Founder of Madrasah In’aamiyyah, Camperdown (1373-1437 / 1953-2016) AGE: 63

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HAZRAT MOULANA MAHMOOD MADANI DESAI (RAHIMAHULLAHU TA’ALA) Founder of Madrasah In’aamiyyah, Camperdown (1373-1437 / 1953-2016) AGE: 63




* This is a brief article on the life of Hazrat Moulānā Mahmūd Madanī Desai (RA). Details concerning his life have not been included here. Readers are requested to continue to remember Hazrat Moulānā (RA) in their du’ās and if anyone wishes to share any information on the life of Hazrat (RA), may email the Madrasah at



Hazrat Moulānā (RA) was born in the year 1373/1953 in Madīnah Munawwarah during the Hajj journey of his parents. His birth place was close to the home of Sayyidunā Abū Ayyūb Ansārī (Radiyallāhu ‘anhu), which at that time was in front of the Haram. Hazrat Moulānā ‘Abdul Haqq Omarjī, Hazrat Moulānā Mūsā Samrodī and Hajī Kāssim Ahmad Kadwā (father of Moulānā Osmān Kadwā Sāhib) were amongst the South African Hujjāj present during that Hajj. He was named Mahmūd by Hazrat Moulānā ‘Abdul Haqq ‘Omarjī (RA), a close friend of his father.


Early Education:


His Maktab education began in Richmond. Amongst his teachers in Richmond were his respected mother, Muhtaramah Mariam Desai (who is currently at the age of 90+), Sheikh Chacha and Moulānā Yūsuf ‘Omarwālī.


 He began his Hifdhul Qurān by his mother, Muhtaramah Mariam Desai. Thereafter, Moulānā Yūsuf ‘Omarwālī took over from his mother. He completed 15 juz whilst in Richmond.


Journey to Mia’s Farm:


In the year 1964, at the age of 11, Hazrat Moulānā (RA) proceeded to Mia’s farm and remained there until 1969. He completed his remaining 15 juz in 6 months. Hazrat Moulānā ‘Abbās ‘Alī Sāhib (DB) was his group leader.


Journey to India:


In the year 1970, Hazrat Moulānā (RA) left for India (Bombay) with his elder brother, Hajī Cāssim Desai, on the SS Karanja Ship. Together with them on the ship was Marhūm Moulānā Sulaymān Gānchi (RA), Hāfidh Yūsuf Desai (PMB), Hāfidh Yūsuf Sa’īd (Richmond) and Mahmūd Bhāi Hospatel (Greytown). It was a 21 day journey via Karāchi and finally Bombay. In Bombay, he spent 40 days jamāt with Yūsuf Bhāi Taxi Wālā.




Enrollment at Dārul Ulūm Falāhi Dārain:


After completing his chilla, Hazrat Moulānā (RA) travelled to his home village in Gujrāt, Tadkeshwar and took enrolment at Dārul Ulūm Falāhi Dārain for Dhor. The principal, Hazrat Moulānā ‘Abdullāh Kapodarī (hafidhahullāh) took his examination. He was successfully admitted into the class of Hazrat Moulānā Mūsa Desai (RA). In Ramadhān, he was appointed to lead the Tarāwīh salāh at the Jumu’ah Masjid of Tadkeshwar.



Bay’ah to Shāykhul Hadīth, Hazrat Moulānā Muhammad Zakariyyā Kāndhelwī (RA):


During the same year, 1970, after completing his Dhor at Falāhi Dārain, he left for Nizāmuddīn. He also went to Sahāranpūr to spend time in the company of Shāykhul Hadīth Hazrat Moulānā Muhammad Zakariyyā (RA). During his stay in Sahāranpūr, he requested for bay’ah at his hands. Hazrat Shāykh (RA) refused as it was not his habit to accept students in bay’ah. However, Hazrat Moulānā (RA) requested again and informed Hazrat Shāykh that he wished to be in his dua’s. After three days, Hazrat Shāykh unexpectedly called out, ‘Where is Molvī Yūsuf Tootla’s brother in law? Call him here! Hazrat Moulānā (RA) presented himself and Hazrat Shāykh stretched his hands forward and hand in hand he had accepted Hazrat Moulānā (RA) in bay’ah. This was after the Maghrib salāh at the old Masjid in Sahāranpūr. Hazrat Moulānā (RA) was 17 at that time.


