Qari Abdul Hamid Panoli great Daee and Reciter of Quran revivalist of Ummah in South Africa Saviors Of Islamic Spirit

The Arabic saying holds true: “The death of a scholar, is the death of all mankind.” 

And so it was with the passing of Qari Abdul Hamid Panoli, who left this world on Monday, 11 Dhul Hijjah 1432, corresponding 7 November 2011.

The passing of any person is more so felt by the people who have come into contact with the individual; be it family, friend, business acquaintance or even enemies. Thousands of South Africans who were touched, influenced or inspired by the personality affectionately known as Qarisahib were emotional yesterday at the heart drenching news of his death.

In the late 1960’s, Qari Abdul Hamid made his way to South Africa from him home village of Panoli in India. He took up the responsibility of being the Imaam at the Kerk Street Masjid in the centre of a developing Johannesburg.

The level of Islamic knowledge and practice was very minimal in the South African environment during those years. Many of the sunnah practices of Rasullulah (SAW) had been abandoned in favour of the growing western trends. It was not uncommon to hear of Eid dancing balls as Ramadhan would come to an end where people would party the night away in celebration of the conclusion of the auspicious month.

Yunus Bismillah was one of the men who had the privilege of having a very close relationship with Qari Abdul Hamid Sahib.

“The conditions were very bad in South Africa during the 1960s. Our masajid were only attended by old people and Hufaadh had to be brought in from other places to perform the Taraweeh Salaah during Ramadhan. It was then that Qarisahib came down (from India). “

Bismillah gives a sterling account of the type of person the learned scholar was. Hikmah (wisdom), courage, love and compassion were adjectives used to describe him.

“He used to encourage all the youth, visiting homes one by one. During the day, during the night, telling people to come back towards deen (Islam).

Qarisahib was one of the earliest people in South Africa to take on the responsibility of making effort to increase the level of Imaan according to the manner prescribed by those in the field of Dawat and Tabligh.

Like Rasullullah (SAW), he would go door to door and encourage everybody towards following Allah’s commands and the sunnah way of life.

During his initial years, Qarisaheb lived alone at the Kerk Street Masjid as his family remained behind in India. “We used to keep him company as youngsters” said Bismillah. “We would sit in from 5pm after completing work, right up until midnight at times, taking benefit from him.”

Qarisaheb’s special quality was his ability to communicate with people from all walks of life despite his lack of mastery of the English language. It didn’t matter weather they were old or young, black or white.

He also started a Hifdh class for the memorisation of the Quraan in the Kerk Street Masjid.

“We took such advantage of him. We felt that Allah had sent a reviver of the deen to us because we were also involved in all that partying”, said Bismillah.

“He established four things in the masjid and the homes of the people. Dawat (Islamic propagation), Taalim (learning and teaching), Ibadat (worship) and Khidmat (service to fellow human beings).”

He used to say that if people spend their health and wealth on the deen of Allah, Allah will safeguard them from all evils and create an environment conducive towards deen.

The efforts of this humble saint soon began bearing fruit as Kerk Street Masjid became a beacon of light for many other towns in South Africa. “People were attracted to Kerk Sreet Masjid because of the a’maal (actions) taking place there,” said Bismillah.

When he introduced the work of Dawat to the various communities around South Africa people would telling him this is something new and possibly an innovation. But those who were close to him remained firms and steadfast. “He used to say, ‘No, this is the work of Nabi (SAW),’”added Bismillah.

The most important lessons he taught those who were privileged to meet him were tolerance, hikmah (wisdom), istiqmah (steadfastness) and ikhlaas (sincerity) with thanks