(Below is a brief life sketch of Hazrat Maulana Yunus Patel رحمة الله عليه, covering Hazrat’s academic studies, Hazrat’s experience with Hajee Bhai Padia رحمة الله عليه and the story behind the establishment of Hazrat’s girls madrassah – Masjid-e-Noor. This life sketch was penned by Hazrat Maulana Dawood Seedat حفظه الله approximately one year before his demise)
28 Jamad-as-Thani 1431 AH corresponding to 12 June 2010
All praise is due to Allah ﷻ who created man, gave him the gift of expression and revealed for him the Holy Quran that Divine Book which is a source of advice, healing, guidance and mercy for those who have faith. Abundant and perfect salutations be on Muhammad Rasulullah صلي الله عليه وسلم, the personality who is the best of all creation, whose Nur illuminated the hearts of people whose appearance was a bounty for the whole universe. Peace be upon His Descendants and Companions and upon all the believers.
The annals of Islamic history are filled with accounts of the lives of the pious. It is from these carefully documented extracts from the life of Rasulullah صلي الله عليه وسلم all the way down to the personalities of the present era, that Muslims have always drawn inspiration and guidance. Alhumdulillah, our history has no shortage of those who have served this Deen by preserving the lives of the pious in its most pristine form.
When reading the autobiography of Hazrat Shaikh Zakariyah (RA) Aap Beeti, my awe and inspiration for this great Qutb increased many folds. We are often fortunate to hear his many kitaabs being read as daily taleem in the home and Musjid, but the true understanding of the greatness of this Wali-Allah (friend of Allah ﷻ) only penetrates our hearts when we undertake a detailed study of his life. It is only when we delve into the depths of the lives of the Auliya (pious servants of Allah ﷻ) that we are able to truly understand and appreciate the lofty heights that they had reached.
After reading his autobiography, the desire arose in my heart to undertake a similar project of documenting key points in the life of my beloved and honoured Sheikh, Hazrat Maulana Yunus Patel Saheb (RA). This is not an official biography but rather the assembling of a variety of incidents in the life of Hazrat (RA) which will, Insha Allah, inspire us all to attain the muhabbat (love) of Allah ﷻ and Nabi ﷺ in our hearts.
WHY SHOULD WE STUDY THE LIVES OF OUR AKAABIREEN?
I have already discussed what prompted me to embark on this epic journey of documenting certain aspects of Hazrat’s (RA) life. After speaking to some of Hazrat’s (RA) close friends and mureeds (spiritual disciples), the thought occurred to me that I should perhaps write a brief note on the importance of reading this publication.
Thousands of people have either sat in or listened to Hazrat’s (RA) majaalis over the past years. Almost everyone has been affected in some way or other by these programmes. This is the pattern of our akaabireen. Irrespective of how hard they try to seclude themselves and remain unknown, Allah ﷻ softens the hearts of mankind towards them and make them fountains of spiritual guidance. Time does not permit me to go into detail regarding the various people I have spoken to and the impact Hazrat (RA) has had in their lives.
The question we are then forced to ask ourselves is what is it that attracts us so strongly to Hazrat (RA). There is no money nor food being distributed via his programmes nor is anyone given any major government contracts or special business deals by virtue of their association with Hazrat (RA). The only way we can answer this question is to undertake a detailed study of Hazrat’s (RA) life so that we may be able to extract those pearls and gems which have shaped him through the course of time. It is these incidents which are little in nature but enormous in lesson that have cultured Hazrat’s (RA) heart into a spiritual reservoir.
In reading these incidents we will Insha Allah be exposed to various sifaat (qualities) in Hazrat’s (RA) life such as generosity, compassion, selflessness, kindness and consideration. These are the noble qualities of all the Ambiyaa (Prophets) and pious servants of Allah ﷻ.
We are sometimes only able to appreciate the advises of an individual when we understand his background. The Ustaadh (lecturer) commands greater respect when the students are aware that he himself was an excellent student. In the same way we will Insha Allah be able to implement the akhlaaqi (character related) and islaahi (spiritual) advices of Hazrat (RA) when we become aware of his own impeccable behaviour and character.
An overview of Hazrat’s (RA) life has been given in various places to date. It has been discussed often during the majaalis. Maulana Moosa Olga (damat barakaatuhum) has also accurately reproduced it in his account of the life of Hajee Bhai Padia (RA). Most recently Hazrat (RA) gave a heart rendering account of his life in an interview with Channel Islam. The material from these various sources has been put together here so that the reader may be able to place the incidents in this publication in context.
Hazrat (RA) spent his early childhood days in the town of Stanger, KwaZulu Natal. This town is approximately 60km to the north of Durban. Hazrat’s (RA) initial days in Grade 1 were spent in a missionary school due to other schools being far away from his residence. Hazrat’s (RA) beloved father once heard the children imitating one of the Christian hymns that they were taught at school. He became extremely perturbed and immediately had the children transferred to another school.
Alhumdulillah, Hazrat (RA) was blessed with intelligence and always came in the first or second position in class from primary school through to high school. Due to Hazrat’s (RA) remarkable grades, it was expected that he would further his tertiary studies and become a teacher or a doctor. Allah ﷻ however had another plan. How could the intelligence and brilliance of this luminary scholar be wasted on trivial worldy pursuits? Allah ﷻ is the Supreme architect of everything and He had a great plan for Hazrat’s (RA) future. Due to the intense apartheid struggle at the time, the government chose to fail 60 of the 90 students in the Grade 11 (Standard 9) class in order to prevent them from proceeding to the matric class. Naturally, Hazrat (RA) was extremely disappointed.