Journey for Hajj:


After spending time in Sahāranpūr, during the same year, 1970, Hazrat Moulānā (RA) returned to Bombay and departed for Hajj with his brother, Hājī Cāssim Desai. They travelled from Bombay to Jeddah with the Indian Hujjāj. During this journey, Hazrat Moulānā (RA) was blessed with the company of Hazrat Moulānā Sa’īd Ahmad Khān Sāhib (RA) and Hajī Fadhle Karīm (RA). They travelled together until they reached Madinah Munawwarah. Moulānā Sa’īd Ahmad Khān Sāhib (RA) had favoured Hazrat Moulānā (RA) with much love and compassion because he was young. He taught Hazrat Moulānā (RA) how to spend his time in Madinah Munawwarah. Hazrat Moulānā (RA) spent his Hajj that year in the company of Hazrat Shāykh Muhammad Zakariyyā (RA), Moulānā In’āmul Hasan (RA), Moulānā Muhammad Harūn (RA), Muftī Mahmūd Gangohī (RA), Muftī Zainul ‘Aabidīn (RA), Moulānā ‘Ubaidullāh (RA), Muhshī Sāhib (RA), Moulānā Ahmad Lāt Sāhib and many other Akābir from Nizāmuddīn and Rāiwind.  


Journey to Pākistān:


After Hajj, the same year, 1970, Hazrat Moulānā (RA) left for Faislabād, Pākistan to start his ‘Aalim class at the Madrasah of Hazrat Muftī Zainul ‘Aabidīn (RA). He travelled by ship until he reached Karāchi and then by train until he reached Faisalabād. He completed his final year in the year 1976. His Khatmul Bukhārī was made by Hazrat Moulānā Yūsuf Binnorī (RA).


The year 1971 was a difficult year for Hazrat Moulānā (RA) as he was not well versed in Urdū. So intended to leave his study and return home. When Muftī Zainul ‘Aabidīn (RA) learnt of this, he brought him home and told him that I’m your father and I’m here to look after you. He took him as his own son. After one week Hazrat Moulānā (RA) was getting bored. So, Muftī Zainul ‘Aabidīn (RA) taught him Kitābun Nahw and Sarf. After a few days, Moulānā Jamāl Ahmad (RA), the ustadh of the beginner books and also Mishkāt took Hazrat Moulānā’s examination. He was surprised that in a short period of time he was able to give an excellent examination.


Ramadhān Holidays:


Then it was the Ramadhān holidays. Hazrat Moulānā (RA) left for Nizāmuddīn and spent a few days there. Then he went to Sahāranpūr to spend Ramadhān in the company of Hazrat Shāykh Muhammad Zakariyyā (RA). Moulānā Yūsuf Tootla Sāhib had introduced him to many Akābir in Sahāranpūr and Nizāmuddīn. After Ramadhān he went back to Nizāmuddīn, thereafter to Tadkeshwar and finally to Faisalabād. He remained in Faisalabād for the next 5 years. He would go to India during his Ramadhān holidays. He spent 3 Ramadhāns in Sahāranpūr and 2 in Nizāmuddīn. The last Ramadhān (1976) was past partly in Nizāmuddīn and partly in Sahāranpūr.


