25 September 2021 Remembering Amjid Ali, Community pioneer

Amjid Ali, who passed away in Bristol on 17th September 2021, was well-known in British Muslim circles as a pioneer in Islamic banking, and  champion in the cause of raising awareness on organ donation.  From 1998 to 2012 he was the senior figure in HSBC Amanah, the Islamic Finances Division of the HSBC Group.  He played an important role in encouraging Islamic scholars to think afresh about organ donation, which culminated in the issue of Mufti Mohammed Zubair’s fatwa, ‘Organ Donation and Transplantation in Islam – an opinion’ in 2019.

Amjid Ali entered the banking profession at the age of 19, as a management trainee at  Midland Bank.  He worked in retail and branch operations, continuing when it was acquired  by HSBC – the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. He was responsible for setting up its Islamic finance operations in the UK and an acknowledged expert and practitioner in this field. He led the product launches in home finance and Takaful insurance. He was a member of the panel consulted by the Treasury in 2007 on the potential of the Sukuk Islamic bond. This led to provisions in Chancellor Alistair Darling’s budget in 2008 to facilitate Islamic finance in the London market. Amjid retired as CEO in 2012 on medical grounds.

Amjid had an amusing story to tell of his years in Amanah,

I had a young, white, Christian man working with me. His surname was Bacon, which wasn’t ideal, but he embedded himself in the community so well that he became known as Mr Halal Bacon.

He was in demand as a speaker on Islamic Finance and participated in several advisory panels, for example chairing the Bristol Independent Advisory Group, Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

 In 2007, he featured in a list of ‘most influential Muslims’, the Muslim Power 100 awards.

After leaving HSBC Amanah, Amjid remained active as an Independent Management Consultant working across a range of private, public and Voluntary Sector organisations, but it is the issue of organ donation that became a life-mission. In a moving foreword to Mufti Zubair’s fatwa, Amjid provided his personal story and the reasons for taking up the cause,

 To understand why, as a Muslim, I wanted to engage with Islamic scholars, imams, Muslim chaplains, Muslim umbrella organisations and charities on this subject, you need to know a bit more about my personal story. I was diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure a week after my 20th birthday in October 1987 and spent more than 23 and a half years on dialysis. In that time, I had two failed transplants attempts and this left me with antibodies to cells from those transplants – so it was much more difficult to find a suitable match in the future. I now have a working kidney, thanks to my nephew who donated one of his as a living kidney donor in May 2011.

But the long wait has had a serious impact on my overall health and well-being. One of the reasons for my long wait was because of a shortage of organ donors from my own ethnic community. Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients are over-represented on the transplant waiting list, due to an increased prevalence of conditions such as diabetes in South Asian people and higher rates of high blood pressure in African or Caribbean people. These conditions, if left untreated, can lead to the need for an organ transplant. The best chance for a successful transplant is to have a donor with a matching ethnicity.

Amjid was the lead in the ‘Transplantation in Islam’ for NHS Blood and Transplant.  He would often leave this thought with Muslim audiences: “‘If you or a member of your family needed an organ transplant, would you take one? If so, shouldn’t you be prepared to help others?‘

Colleagues at Kidney Care UK, the kidney patient support charity, remembered him with this moving tribute,

He was a courageous, strong and kind man, hugely respected by everyone who knew him. Although softly spoken, when Amjid spoke – you listened. He had a talent for bringing people together and produced extraordinary results through determination and patience, and he never hesitated to ask or challenge when it came to ensuring the experiences and needs of people from South Asian and Black communities were represented and included in all the work that he did [. . .]

His compassion was clear for all to see and whilst it will take us all some time to come to terms with the huge loss to our community, we take comfort in knowing that Amjid made a huge impact on everyone he met. He used his time in the world to change organ donation and kidney care, and his work has – and will continue – to save many lives. Our thoughts are with his wife Lubna, daughter Sophia, brother Liaqat and sister Naseem at this heart-breaking time, as well as with everyone affected by his loss. 

Amjid Ali – Janazah (funeral) prayer announcement | Kidney Care UK

Links: Mufti  Zubair’s fatwa