Reluctant mullah visits Seven Kings Library

Popular novelist Sagheer Afzar visited the borough on Saturday to give a talk at Seven Kings Library. Take Action for Seven Kings member Chris Connelley was there to write this report for the Recorder.

Seven Kings Library played host to comic novelist Sagheer Afzal as part of the 2011 Redbridge Book and Media Festival on Saturday.

A physics graduate and “failed IT consultant” turned school teacher, Mr Afzal’s published his first novel The Reluctant Mullah to widespread lacclaim last year, and it is on the shortlist for the borough’s Big Red Read book award.

Speaking at the library in High Road for over an hour, he charmed the rapt audience with a series of side-splitting anecdotes about coming of age and trying to live up to family expectations.

These included stories about being expelled from school for lacing his teacher’s tea flask with dettol through his various unsuccessful attempts to find a wife, ending with a tragic tale about being jilted on his wedding day by a runaway bride who left him embarrassed, alone and �1,000 out of pocket.

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He also reflected about the role of Islam in contemporary society and the impact of his faith on his writing, acknowledging the deep insight and spirituality that comes from his complete reading of the Koran in English.

A natural entertainer, Mr Afzal captivated his audience, which included a delighted Rebecca Hickford, from Seven Kings, who described the event “as a vital insight into Islam”. Another attendee, Jagadish Jha from Newham, was equally praiseworthy, saying Mr Afzal offered “a fascinating afternoon which is true to life and is very educational and inclusive”.

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The Book and Media Festival continues throughout the month, and full details on what it includes are available at

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