Du’ā of Shaykh Zakariyyā (RA):


Whilst at Sahāranpūr, Hazrat Moulānā (RA) was feeling down as he feared that he would be financially unstable upon his return to South Africa. He went to Hazrat Shāykh (RA) to present his condition. Hazrat Shāykh (RA) told him: Make Taubah! Think that their wealth is at your feet. At the end, Hazrat Shāykh told him: Jaaw, Allāh Ta’ālā Aap ko bohot degha! (Go! Allāh Ta’ālā will give you alot)


Seven Chillā’s / Nine Months:


After graduation, Hazrat Moulānā (RA) came to Nizāmuddīn to spend his 9 months jamāt (7 chillā’s). At that time, ‘Ulamā were required to spend 9 months after graduation. He spent most of his time at Markaz Nizāmuddīn. Hazratjī Moulānā In’āmul Hasan had a lot of love for him as Nizāmuddīn was like his home. Every holiday he was there ever since he started his studies in Pākistān. Hazratjī made a special request to Rāiwind to allow him to come to Nizāmuddīn to do English translation at the Markaz and Ijtimās. Hazrat Moulānā (RA) made many travels in India with Hazratjī (RA) during these 9 months as a translator.


The Bay’ah of Khidmah:


In 1977, Hazrat Moulānā (RA) spent Ramadhān in Nizāmuddīn. Every year on the 27th night of Ramadhān, tashkīl was made from all muqīmīn at Nizāmudīn Markaz to renew their intentions to continue their khidmāt of Dīn till the end of their lives. Hazrat Moulānā (RA) recounts that he also renewed his intention to make khidmat of dīn for the rest of his life under mushwara. So Hazratjī (RA) asked him, under who’s Mashwara will you make khidmah of dīn? Moulānā Sa’īd Ahmad Khān Sāhib (RA) replied on his behalf saying that he will make khidmah under your mashwara. Hazrat Moulānā (RA) recalls that Hazratjī became extremely happy and he made a lot of du’ās for him at that time.


Dreams during the I’tikāf:


During that Ramadhān he made I’tikāf in Nizāmuddīn with Hazratjī (RA). He saw three dreams during that I’tikāf and narrated them all to Hazratjī for interpretation.


  1. Hazratjī (RA) was feeding him apples with his hands.

 (Interpretation: means eating in Jannah.)


  1. There were dead people lying around him. Hazrat (RA) was blowing on them and they were coming back to life.

(Interpretation: Reviving dīn in the ummah.)


  1. There were dead people lying around him. Hazrat (RA) was blowing on them and they were

coming back to life.

 (Interpretation: Allāh Ta’ālā will use you as a means of uniting your family.)


Marriage in Madinah Munawwarah:


Towards the end of Ramadhān, Hazratjī (RA) was very worried as Hazrat Moulānā’s (RA) 9 months/7chillā’s were coming to an end and what was going to be his future. Hazratjī was very concern. Mashwara was made that Hazrat Moulānā (RA) should go home and get married.


In 1977, Hazrat Shāykh Zakariyyā (RA), Hazratjī Moulānā In’āmul Hasan (RA) and all the Akābir came for Hajj. On 25 December 1977, Hazrat Moulānā (RA) nikāh was performed in Madinah Munawwarah, after the Asr salāh at Madrasah Ishā’atul Ulūm. The nikāh was performed by Hazratjī Moulānā In’āmul Hasan (RA) and in the presence of great ulamā like Hazrat Shāykh Muhammad Zakariyyā (RA), Muftī Mahmūd Hasan Gangohī (RA), Muftī ‘Aashiq Ilāhī (RA), Moulānā ‘Umar Pālanpūrī (RA).


Return to South Africa and the Establishment of a Hifz Madrasah at A.E.L Building (PMB):


It was the mashwara of Hazratjī Moulānā In’āmul Hasan (RA) that Hazrat (RA) return to South Africa and start some khidmat. This mashwara was made in the presence of his ustādh and principal, Hazrat Muftī Zainul ‘Abidīn (RA).


Upon his return to South Africa, it was time for the annual Ijtimā’ to be held in Newcastle. Hazrat (RA) spent some time in Jamāt as a translator for the Arab jamāts.


