By Ozayr Mahomed
I pen these words through a whirlwind of emotions caused by an indelible void in my heart due to the recent demise of my beloved Ustaadh…
From the onset, I would like to mention that I share this not as an accolade to Moulana since fame and glory were contrary to his humble personality, but merely so that one-and-all can derive lesson and spiritual benefit.
Furthermore, many of Moulana’s students scattered across the length and breadth of the country, are unaware of Moulana’s exemplary personality; and might gain a slight insight into Moulana’s life and legacy.
The Early Years
Moulana Muhammad Abdurrahmaan Ebrahim Mia Rahmatullah Alayh (R.A.), the eldest son of my illustrious Ustaadh- Hadrat Hafiz Abdurrahman Mia R.A., – was born in Lydenburg (Mpumalanga) on 25 September 1943. At the age of twleve (12), Moulana Muhammad was sent to Madinah Munawwarah to do his hifz; a great sacrifice by Moulana’s parents and Moulana. On completion of his Hifz, Moulana returned to South Africa after four (4) relentless years. The journey to Jeddah in those days was a two-day trip by air, thus there were no visits home during this time.
Moulana then began pursuing his Aalim Course in Mia’s farm under the tutorship of Mufti Ibrahim Sanjalwi R.A.
Darul Uloom Deoband
At the age of sixteen (16), Moulana was sent to Darul Uloom Deoband to continue his Aalim Course. As was Moulana’s inherent nature, Moulana was a very diligent student and his asaatiza grew fond of him; especially Moulana Yusuf Binnori Rahamatullah Alayhi, a Sheikhul Hadith, a Wali of Allah and a Sayyed. Moulana Yusuf R.A. would often take Moulana with him on his visits and travels to other akaabireen (senior ulema). Moulana became a regular in the Binnori household and Moulana Yusuf R.A.’s father, Moulana Zakariyya Binnori R.A. (also a great scholar and Wali of Allah), was also very fond of Moulana and would often hit him playfully on his back and say “Ya Muhammad”.
Moulana Muhammad was greatly inspired by Moulana Yusuf Binnori R.A.; and this was evident in Moulana’s outlook, actions and advises throughout his life.
It is also worth mentioning that Moulana Muhammad was also fortunate enough to spend ittikaaf during the last ten (10) days of Ramadaan with Hadrat Sheikhul Hadith, Moulana Mohammed Zakariyya Kandhalvi R.A. Permission had to be sought through a letter to Hadratjee requesting permission to sit for ittikaaf. Each year, Moulana Muhammad was granted permission to sit for ittikaaf in the company of this great luminary- fortunate indeed.
During the course of advising us in later years, Moulana would often reminisce about his golden student days in Madina Munawwarah and Darul Uloom Deoband…
Whilst in Madinah, Moulana befriended one of the “Aghawaat”. Aghawaat were men who were castrated at birth so that they would remain pure and then pledged by their parents to clean the Rawdah Mubarak of Nabi S.A.W. (this innovated practice has long been stopped). This person would often give Moulana dust from the Qabr of Nabi S.A.W. and Moulana would wipe it on his face and body.
Moulana’s Hifz ustaadh, Qari Qaadir Jaan (Bukhaari) demanded that they sit in the jalsa (tashahud) position in class; and hence would have to sit in this position for approximately ten (10) hours a day.
Madinah will always be Taiba, but Moulana experienced a different Madinah Taiba- there was no electricity in Madinah at that time and the Haram was the only place with electricity. The norm for taraweeh in the Haram used to be three (3) Juz a night and almost every pillar in Masjidun Nabawi would have two (2) Huffaaz interchangeably reciting Quraan in Nafil salaat until the time of sehri.
Moulana would also narrate to us incidents about Darul Uloom Deoband, his travels with Moulana Yusuf Binnori R.A., the levels of dedication and piety of the various akabireen (seniors) who taught in the Darul Uloom and about fellow students and madrasah staff.
Life and Work
Moulana Muhammad returned to South Africa at the age of twenty-four (24) and after getting married, settled down to teach Hifz in Mias Farm at the feet of his illustrious father; an occupation that Moulana dedicated an approximate forty-five (45) years of his life to. At the age of twenty-eight (28), Moulana began the English translation of the kitaab “Shamaail-e-Tirmidhi”, in the Haram in Makkah whilst on Haj with his wife. Moulana was a linguist and a Faqeeh (Jurist) and translated and edited kitaabs right until a few months before his demise. Moulana was very passionate about his work and took special pride in ensuring a very high quality of work.
Moulana was a quiet, humble man who shied away from the rendition of public address, yet his works speak volumes. A few of the kitaabs from Moulana’s many works include:
- Shamaail e Tirmidhi (Khasaa Ilul Nabawi)
- The Upbringing of Children in Islam
- Haj and Ziyarat
- The Meaning of the Glorious Quraan
- What Islam Is?
