On Sunday 16th December 2018 people gathered from far and wide for the Memorial of Tony Hanson MBE renowned Basketball Player, Coach, Mentor, Social Entrepreneur, Advocate for the BAME Community. A Family Man above all. He made his mark and we were about to get a glimpse of how deep and profound that mark was during course of the day.
Musa Askari was asked to speak a few words in memory of Tony along with other contributors who each spoke beautifully and powerfully on how he touched, moved and helped transform their lives positively. A day that will live long in the memory. Here is a transcript of Musa Askari’s speech….
“I am grateful to the Hanson Family for affording me this honour to reflect upon the Inner Man.
Tony and I did not talk Basketball. We spoke about the world, the uplifting power of diversity, of spirituality and inter faith. On the challenge of overcoming the hypnosis of a narrow closed identity mindset.
It was clear he had a philosophy about life and I sensed too a wider philosophical spiritual appetite. He was a Thinker. Let me be clear….
Anthony Hanson IS a Beautiful Soul.
I do not say “was” nor “had” a beautiful soul, rather he IS a beautiful Soul. Today.
For I believe Soul is the invisible, impartible, immaterial and immortal Companion to our lives, metaphysically speaking. It is a companion over and above our outer collective identities of nationality, ethnicity, culture, language and religion. Look at us here now, a principle transcending all our outer identities draws us to this moment to honour Tony. That principle I call Soul. A knowledge thereof as taught to me by my late father-teacher (Prof. Syed Hasan Askari).From those insights I am able to say with confidence that Tony is indeed a Beautiful Soul.
This is why I believe relating to people came natural to him, without hesitation, without judgement.
It was as natural to him as a single raindrop cascading from leaf to leaf, intact and coming to rest on the forest floor, nourishing whomsoever it came in to contact with. One may call it Love for humanity itself. Who can doubt Tony had an abundance of love for people. You could hear it in his special voice and see it in his smile.
One of my most cherished memories about Tony is when he received the Mayoral Award in February 2015 and he invited me to join him at the ceremony.
So moved was I by the event that the following day I emailed a letter to the Mayor copying Tony. I said…..
“One of the biggest tributes I can make about Tony is through the eyes of my sons.
I can see they truly value and feel uplifted when he offers praise on their play in basketball. Such appreciation, even a phrase “good job”, or a whispering word of advice makes those that respect him and value his word feel that little bit taller. It makes them believe positive things are possible, and such kind of belief in one’s inner ability is a powerful thing in my view.
For me the Act of Inspiring is second nature to Tony, it is his sixth sense. I see him in another way also.
From one of my late father’s books on Islamic mysticism of India I offer this quote on Spiritual Masters (taken from the book “Alone to Alone“, story “If You Find Me“): “Masters are of four kinds: Some are like gold and they, like gold, cannot transform others into gold; some are like the alchemists; whoever comes into contact with them turns into gold; some are like sandal-trees, and whosoever remains in their company becomes like them, and some are like the lamps from which thousand lamps are lighted.”
For me Tony is a “Lamp”.
He beautifully lit many lamps by small acts of generosity, acts of kindness, a peaceful word.
We need more role models and we desperately need more bridge builders between communities.
The abiding thought I am left with about Tony is that of “Bridge-Walker” holding his inner lamp aloft in the morning mist, at sunrise, at mid-day, sunset and through the night. The inner Lamp of the Soul always alight irrespective of worldly circumstance.
He built bridges and left an example of how it is possible to transport ourselves across them in our lives. I find it even more fitting he received the Mayoral Award of a place whose emblem is the “Transporter Bridge” not but a glance over our shoulders.
Dear Tony, Soul Brother.
The Lamp of your Friendship will burn always within my Heart. God bless you.”