A YORK community has said goodbye to their spiritual leader who won the respect of faith groups, footballers and others across the city.

Imam Abid Salik led his final congregational prayer at York Mosque on Friday before moving to Hull.

Spokesman for the mosque, Hakeem Hussain, said: "With his warm personality and never-failing determination, he has strived to build a rapport with anyone he met, young, old and everyone in between."

Imam Abid Salik said: "I’m extremely humbled and thankful for all the love and support over the last 10 years. Long may it continue."

He headed the construction of the city's only purpose-built Mosque & Islamic Centre, including the £1.3 million fund-raising and prided himself in opening its doors to all who wished to enter in whatever capacity.

During the Covid-19 pandemic he has worked closely with schools in gathering food donations for those in need.

In response to the 2015 floods, the mosque community raised tens of thousands of pounds for emergency responses both in the UK and abroad.

"During his time in York, Imam Abid Salik has worked tirelessly to build meaningful and longstanding relationships with those that he has met with daily and with those in the wider community," said Mr Hussain. "His efforts to consolidate peace and harmony have seen him become involved in a plethora of initiatives."

As deputy chair for York Interfaith, Imam Abid Salik convened events with representatives of other faiths and won the respect and friendship of people such as the late Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Barry Dodd, at whose invitation Imam Abid attended a Royal Garden Party.

He strongly supported York City of Sanctuary's work in helping secure safe shelter for refugees.

He is also a keen footballer and used sport to build bridges particularly with Muslim youths.

As Imam he led children's Quran and Islamic classes as well as funerals, marriage ceremonies, prayers and other religious events for his community.

Mr Hussain said: "On behalf of York Mosque & Islamic Centre and all those whose lives he has touched with great positivity, we take this opportunity to thank Imam Abid Salik with deepest gratitude for his commitment to his role and to all of us.

"Although it is with a heavy heart that we bid him farewell, we wholeheartedly support him in taking up such an important role at Hull Mosque & Islamic Centre where he goes on to fill the shoes of his father.

"In turn, his move challenges the City of York to find an Imam of the same calibre. It must be said that Imam Abid Salik will not be replaced easily, and his absence will be felt for a long time."

"Imam Abid Salik leaves behind a growing congregation, individuals, and entire families with whom he has made strong ties over the years.

"A leading public figure in the Muslim community, an esteemed friend and confidante, Imam Abid Salik can take pride in his achievements and his legacy that York residents will enjoy and hold dear for years to come."