- Desire for the Aakhirah
- Kitaabul Fiqh
Moulana was also granted Khilaafat (succession) by Hadrat Sheikhul Hadith, Moulana Mohammed Zakariyya Kandhalvi R.A. and later Sheikh Lutfullah Abbasi Naqshabandi R.A. of Madinah Munawwarah. However, due to Moulana’s nature, he did not initiate anyone into his following.
Moulana was also a very dedicated ustaadh. He cared about his students greatly and would get very happy when old students came to visit him.
I recall an incident when the late Moulana Umar Rawat, Moulana’s former student from Mias Farm and the ex-imam of the Nurul Islam Masjid, suffered a major heart-attack. Moulana requested me one evening after Taraweeh salaat to stop by Moulana Umar’s home and drop off a tub of rutab dates conveying his salaams together with wishing him a speedy recovery. Moulana Umar was ill in bed but was greatly warmed by this gesture from Moulana.
Moulana was very fond of Moulana Taha and his brother, Hafiz Abdus Salaam Karaan (both students of Moulana and the sons of the late Moulana Yusuf Karaan from Cape Town). During their father’s terminal illness with cancer, Moulana would call them regularly to enquire about their father’s health.
On another occasion, Moulana Muaz, the son of the late Mufti Hoosain Bhayat R.A., came to visit Moulana. It was his first meeting with Moulana, and on learning who he was, Moulana became extremely happy. He instantly lifted his hands making dua for the marhoom and then told Moulana Muaz with tear-filled eyes: “Your father was my student.”
Ramadaan was a month that Moulana dedicated solely to the Quraan. Moulana would say: “In Ramadaan we don’t have time for any other work.” Many former students would come and read their Taraweeh dor to Moulana at specific times everyday right up until the second last Ramadaan before Moulana’s demise. During this Ramadaan (1437 AH), Moulana told me that he would usually complete a Quraan daily during Ramadaan, but due to weakness, he required more sleep than before and would complete a Quraan every two (2) days.
Moulana never missed his fast despite his illness and would read part of the Taraweeh salaah standing and part sitting. I took special notice that Moulana always performed his esha salaah in full and would perform the seventeen (17) rakaats of esha standing. Moulana preferred standing and performing salaah and disliked that younger people should sit on a chair and perform salaah. Moulana always stressed on the importance of performing salaah with jamaah in the masjid.
Special Qualities and Advises
Moulana had a wealth of knowledge, and one would only realise this when interacting with Moulana on a personal level. Moulana would often advise us- my knowledge is minimal; yet the pearls I gained from Moulana through these discourses over the years, have been more beneficial to me than all the other learnings in my life combined. My greatest regret is that I did not derive maximum benefit from Moulana due to my own weakness.
I will attempt to share with you a few of Moulana’s outstanding qualities and some pertinent advises that Moulana would constantly repeat.
- Moulana was a very humble person and would always encourage us to display humility. Often when requested by visitors for advice or questioned about his work, Moulana would humbly reply that they should enquire from more senior Ulema instead.
- Moulana was a man of few words, especially in company and with people whom he was not accustomed to. He would mostly listen and smile.
- Moulana and his wife were both passionate gardeners and constantly cultivated an extensive vegetable patch. Moulana would sometimes bring plants from Madinah Munawwarah and plant it in his garden. A few of these plants would grow in the garden and Moulana would make mention of it over meals if any of these herbs or vegetables were part of the menu. Moulana and his wife would often give the neighbors and family of their produce. Moulana would also encourage us to do gardening and would tell us that if every home cultivated a 1m² vegetable patch, hunger can be eradicated in the world.
- Moulana was not wealthy but would often discharge considerable amounts in charity and would advise us likewise.
- Moulana disliked riyaah (show) and would advise us to refrain from riyaah in our actions and lifestyles.
- Moulana’s life was an embodiment of simplicity and Moulana would constantly stress upon us the importance of adopting simplicity and sunnah.
- Though simple, Moulana was a very neat person and was always presentable. Moulana also implemented system in everything he did and would tell us that it is part of deen. Everything in deen has etiquette.
- Moulana never liked inconveniencing anybody and would often advise us not to cause anybody takleef (difficulty). He would tell us that even if you pay someone, give the money in such a way that it is easy for that person to count.
- Moulana was quite knowledgeable with regards to herbal and alternative remedies. If Moulana learnt of any person’s illness, he would recommend a remedy or do research and would say: “They might benefit”.
- Moulana would tell us that English is not our language though we have adopted it. The unfortunate situation being as it may, we should endeavor to “Islamicize” the English language instead of “Anglicizing” it. Some of these examples given by Moulana are as follows:
- Do not refer to the Quraan as the “Holy” Quraan. The bible was always referred to as the Holy Bible. We should rather refer to the Quraan as Allah does in the Quraan by saying “Quraan Kareem”.