On the very day that Hazrat’s (RA) results were released, he saw a poster on a billboard in town stating that Hajee Bhai Padia (RA) had just returned from India and would be delivering a lecture in the Grey (Dr Yusuf Dadoo) Street musjid in Durban. Hazrat (RA) attended the lecture. Hajee Bhai Padia (RA) delivered the lecture in Urdu and then made tashkeel (invitation to join the jamaat) in English. Hazrat (RA) had barely understood a single word of the lecture. Something however stirred in his compassionate heart and he felt pitty for Hajee Saheb (RA).
Hazrat (RA) mentioned that he thought to himself that here was a man who was so passionate about inviting people towards Islam and pleaded to them to assist yet no one was willing to help. Subhanallah. This sifat (quality) of compassion and love was not something that was taught to Hazrat (RA) in a Darul Uloom. It was engrained in his heart and has been one of the salient and most attractive attributes that draws people towards him.
Hazrat (RA) was one of the three people who accepted Hajee Saheb’s (RA) invitation and proceeded to spend the night with Hajee Saheb (RA) in the musjid. It was an extremely uncommon practice at that time for people to stay in the musjid except for performing I’tikaaf (seclusion) in Ramadaan. It was also an extremely cold and windy night.
Due to these factors, Hazrat (RA) could barely fall asleep. At about 2am Hazrat (RA noticed that Hajee Saheb (RA) awoke, made wudhu and proceeded to perform tahajjud (night prayers). Thereafter for approximately two hours, Hajee Saheb (RA) wept bitterly before Allah ﷻ over the plight of the Ummah. Hajee Saheb (RA) made dua in Gujarati and Hazrat (RA) who was pretending to be asleep, was able to understand fully.
Hajee Saheb (RA) also made fervent dua for the well being of Hazrat (RA). Alhumdulillah it is these duas that have been instrumental in paving the way for Hazrat’s (RA) ascension to such lofty heights of spirituality. Hazrat (رحمه الله) then joined Hajee Saheb (RA) on a tour of South Africa as part of the first jamaat. They went to various towns in KwaZulu Natal, Transvaal and Cape in order to invite people towards Islam through the blessed work of Tabligh. This was a time when the work of Tabligh was unknown in South Africa. Never had a jamaat gone out in South Africa nor had any gusht taken place. There was no taleem in the masaajid nor did anyone spend any time in the path of Allah ﷻ.
During the December holidays, Hajee Saheb (RA) encouraged Hazrat (RA) to go to Darul Uloom Deoband to become an Aalim. Hazrat (RA accepted this invitation on the advice of his late father and grandfather and thus proceeded by ship with 55 others to India to become an Aalim. Upon his return from India 7 years later, Hazrat (RA) took up a post as an Imaam in Mooi River, KwaZulu Natal. At that time, there were very few Ulama in that area. The salary was minimal and for approximately four and a half years, Hazrat (RA) was unable to afford a car. In order to visit his family in Stanger, Hazrat (RA) had to stand on the side of the highway with his wife and children in order to get a lift. Despite these hardships, Hazrat (RA) promised the community that he would not leave them except if there was more Islamic work that needed to be done somewhere else or for health reasons.
It was from this time that Hazrat (RA) had absolutely no attachment to the material comforts of this world. Many years thereafter, Hazrat (RA) moved to Asherville in Durban. He accepted no salary from the Musjid or Madrasah. No profits were taken from the thousands of copies of tapes and cd’s that were sold at the Musjid tape library. Not a cent was accepted from the many kitaabs published under Hazrat’s (RA) name. In fact the kitaabs were published on the express condition that they must be distributed free of charge. It is this attitude that represents Hazrat’s (RA) unwavering sincerity in the service of Islam and the community. There are no ulterior motives nor was Hazrat’s (RA) judgment ever impaired by financial objectives.
In the early 1980’s Hazrat (RA) moved to Asherville in Durban where Musjid-e-Noor was established. Hazrat (RA) had been based at this musjid ever since. A girls madrasah, Mudrasatus-Sawlehaat was also established in the area. The madrasah was established to provide the correct tarbiyah (upbringing) for Muslim girls in the community.
The story behind the establishment of the madrasah is an amazing one. A mother once came to Hazrat (RA) complaining that her daughter did not want to perform salaah. Despite the home environment being deeni inclined and the correct Islamic education being provided to the child, the girl simply did not perform her salaah. The girl was then attending the Durban Indian Girl’s High School.
Hazrat (RA) called the girl in for consultation and questioned her about the problem. The girl replied that her science teacher had convinced her that God did not exist. Imagine a girl, born a Muslim, raised in a Muslim home with the necessary Islamic education rejecting the very existence of Allah ﷻ. This incident deeply affected Hazrat (RA). He realised the dangers of the current education system and the exposure of the Muslim females to such institutions. Hazrat (RA) therefore resolved to establish an institution which would provide basic western education within the correct Islamic environment while maintaining the respect and correct belief system of the young girls of the community. After all, these girls were soon going to become mothers and would form the nucleus of the future community.
As discussed earlier, the intention behind this section was merely to highlight some key aspects in Hazrat’s (RA) life. It is by no means a detailed account of his life but rather the tip of an enormous iceberg. To write a comprehensive biography of Hazrat (RA) would require a lifetime. It would also require an author who is fit for such a magnanimous task.