Abdool Mutin Patel – Businessman and Philanthropist

Your greatness lies not in what you have, but in what you give.

It’s rare to find someone who gains more happiness from giving to others than from receiving. Abdool Mutin Yousouf Patel is one of those admirable individuals who strives to help those unable to help themselves. Generosity and kindness reside deep within him, and he gives freely of his own wealth to anyone who needs it. However, things were not always as easy and bountiful for Abdool Mutin while he was growing up.

His upbringing in Chatsworth, Durban, was far flung from the successful life he has spent years tirelessly building up. Surviving most days on just bread and tea, Abdool and his family could hardly afford even the simplest of luxuries that are often taken for granted. On one occasion, after being told to leave their place of residence, a Muslim family kindly cleared out their ‘fowl house’ for 10-year old Abdool and his family to reside in. Generous encounters such as this helped frame his mind set, and he knew that if he attained wealth in the future, he would always share it. Abdool understood the struggles and difficulties of growing up close to destitute which only spurred him on to create a better life for himself and his family. He never let his less than fortunate circumstances dictate his life negatively nor embitter him. Instead, he lived out his youthful days to the fullest, blissfully enjoying each moment spent with friends – often getting into trouble, but always taking a lesson from each escapade.

 

He started working when his father took ill, having no choice but to drop out of school in Standard 9, and step in to support his family. His keen interest in construction led him to study further, attaining certificates and a diploma in Building. His first big break was given to him at 34 years old, courtesy of Yusuf Lockhat, a prominent Durban businessman and property developer. Mr. Lockhat asked Abdool to complete construction work on a building for resale in Parlock. After the success of this initial project, Yusuf and Abdool’s business relationship was firmly cemented for the next 15 years. Eventually, Abdool began buying his own property for building and reselling purposes.

Abdool Mutin’s enterprising adeptness didn’t stop there. Along with this brother, he established a chain of 13 menswear stores situated around Durban, called ‘Glamour Boys and Barons’, which has since closed due to variable staff challenges. He took over a fencing company 16 years ago, Pro Fencing, expanding it into a thriving business. While he may have semi-retired 5 years ago, 65 year old Abdool isn’t someone who can sit around idly and spend his days leisurely in retirement. His tenacious work ethic still keeps him immersed in the business world. Abdool is extremely grateful to his wife Hasina, who has supported and encouraged him over the years.

 

Abdool values his role as a humanitarian to society.

 

A true humanitarian, Abdool spends much of his time involved in social work and charitable projects. He says that knowing what it feels like to be hungry and destitute, he cannot bear to see another human being go through the same desolate experiences that he did. Along with three of his closest comrades, Abdool set up an organisation called ‘Four Friends’. Each of them donates R10 000 monthly, towards food and grocery hampers for widows and orphans. Starting with just five hampers per month, this project expanded exponentially to more than 300. He works together with ‘Chohans’, a popular grocery franchise in Durban, which assists with the distribution of the hampers to other local charity organisations and the underprivileged. Abdool lives by the instruction of Almighty Allah and the sunnah of Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W), to help widows and orphans. “If you take one step towards Allah, he will take ten steps towards you”, he explains.

Abdool and his company building homes for victims of the Clare Estate fire in 2005

By giving away your wealth, it does not get depleted.” Abdool abides by this precept, and without any reluctance and with utmost sincerity, has become a beacon of hope for so many. He sponsors several schools in the area, pays utility bills for those who can’t afford to, and never demands rent from any of his tenants who cannot afford to pay him. He sends truckloads of groceries to Malawi each Ramadaan to feed 12-15 families in five villages. This year, transportation costs were not feasible but Abdul didn’t let this setback impede his good intentions. Instead, it propelled him to donates funds to Malawian muazzins locally, to send to their families abroad. The list of Abdool’s beneficiaries is endless. In 2005, a destructive fire burnt down many homes in an informal settlement in Kennedy Road, Clare Estate (Durban). Abdool closed his business for the day and brought along his best artisans to build 30-40 new homes for those affected by the fire, and also provided meals for the victims.