- Do not refer to Nabi S.A.W. as “Prophet”. Nabi S.A.W. did not prophesize anything; but spoke through revelation. Rather refer to Nabi S.A.W. as Allah T.A. lovingly does in the Quraan by saying “Nabi S.A.W.” or “Rasool S.A.W.”.
- Do not say “Peace be upon him” but rather say Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam. This is durood. Even when speaking to non-believers, say Sallahu Alayhi Wasallam. It might be a means of their hidaayat should they emulate us in saying Sallahu Alayhi Wasallam; just as Allah granted the magicians hidaayat because they emulated the dress code of Moosa A.S., even though in jest.
- Moulana was very particular about performing his salaah on time in congregation. The instance athaan began; Moulana would leave everything he was doing and prepare for salaat. This habit of Moulana’s continued even into the last two (2) years of his life when due to illness; Moulana could not go to the Masjid for salaah and would perform his salaah at home. Moulana would always be in the first saff in the masjid and was also particular about performing all his sunnat and nawafil salaat. Moulana would repeatedly tell us that the four sunnat prior to the fardh, prepares you mentally, physically and spiritually for the fardh salaat.
- Moulana forbade us from joining the verses of Surah Fatiha even in taraweeh salaat. Moulana would say that after every verse, the angels say Aameen. If you recite Surah Fatiha in three (3) breaths, you only get three (3) Aameens. Recite each verse individually and attain the benefit of seven “Aameens” from the angels. Moulana would then say: “If the imams can recite Surah Fatiha correctly, many of the challenges facing the ummah will be resolved.”
- Moulana always advised us to make dua seeking death with imaan.
- Moulana would continuously stress upon us the importance of respect- respect for all creation, respect for ourselves and respect for the deen of Allah. Moulana would say: “You cannot win anybody over except with respect.” Moulana would also tell us that our Ustaad and Moulana’s father, Hafiz Abdurrahman R.A., displayed such excellent character whilst serving as an Imaam in Lydenburg, that those who are still alive from that period speak fondly of Hafiz Abdurrahman R.A. more than seventy (70) years later.
- Moulana like his illustrious father, disliked the wearing of clothes with writing/slogans/pictures and would also advise his family not to wear such clothing. He would tell us that it is against the honor of a Muslim to be a walking billboard. Moulana would get upset when he would see people wearing such clothes in the Masjid or even wearing low-rise jeans and bamuda trousers; though he would not say anything. He would say that you should dress respectfully to the masjid and that if the gaze of a person performing salaat happens to fall on even one letter of writing that is not part of the Quraan, their salaat becomes makrooh. Moulana also used to say: “How can you stand in front of Allah T.A. wearing His enemies clothes.”
- Moulana endeavored to adopt the sunnat in every aspect of his life and advised us to do the same. He would always tell us how his asaatiza would go to great lengths in adopting the sunnat and would narrate to us the following incident:
One summer afternoon, he waited at the back of the Masjid for Moulana Yusuf Binnori R.A. after the Zuhr salaat. As Moulana Yusuf R.A. exited the Masjid, Moulana Muhammad hurried and shaded Moulana Yusuf R.A. from the scorching midday sun with an umbrella. Moulana Yusuf R.A. became very upset and told Moulana Muhammad that Nabi S.A.W. never utilized an umbrella to shade himself from the sun, but a scarf.
- Moulana was very particular about time and often mentioned to us that Moulana Yusuf Binnori R.A. would get upset with him if he put sugar in his tea after pouring it and would say: “Put sugar first and then pour the tea. You will spend less time stirring the tea.” Moulana would also tell us: “If an Aalim cannot honor time, do not ask him for even one masalah”.
Final Days and Demise
Ramadaan 1438 was Moulana’s last Ramadaan. During Shabaan, Moulana was admitted to the High Care Unit at Helen Joseph Hospital for ten (10) days. Upon discharge, Moulana communicated to all the students who would usually come and recite their taraweeh dor that he would not be able to listen to them due to illness; myself included. The void had begun.
Though Moulana was very ill, he persisted and kept all his fasts. Moulana would also join us for taraweeh each night until the seventh (7th) night, and then stopped due to his increasing weakness.
On the 10 Zul Qaddah 1438 corresponding to the 03 August 2017, Moulana’s daughter had just finished feeding him his lunch when Moulana put his hand on his chest, turned his face and recited the shahaadah before breathing his last. Alas, as this hidden gem lived his life, he quietly and quickly returned to his Rabb leaving behind a lofty legacy.
موت العالم موت العالم
Mawtul Aalim Mawtul Aalam
(The death of an Aalim is the death of the world).
May Allah T.A. accept all Moulana’s works and efforts in the course of deen, grant him the highest stages in Jannat and grant his family Sabrun Jameel and Aafiyah both in this world and the next. Aameen.