Growing up I remember asking my father, “Where is daddy going?” And he would answer, “Kerk Street”. As I grew older I heard wonderful true stories about the spread of Tableegh in South Africa, Johannesburg especially.
Many of them of how Qari Abdul Hamid Dhudhat (rahimahullah) of Panoli village, Bharuch district, Gujerat, India started it all in Kerk Street Masjid in Johannesburg.
It was in the late 1960’s that Qari Abdul Hamid (rahimahullah) came to South Africa. At that time Islam was not as it is today. Very few men and women could be identified as Muslims should one pass by and people knew little about Deen and acted on even far less than what they knew. The loving Qari Abdul Hamid (rahimahullah) began befriending with young men from Johannesburg and encouraging them towards coming closer to Allah and spreading Deenul Islam (tableegh). Although he knew no English at the time, his warmth allowed for the language of hearts to prevail. The families of these young men were most hospitable to him, particularly the Dadhabhai, Bismillah, Patel and other families.
Qari Abdul Hamid (rahimahullah) resided in Johannesburg at Kerk Street Mosque where he would befriend and encourage the working men to frequent the masjid. Alone, without his family, he persevered in bringing about an Islamic ethos focusing on Da’wah and Tableegh (inviting and spreading the word of Allah and His Deen). He preached these things:
* Da’wah to Allah (invite towards Allah)
* Ta’leem of Islam (teaching and learning about Islam)
* Ibaadah of Allah (worship of Allah)
* Khidmah of Islam (service to Islam and mankind)
Back then Kerk Street Masjid was the only masjid that hosted (made nusrah) jamā’ah brothers from other places. When Haaji Bhai Padia and Brother Kolia would plead and encourage the Muslims to tablegh, Qari Abdul Hamid (rahimahullah) would feed and host them. Every Wednesday brothers would meet and consult (mashwarah) at the Kerk Street Masjid to find ways of further spreading Deenul Islam. Soon it became the markas (centre) where Deeni activities would take place. Qari Abdul Hamid (rahimahullah) was well known for his unique style of reciting the Qur’aan. He established a Hifdh class in Kerk Street Masjid with many students memorising the Qur’an. His first student completed Hifdh in 1970.
Qari Abdul Hamid (rahimahullah) made great effort in establishing five times salaah in several places. Soon people began reawakening from their callous slumber and areas in the West Rand such as Newclare, Fetas, Wynberg (Alexandra), Roodepoot and Krugersdorp began tableegh. In the East Rand, my hometown, Benoni began their efforts. In Lenasia, only Sabiri Masjid and Rainbow Masjid would allow brothers to stay over in their masaajid, but slowly it began to change. The efforts of Qari Abdul Hamid (rahimahullah) reached the then Eastern Transvaal (now Mpulanga) in places like Rustenberg, Louis Trichardt, etc. My father recalls how Qari Saheb (rahimahullah) would on a Sunday load his mini van (combi) with students of Deen and huffaadh. All the way to Eastern Transvaal their voices would fill the mini van with Qur’aan and praises of Allah.
Qari Abdul Hamid (rahimahullah) would even converse with the gangsters in the Johannesburg area and encourage them to come to the masjid for salaah, listen to the lectures and join them for the jawla (ghusht). A brother who witnessed this says that people who frequently chased brothers of the jamā’ah off their premises would gape in a mixed feeling of fear and awe at the sight of the jamā’ah walking from home to home, gangsters, working men, students alike- all united in the purpose of spreading Deenul Islam.
Qari Abdul Hamid (rahimahullah) visited India and returned to South Africa. He continued his effort of spreading Islam.
Qari (rahimahullah) was also principal of Darul Uloom Zakariyyah, South Africa and served as its first principal from 1983 to 1986. Qari Abdul Hamid (rahimahullah) returned to India in 1986, on the instruction of his shaykh, Moulana Raza Ajmeri. He founded Jaamiyah Hamidiyah, a Girl’s Madrasah in his village, which currently has a roll of 950 girls. Students orphaned as a consequence of communal riots in India over the past two decades and were feared to end up in Hindu homes, are catered for here. He was also in the final process of completing the construction of a Boy’s Madrasah that would cater for a 1000 boys. There are over 280 makaatib (primary madrasahs) that Qari Abdul Hamid (rahimahullah) ran in various villages. He has established many Masjids and Madrasahs in Bangladesh as well. He had many water wells dug there.
As the years passed he became aged and ill. In late August 2011 Qari Abdul Hamid’s (rahimahullah) condition deteriorated in hospital where he remained on ventilators.
We were informed by brother Baker A. Norat of Panoli Money Exchange that Qari (rahimahullah) was sick for a long time and was hospitalised. “He was taken back to Madrasah- his recidence but unfortunately he passed away naturally on the second day of Eid al adhā (ud-hiyyah) in the early hours of the morning at 3.00 dated 07th November 2011 Monday, 11 Dhul Hijjah 1432 AH. He was 81 years old. His body was taken to qabrastan (Graveyard) at 15.00 to his last destination where his janaazah salaah was performed by his son Qari Rasheed Ajmeri.
Qari Abdul Hamid (rahimahullah) was a man of tolerance who had foresight and tact with people. He has left a great legacy indeed and we cry in gratitude to Allah for having sent this ray of light to South Africa. May Allah fill his qabr with noor and grant him the highest stages of Jannah.