 

Abdool providing meals for the underprivileged in Pakistan

A 2016 trip to Pakistan had a profound impact on him – and it still leaves him reeling from sadness. While attending a function there, he sponsored 20 deghs (large pots) of food each day for lunch and supper. Underprivileged women would collect the midday meals while the men would receive the dinner share. Crowds of people, yearning to be fed, trampled over each other. As he served up biryani to the needy, Abdool despairingly recalls seeing men lift up their shirts and kurthas (traditional, long Islamic dress for men), to create makeshift baskets in order to carry whatever food they could. They were so destitute that they didn’t even own dishes to collect the free food in. Their sheer desperation shattered Abdool’s heart, so the next day he sourced packets for the poor to package their food in.

 

Adorable babies at Clairwood Hospital are given a new chance at life, thanks to Abdool.

Abdool’s proudest philanthropic achievement was during Ramadaan 2017, when his close friend Ahmed, a policeman, requested his help in an anguishing case. Ahmed’s daughter, Munira, who’s a nurse at Clairwood Hospital, found three babies abandoned in a dustbin. Devastated at hearing about the predicament of these innocent children, Abdool immediately sprang into action along with the help of his friend, Nadeem. They bought clothes, blankets and every other necessity which a little baby would need. They also supported an additional 13-15 helpless children at the hospital. The nurses dressed the babies up in their new clothes and sent the pictures to Abdool, who stated that seeing the babies happy was the best Eid gift he could ever ask for.

Abdool champions the Proudly Muslims of SA initiative, saying that the current government doesn’t realise what Muslims have been doing for our country, not only now, but also during apartheid. They helped to build schools and provide food for the needy. Politicians need to take this into account before making allegations.

“You don’t have to be rich to be charitable.” Abdool wants our society to know that by giving just R50 to a poor family, it means a great deal to them. “Anything that you give is worth it. Do your share, do what Allah instructed and what Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W) has shown us.” He encourages people to assist widows and orphans in their areas. 

His motto is to live life to the fullest and appreciate it, with whatever you may have. Always smile and compliment others; this simple notion may just make someone’s day better.

His greatest life lesson: “Don’t judge people by what they have, judge them by what their heart is”.

Abdool Mutin Patel would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to improve life for others, and that every second and minute, he was doing something for someone else. He would like his children to trail the philanthropic path, and continue his legacy of humanitarian pursuits and charitable deeds.

 

Abdool’s compassion for the needy and unwavering acts of assistance will be eternally embedded in the lives of all those whose daily hardships he has alleviated.

 

Meet our Ambassador – Mandlesizwe Mandela

 

Tribal Chief. Politician. Dignitary. Humanitarian. Grandson. Husband. Father.

It is our honour to add ‘Proudly Muslims Ambassador’ to the long list of Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandlesizwe Dalibhunga Mandela’s pursuits, as he is a true testament to the Proudly Muslims of South Africa initiative.

While he would prefer to be known as ‘Nkosi Zwelivelile’, he is more popularly referred to as Mandla in the public eye. No matter what you may call him, one cannot doubt that he’s an inspirational human being who perpetuates the honour and pride attached to his renowned surname. Nkosi Zwelivelile seamlessly follows in the indelible footsteps of his grandfather, Nelson Mandela, whose worth, virtue and contribution to our country can never be repaid.

 

His younger years were scattered across the land; born in Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (Soweto) in June 1974, growing up in Cofimvaba in the former Transkei, moving to Mofolo in Soweto and then across the border to Swaziland, after which he returned to SA in 1992. The next decade was spent in Houghton, Johannesburg with his grandfather. When the family chieftaincy beckoned in 2002, Chief Mandela moved back to Mvezo in the Eastern Cape, where he was coronated in April 2007.

 

Nkosi Zwelivelile’s most remarkable childhood experience was a life-changing journey that took him from Bloemfontein to Cape Town, where he first became acquainted with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, as well as a world outside the boundaries of apartheid. Here, he had a notable encounter with Abdullah (Dullah) Omar and his wife, Farida, who accompanied them to Pollsmoor prison. Being only 9 years old, Chief Mandela was bewildered as to why he was brought to a correctional facility. In the distance, he heard someone greeting the warden and merrily conversing with other inmates. He recalls: “All of a sudden, a giant leaps into the room”, and tells him, “You must be my grandson.” The young Mandlesizwe was utterly shocked to find out that he had a grandfather who was in prison. He was distressed by this fact, thinking prison is a place for people who have done wrong in society. He became bitter and withdrawn, completely unaware of the reasons behind Madiba’s incarceration.

