.
Anwar Khan inherited a thirst for knowledge from his father who encouraged him to continue education for longer than many of his contemporaries. His father was one of the first to receive a very basic, but important, formal education, it was often said that Waris Khan's education was often lovingly mocked by his older brother Latif Khan, who had not experienced formal education, and was the archetypal tough farmer and strong man of the area and had no time for such things.
Soon after leaving school he travelled to Kabul, Afghanistan with his uncle the late, Dr. Col. Abdul Qadir Khan a physician to the Afghan Royal family.
This being his first excursion outside the traditional confines of the village he took full advantage working in the local markets and making a name for himself as trader. On returning to Waisa he married before leaving again, in circa 1950, this time to Bombay a dream of many young men of pre-partition India.