After the Ijtimā’, as per the mashwara of Hazratjī (RA) and his ustādh and with the help of Allāh Ta’āla, Hazrat (RA) started a Hifz madrasah in Pietermaritzburg on Monday afternoon, 3rd April 1978, corresponding to Jumādal Oolā 1398. The Madrasah was named, Madrasah Hifdhul Qurān and was located at flat no 33, A.E.L Building, Thomas Street. It was the first official Hifz Madrasah in Pietermaritzburg. It started with five students. Within 15 months, the Madrasah produced its first batch of Huffādh who performed Tarāwīh with Hazrat (RA) himself at the Olympia Way Jamāt Khāna. The first ever Jalsa in Pietermaritzburg was in 1980 in which Hazrat Moulānā ‘Abdul Haqq ‘Omarjī (RA) was the guest of honour. Four boys finished their Hifdh. It’s also worthy to note here that Hazat Moulānā (RA) was the first to establish the ‘Eīdgāh in Pietermaritzburg.



Relocation of the Madrasah to Noodsberg Road (Mountain Rise, PMB):


Due to place constrain, in 1979, this Madrasah relocated to 13 Noodsberg Road, Mountain Rise, PMB. During that year, Hazratjī Moulānā In’āmul Hasan (RA) visited South Africa to attend the Springfield Ijtimā’. He also visited the Madrasah and a detail report was given to him regarding the Madrasah. Hazratjī was pleased and had made a lot of duā’s for the Madrasah. Whenever mashwara was required for the Madrasah , Hazrat (RA) would write letters to Nizāmudīn seeking advice. In a period of approximately five years, fifteen students had completed their Hifz.


Relocation of the Madrasah to Florida Crescent (Mountain Rise, PMB):


In 1980, the Madrasah had to relocate as the house that was rented was now sold. A house was found at no 17 Florida Crescent. Hazrat Shāykh Zakariyyā (RA) had also slept a night at this house. At this time, it was the wish of Hazrat’s (RA) father, Hājī Ahmad Mūsā Desai that he start a Dārul ‘Ulūm. Hazrat Shāykh Zakariyyā (RA) had given the first brick to be laid as the foundation for this Dārul ‘Ulūm.


Temporary Stop to Classes:


In 1982, Hazrat (RA) was forced to leave Pietermaritzburg due to rent increase which was beyond his means and classes were temporarily stopped. With the mashwara of Muftī Zainul ‘Abidīn (RA), Hazrat (RA) started a business in Richmond. However, Hazrat (RA) burning desire to have this Madrasah continue led him to once again secure a premises for a Madrasah at 17 Cameron Crescent. Hāfidh Shabbīr Essāck, one of the first students of Hazrat (RA), had run this madrasah. Hazrat (RA) would travel every alternate day from Richmond to Pietermaritzburg to oversee the Madrasah and students. This Madrasah commenced on 31st August, 1988. Unfortunately, due to lack of support, classes had to be temporary stopped once again.


Second Nine Months / Seven Chilla’s:


In the year 1993, Hazrat (RA) was encouraged to come to Nizāmuddīn by Hazrat Moulānā In’āmul Hasan (RA) and Moulana Sa’īd Ahmad Khān Sāhib. This was the second time that he spent nine months in the company of the elders at Nizāmuddīn. During this time many journeys were made to Gulf and Far Eastern countries in the company of Hazrat Moulānā Sa’īd Ahmad Khān Sāhib. Upon his return, he initiated the establishment of Madrasah In’āmiyyah.


Establishment of Dārul ‘Ulūm, Madrasah In’āmiyyah:


Hazrat’s (RA) perseverance never ended. Despite the difficulties and challenges he encountered in the establishment of a Madrasah since his arrival to South Africa, he was determined to propagate the Dīn. This was the pledge he made in Nizāmudīn at the hands of Hazratjī (RA), the desire of his father and this was also the glad tidings shown to him in his dream.


