Situated in Durban, the financial capital of Natal province, the Darul Iftaa enjoys the privilege of being a retreat for thousands of Muslims. From being a training centre of iftaa to being a judiciary, the Darul Iftaa serves humanity globally.
Upon landing at Durban Airport, we were honoured with Hadhrat Mufti Ebrahim Desai Sahib (daamat barakatuhum) personally coming to receive and welcome us. Despite all the errands and work Hadhrat has, he still took out time and came with his small son to welcome us and take us to the Darul Iftaa. This really made me understand what humbleness is all about.
The first thought which processed and registered in the central cortex of my mind when sighting the Darul Iftaa was: I am in a 5 star hotel! True to the word, the Darul Iftaa is not the typical ‘Darul Uloom’. It is far beyond that. The facilities are impressive to say the least. It houses a reception, seating area, kitchen, 2 wudhu rooms, library, board room, dining hall, an en suite bedroom and 2 toilets. Each area has been designed to nurse their occupiers with the most comfort. The comfort and luxury is there to propel the student in excelling himself in the training of Iftaa. When all needs are taken care of, one can devote himself completely in search of knowledge.
The Darul Iftaa provides services and facilities to people from all walks of life. On a macro-level, it offers expert Shari’ah compliant banking and financial advice to major corporations and businesses. The Darul Iftaa draws and devises shariah compliant models and contracts for various companies. It helps in reconciling business and marital disputes. The objective of the Darul Iftaa is to facilitate healthy business and investment schemes into the current unhealthy and unwholesome global financial markets.
The Darul Iftaa publishes financial and spiritual magazines for the benefit of the ummah at large. The purpose is educational empowerment. A famous innovation of the Darul Iftaa is it’s daily emailing service known as BEEP’s (Business Educational Empowerment Project). The Darul Iftaa has a mailing list of thousands. On a daily basis, the Darul Iftaa sends out contemporary business related masa’il and other contemporary issues to its mailing list.
On a micro-level, it offers financial guidance and money managing advice. The Darul Iftaa helps draw up wills and provides estate distribution certificates. By means of the famous Askimam website, the students of the Darul Iftaa answer the questions of dozens of people daily. Approximately 123 countries use and pose questions on the Askimam website. The Askimam website receives upto 2000 hits daily.
The Darul Iftaa plays a three-dimensional role in my life; it is a madrasah, a khanqah and a home. I will explain each one in more detail.
The Darul Iftaa as a madrasah-student life at the Darul Iftaa
We wake up in the summer months approximately 4am as fajr is relatively earlier this time of the year. Fajr is performed in the local musjid, Musjid us Saliheen. This is the very same musjid Hadhrat Mufti Sahib (madda zilluhu) performs I’tikaaf in the last ten days of Ramadhan. After the fajr salaah, the students and the locals sit in the daily zikr majlis, which is spear-headed by Hadhrat.
After the zikr majlis, we are back at the Darul Iftaa. The students are free until 7am. Some opt to sleep, majority stay awake and engage in research and study. Every second is vital. Although Hadhrat Mufti sahib on seeing the tiredness on our faces encourages us to take a rest, the students try to emulate Hadhrat’s student days where he would sleep only 3-4 hours a day.
We have the kitchen at our disposal. A fully functioning kitchen! Between 5-7am, the kitchen usually has the most traffic. Some students fry their own eggs, others suffice on cereal, some make pancakes and others simply have a cup of tea! Those who are amateur cooks often burn their eggs!
By 7am, everyone is awake and engaged in studying. Each student has his own desk and space where he sits comfortably. The atmosphere is very mature and professional. Everyone is treated as an adult. The privilege a student entertains at the Darul Iftaa is like none other.
Although the Darul Iftaa is comparatively small, it has a total of 11 students: 7 in house and 4 commute. Hadhrat Mufti Sahib (daamat barakatuhum) has a vision to extend the Darul Iftaa in the near future. We make du’ā’ Allah Ta’ālā fufills the dream of Hadhrat. Amin.
At 8am, the formal hours of the Darul Iftaa commence with a one and a half hour session with Mufti Husain Kadodia Sahib (daamat barakatuhum). We are extremely fortunate to benefit from a scholar of his calibre. Mufti Husain Sahib has literally been to over 30 countries in search of knowledge. Such scholars are very rare to find walking on the surface of the Earth. He teaches a number of subjects and books. A salient feature of Mufti Husain Sahib’s class is the scholastic discussion which ensues as the lesson draws to an end. Just about any and every ancient and contemporary issue is debated and analysed in the discussion. The lesson usually ends at 10am.