Nelson Mandela, understanding the dismay his newly-acquainted grandson was feeling, wrote a letter to his colleague, Helen Joseph, asking her to assist in the development of the young Mandlesizwe. Helen adhered to Madiba’s request and invited his heir to her house to educate him about his grandfather’s ideals for the liberation struggle. He thought it was profound that a white woman taught him who his grandfather was. He will forever be grateful to Helen Joseph and the Omars for playing a crucial role in introducing his grandfather’s character to him.

 

His passion for education is evident when perusing through his long and impressive list of studies. Nkosi has diplomas in both Marketing and Business Management, a Political Science degree from Rhodes University and a post-grad diploma in International Studies. His academic instruction fully prepared him for his current role as a deployee of the African National Congress (ANC) serving in the National Assembly in parliament.

 

Chief Mandela balances his busy career and chiefly duties with a well-rounded family life, keenly supported by his wives; Nodiyala Mbalenhle Mandela and Nosekeni Rabia Mandela, the latter of which recently gave birth to a baby boy, Mntwanenkosi Mandela Ikraam Mandela.

 

Nkosi Zwelivelile’s 2015 reversion to Islam may have sparked controversy amongst traditional leaders and the media, however he handled the unsolicited press and negativity with resilience, expressing that one’s religion is a matter of an individual and his God. Showing the true strength of his upstanding character, he was never perturbed by the criticism and instead said: “One’s religion is not vested upon any other person.”

 

He was first drawn to Islam by living through his grandfather’s own life experiences. Nelson Mandela grew up in the predominantly missionary-based Eastern Cape province, however, when he arrived in Johannesburg in the early 1940s he was exposed different religions. It was when Madiba travelled to the rest of Africa, that he came to the realisation that the continent was dominated by Islam. Along with the teachings of Maulvi Cachalia, Madiba understood that Islam is as intrinsically entrenched in its Muslim community as Christianity is to Christians, if not more. This broadened Mandlesizwe’s own perspective on religion. He found reverting to Islam easy, as with his prior traditional African beliefs, he notes that it’s most paramount to ‘pray to God’.

 

Nkosi Zwelivelile’s unfeigned praise for Islam and its influence on his life is inspiring, marking that through the hustle and bustle of life, it instils a sense of humility and slowness in one. It allows one to try and make sense of each day’s worth. Islam has given him a feeling of balance and belonging.

 

Chief Mandela gives back to the community in Mvezo Komkhulu, well known as Nelson Mandela’s birthplace, by restoring the Royal House of Mandela (RHoM) after 87 years, and also establishing and democratising the Mvezo Traditional Council. He created the Mvezo Development Trust in August 2008 which works with government to improve living conditions in the village; sponsoring Jojo tanks to harvest rain water, fencing off household gardens to ensure food security, and teaches inhabitants to be self-productive by utilizing the land. He has also created a bursary program to send over 30 learners from Mvezo to university.

 

His humanitarian work with Al-Imdaad includes helping to build the Nolusapho Kindergarten, an early childhood development center in Madiba’s birthplace, and he is grateful to the Muslim community for providing the R5 million funding. He was also involved in the building of a R30-million primary school named after his father, Makgatho Lewanika Mandela, which was funded by the Dr Chung Foundation. Chief Mandela also founded and established the R100-million Mandela School of Science and Technology, funded by Siemens. Due to the immense interest and demand, he plans to source funds to build accommodation for future students. Nkosi Zwelivelile hopes to cultivate tourism opportunities in his grandfather’s birthplace, which will assist with the socio-economic development of the village and alleviate the plight of the people living there.

 

His proudest charity venture was the Winter Warmth project with Al-Imdaad, where blankets were donated to the elderly. He was touched by the impact that something as simple as blankets could have on them. Mandlesizwe is very compassionate towards the older citizens of rural South Africa, warmly regarding them as the founders of society. “We as the younger generation have much to learn from our elders.”

