Sheikh Khalid Hafiz

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Sheikh Khalid Kamal Abdul Hafiz, 1998

Sheikh Khalid Hafiz (Urdu:شیخ خالد کمال عبدالحفیظ, Sheikh Khalid Kamal Abdul Hafiz; 1 December 1938 Mubarakpur, British Raj – 6 December 1999 Wellington, New Zealand) was an Indian-born Imam who served as the senior religious advisor to the New Zealand Muslim minority over 1982 to 1999.


Sheikh Khalid Hafiz, son of Qazi Athar Mubarakpuri, was born in Mubarakpur, India, and grew up in the twilight years of the British Raj. As a youth he witnessed the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. He attended the Ehyal ul Oloom in Mubarakpur and received further education at Darul Uloom Deoband, before furthering his studies in Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) at the Islamic University of Medina, Saudi Arabia, between 1962 and 1967. After graduation he was posted to Ghana to work as a teacher at the Muslim Mission there for 14 years.

In 1981 the Saudi charity Darul Ifta appointed Sheikh Hafiz to be Imam for the Wellington Muslim community in New Zealand, in response to a request by the “International Muslim Association of New Zealand”. He was soon after appointed senior spiritual advisor to the newly created national Muslim organisation in New Zealand, the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ).

The Imam[edit]

As the Imam for the capital Sheikh Khalid Hafiz played an important role in the development of both the local urban Muslim community and the broader New Zealand Islamic minority the 1980s and 1990s. Unlike the fluctuating elected members of the Executive Committee of the Federation of Islamic Associations (FIANZ), Hafiz attended almost all their meetings over nearly two decades. He also attended and helped facilitate the first national Quran recitation competitions; encouraged and participated in interfaith dialogue with local Christians and Jews; and persistently preached tolerance and kindliness.

Sheikh Hafiz went on Hajj nine times and spoke English, Arabic and Urdu. He also provided important spiritual and religious guidance and leadership to the growing Muslim community - especially in areas without full-time ulema - that often required lateral thinking and patience. In June 1996 he gave an important sermon prohibiting the use of the intoxicant Kava amongst New Zealand Muslims, which was later disseminated across the country and posted on mosque notice boards.

During the 1990 Iraq war the Newtown Islamic Centre was dubbed with graffiti and the Mayor of Wellington, Jim Belich, publicly apologised to local Muslims and appealed for calm. When Sheikh Hafiz showed journalists the property damage on 21 August an agitated neighbour, Craig Macfarlane, accosted the humble Imam, abused Saddam Hussein of Iraq and threatened both the Imam and local Muslims with violence. The incident was captured by a New Zealand Herald photographer and a television cameraman, and became an iconic image of the Iraq war in New Zealand, used by other media subsequently. “Peacelink”, the magazine of the New Zealand peace movement, used it for the front cover of their October 1990 issue.

In 1992 "Islamic leader Hafiz Khalid" was interviewed by the Porirua newspaper "Te Awa-iti" regarding the Hajj although he declined to have his photograph taken directly following hate mail : "Khalid says he does not wish to complain and he is happy living in New Zealand society. "We recognize that some people will be good, others not so good."[1]


Sheikh Khalid Hafiz died in the Wellington suburb of Rongotai at the age of 61. Over 200 people attended his funeral and he was remembered in the local newspaper obituary as “an imam as imams should be, but rarely are.”

“Sheikh Khalid’s impact spread wider than New Zealand and on his death messages of sympathy were received by Wellington Muslims from the Muslim World League and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth as well as Muslims in Fiji and Australia. There were also condolences from Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as well as the embassies of Iran and Turkey in Wellington.”.[2]

After his demise the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) was obliged to replace the one man with an entire board of ulema. His son-in-law, Sheikh Mohammed Amir, has served as Imam of Wellington ever since..


  • Bob Shaw, “An imam ‘as imams should be, but rarely are’ ” in The Evening Post (16 December 1999), page. 5.
  • “NZ Muslims threatened over Gulf crisis” in The New Zealand Herald (22 August 1990), page.1.
  • “Peacelink” (October 1990), page. 1.
  • Charles Mabbett, “Fasting and Feasting” in City Voice (2 March 1995), page.4.
  • Drury, Abdullah, Islam in New Zealand: The First Mosque (Christchurch, 2007) ISBN 978-0-473-12249-2
  • "Looking to Makkah" in Te Awa-iti (11 June 19992), page. 5.


  1. ^ "Looking to Makkah" in Te Awa-iti (11 June 19992), page. 5.
  2. ^ Bob Shaw, “An imam ‘as imams should be, but rarely are’ ” in The Evening Post (16 December 1999), page. 5.

External sources[edit]