At 10.30am, the students sit in the class of Hadhrat Mufti Ebrahim Sahib (hafizahullah). Hadhrat Mufti Sahib’s wealth of experience is manifest in these 45 minutes. The discussions, debates, reasoning, analogies, explanations, interpretations and analyses in these classes paint a picture of a class held in Baghdad or Kufa a thousand years ago. This period ends usually by 11.15am.
From 11.15am-12.15pm, students are usually engaged in their own research. Some are punching away at the keys of a laptop answering the questions they have received. Some are debating. One or two have a dozen books sprawled out in the library in search of one textual evidence for their answer. Others are engaged in researching, trying to fathom the question that has been asked. Every day, each student is given one question to answer. He has a deadline of 24 hours to complete the question. If one has not completed a question for whatever reason, one must report and explain why to Hadhrat Mufti Sahib. Usually, tackling contemporary issues and the research behind it requires many days. Hence, it is such questions which are backlogged.
Zuhr salaah is performed at 12.15pm, after which meals are served. Meals at the Darul Iftaa reminds me of the dishes of jannah daily! Really, the food is that good! Hadhrat Mufti Sahib’s dear family spend night and day in feeding the students. Allah Ta’ala reward Hadhrat’s family with happiness in this world and eternal bliss in the Hereafter. Ameen.
Unlike other institutes, every day the meal is different. There is no fixed menu. Desserts are a norm. Desserts in all shapes and sizes are happily digested by the students! I recall on numerous occasions, Hadhrat Mufti sahib walking into the Darul Iftaa unexpectedly out of meal times with some food or snack for the students. We are honestly provided with three course meals. Many of the dishes are such which we have never seen or heard of. The hadith regarding jannah is often quoted in the dining hall, “That which no eye has seen, no ear has heard and the thought of which has not transpired in any mind.” All this truly reflects Hadhrat Mufti Sahib’s and his dear family’s devotion and love for the students. For our comfort, they summon every strength within them.
The students usually rest after meals until 2pm. The day continues after 2pm with students engaged in their research.
At 3.30pm, the lecturing and teaching in Islamic Finance begins. This is the highlight of the day. Intellectual, ingenious and resourceful discussions take place on all contemporary financial matters. Books in the subjects are also used as a reference and a guide. The true understanding and experience of Hadhrat Mufti Sahib in dealing with the global financial industries is manifest in these lessons.
After class, from 4.30pm and onwards, the students are engaged in reading, researching and answering their allotted question. Every day, the students are obliged to read a minimum of 30 pages from Ahsan al-fatawa. After the completion of Ahsan al-fatawa, the students move on to study Fatawa Mahmudiyyah.
Like all universities and under-graduate/post-graduate courses, the students of the Darul Iftaa have been assigned with producing a thesis numbering at least 50 pages.
As dusk falls, the students are ever absorbed into their research and studies. When the clock strikes 12/12.30am, the majority of students are resting.
The Darul Iftaa is privileged with the constant flow of great Ulama from across the globe. The presence of such luminaries in the Darul Iftaa is surely a means of elevation for the organisation.
The Darul Iftaa empowers the students practically as well as theoretically. On a daily basis, the Darul Iftaa accommodates meetings with the banks, corporations, entrepreneurs, sole-proprietors, investors and financiers. Conglomerates and firms seek Shari’ah compliant regulation and mechanisms from Hadhrat Mufti Sahib (daamat fuyudhuhu). The students play an active role in these meetings and conferences. Any contract provided or model proposed is studied and examined by the students under the supervision of Hadhrat Mufti Sahib. This is another unique attribute of the Darul Iftaa.
The Darul Iftaa provides mediation and arbitration services for companies, business partnerships, deals and transactions. The students witness the cases and play an active role in reaching a verdict. This is another exclusive feature of the Darul Iftaa.
The Darul Iftaa further provides mediation and conciliation services for couples suffering marital discord and disputes. The number of marriages Hadhrat Mufti Sahib has kept intact is innumerable.
The focal point of the above is that for all these services, Hadhrat Mufti Sahib does not charge a cent! He could have a revenue of millions. Each case lasts for weeks, consuming hours upon hours besides the constant thinking and dua behind the scenes.
The Darul Iftaa as a khanqah (spiritual reformation centre)
The advances in the academics cannot overshadow the efforts in reforming the soul. The emphasis on tazkiyyah and tasawwuf is just as emphasised if not more than the academics.