At the age of 40, Hazrat (RA) left the thriving business that he ran in Richmond with his brother and made hijrah to Camperdown to start a Dārul ‘Ulūm, Madrasah In’āmiyyah. It was named after Hazrat Moulānā In’āmul Hasan Kāndhelwi. With the generous assistance of Hājī Muhammad Essāck of Camperdown, the Madrasah once again humbly commenced at his premises on 4 Sha’baan 1414 / 17 January 1994 with one ustādh and one student. The first ustādh was none other than Hazrat (RA) himself and the first student was his son, Muftī Muhammad Zakariyyā. Hazrat (RA) would recount on many occasions with tears in his eyes and at times sobbing the words of his ahliyyah muhtaramah which she told them the evening they left Richmond to establish the Dārul ‘Ulūm in Camperdown. She said to them that “today I am making you two waqf for the service of Dīn”. May Allāh Ta’ālā grant her the best of rewards for her patience and contribution to the establishment of the Madrasah.


Within the first year, the number of students increased and the facilities at the Essācks premises were burdened. With the grace of Allāh Ta’ālā, a six acre land which included a house (Kitchen, Garage Shed and 8 rooms) was available in Camperdown and offered to Hājī Hoosen Parak of Camperdown. Hājī Hoosen offered the land to the Madrasah. The land was purchased and the Madrasah is currently located on this premises.



The Early Days of the Madrasah:


The son of Hazrat Moulānā (RA) remained the only student of the Madrasah for the first four days. Thereafter he was joined by others. During the early days of the Madrasah, a dream was seen wherein a well filled with milk was located on the Madrasah premises with machinery around it and Hazrat Moulānā (RA) was scooping out milk and feeding the students. It was interpreted that Hazrat Moulana (RA) would be imparting beneficial knowledge to students that were to study there.


Hazrat Moulānā (RA) personally overlooked and supervised the construction of the entire Madrasah right until his demise. In the early days, he physically participated in its construction as well. He would test the students their sabaq and dhor whilst overseeing the builders construct the Madrasah. He was the principal, the Nāzim to check over the students, the teacher, the administrator and the cook. He would sleep in the Madrasah and only return home (Richmond) on weekends. He was the last to sleep at night and the first to awake in the morning. A parent once came to the Madrasah in the early days to enroll his child and asked Hazrat Moulānā (RA) that he wished to speak to the principal, not realizing that Hazrat Moulānā (RA) himself was the principal.


He was very attached to the Madrasah. Whenever he returned from a journey whether local or abroad, he would first visit the Madrasah. He would say intending the literal meaning ‘I gave my blood and sweat for the Madrasah’ and at times he would say ‘This is our investment’. In brief, he loved the Madrasah and not only gave his blood and sweat, but in fact his life.


Tarbiyat of the Students:


Hazrat (RA) paid particular attention to the tarbiyat of his students. He never tolerated a student been disrespectful to his teacher. He also never tolerated been disrespectful to any ‘ālim of dīn no matter how sinful he maybe. He would regularly check their beard, hair and clothing. He established a zikr majlis daily after the fajr salāh at the Madrasah together with other tarbiyat programs for the students. He was regular with the sunnah I’tikāf during the last ten days of Ramadhān towards the end of his life. He was bestowed with khilāfah from Hazrat Moulānā Muhammad Talha Sāhib of Sahāranpūr, Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Fārūq Mīratī Sāhib and Hazrat Moulānā ‘Azīzur Rahmān Sāhib of Rawalpindī.  



Love for Teachers and Students of the Madrasah:

Hazrat Moulānā (RA) had immense love for his teachers and students. He would go out of his way to see to their comfort and well being. He first built the houses of the teachers before building his own home. He ensured that the teacher’s homes were comfortable and spacious. He was always willing to assist them in any of their difficulties.  Towards the end of his life, in his personal capacity, he would annually hand out gifts to every teacher in appreciation of their sacrifice. The year before his demise, he gathered the teachers and their families at his home specifically to thank them and express his appreciation to them for their sacrifices and contributions to the Madrasah, especially to the women folk. 

He ensured that the Madrasah food was cooked well and the students were fed well. He would say that they are the mehmaan (guest) of Allāh Ta’āla. He endeavoured to make everything as comfortable as possible that no one had a reason to complain. He would spend much time with the students advising them. At times he played with them. He was much attached to them. He played a fatherly role amongst the teachers and students. He always enjoyed seeing his students happy in Madrasah and would be pleased upon hearing of the good work they were rendering to their communities.