 

His own impact on the village of Mvezo is lauded by its residents, as he has made a veritable change to the education system there. Teens who were prone to social ills such as teenage pregnancy, alcohol and substance abuse can now go on to complete high school and some, the first in their generation, have went on to study at university. Nkosi Zwelivelile says: “Rather than giving handouts to people, education is a game-changer in rural South Africa. No one can take that away from a child.”

 

Mandlesizwe advocates the Proudly Muslims of SA initiative, stating that all the good work Muslims do around the country is unknown and underplayed. He explains: “Even during the time of apartheid, no one knows how much the Muslim community contributed to the struggle for liberation. Currently, they do a lot of relief work, especially in disaster-stricken communities like Mthatha, where most interventions have come from Muslim-based agencies over government. We need to tell those stories.”

 

He lives by the motto:  “Education is freedom.” Three simple words vehemently sewn together with integrity and grace, its meaning so profound that he wishes for it to reverberate through the very soul of our country’s youth. 

 

Meet our Ambassador – Moulana Muhammed Saloojee

Humble, inspiring, knowledgeable and compassionate. 

A well-known Islamic scholar and educator, social-welfare crusader and humanitarian, Moulana Muhammed Saloojee puts the needs of the helpless and destitute above anything else. Growing up in Zakariyya Park, Lenasia, he was sagely influenced by his father, the widely respected and admired Moulana Shabbier Saloojee, who founded the Darul Uloom Zakariyya over 30 years ago, where Muhammed also completed his Aalim studies. The father-of-two pays homage to his own dad, whose valuable contribution to Islamic academics and far-reaching relief work has been instrumental in shaping his mindset, and making him aware of the plight of those less fortunate.

With famous politicians, world leaders and noble academics being regular guests at the Saloojee household, Muhammed was introduced to many interesting people and concepts from as early as 6 years old. His widespread aid work and unique travel experiences as a young adult allowed him to see the world through new eyes, although these expeditions were far removed from the glamorous tourist perspective we may have.

In 2005, he travelled to Wajir in Kenya, which also borders Somalia and Ethiopia. At the time, the area was victim to a severe drought. Here, he made a harrowing acquaintance with the tragic consequences of life without food or water. The shattering sight of dead animals and people lying desolate and disregarded on the ground was a huge eye-opener for him. It made him more determined to make a difference in the life of others. After this trip, he came back to South Africa to source donations and supplies, and thereafter travelled to Nairobi, where his local friends assisted him with a secure passage back to Wajir. Since then, Muhammed has left no stone unturned with regards to global relief work, also working with the Al Imdaad Foundation for a few years.

He was actively involved in the calamitous Syrian crisis, assisting with setting up container villages and bread bakeries, as well arranging and distributing food and medical supplies to widows and orphans. He related one of the most gut-wrenching stories during his time there; a poignant meeting with an 11-year-old boy, who had just walked 350km, escaping the unconscionable wrath set upon his hometown. Security forces had raided their homes, viciously slaughtered the males in front of their families (his father included), then mutilated and burnt the bodies. The boy narrowly escaped also being attacked on the way.

Muhammed’s first-hand experiences of the war are heart-rending; seeing a 6-month-old baby paralysed, and his visit to a hospital where 40 semi- and fully-paralysed children, who were shot by snipers on their way home from school, were being nursed. This is the sad reality of the crippling civilian ramifications in the Syrian conflict, which he endeavors to make an improvement to, however possible.

On the local front, Ml. Saloojee has lent his charitable advocacy to facilitating various feeding schemes, arranging for cataract operations for those unable to afford it, assisting in the aftermath of the Marikana upheaval and organising school uniforms and winter warmer campaigns for the underprivileged.

His advice to others aspiring to do philanthropic work is to be honest and go ahead and just do the work. His hope for the future is that South African Muslims play a larger, more significant role in improving education in the country and also, attempting to get people off the social grant system.

When asked why he supports Proudly Muslims of South Africa, Ml. Saloojee responded that it’s good to convey a positive image of different charitable activities Muslims are doing across the country. There’s a lot of good work is being done, and this needs to be transmitted to masses.

When asked how he would like to be remembered, with immense humility he states: “If a person is good and good to mankind and the creation of Allah (God) SWT, then people and Allah SWT will always remember you.”

His life motto: “Assist wherever possible.”

