Mufti Ebrahim Desai (RA), the prominent grand mufti of South Africa, passed away on Friday, 5th of Dhil-Hijjah, 1442, corresponding to Thursday, July 15, 2021 in Durban, South Africa.
THE sad news was announced via Twitter by Islamic finance scholar, the eldest son and student of Mufti Ebrahim Desai (RA), Mufti Ismail Desai, and Mufti Husain Kadodia, researcher and student of Mufti Ebrahim Desai (RA).
Mufti Ebrahim Desai (RA) was born on January 16, 1963, in Richmond, KZN, South Africa. He completed his Quran memorisation (hifdh) at Waterval Islamic Institute (Mia’s Farm), South Africa. Thereafter, he pursued his aalim course in Jamia Islamia, Dhabel, India for seven years, and passed with distinction every year.
Mufti Ebrahim Desai completed his mufti course (iftaa) over two years at Jamia Islamia, Dhabel, under Hazrat Mufti Ahmad Khanpuri Saheb. After completing this course, he completed another year of studies in iftaa under the late mufti of India, Hazrat Mufti Mahmud al-Hasan Gangohi (RA), the author of the multi-volume Fatawa Mahmudiyya. Mufti Saheb taught Fiqh, Principles of Fiqh, Tafseer and Hadith at Madrasah Ta’limuddin, Isipingo Beach, South Africa, for ten years. He also headed the Fatwa Department at Jamiatul Ulama, KZN. He was a senior shaikhul Hadith at Madrasah In’aamiyyah, Camperdown, for another ten years.
In 2011, Mufti Ebrahim Desai moved to Durban permanently and laid the foundation for Darul Iftaa Mahmudiyyah, Sherwood, Durban. Mufti Ebrahim Desai (RA) was the shaikhul Hadith at Darul Uloom Nu’maniyyah and Madarassah Hameediyyah, based in Durban, South Africa, where he taught Saheeh Bukhari for over 10 years.
Mufti Ebrahim Desai has authored two books, Introduction to Hadith: A general introduction to Hadith and its sciences and Introductions to Islamic Commerce. His eldest son and student, Mufti Ismail Desai, authored the second part of the book titled Your brief guide to Islamic finance. The foreword to this book was written by Mufti Ebrahim Desai. His fatawa have been compiled in a book titled Al-Mahmood. Another compilation of his talks at the Shariah Compliant Business Campaign is also available, titled Shariah compliant business campaign. The latest compilation of contemporary verdicts is also available titled Contemporary fatawa. He has also authored an English commentary of the famous ‘Qaseedah Burdah’.
Mufti Ebrahim Desai (RA) was featured among The 500 most influential Muslims compiled by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre and referred to as the ‘South African grand mufti of Indian descent’.
Moulana Ebrahim Bham, the Secretary General of Jamiatul Ulama South Africa and senior scholar, stated, ‘When you looked at Mufti Ebrahim Desai, he was balanced. His fatawa were characterised by moderation. Mufti Ebrahim Desai has great qualities to resolve the issues of people.’
Mufti Ismail Desai, global shariah expert on Islamic finance and eldest son and student of Iftaa and Hadeeth of Mufti Ebrahim Desai (RA) stated, ‘Some of the salient features and characteristics will be stated here although my walid saheb DB did not generally approve of this out of tawadhu.
- Always gave preference to others
- Always be humble
- Always punctual on Mamoolat
- Always be sincere
- Always have a smiling face.’
Mufti Ismail further states, ‘Our Shaikh Hazrat Aqdas Mufti Ahmed Khanpuri Saheb DB had so much of eetimad and trust on my father as his student that Hazrat would direct many people to the guidance of my father. This is a sign of qabuliyyah and trust given by the teacher to the student. My father always stood to uplift and encourage others. Once I wanted to do a certain course on Islamic finance and I was penniless, my father took out his own funds and encouraged me to support others and move forward in this field.’
Mufti Ebrahim Desai was also an expert in Islamic finance and achieved many accolades and positions in this field. Mufti Ismail Desai says, ‘My father started the Shariah Compliant Business Campaign in 2002. The campaign addressed the following issues: interest, consumer credit, insurance, etc.’
Mufti Ebrahim Desai (RA) used to conduct a weekly spiritual discourse at Musjidus Saliheen, Sherwood, Durban, South Africa, and was the resident mufti of Channel Islam International. Mufti Ebrahim Desai (RA) was the khaleefah/ vicegerent of the late grand mufti of India, Mufti Mahmood al-Hasan Gangohi (RA). Mufti Ebrahim Desai (RA) was also the head mufti of Jamiatul Ulema KZN, appointed by Shaikh Yunus Patel (RA) and head mufti of various other darul iftaas, globally.
Mufti Saheb visited Unites States, Canada, UK, China and other countries for almost 15 years, and delivered talks and lectures on various topics in masajid, universities and various institutes. Many people reverted to Islam during these visits in various places, including the United Kingdom and United States of America.
Mufti Ebrahim Desai stated on May 9, 2020, ‘Approximately 15 years ago, in my tafseer of Surah Mariam in the UK, 22 Christian women accepted Islam after understanding how Muslims revere Mary. Thousands of our mothers and daughters are named Mary. Even my mother and daughter are named Mary (Mariam).’
Mufti Ismail Desai, in a live interview, stated, ‘My father had a great desire for his works and teachings to be disseminated globally to the four corners of the world. He also requested we make eesale sawab for him. He was a giant of knowledge, spiritual mentor and a phenomenal teacher.’
Over 500 global religious leaders, politicians, academics, community leaders and business titans expressed condolences to the Desai family, based in Durban, South Africa. Among them was his shaikh, grand teacher and spiritual guide, Shaikh Mufti Ahmed Khanpuri, the current grand mufti of India and trustee of Darul Uloom Deoband, Shaikh Fadhlul Rahman A’zami, Shaikhul Hadith of Darul Uloom Azaadville, and Shaikh Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani, globally renowned shariah scholar and head of Darul Iftaa, Darul Uloom, Karachi.
Mufti Ismail Desai stated, ‘Upon the passing away of the pious servants and friends of Allah, we ponder over the lessons they imparted and we make amal to strengthen our own imaan. Our turn to leave this dunya is coming, what have we prepared? May Allah grant us the toufeeq to become His beloved only.’