Each student must perform zikr, the nawafil salaah of the day such as ishraaq, chasht, awwabeen and tahajjud. Every student must recite the Qur’an daily as well as the specific daily surahs like surah mulk, surah Yaseen and surah Waqi’ah. Each student has a notebook wherein he records his daily actions. This notebook is monitored and checked daily by Hadhrat Mufti Sahib.
Writing a fatwa is not just about typing, it is far greater than that. Tears on the musalla and dua are integrals of writing a fatwa. Hadhrat Mufti Sahib always encourages us to turn to Allah when answering a question. We are beginning to come to terms with the responsibility and the critical nature of issuing a fatwa.
Every night after the Esha salaah there is a small majlis wherein a student reads the malfoozaat of Hakeem al-Ummah (rahimahullah). Hadhrat Mufti Sahib explains and elaborates on the malfoozaat.
Hadhrat Mufti Sahib is always available for his students to discuss any issue. We can confide and consult Hadhrat anytime.
Every Thursday, Hadhrat Mufti Sahib has an islaahi majlis at Musjid us Saliheen. Many people attend with dozens listening via the receiver. The audios are uploaded to be heard globally.
The Darul Iftaa as a home
To call Darul Iftaa home is not an overstatement. What constitutes a place being called a home? A location where one feels comfort, love, security, peace and happiness. All these ingredients are found in high concentrations at the Darul Iftaa.
Hadhrat Mufti Sahib and his respected family do all they can to provide comfort for us. Whatever creates ease for us, Hadhrat will endeavour to provide. If any student is sick, Hadhrat Mufti Sahib personally looks after him. I remember when one student was ill, Hadhrat himself brought medicine for that student.
The love Hadhrat Mufti Sahib exhibits towards his students is also unique. He treats us and looks after as if we are his own. Hadhrat Mufti Sahib takes the students out from time to time to give them a break.
Being in the khidmah and studying under Hadhrat Mufti Sahib is one of the greatest blessings Allah Ta’ala has given us.
I make dua Allah Ta’ala grants Hadhrat Mufti Sahib and his dear family happiness in this world and eternal happiness in the hereafter. Ameen.
My Experience at Dārul Iftā Mahmūdiyyah
Alhamdulillāh I have spent an entire two years at Dārul Iftā Mahmūdiyyah in Durban, South Africa, under the tutelage and guidance of Muftī Ebrahim Desai and Muftī Husain Kadodia. I will briefly lay out my observations in the following few paragraphs:
The advantages of studying at the Dārul Iftā Mahmūdiyyah in comparison to other similar institutions in my view are the following:
The medium of instruction is English and students are expected to write their exam papers and fatwas in English. Because of the demand for well-articulated answers on fiqh-related questions in the English language, this trains students to respond effectively to this demand.
Muftī Ebrahim Desai has extensive experience in dealing with people. The Dārul Iftā includes a board room in which Muftī Saheb conducts meetings with people in dispute over financial or other matters as an arbiter/mediator (hakam). Muftī Saheb is also an expert in faskh al-nikāh and is the head of the judicial committee at the Jam‘iyyatul ‘Ulamā’ KZN. Students are chosen to attend these meetings and judicial sittings with Mufti Saheb and learn from his vast knowledge and experience in dealing with these issues.
The Askimam website is an internationally renowned and trusted website. As a consequence, it receives questions from all around the world from people of all backgrounds and professions. The large variety of questions prepares a student well for all kinds of questions so that when he leaves the institution he will not be overwhelmed or unprepared for the different kinds of questions that people ask. Furthermore, students are required to read the approved answers of all fellow students, expanding their knowledge of fiqh-related issues to a large degree.
Students are free to use all resources at their disposal including Shamela and other software programmes. This helps the student to learn both the advantages and disadvantages of the resources available to him and the extent to which he should rely on them and how he should use them.
Students at the Dārul Iftā come from many different locations and educational backgrounds. My specific year group consisted of students from North America, UK, Belgium, Russia, Zambia and South Africa. Some of the intelligent students brought with them expertise in different fields, like hadīth, qirā’ah and ‘aqīdah. Due to the flexible atmosphere in the Dārul Iftā, this allowed students to benefit a lot from each other’s’ expertise.
Muftī Husain Kadodia is Dārul Iftā’s in-house bibliophile, book seller and all-round scholar. He helps Muftī Sāheb with training the students. The benefit received from the lessons, discussions and dinner table chats with Muftī Husain Kadodia are perhaps the most distinguishing feature of Dārul Iftā Mahmūdiyyah. His knowledge of usūl al-iftā (principles and methodologies of issuing fatwa), books of Hanafī fiqh, computer programmes (like Shamela) and manuscripts is unparalleled amongst English speaking scholars. Furthermore, the lively debates and discussions conducted in his classes develops a good understanding in the student of how to think critically and how to find answers to difficult questions.