We concur with his last three words because we all have the capabilities, whether big or small, to make some difference in the life of another human being. Moulana Saloojee is the epitome of virtuousness and integrity; his inspiring charity and relief work has given hope to the hopeless and a second chance to those on their last leg. He has helped hundreds, if not thousands, in just his three decades on the planet. Imagine how many more lives he has yet to touch.

Mohamed Amin Mayet – Lawyer and Businessman

Lawyer, businessman and respected community member

From his memorable upbringing in Evaton in the Vaal Triangle, to his successful law career and business pursuits spanning over 37 years, Mohamed Amin Mayet, a respected authority in the community, has a plethora of edifying life tales which have all been strongly influenced by his Islamic faith. We delved briefly into his life’s work and uncovered a few rousing snippets of sheer determination, humanitarianism, courage and fair play.

Born in Pretoria in 1953, Mohamed’s early years were positively steered by a strong sense of family and community. An only child raised in a privileged household, Mohamed’s family owned a general dealership called ‘Customer’s Friend’. His parents were never reluctant to help others and he grew up with the understanding that Muslims always assist others in need. He fondly recalls the camaraderie within the town of Evaton, a warm and compassionate community which lived simply and gave generously.

 

A notable influence in his younger life was a gentleman named Daya Gopal. His mentorship motivated the youth during the apartheid era, telling them there were no doors shut to their aspirations: “If you want to get something done, you can get it done.” He lists Sheikh Abdul Kader as another inspirational person who was most pivotal in navigating his path to an Islamic way of life and continues to apply his Islamic knowledge to economics and political matters.

 

Having completed his law degree through Westville University, then Unisa, Mohamed opened his criminal law practice in 1980. At that time in South Africa’s politically-stained past, it was difficult to join a corporate law firm. Indians had to explore entrepreneurship, so to generate a second income, he opened up his first KFC franchise outlet in Lenasia, Johannesburg. For seven years, Mohamed Amin worked seven days a week; lawyer in the mornings, franchisee in the afternoons. After securing reliable staff, he went on to open two more KFC outlets and had over 100 employees. Although he had refined his business skills, Mohamed’s interest in law never wavered. He mentions that while having a business is about making money, a law practice is about life and death. He pursued the latter to help people, however insignificant the case. After more than three decades of practicing law, Mr. Mayet reminisces about his most amusing case; a Kliptown man who was falsely accused of mistreating his horse.

 

He values the connection that Islam has with charity. In his younger years, he helped arrange fundraising movie nights to assist the Crippled Care Association in Evaton, and to this day, Mohammed Amin never falters in giving back to the community. When presented with a cause that he’s passionate about, he never hesitates to contribute financially to it, regardless of the sum. He also provides legal advice on the spot to those who can’t afford to pay him. As the chairperson of Dallas College in Cape Town (founded by Sheikh Abdul Kader), Mr. Mayet’s involvement with fundraising activities and bursary coordination for more than nine years has brought the vision of this small yet refined non-profit educational institution to fruition. He encourages his children as well as the Muslim youth to do good deeds without expecting to receive accolades because charity and social upliftment work should be done genuinely.

 

“Command the good and forbid the evil, that’s what Muslims are about”, he says. Mohamed is also fatigued by the bad publicity Muslims receive around the world. As an expert on South African law, he comments: “While you do come by the criminally insane, Muslims are not causing problems, it’s not our practice. We don’t have to defend ourselves all the time, instead we should highlight that we are law-abiding citizens and sound in our practices. We fall prey to believing the falsities out there and believe that we are terrible, but we’re not. We need to be reminded of that.”

 

He enthusiastically supports Proudly Muslims of SA: “We need to find all the positive things in our community and remind our Muslims of what we are; people who provide substantial assistance to those in need, whether they are recognised for it or not.”

 

His most valuable life lesson is in knowing oneself: “Just when you think you’ve made your own acquaintance, you learn something else. Things continuously change and you should always challenge yourself.”

 

His life motto is inspired by the Charge of the Light Brigade by Lord Alfred Tennyson: “Ours is not to ask why, ours is to do or die.”

 

There’s so much to learn from the life lessons of this intriguing individual, but what stands out most is his fervent zeal and advocation for justice and humankind.

We look forward to your autobiography, Mr. Mayet.