Born on Thursday, 23 Jumad al-Ula 1336 (5 January 1911), this illustrious personality fondly known as Molsaap by his students, was born in Simlak, a village near Dabhel district, Surat, India. The family was known for their high degree of piety, and naturally, Hafiz `Abdur Rahman received an excellent spiritual upbringing. His father, Hajee Ebrahim Mia, was also instrumental in establishing the Darul `Uloom Taleemudeen in Dabhel from which many South African `ulema graduated.
This young saint of Allah, destined to establish the Qu’ran as a living force within himself and thousands of others, displayed exemplary piety and obedience from a very young age. By the age of four, Molsaap was already punctual with his Fajr salâh, and by the tender age of seven, had completed memorising the entire Qur`an.
Molsaap 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. A few weeks after taking bai`t, he became the khalifah [deputy] of his Shaikh and later on, also gained khilafat from Hazrat Maulana Mufti Mahmoodul Hasan Gangohi- May Allah T.A. have mercy on all of them. Âmîn.
On his father`s advice, Molsaap left for South Africa at the age of 17 where he worked for short stints in White River, Lydenburg and Johannesburg as an accountant, shop-manager and part-time hifz teacher.
In 1959, Molsaap was offered a full-time teaching post at the Waterval Islamic Institute (Mia`s Farm). Molsaap accepted the post despite the meagre salary with the aspiration of nurturing the future leaders of the Muslim population, the huffaz and ulema of South Africa.
Molsaap resided in the “cottages” of Mia`s Farm about 500m from the student hostel. Every morning, come hail or shine, Molsaap would walk the distance with clockwork punctuality. Qari Rafeeq Hathurani, one of his students at the time, narrates that Molsaap once told him that even though he plodded through a thick blanket of frost on icy-cold Highveld winters, it felt as if someone had lit a stove around him and he walked in the heat.
In 1991, Molsaap left Mias Farm and settled down on Nirvana Drive, Lenasia. He had a madrasah and hostel built next to Masjid al-Abrâr for hifzal-Qur`an purposes. This madrasah is still operational.
It is indeed difficult to find a match to Marhûm Hafiz `Abdur Rahman Sahib in terms of his absolute devotion to the Qur`ân. No words can truly capture the zeal, passion and fervour that Molsaap poured into the imparting of the Qurán. Day and night, both in health and in illness, Molsaap’s time was devoted to the Qur`ân.
Until the mid 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 deputed to numerous places in South Africa.
On rare occasions, Hafiz Sahib would leave his hifz class and 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 reason that Hafiz Sahib would leave his class was to conduct inspections of makâtib for the Jamiatul `Ulama South Africa. He was also hugely instrumental in drawing up the first “standard” syllabus of the Jamiat that all the Jamiat-affiliated madrasahs of South Africa followed.
Hafiz Sahib compiled a book in Urdu entitled Zikrullah lil-`Âlamîn. However, he refused to have it published due to his extreme modesty, even after it was translated into English.
Hafiz Sahib was also in the habit of always writing down points and jotting down notes from the works he would read. Hafiz Sahib later compiled these notes 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.
Hafiz Sahib was extremely punctual for his classes. Whatever the reason- family, weddings, funerals, illness… Hafiz Sahib never missed classes. Even on the day of his demise, he had taught a class!
His classroom was everywhere - his home, the pathway and the motorcar. This was the level of his dedication that today`s teachers will 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 for revision after completing their hifz elsewhere or even to just do a portion of their hifz at his feet to gain his blessings and benefit from his expert training.
Mia`s farm was known for its harsh punishment meted out to students in earlier days. However, Hafiz Sahib 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 bond with his students, irrespective of the fields that they later branched into- teaching, community service, Imamat, business and even the secular professions, many still confided in him and continued taking 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 any of his students attempted to pen down his life-story, he prohibited it.
The unforgettable Âshiq al-Quran wa al-Rahman, passed on to the mercy of Allah Ta`ala on Friday, 10th June, 2005, at 2100hrs after Isha Salât at the ripe age of 94.
His funeral service was held the next day at the Avalon Cemetery. A tribute to his lifetime of service to Islam was the extremely large number of people who 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.
Such was the noble life of our beloved ustaad! May Allah T.A. have mercy on him, fill his qabr with noor and grant him the highest of stages in Jannat! Aameen ya Rabbal Aalimeen!
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