Finally, the Dārul Iftā is kept impeccably clean, the facilities are impressive and students are provided rich meals for lunch and supper, making their stay extremely comfortable. This enables students to concentrate fully on the job at hand of research, answering fatwas, reading, discussing etc.
Other points of note are: there is a nice big masjid (Masjidus Saliheen) a mere 10 minutes walking distance away from the Dārul Iftā where the students offer their salāhs; there is a small well-equipped gym in the Dārul Iftā which students can use in their free time; students are at liberty to speak to and benefit from other scholars living in and around Durban like Muftī Emran Vawda, Mawlānā Bilāl Jakhura and others; the Darul Iftā houses a moderate sized library with a good selection of books.
A couple of the downsides (in my experience) of the Dārul Iftā are the following:
In my specific year group the class size was large. As a result, there were one or two bad apples, students that were rowdy, who sometimes made it difficult for other students to study. There should perhaps be a more careful selection process so only students who are diligent, hardworking and serious are chosen to study at the Dārul Iftā so that everyone’s experience is positive.
While one of the advantages of the Dārul Iftā is the flexibility and time students are given to conduct their own work, some students unfortunately take advantage of this and waste huge amounts of time in futile activity. This can be remedied by carefully monitoring students’ progress in the work they are expected to complete, particularly the required amount of reading from the voluminous fatwā works; for example, after a student completes a section of required reading, a brief oral exam is taken of that portion to ensure he really did spend the time reading and studying that section properly. Left to their own devices, some students will unfortunately not engage in work but spend time in frivolity and useless activities.
Alḥamdulillāh, the past two years have been an enlightening experience for me in the path of ṭalab al-`ilm as I climbed up the stairs of Iftā’ and endeavored to make my tomorrow better than my yesterday, especially for the sake of my Dīn. While there were many ups and downs filled simultaneously with moments of amazement and anxiety, the end result was worth this arduous journey; the ends justified the means.
First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to Allāh Ta`ālā for allowing myself to be graced by His mercy by Him setting out a path for me to seek the knowledge of this Dīn instead of throwing me into this world of blue and white collars. Indeed one who is destined to tread the path of `ilm has surely been blessed by Allāh the Almighty.
Secondly, I would like make du`ā’ to Allāh Ta`ālā that He encompasses my parents with His mercy and grants them ease in this life and the hereafter. If it was not for them, I would have surely suffered a great loss.
Finally, I would like to make du`ā’ to Allāh Ta`ālā that He grants all of my teachers from the days of my Hifẓ till the end of my Iftā’ pure and absolute success in their worldly affairs and in the challenges that await them in the Ākhirah. May Allāh Ta`ālā grant them all His proximity and spread His unlimited mercy over them on the day when there will be no shadow except His.
At this point, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mufti Ebrāhīm Desā’ī, his family, and Mufti Husain Kadodia for all their support throughout these two years. May Allāh Ta`ālā shower them all with His special mercy and make them a key asset in spreading His Dīn.
The Dārul Iftā’ granted me a chance to explore a brand new world and gain experience in a field that was completely unknown to me prior to my coming here. As a student of Dīn, once I graduated with `Ālimiyyah, I thought that Iftā’ did not have much to offer. To me, it seemed superfluous without much purpose, since the exterior décor of an Iftā’ syllabus implies that it is just a revision of the same old fiqh with a new face. Upon entering the world of Iftā’, I soon realized the world of difference between simple knowledge and application of it in the real world. This realization was the pivotal point in determining my view on Iftā’ and the motive behind my studies for the past two years.
While the above statements outline the general benefit that one would receive from any Dārul Iftā’, I would like to pen down some points that make our Dārul Iftā’ stand out amongst the rest:
1. One simple word, English. English being the main medium of answering questions is one of the selling points (metaphorically speaking) of this Dārul Iftā’. While I truly love the language of Arabic and Urdu, the English language has become a standard throughout the entire world. If one is unable to answer proficiently in this universal language, then he may face many difficulties in the future, especially in Western countries.
2. Access and exposure to the internet, another factor commonly not found in other
similar institutes. This Dārul Iftā’ offers students the opportunity to answer questions that presently affect the Ummah at a global level. With the internet as a medium and multiple websites such as AskImam.org, DarulIftaa.net, and IdealWoman.org at its disposal, the Dārul Iftā’ allows the students to busy themselves in answering all types of questions including contemporary fiqh issues, social issues, social dealings, business questions, work/job questions, interest issues, financial questions, marriage and divorce inquiries, questions regarding food products, questions dealing with contemporary scholars and popular figures in the Islamic world, current events, etc.
