Much will be written about the noble scholar Mawlana Abdullah Ismail Patel, more commonly known as Mawlana Abdulllah Kapodravi, who passed away on 10th July 2018.
Not only was Shaykh Abdullah a leading scholar who served with distinction as Principal of Darul Uloom Tadkeshwar in Surat, Gujarat for nearly a quarter of a century but he was an educationalist, visionary thinker, spiritual guide and a sincere well-wisher of the Ummah.
My first encounter with Mawlana Abdulllah, which resulted in close friendship with him until he passed away, was following his attendance as a guest speaker at the International Symposium on the life and works of Mawlana Sayyid Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, which was held in Dewsbury in the year 2000. Mawlana Abdullah was not only enthusiastic about attending the programme but enormously contributed to its success, delivering a speech full of reflection and personal insight into the life of Maulana Sayyid Abul Hasan Nadwi.
During the last two decades whenever he visited Batley he would grace me with a personal visit. I arranged his lectures in various Masasjids, including IMWS and Madina Academy. He would exhort privately and publicly that we should strive to improve ourselves so that we become worthy representatives of Islam, contribute meaningfully to society and strive for unity. His foremost quality was his excellent character and refined mannerism, which beautified his speech. He had a wonderful trait of making feel at ease in his company. When he spoke, it was as though a current passed through the hearts of his listeners.
From time to time I would phone Mawlana Abdullah and he would ask about circumstances facing Muslims. He would convey his greetings to the Ulama, especially Shaykh Mohammad Akram Nadwi and his colleague Mawlana Yaqub Qasmi. He would also ask about his students, particularly Maulana Abdur Rauf Sufi, Mufti Zakariyya Akudi and Mufti Ali Sidat.
Mawlana Abdullah showed a keen interest in the affairs of Muslims not only in the UK but throughout the world. For instance, he phoned me to share his concerns at the time of the Arab Spring, the Brexit vote and after the failed coup in Turkey, inquiring about the circumstances of events and their impact.
As Mawlana Abdullah’s health deteriorated in recent year, I was regularly kept informed of his condition by his worthy son Mawlana Ismail, who moved several years ago from Bolton to serve his father. He discharged his duties with love, grace and affection. On behalf of everyone, may Almighty Allah reward Mawlana Ismail abundantly for his service. Ameen.
There are many memorable moments to cherish from the illustrious life of Mawlana Abdulllah Kapodravi, however I will always remember with fondness how he received me during my visit to his home in Kapodra in February 2016. When I arrived, he was standing at the door and lovingly said: “Wakeel Saab, I had a fall the other day and fractured my leg but I’m here (at the doorstep) to welcome you”. This was a very humbling experience but one which was consistent with his affection. We then had breakfast and sat for several hours. I will cherish this meeting and his books which he gifted and kindly autographed for me.
He was also gracious enough to impart some advice which I recorded. It is a timely reminder which is worthy of reflection and beneficial to us all. Mawlana Abdullah said:
“For Muslims, it is imperative that they study carefully the books of (our) pious predecessors and do not become embroiled in petty issues. They remain committed and steadfast on the fundamentals of Islam and abstain from arguing over subsidiary matters. This is causing tremendous harm to the Ummah. May Almighty Allah grant us Tawfiq to adopt the methodology of our pious predecessors in dealing with differences. If we conduct ourselves harmoniously with each other then we shall all make progress. The differences which are prevalent nowadays are causing us great harm and is very destructive to Islam and Muslims. It is my fervent wish that attention is paid in this regard.”
My last meeting with him was when he stopped in London en route to Toronto last August. Although unwell and weak he was delighted to meet me and inquired about the affairs of Muslims here and abroad. During the discussion he mentioned the worthy efforts of Mufti Zubair Bayat of Darul Ihsan, Durban, South Africa. I also arranged a phone call with Mawlana Ebrahim Bham, Secretary of Jamiatul Ulama of South Africa. Mawlana Abdullah gave him support and encouragement in his efforts and endeavours.
The demise of Mawlana Abdullah Kapodravi leaves a significant void in the leadership of Muslims in India and elsewhere. His sincerity, love and affection will be sorely missed. I pray to Almighty Allah to accept all his services for Islam and grant him forgiveness and a high status in Jannatul Firdaus. I pray for his family and those who are mourning his loss. May Almighty Allah grant us all patience and enable us to benefit from his tremendous legacy. Ameen