Haji Mohammed Sajawal





Mohammed came to the UK in 1960; he was sixty years old and had been a farmer. He also served in the Indian Army during the Second World War seeing action in Libya, Egypt and Germany, for which he sustained an injury to his hearing due to which he receives a pension.

Mohammed experienced firsthand the troubles involved in formation of the Pakistani state during the battle of independence from Britain.  He also worked in Karachi running a small business with a partner helping people obtain passports so that they could leave Pakistan.  Mohammed decided to leave his wife and four sons at home planning to bring them over later when he eventually settled in the UK.

Mohammed had nephews and an older brother already living and working in the UK whom he stayed with in Birmingham. Fortunately he found it very easy to find work and decided to take a job outside of Birmingham working at Pirellis (a tyre manufacturer), but later moved to a factory manufacturing animal feed where he worked  a week of 12 hour shifts making £15 a week, when the average wage was only £7. He sent this wage back home to support his family and also used it to buy the first of many houses.

When he first came to Birmingham times were hard, many people lived together in the same house, the first one he lived in housed 22 men and no women. The men who were working in the house helped those who were looking for work with food, transport and clothing costs. To further reduce costs the men would cook traditional meals for themselves e.g. Roti and Curries, even taking it with them to work. Mohammed and most of his friends and family did not seek any entertainment such as visiting the cinema, choosing to spend  their time working extra shifts in order to amass enough money to support families back in Pakistan.

At the time very few people used to pray as they were too busy trying to make a living but they did celebrate Eid taking a day holiday.  Mohammed found the local people to be very friendly and helpful helped him with directions when he got lost which he said was very often; he still remembers their kindness, and believes any problems   that exist between the Asians and other communities was down to the behaviour of the Asian community, in trying to take unfair advantage of the benefit system that was provided by the British government at the time.

Whilst Mohammed was gaining his British passport he divided his time spending two years in Pakistan and two years in Britain; but once he had received his British passport and ensured that all his family were settled and happy in the UK, he returned to Pakistan for good. He is now enjoying life to the full and is being well looked after due to his age by one of his nephews daughters. He attendees the local Mosque to pray daily and has been on two Hajjs (sacred Islamic pilgrimage), also ensuring that any of his family who wanted to make Hajj would have the opportunity.

Mohammed believes that he and his family have enjoyed a good lifestyle in the UK far greater than if they had stayed in Pakistan but feels that unlike when he first came to the UK nobody now helps each other and those who do need help rely on the government rather than on their fathers as it is in Pakistan.

The final word belongs to Mohammed who is now nearly a hundred, “I have been good to a lot of people through Allah’s blessings, nobody has been bad to me. I am glad I came to the UK I have a big family who now come to Pakistan to visit me”