CAIRO - Shocked by the family's tragedy, British Muslims and non-Muslims have mourned the death of young Muslim pupils in a suspected fire that gutted their house in the county of Essex.
"On behalf of the Harlow Islamic Center, we would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Dr (Abdul) Shakoor," a spokesman told Harlow Star.
"We are deeply saddened and shocked by this tragedy in which his wife and four children died.
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A Muslim mother and her four young sons died in a fire that gutted their house in Essex county this week.
A fifth daughter was admitted to hospital in a critical condition, while the father, who is of Pakistani origin, suffered smoke inhalation.
"Dr Shakoor and his family were very much liked and respected in the local community, the spokesman said.
This loss of life will be felt throughout Harlow and the UK.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this very difficult time. We request that everyone remember them in their prayers."
Police said the fire that gutted the Muslim family's house was being treated as suspicious.
At this particular time we have no further information regarding the causes of fire, the spokesman of the Harlow Islamic Center said.
The Muslim community is working very closely with the police to help in their investigations."
Police are carrying out a painstaking forensic examination in an attempt to piece together events.
In the history of Essex Police seldom has there been an incident of this gravity in which five people, four of them children, have lost their lives, said Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge, head of the Essex and Kent serious crime directorate.
The tragedy of the Muslim family has taken many Britons by shock.
"We know how hard this tragedy has hit the local community, Essex Council leader Mark Wilkinson said.
"This is a time when people want to show those affected that they are thinking of them and pay their respects to those who have lost their lives."
Lesley Lynn, head teacher at Abbotsweld School, where three Muslim victims were studying, was also shocked.
They were "intelligent and sociable children with a good sense of humour, good at sports and much loved by everyone," Lynn said.
"Everyone at the school is distraught to learn of the horrible tragedy that has hit the Shakoor family."
Dr Joud Abduljawad, an accident and emergency consultant at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow and a friend and colleague of Dr Shakoor, could not believe what happened to the Muslim family.
"It was quite an emotional shock for me and for the whole staff of the emergency department - 'Oh it is Abdul's family and himself', he said.
"Abdul is an excellent doctor, he is a hard-working doctor, he is well-liked by his patients.
"Yesterday we had patients coming to our hospital to provide condolences to Abdul as well.
"He is well-liked as a Muslim in the local community as well. His family are just a great family."
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.5 million.The majority of the multi-ethnic minority has Indian, Bengali and Pakistani backgrounds.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net