Monawar Hussain isn’t your typical Eton tutor. And he certainly isn’t your typical Oxfordshire High Sheriff. But then, not much is typical about the Imam from East Oxford.
The Hussain family first came to Oxford in 1985, from Maidenhead – and before that Kashmir. His brother had bought a small petrol station on Between Towns Road, and that’s where Monawar worked while he was completing his education. When not tending the pumps he studied for a Business and Law course at the College of Further Education and began a degree at Oxford Poly (as it then was).
But his abiding interest was in spiritual matters and he was emboldened to study for a Theology degree at Westminster College. His dissertation focused on Islam and the West, specifically the links between the eleventh-century Persian mystic, Al Ghazali and the great Christian theologian, Thomas Aquinas.
Following graduation he enrolled at the Muslim College in Ealing, West London. There he trained four days a week for three years. In between driving up and down the A40 he started a business called Transworld Services International – importing bedding materials from South Korea – and he even managed to buy and run his own petrol station in the village of Clifton Hampden, nine miles south of Oxford.
Not only that but he and his wife, Robina, started a family. They now have no fewer than six daughters, aged between 28 and 9. How does he feel at home surrounded by so many females? He responds cheerily: ‘Outnumbered, yes, but not oppressed. Family is such a blessing.’