A teacher ignites the fire that fuels a student’s thirst for knowledge, curiosity and wisdom.
As a man who values education and the ability to shape young lives through it, Abdullah Sujee’s inherited teaching gene continues to drive his life’s work. His father, who was also a teacher, inspired him early on in life, making him realise the power of serving humanity. Sadly, in 1983, when Abdullah was just 12 years old, his beloved father passed away in their hometown of Evaton, Gauteng. Riots during the same year caused Abdullah’s family to lose their business, and both devastating incidences resulted in them moving 25km away to Roshnee. Abdullah held his father in the highest regard, and after this tumultuous turning point in his life, knew he wanted to continue his dad’s amazing legacy.
Abdullah continued to school at Roshnee Secondary School and moved on to the University of Durban/Westville in 1993 to complete his B.Paed (Arts IV). Thereafter, he attained a certificate in Methodology from the Teacher Training Academy as well as a diploma in Remedial Education from the University of Johannesburg (formally known as RAU). His passion for learning led him to further his studies in 2003, achieving a B.Tech qualification in Education Management. A teaching stint during 2001 in Saudi Arabia opened his eyes to the impact other teachers were making internationally. After years of hard work, Abdullah is now contently established as the principal of Roshnee Islamic School, a position that has given him the strength to persevere and an edge to lead.
Abdullah perceives teaching as so much more than just a job. The zealousness and commitment which he lavishly bestows on his vocation has earned him many impressive accolades. He won the National Microsoft Innovative Teacher Award in 2006, and represented South Africa in Philadelphia, USA, where he was awarded the Peer Review Award. In 2007, he won the National MITA Peer Review Award, returning a year later as a judge. In 2008, Abdullah was the national winner of ENGEN’s My Best Lesson Award. These awards did nothing but humble and inspire him to excel further in his field.
Islam provides Abdullah with a framework to live, think and act in a manner that is wholesome. He says that it separates the fluff from reality, gives him meaning, and shines the light needed to deal with life’s trials and tribulations.
The Proudly Muslims of South Africa initiative appeals to him due to the sacrifices made by our heroes of the past who gave up their lives for us to be free from oppression.
Abdullah’s life experiences impelled him to give back to society. He helped form an organisation which founded the Sabeel ur Rashaad Propagation Centre in Sharpeville, of which he is now the Chairman. He offers his expertise in leadership, mentorship, strategic planning and collection duties. Sujee realises the need to teach skills to people living in townships and also to enhance the growth of Islam.
He has overcome obstacles in the face of his humanitarian work by widening his circle of influence and meeting with more people involved in social work. Abdullah expresses that going on Tableeg (Jamaat), an Islamic missionary movement that focuses on urging Muslims to return to primary Sunni Islam, helped him build trust among people and form bonds with them.
Abdullah’s proudest charitable achievement was helping to build the first masjid in Sharpeville, which is noted as a hallmark of excellence.
One of his most emotionally moving experiences occurred in Ramadan 2015 when he performed It’ikaaf in Masjid-ul-Huda in Sharpeville. This Islamic practice involves staying in a mosque for a certain number of days and devoting oneself to prayer, while staying away from worldly affairs. His stay in the masjid saw him colourfully collide worlds with two ex-prisoners, a three-week Muslim revert, a 10-year old school boy, a university graduate and an unemployed man, amongst others. Abdullah spent his ten days and nights of It’ikaaf teaching and mentoring this group in all aspects of Islam and prayer. On one occasion, a man came to perform Nafl It’kaaf and brought his two children along. At supper time, Abdullah unassumingly opened a box of treats gifted from his town, Roshnee. The man handed a hearty chocolate doughnut to his 6-year old daughter, and she was absolutely gobsmacked at the reality of beholding one and relished every bite. He then gave her a croissant, and never having seen or eaten one before in her life, this little girl was elated. The trio spent the night in the masjid, and when the girl was shown the dormitory, she was thrilled to see a double bunker with two cosy blankets and a pillow. Abdullah was deeply touched by the exhilaration and appreciation this little girl had for items that we usually take for granted.
Abdullah encourages others to get involved in humanitarian work by reading the Seerah of Nabi Muhammad (SAW). If you’re looking for more inspiration, he believes that you should take time out to stay with the locals in a township and live as they do for three days.
His future philanthropic aspirations are to build a masjid and SETA-approved skills centre in Evaton.
His life philosophy: “Don’t refuse the opportunity, let the opportunity refuse you.”
Abdullah’s greatest life lesson is that “Adversity is your best teacher.”
He would like to be remembered in terms of the meaning of his name, Abdullah, which is ‘Servant of God’ in Arabic.
Roshnee Islamic School is so fortunate to have such an inspirational, dedicated and compassionate leader at their helm. Abdullah Sujee is the embodiment of a teaching institution whose morals and exceptional attributes are what all young graduates should aspire to.