This tribute is to briefly outline the life of the late Imam Omar Abdullah.
Ghafiz Imam Omar Abdullah was born on 26/07/1938 in Wynberg to Hoosain and Kulsum Abdullah (Nee Dawjee). He had 2 sisters and a brother.
Imam attended Habibia Primary School until Standard 6 (Grade 8). Thereafter he went to Battswood where he completed his Junior Certificate.
He then went on to do Ghafiz fulltime under Imam Ma’awiya Siddiq who was also Sheigh Saliegh Abadie’s ustaad. After 2 years Imam Ma’awiya passed away .In 1952 he went to do Ghafiz under Sheigh Saliegh Abadie. He started from scratch and completed his Ghafiz studies in 1958.
Imam remained very close with Sheigh Saliegh Abadie for 52 years. He was the one that did the Sheigh’s flight bookings whenever he went travelling. At the time Imam and Sheigh Abduraghiem Sallie were Sheigh Abadie’s youngest students and they had the honour of reciting with senior Ghufaath like; Sheigh Ismail Ganief, Sheigh Ismail Talien, Old Imam Ismail, Boeta Noor Ghafiz, Ghafiz Imam Gasan, Ghafiz Hadjie Yusuf Gabier, Sheigh Uthman Najjaar and Ghafiz Hadjie Sedick Sadien. During the peak of their Quranic recitals, Sheigh Abduraghiem Sallie and Imam used to recite 5 Ajjazaa in 1 hour and 5 minutes. Imam was also a member of the Jameya-tul Quraah Ghifth Jamaa under the auspices of Sheigh Yusuf Booley.
Imam studied Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) under Sheigh Achmat Behardien and did Imaamat under Sheigh Amien Fakier.
In 1962 Imam married Baheya Behardien who was the daughter of Boeta Salie (Nagkersie). They had 2 children, Ebrahiem and Aziza. Ebrahiem got married to Reyhana Samodien and they have 2 children, Maahier and Aneeqah. Aziza got married to Mohamed Zain Allie and they have 3 children, Shahanah (who just completed her memorization of the Holy Quran), Ahmed Azhar and Mohamed Maahir. Imam’s wife Baheya passed away in 1994 and then he remarried a widow, Aunty Shariefa in 1998, who has 3 children.
After completing his Ghifz, Imam Omar led the taraweegh salaah at the Shaafee Masjied in Chiapinni Street in the Bokaap and at the Siddique Masjied in Elsies River. He also helped out with the Imaamat at Siddique Masjied and was instrumental in the appointment of Sheigh Amien Fakier as their Senior Imam. Sheigh Amien Fakier recently received a 50 year service recognition award and is still serving as Siddique’s Senior Imam.
Imam Omar had a very close relationship with Al Marghoum Sheigh Nazeem Mohamed who officiated at the Yusufia Masjied in Wynberg. He assisted with the Imaamat duties at Yusufia Masjied on numerous occasions and also served as its treasurer for 21 years. During Sheigh Nazeem Mohamed’s reign as the MJC president, Imam Omar served as its treasurer and together with Imam Yaasien Harries, was instrumental in formalizing the MJC Halaal Trust. Imam Omar started at the Quloobul Moe’mieneen Masjied in Goodwood in 1978 after the demise of the officiating Imam, Imam Fakie Abdul Kader. He served as the Senior Imam until his death on 10th November 2009.
As a Ghafith teacher Imam was the ustaad of many students and a few prominent ones are; Imam Hasiem Lamara (his 1st Ghafiz student), Sheigh Mieraaj Abrahams, Sheigh Ighsaan Abrahams, Imam Abdullah Agherdien, Ghafiz Nazeem Davids, Ghafiz Ebrahiem Slamang and Ghafiz Ashraf Tikolo (who is presently serving as the Assistant Imam at the Quloobul Moe’mieneen Masjied).
Imam was an active member of the MJC’s Imaara Council and through his nurturing of the younger ulama, many of the Sheighs, Imams and Moulanas who completed their studies had the honour of performing their first ghutbah at the Quloobul Moe’mieneen Masjied in Goodwood.
After the demise of Apartheid, when the community started to move back into Goodwood, Imam re-initiated the Goodwood Madrassa in 1998. During the period from 1998 until 2008, Imam used to teach Quranic recitation on a Sunday morning at the Masjied.
With the merging of the Saturday madrassa, Madrassatul Akhlaaq and the Goodwood Madrassa in 2009, Imam taught Quranic recitation on a Saturday morning, until he became sick in Ramadaan 2009.
Imam was not only instrumental in collecting funds for the Quloobul Moe’mieneen Masjied but also did extensive collections throughout South Africa for Yusufia Masjied, together with the late old Mr Brey (Mustaq and Dr Omar Brey’s father).
When the 2 houses adjacent to the Masjied were offered to the Masjied Committee, Imam supported it 100%. He initiated the Building Fund Envelope system to raise the necessary funds which is still in operation today.
The Masjied was Imam’s passion and he took an active interest in its affairs and the administration thereof. Even though Imam stayed in Rylands Estate, he would attend many monthly Masjied Committee Meetings after Fajr on a Sunday
Imam was very active in his last years at the Masjied and would never stay away on any big night or day. Even though he stopped leading us in taraweegh salaah for the last 3 years, he still attended every night, except for Ramadaan 2009 when he became ill. He was so dedicated to his Madrassa duties that Imam would be the first teacher to arrive at the Masjied and he would often have to wait for more than 1 hour before classes would commence. Imam was the main driving force behind the acquisition of the 2 houses adjacent to the Masjied and he would religiously do the banking and check on the balances of the Building Fund Account in order to see the shortfall and raise the necessary funds for payment thereof. During his last 10 years at the Masjied Imam took Sheigh Ebrahiem Tofa, a young graduate from Cairo University, under his wings and he nurtured him into one of the leading Sheighs in the Northern Suburbs.
Imam never recovered from his illness during Ramadaan of 2009 and passed away on Monday the 10th of November ( 22nd of Thul Qaydah, 1430)at the age of 71. He was buried in the Pooke Road Maqbarah.