Hazrat (RA) led the tarāwīh salāh for 48 years. At times it was 20 rakāts and at times 16, 12, 8 and 2 rakāts. He started to lead the tarāwīh salāh from the year 1966 at the age of 13 at Miā’s Farm with Hāfidh ‘Abdur Rahmān Miā (RA), Muftī Sanjālwī (RA), Moulānā Ebrāhīm Mia and others behind him. He continued to lead the tarāwīh until the year 2014 when his age was 61. Hazrat (RA) used to travel daily for tarāwīh from Richmond to most of the venues listed below. Amongst the many venues that he led Tarāwīh were:


  1. Miā’s Farm (1966, 2 rakāts)
  2. Jumu’ah Masjid, Tadkeshwar, India
  3. Jassāt Masjid, Tadkeshwar, India
  4. Chohān Masjid Tadkeshwar, India
  5. Richmond Masjid
  6. Ixopo (Jamāt Khāna- Solly Bux – for 12 years)
  7. Isipingo Beach Masjid (for 3 years)
  8. Mooi River Masjid
  9. Greytown Masjid
  10. Camperdown (Essācks Jamāt Khāna)
  11. Marianhill Masjid
  12. Centre Masjid, PMB
  13. Raisethorpe Masjid, PMB
  14. East Street Masjid, PMB
  15. Top Mosque, PMB
  16. Olympia Way, PMB- Jooma’s Shop- Jamāt Khāna)
  17. Howick Masjid (Approximately 10 years)


Appearance and Dressing:

 Hazrat Moulānā (RA) was awe inspiring in appearance, whilst inwardly he was a soft and kind person. He always wore an ‘imāmah, short kurtā, waist coat and perfumed himself with ‘oudh, shamāmah, musk or khass. Most of the time, he wore a white turban. However, at times he used a green turban which he received upon his khilāfat from Hazrat Moulānā Muhammad Talha Sāhib of Sahāranpūr. On occasions of jumu’ah salāh, ‘eīd salāh and when proceeding to lecture on bukhārī sharīf, he would also put on a jubbah. At times he grew a zulfā (long hair) which he oiled regularly and kept neatly.

Generosity and Hospitality:

Hazrat Moulānā’s (RA) generosity was unmatched. He would always say that you need a heart to spend. He would spend generously on all around him, especially the students of the Madrasah. He would frequently enquire if any of his graduated students were in financial difficulty. He would arrange for his money to be sent to them. During travel he was even more generous. At the car parks, airports etc he was generous. There was an old man that used to wait for Hazrat Moulānā (RA) every Sunday morning at the Camperdown Spar. Hazrat (RA) would buy his food and groceries for him. Even the Sunday that he passed away, he went to Spar saying that the old man was waiting for him. He was always willing to assist those in difficulties, whether medically, financially or any other sort of problem. He would sacrifice his wealth, comfort and rest to see to the problems of others.

He was also very hospitable, a quality he learnt from his beloved Shāykh, Hazrat Shāykh Muhammad Zakariyyā Sāhib (RA). He would always speak of the dastarkhān of Hazrat Shāykh (RA) on which hundreds of guest would partake of their meals.  

The Kindness of Others:

Hazrat Moulānā (RA) was very particular on remembering the Ihsān (kindness) of people to him whether directly or indirectly. He would never forget their kindness and used to make du’ā for them. He made it a point to attend their Janāzah’s despite having to travel long distances at times. He was also regularly seen attending Janāzah’s.  




Hazrat (RA) had left us suddenly on the 24th Zul Qa’dah 1437 / 28 August 2016, Sunday. This is the decree of Allāh Ta’ālā for which we are pleased. Hazrat Moulānā’s (RA) janāzah salāh was performed on the Madrasah grounds, led by his son and attended by a large gathering of ulāmā, students and people from all over South Africa. Hazrat (RA) is buried at the Madrasah. We make du’ā that Allāh Ta’ālā elevates the status of Hazrat (RA) and makes the Madrasah and its students a sadaqah jāriyah for him, āmīn.