Obituary: Mawlana Muhammad Isma’il Bhamjee

A famous Arabic proverb reads, “Mawtul Aalim Mawtul ‘Aalam” – The demise of a scholar is the demise of a nation. From the hadith of Abdullah bin Amr (R) we learn that this will be a common occurrence before the Day of Qiyamah,

Verily Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people, rather he takes away knowledge by taking away the scholars…(Muslim)

Abu Umamah (R) narrated that the Prophet (S) is reported to have stated,

Oh People! Acquire knowledge before knowledge is withdrawn from you and before knowledge is lifted.

The loss of an ‘Aalim is sad. The loss of a senior ‘Aalim is even more sad. When a senior ‘Aalim who was a passionate participant in a wide range activities related to the uplifment of the Ummah passes away, then his loss is indeed painful.

Less than two years ago, the South African community was saddened by the loss of Maulana Qasim Sema (ra). A little longer than a year ago, South African Muslims had to endure the loss of Maulana Ahmad Hathurani (ra). We were then saddened to note the passing away of Mufti Basheer Sanjalvi (ra).

On Tuesday, we bid farewell to yet another stalwart from amongst the great servants of the community, the late Maulana Muhammad Ismail Bhamjee Sahib (rahmatullahi `alayhi).

Maulana Muhammad Bhamjee (ra) was born into a very noble family that had always been involved in serving the community and the Deen of Islam. He began his elementary Islamic education under the tutelage of the respected Maulana Ahmad Garda Sahib in Pretoria North. In the mid-fifties he was enrolled as a student at the Waterval Islamic Institute (Mia’s Farm). In 1956/57, together with his nephew marhoom Hafiz Yusuf Rawat, he travelled to India where he completed his Hifzul Qur’an at the Madrasah Miftahul Uloom in Taraj, Gujarat. He then proceeded to Karachi and graduated as an Aalim from the Jamiah Al-Uloom Al-Islamiyyah (Binnori Town).

While in Karachi, he came into the service and watchful eye of the late Hadhrat Maulana Yusuf Binnori (ra) who gave special attention to his spiritual and intellectual development. It is here where his qualities of serving Deen, being extremely meticulous in his work and of striving tirelessly in the service of the poor and needy was founded and enhanced. Maulana Muhammad Bhamjee (ra) travelled extensively with Maulana Yusuf Binnori (ra) and was afforded the opportunity of benefiting from a large array of great ‘Ulama.

Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad (ra) had been involved in the Jamiatul Ulama from the time he returned to South Africa. He was a long-standing member of the Shurah (highest decision making body) of the organization and also served as its treasurer until his last day.

Maulana was firm on matters of Shari`ah and would not tolerate anybody acting in a manner that was remotely close to being in conflict with the Qur’an and Sunnah. In matters where he felt that the Shari`ah was not being observed, with wisdom he would adopt a frank attitude instead of treading compromisingly and diplomatically. All his life, he took a keen interest in community affairs and serving the Ummah. In this regard he contributed greatly towards providing facilities for the underprivileged in his area. It was largely through his tireless efforts that the construction of the Masjid at Marble Hall was completed.

Hadhrat Maulana will also be remembered for his great passion and tireless efforts to guide the Ulama, especially the younger ones, with regard to being knowledgeable and appreciative of the great heritage that they have earned from Prophet (S) and from the ‘Ulama of the recent past. He would often express great emotion and shed tears while recollecting the great Ulama of Deoband and their untiring service in the various fields of serving the Deen of Islam.

We make du’a that Allah Ta’ala elevate his status in Jannah, reward him abundantly and grant his family ‘Sabr Jameel’. Ameen.

Jamiatul Ulama (Council of Muslim Theologians)



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