Entrepreneur and campaigner. An appreciation

Born: July 16, 1964;

Died: April 3, 2016

IMRAN Khand, known commonly as Brother Imran, who has died of a heart attack in Glasgow aged 51, was my teacher, mentor, friend and became like family. Since his death I have heard countless accounts of how his advice helped to inspire and change the lives of so many others.

Born in July 1964 in Lahore, Brother Imran came to Glasgow with his family when he was one. Though he was not born here he was as proud a Scot and Glaswegian as any.

Throughout Brother Imran’s life he was was struck by both tragedy and success, but he always took courage and inspiration from his unshakable faith and a love for poetry.

I am reminded now of one particular passage from his favourite poem that he often repeated.

“If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same....”

It was not uncommon for Brother Imran to quote passages from the Koran, Pakistani poet Alama Iqbal or Kipling. One of the first things he told me to read and understand was Kipling’s If. I have read it countless times in the last few days.

Brother Imran lost his father when he was just 15-years-old, a similar age to his own sons now. This had a huge impact on his life and he always aspired to replicate his father’s often mentioned mentoring traits.

With his strategic mind and forward thinking, it was clear early on that he would become an audacious entrepreneur at the cutting edge of the IT world.

He was a successful technology executive who enjoyed a distinguished career. He co-founded and established three highly successful technology companies Alternative Publishing, WebScotland and his most prominent company the Picsel Group.

Picsel went on to become one of the world’s leading mobile technology companies delivering its software to all world leading mobile manufacturers and network operators. It shipped its software on more than 800 million units word wide. The company was recognised by many prestigious technology and corporate awards, including two Queen’s Awards – for Enterprise and for International Trade and Innovation – and the Red Herring Global Award amongst others.

Throughout his life Imran had a natural sense for social justice and was always passionate about diversity and equality for ethnic minority communities. This drew him naturally to the Labour Party where he was a key driving force behind electing Mohammad Sarwar as Britain’s first Muslim MP in 1997.

Outside politics he also drove social change. He helped to create and build successful organisations that are now recognised institutions. When looking back on Brother Imran’s life and making a full list of all his work it was just extraordinary. His social projects included faith-based projects like Young Muslims (YM) and UK Islamic Mission (UKIM) and he was an executive committee member of Glasgow Central Mosque. There were also voluntary sector projects like the Ethnic Minority Law Centre, AMINA Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, REACH Community Health Project, Black and Ethnic Minority Infrastructure in Scotland (BEMIS), Multi-Cultural Elderly Day Care Centre (MECC) and the Youth Community Support Agency (YCSA) – all of which he helped establish.

His charity and social projects were not just limited to the United Kingdom. He also helped to finance and build universities and hospitals including the University of Management and Technology (UMT) in Lahore and the Foundation Hospital in Rajana, Pakistan.

I think the most important part of Brother Imran’s work was his desire to inspire and empower young people to be leaders in every field. He was famous for his kind and gentle encouragement.

No matter how difficult his own circumstances he always took an interest in others. Even in his most difficult periods, when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 or when the rock of his life, his mother, died in 2013, he would still suppress his own difficulties to fight for others’ challenges.

I think if you were to try and summarise Imran in one sentence it would be that all he ever wanted was to try and make us better, individually or collectively.

He was an immense source of strength and encouragement for me; someone I could always turn to, at the right moment to ground me or to boost me.

I will never forget the last words he spoke to me. One of many examples of his big heart.

Two days before he died we spoke on the phone and he ended the call by saying “I love you. I believe in you. You are a great person but never forget that great people have a responsibility to

do great things.” By “things” he

didn’t mean titles and positions he meant actions. One can only hope and dream of living up to those expectations.

They say that grief is the price we pay for love. Well, this much is true; that I, and countless others, loved him too. That Brother Imran was himself a great person. And he did throughout his life do great things. For that he will never be forgotten.

He is survived by his wife Aziza and his children Owais, Salman and Zebunisah.