MUHAMMAD FAZL-UR-RAHMAN RAWOOT, the nephew of the late Haji Omar Ahmed Essack Karjieker, reflects on the life of his uncle, a humble man, whose quiet presence and wise guidance will be sorely missed.
And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility… (Al-Furqan, 25:63)
If ever there was a definition of humility that could be translated into a living example amongst us, it was the humble demeanour of the late Haji Omar Essack Karjieker, my beloved Mamu.
Mamu was born into the illustrious Karjieker family as the eldest son of the late Imam Ahmed Essack Karjieker. He was brother to his marhoom siblings Atica, Abdussalaam and Dilawez Khatoon, and is survived by his youngest sister, Roshen Ara Rawoot,. Mamu was also the beloved husband to Hajjani Mariam Essack Karjieker (née Rawoot) and father to Hafiza Apa and Razia Bhana.
At first glance, to a stranger, Mamu may have seemed unremarkable; a quiet and unassuming modestly dressed man. But to us, his family and to all those who knew him, Mamu was a quiet powerhouse of Islamic knowledge, a man well-versed in the history and traditions of our Cape Town Islamic heritage and the culture of our Kokni community. He was fondly known as Janaab (teacher) to the community because of the number of people would turn to him for teaching, understanding and clarity on a myriad of issues and challenges. These Mamu would explain in his signature calm and steady manner, with the greatest of humility. There was always a lesson in his message, and that was the reason that he was fondly called Janaab.
A stalwart of the community, Mamu was a familiar face during Jumuah proceedings when reciting the adhan or the pre-khutbah dua. During the month of Ramadaan, his melodious voice would reverberate in the masjid during the recitation of the poojies and fatiha. And during the month of Muharram, Mamu’s recitation of the events leading to Karbala will always echo within the walls of the Jama-e-Ahmedi Sunni Masjid in Grassy Park.
As a founder member of the Moulood programmes at the Masjid, and the Mullah Saheb (leader) of the Giyarwee programmes, Mamu was always there to start these programmes and explain the history and understanding of these spiritually rejuvenating events. An avid reader, his knowledge of the deen was second to none. He was always able to quote hadith and references to anyone seeking guidance or clarification on Islamic issues. Furthermore, with his deep understanding of Urdu and Naat – poetry in praise of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) – Mamu could always present an in-depth perspective of its meaning to those seeking an explanation. His generosity knew no bounds, and he gave freely of his time, resources and wisdom to uplift others.
During his spare time at home, Mamu was always found deeply engrossed in the recitation of the Holy Quran, exuding a profound aura of inner peace and contentment.
Another of his well-recognised talents was that he was an incredibly gifted calligrapher. Together with the late Haji Yunus Chilwan he would do the calligraphy for banners for either the functions of the Masjid or events that would celebrate our beloved Nabi Muhammad (SAW) or luminaries that contributed to Islam. Mamu was also a mureed (discipile) of Hadrat Mehboob Ali Shah Chisti Nizami (RA) (1925-2005), a great personality of Islam during his time.
Mamu was acutely self-aware, always mindful of his words and actions, and never sought to draw attention to himself. His humility was reflected in the way he treated others with kindness, compassion, and empathy, irrespective of their social status or beliefs. He was never boastful of his achievements or his personal virtues, nor did he need to be; his actions spoke for themselves. Throughout his life he remained steadfast in his commitment to his beliefs and values, always striving to live a life of service and compassion towards all those around him.
As a family, Mamu was there for every major milestone of our lives and all the other normal things in between. He was always present with a gentle smile and a sweet joke, often enjoying a wrestling show on TV and regaling us with commentary on it. His quiet presence and wise guidance will be sorely missed by us all. His passing leaves a gaping hole in our family that cannot be replaced by anyone else. Although we are deeply saddened by his passing, we take comfort in knowing that he has left behind a legacy of love, compassion, and service to community, that will continue to inspire and guide us for generations to come. His life was a gift to us all, and his memory will forever be cherished by those whose lives he touched.
 Adhkaar and duas (remembrance of Allah and prayers) specifically recited in Ramadaan, and a feature in Cape Town before and after the night prayer during the month of fasting.
 Giyarwee is a compilation of prayers remembering Allah and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) dedicated to Shaikh Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jilani (RA).