With heavy hearts, Thailand bids goodbye to a prominent figure of the Muslim community as Aziz Phitakkumpol, the 18th Chularajmontri, surrenders to the clasp of death. At 76, the sheik’s journey on this mortal plane came to an end on a quiet Sunday morning in a Bangkok hospital, drawing the curtains on an era.
Aziz was more than just the spiritual guide to the Muslim population of Thailand; he was their rock, their guiding star, their lighthouse in a storm. The untimely news of Aziz’s passing was delivered by the Sheikul Islam Office, creating a ripple of shock and grief across the nation. His death at 10:32 am on that fateful Sunday, within the comforting walls of the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, seemed an irony in light of the tragedy that unfolded the day prior.
Barely had the waters calmed from the violent storm of Saturday when Aziz’s younger brother, Loh Phitakkumpol met a brutal end. The 71-year-old found himself at the wrong end of a 50-centimetre-long knife wielded by a 42-year-old man intoxicated by narcotic influence. The assailant, recognized as local resident Rohim Kongkalimeen, ambushed Loh on a humble roadside in Sing Nakhon district of Songkhla. Despite immediate medical intervention, Loh’s wounds proved fatal, his life force extinguishing in the confines of Songkhla Hospital.
As the nation reeled in the double tragedy of the Phitakkumpol family, the spiritual leader’s funeral rites were organized. A final farewell to Aziz was scheduled at 10 am on Monday at the central mosque of Hat Yai district in Songkhla – the native land he shared with his departed brother.
Born on March 6, 1947, Aziz wore many hats throughout his life. In addition to being the spiritual leader, he was a respected senator. He held the prestigious position of Chairman at the Central Islamic Council of Thailand and spearheaded the Islamic committee of Songkhla, his home province.
In a moving gesture spearheaded by the air force, a C-130 plane was mobilized to transport the mortal remains of the revered Chularajmontri from Wing 6 in Bangkok to his native Songkhla province on Sunday – a final journey for a leader who spent his lifetime serving his people and his faith.
The fallout of the whirlwind weekend resonated through the country – its brutal abruptness underlining the fragile transience of life. And as Thailand navigates this daunting vacuum, the legacy Aziz Phitakkumpol left behind serves as a beacon, guiding its people towards resilience, perseverance, and faith.