A leading imam at a Manchester Mosque has been forced to step down from his position after it emerged he ran away with a 23-year-old girl.
58-year-old Qari Akhtar left the mother of his children for his new 23-year-old wife but has been accused by her family of ‘pressuring’ and taking ‘advantage of her in a vulnerable position’.
Ms Ashraf’s brother, Ashraf Mahmood, also accused Akhtar of befriending the family for the sole purpose of running away with his sister.
The woman, reportedly named as Sairish Ashraf, and Qari Akhtar fired back on social media after the claims made by Ms Ashraf’s family.
The secret wedding has also sparked controversy in the local Muslim community as no permission was given by the girl’s family or a ‘wali’ for the marriage to take place.
Ms Ashraf’s brother took to social media to express his anger at the situation and called for the Mosque to take action and kick him out.
Speaking in Urdu he said: ‘You won’t believe what happened with our family.’
‘You all know or have heard of Qari Akhtar Javed, who has done such a low class act.’
‘I’m so disgusted by what has happened.
‘He has pressurised my sister and taken advantage of her in a vulnerable position.’
”The night before Christmas he pressurised her took her to Manchester.’
He never spoke to us that he wanted to marry my sister.’
‘We found all this out afterwards and found out from his wife they kicked him out as he has done this before’
‘Even his younger daughter do not speak to him. He was living in a rented house. He sat with us in a family gathering and did such a shameful act.’
‘Islam doesn’t teach you that you go to someone’s house and marry their daughter.
23-year-old Ms Ashraf released a video herself in which he denied the claims that she was forced against her will to marry Qari Javed.
She said: ‘Today I have seen a video in which my brother Arshad Mahmood has said that Qari Javed Saab has forced me and pressurised me and took my from my house.
‘This is not true and the truth is I have done Nikkah and he is a good person.’
‘I decide my own and i was not forced. Every person has lot of personal issues. My family knew about all this issue. My brothers knew about this. My relatives knew about this issue.
‘There is always two sides of every story. This is a big conspiracy against us and I am requesting my family members, that despite knowing everything, they did a shameful act and disgrace Qari Javed. We did nothing wrong. We solemnized Nikah after going through everything.’
Qari Javed added: ‘No one can take away the sister or daughter of any person like they claimed. We have solemnised Nikah. I know many of my friends are hurt due to these videos. I apologised to all of them and told them whatever I did its legal and Islamic.
‘This is a pre planned conspiracy. I don’t know who has urged them to make such statements in the videos. I am not feeling shame on this because i did a lawful act.’
Mosque members and the local community have been left split on the issue with some taking sides with Qari Akhtar while others have said the Mosque needs to split ties with him.
Manchester Central Mosque said on their Facebook page: ‘We would like to bring this to your attention that Chairman International Naat Association, Qari Javed Akhtar sahb has resigned from his position and he is no longer part of this organisation.
‘He has also felt sorry for those who have been hurt due to his recent personal family matters.
‘Management of International Naat Association also apologises for any discomfort these issues may have brought to wider community, albeit we highly appreciate your patience and support to the ‘Association’ while we deal with these sensitive matters with courtesy.
‘We as an organisation promised you to always do the right thing, we delivered in past and by the grace of Allah Almighty we are trying to deliver again, considering the sensitivity and seriousness of the issue, which shows our own commitment towards Deen and Maslak-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat which should always come first.’