Hafiz Abdur Rahman Mia (1919- 2005)
Early Life and Education
Born on Thursday, 23 Jumad al-Ula 1336 (5 January 1911), this illustrious personality, fondly known as Shaikh Abba to many, who was to make the Qur`an a living force in himself and thousands of others, was born in Simlak, a village near Dabhel, district Surat, India. The family was known for their high degree of piety and Hafiz `Abdur Rahman received the benefit of excellent spiritual upbringing. His father, Hajee Ebrahim Mia, was also instrumental in establishing the Darul `Uloom Taleemudeen in Dabhel, from which many South African `ulama graduated.
The young saint of Allah soon displayed exemplary piety and obedience. By the age of four, he was already punctual with his Fajr salâh. By the tender age of seven, he had completed memorising the entire Qur`ân.
Hafiz Sahib later took the oath of allegiance [bai`at] at the hands of Maulana `Abdul Ghafoor `Abbasi Muhajir Madani whilst on his hajj trip in 1946. Within a few weeks, he became the khalifah [deputy] of his Shaikh and later also gained khilafat from Hazrat Maulana Mufti Mahmoodul Hasan Gangohi. May Allah have mercy on all of them. Âmîn.
On his father`s advice, Hafiz Sahib left for South Africa at the age of 17 where he worked for short periods of time in White River, Lydenburg and Johannesburg as an accountant, shop-manager and part-time hifz teacher.
In 1959, Hafiz Sahib was invited to accept a full-time teaching post at the Waterval Islamic Institute (Mia`s Farm). Hafiz Sahib accepted the post on a meager salary, in the knowledge that he would be teaching the future leaders, the huffaz and `ulama of South Africa.
Shaikh Abba resided in the “cottages” of Mia`s Farm about 500m from the hostel. Every morning, come hail or shine, Hafiz Sahib would walk the distance with clockwork punctuality. Qari Rafeeq Hathurani, one of his students at the time, narrates that Hafiz Sahib told him that even though he plodded through a thick blanket of frost on icy-cold Highveld winters, it felt as: “someone had lit a stove round me and I walked in the heat.”
In 1991, Hafiz Sahib left Mias Farm and settled down on Nirvana Drive, Lenasia. He had a madrasah and hostel build next to Masjid al-Abrâr for hifz al-Qur`an purposes. This madrasah is in operation till today.
a. Hifz Classes: It is indeed difficult to find any comparison to Marhûm Hafiz `Abdur Rahman Sahib in his total and absolute devotion to the Qur`ân. No language can describe the zeal, passion and fervour he poured into it. His day and night, health and illness was devoted to the Qur`ân.
Till about the middle 1980`s, there was a severe shortage of huffaz in South Africa. Hafiz Sahib played a great part in alleviating this problem and his graduates would be sent to dozens of places in South Africa.
b. Makâtib: One of the rare occasions that Hafiz Sahib would ever leave his classes was when he had to travel out to various places to establish the afternoon makâtib. Together with the late Mufti Ibrahim Sanjalwi they journeyed together to most of the towns and cities in the former Transvaal region.
The other occasion that Hafiz Sahib would leave his class was to conduct inspections of makâtib for the Jamiatul `Ulama. He was also hugely instrumental in drawing up the first “standard” syllabus of the Jamiat which all the Jamiat-affiliated madrasahs of South Africa followed.
c. Publications: Hafiz Sahib compiled a book in Urdu entitled Zikrullah li al-`Âlamîn. However, he refused to have it published due to his extreme modesty, even after it was translated into English. Hafiz Sahib had the habit of always writing down points and jotting down notes which he later compiled in a few volumes under different headings. These volumes have not been published, but show the literary taste of Hazrat and his habit of not allowing anything of worth to slip by him.
Punctuality: Hafiz Sahib was extremely punctual for his classes. Whatever the reason: family, wedding, funeral, illness Hafiz Sahib never missed classes. Even on the day of his demise, he had taught a class of students! His classroom was everywhere – his home, the pathway and the motorcar. This was the level of his dedication which today`s teachers will even find hard to rationalize.
Spiritual nurturing: Never was a student in Hafiz Sahib`s class not motivated by spiritual talks and character building exercises. Even his long-time graduates were not spared constant compassionate reminders of not doing enough zikr. Many students would come to Hafiz Sahib after completing their hifz elsewhere to do revision or at least do a portion of their hifz at this feet to gain his blessings and expert training if they could not stay for the entire duration.
Compassion: Mia`s farm was known for its harsh punishment meted on students in earlier days. Hafiz Sahib however, preferred to rather win his students over with his kind words and smiling face. He even rendered many indigent students with financial support. So strong was the attachment of his students that whether they branched out in teaching, community service, imamate, business and even the professions, many still confided in him and took his advice.
Humility: If there was anyone to show off anything, it would have been Hafiz Sahib with his dozens of huffaz completing every year. Yet, Hafiz Sahib shunned the public eye and never once organized a jalsah to showcase his activities. On numerous occasions when one of his many students wanted to pen down his life-story, he prohibited it.
The unforgettable Âshiq al-Quran wa al-Rahman, at the ripe age of 94, passed on to the mercy of Allah Ta`ala on Friday, 10th June, 2005, at 2100hrs after Isha Salât.
His funeral service was held on the next day at the Avalon Cemetary. A tribute to his lifetime of service to Islam was the extremely large number of people gathered for his funeral prayer, many of whom were forced to park their cars on the freeway curb and walk to the cemetery. Due to the sheer congestion, the Janazah Salâh had to be delayed so as not to disappoint anyone.
He is survived by his wife, who is also 94 years old and six sons and one daughter. He had 29 grand-children and 17 great grand children. Four of his sons are Âlims/Hafiz and serving in the foot steps of their father.