AN INFLUENTIAL community figure who became the UK's first Muslim judge has been rushed to hospital after suffering a heart attack, his Southampton mosque has confirmed.

Judge Khurshid Drabu, who lives in Winchester, was taken to Southampton General Hospital on Friday, where he is currently in an intensive care unit.

The 72-year-old arrived in England in November 1971 with just £3 in his pocket. But with an infectious determination, changed attitudes within the country for the better through his work within the community.

He became a leading immigration expert with landmark victories.

Throughout his remarkable career he became one of the most influential and respected Muslims in the UK.

He headed the government-funded Immigrants Advisory Service, became head of the Commission for Racial Equality’s legal and complaints department winning high profile cases in racial discrimination and in 1996 he made history by becoming the first Muslim to become a judge in the UK.

As well as this, Judge Drabu is a former chairman and member of the managing board at Southampton Medina Mosque, on Compton Walk, which yesterday confirmed he had been taken to hospital.

He is also an honorary advisor to the Ministry of Defence on Muslim affairs.

Since his appointment the number of Muslims in the armed forces has risen from just 25 to nearly 800 thanks to policies he has worked to put in place, he says as he urges me to tuck into the cake and coffee he’s just served up ignoring the barrage of incoming emails constantly pinging for his attention.

His work building bridges between communities earned him a CBE on the Queen’s birthday honours list in 2010.

In an interview in 2013, he said: "My inspiration for putting in long hours in community work is the future of my children and grandchildren and our nation as a whole.

"I just hope one day we will live in a society where there is a better understanding of each other. That is all I seek really."