The skies above the Noble Ka’bah witnessed a spiritual entourage, very seldom seen, moving in Tawaaf around the House of Allah shortly before Maghrib Salah on Tuesday, 12 July 2011. A short while after Salah this trail settled down in one area of the Mataaf benefiting from his pearls of wisdom and subsequently Maulana began experiencing chest pains which was followed by his soul tranquilly departing into the mercy of Allah. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un…
Maulana Yunus Patel rahimahullah was born in about 1945 in the KwaZulu-Natal town of Stanger. As a young boy, a personality which left a lasting impression upon his heart and served as an inspirational role model for him was Haji Bhai Padi rahimahullah.
As Maulana himself narrated, “One day in 1962, when Haji Bhai just began his efforts of Tabligh, an announcement was written on the notice board in Grey Street Masjid that Haji Gulam Muhammad Padia will be delivering a lecture. After completion of the lecture, Haji Bhai called for help but nobody stood up. So Haji Bhai’s father-in-law volunteered, together with me (a 17 year old young boy at the time) and another elderly man. On another occasion, I decided to accompany Haji Bhai to sleep in the Umzinto Masjid as he was going to be sleeping alone in the Masjid. For hours that night, Haji Bhai kept busy in Tahajjud crying before Allah.
We travelled from Durban to Escourt, then to Ladysmith and further on to Johannesburg. At every town, Haji Bhai implored the people regarding the importance of Deen, however nobody was interested to assist. Throughout the journey, it was Haji Bhai’s crying of two hours every night that never stopped.” (Haaji Bhai Padia Rahimahullah encouraged Ml Yunus Patel Saab to become an ‘aalim)
In the early 1960s Moulana Yunus was one from among the early group of youth who travelled to Darul Uloom Deoband, India, to pursue the studies of Deen. Together with being a student par excellence, he was the confidante of many of his illustrious teachers and served them diligently at home and on travel.
Upon his return, he served the community of Mooiriver as an Imam and teacher. He was motivated to go there by the fact that at the time there was not a single Aalim serving the Muslim communities between Pietermaritzburg and Newcastle. Even though people in the Transvaal offered him a much higher salary together with house, lights and water, the need of Deen took him to the icy cold town of Mooiriver where he accepted meagre pay and had to live in a tin shanty home. For him the need of Deen was greater.
After four years or so, he moved back to Durban and was instrumental in establishing the first offices of the Jamiatul Ulama (KZN) upon the insistence of Maulana Ansari rahimahullah. For many years thereafter, Maulana Yunus served the Ummah under the auspices of the organisation and subsequently was the secretary general and later the president of the Jamiatul Ulama (KZN).
During the famous Qadiani Dispute in Cape Town during the early 1980s, Maulana Yunus was part of the team of expert ‘Ulama who prepared the required expert evidence in the court case to defend the honour of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam and the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah.
At a time when general indifference towards Deen prevailed and signs of Deen were noticeably rare in the South African society, Maulana established a girls’ Madrasah in 1982 in Asherville, Durban. Students who initially had very little inclination towards Deen, would be motivated with his perseverance and dedication to change their lives within a short space of time.
In recent years, Maulana Yunus became deeply concerned about the unity and wellbeing of the ‘Ulama. He constantly strove to harmonise relations between them at junctures when situations were adversarial. His emphasis was to focus on the broader picture and greater benefit for the Ummah. In his words, “The need of the time is that we can maintain of our different opinions, but if someone has been instrumental in the service of Deen we can differ with him with respect and dignity.
On other issues however, we should work together.”
Maulana Yunus was honoured with the mantle of Khilafah from two great luminaries, Mufti Mahmoodul Hasan Gangohi rahimahullah and later on Maulana Hakeem Muhammad Akhtar Saheb. Over the many years, thousands around the globe drank from his fountain of wisdom, piety and knowledge. Scores of people are known to have changed their lives just by sitting in our of his gatherings.
His humility, generosity, concern for the well being of the young and old coupled with his burning love of Allah and his Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam were remarkable traits all embodied in one personality.