3. Top class facilities. It goes without saying that compared to normal Madāris, the Dārul Iftā’ is in a class of its own. With comfortable bedrooms offering each student their own built-in cupboards and closets, a kitchen equipped with stoves, an oven, microwave, blender, refrigerators, and two bathrooms with one shower each on the first floor and one bathroom with three showers on the second floor (in the student’s boarding area), one cannot complain that the old “Madarsah” feeling dissipates during just the first week. The students’ studying areas offer ample space with huge desks that can handle laptops and multiple books.
4. The library is a home for Iftā’ students. Mufti Husain Kadodia is known to be a master in the field of books. With him as a teacher in the Dārul Iftā’, one can be sure that the library will not disappoint, especially the Hanafī fiqh section.
5. Diversity brings out moderation. With students coming from all types of backgrounds, one is surely to benefit not only from the teachers, but also one’s colleagues. Each student has something new to offer to the table.
6. Freedom inside the walls of the Dārul Iftā’. Unlike normal Madāris, Mufti Ebrāhīm Desā’ī treats each student as a scholar of Dīn. Phones, laptops, internet access are all allowed and even necessary to complete work. As a matter of fact, the Dārul Iftā’ offers full
internet access to all the students 24-hours a day on the first floor.
7. The teachers. Mufti Ebrāhīm Desā’ī and Mufti Husain Kadodia together offer the students an outlook into the world of Iftā’ with each of their specialties. Mufti Ebrāhīm Saheb has years of experience within and outside of South Africa. Using this knowledge, he passes on his experience to his students inside and outside of classes. He also pressures the students and questions them daily about their pending fatāwā and muṭāla`ah so that they learn to work efficiently. Mufti Husain Kadodia enriches the students with his knowledge of books and brings them up to date on all the discussions happening throughout the Arab and Non-Arab world on the internet and other net-related platforms. With a deep link to Arab scholars and experience in traveling to numerous Islamic libraries, the knowledge he has to offer cannot be attained from anyone else. Experience is key.
8. Scrutiny in fatāwā is also an important factor in any Dārul Iftā’. Mufti Ebrāhīm Desā’ī Saheb makes sure to scrutinize each student’s fatwā and review them with a critical eye before approving them. At times, I was personally sent back five to six times before gaining approval for a single fatwā. This process of rejection, analysis, and approval builds the ability in a student to understand and inculcate the attitude of Mufti Saheb in fatāwā and answer accordingly.
9. Real-time meetings and arbitrations also take place right in the Dārul Iftā’. Businessmen, couples, friends, and business partners all come to the Dārul Iftā’ to settle their disputes, social and financial, in accordance to the laws of Sharī`ah. Mufti Saheb ensures that each student takes part in these arbitrations and understands how one should practically apply the knowledge of Sharī`ah by gaining exposure to real-time disputes and observing the techniques used to overcome them in a pragmatic way that coincides with our knowledge of Islamic law.
All in all, my time at the Dārul Iftā’ was priceless and an experience that is unforgettable. I hope Allāh Ta`ālā makes my efforts in the Dārul Iftā’ a means of gaining His pleasure and He allows this experience to be the first step to a million more.
Indeed, the science of fiqh (jurisprudence) is a very important and significant field in Sharīʿah which a Muslim is always in need of in order to live in this world according to the commands of Allāh Taʿāla. In today’s time and age, where Muslims throughout the world are facing new issues and challenges which even more so require the consultation of a scholar, namely a Muftī, who will exert himself and issue the enquired ruling according to the principles of Sharīʿah; this is a monumental task, an immense responsibility which requires a great amount of effort and training.
All praise is due to Allāh Ta`āla who has granted me the great opportunity to study the two-year Iftā’ course at the Darul Iftaa Mahmudiyyah of Durban, South Africa under the tutelage of Hadhrat Mufti Ebrahim Desai Saheb (Ḥafiẓahullāh) and Hadhrat Mufti Husain Kadodia Saheb (Ḥafiẓahullāh). I have greatly benefitted from the teachings and guidance of my two teachers within these two years. Students of the Darul Iftaa have tremendously benefitted from the expertise of Mufti Ebrahim Saheb in understanding the practically of issuing a fatwa and understanding the dynamics of a fatwā etc. and from the expertise of Mufti Husain Saheb in terms of the intricacies of the principles (usūl) of Iftā’, masā’il, detailed knowledge of books, manuscripts and the sciences of Ḥadīth, etc.
I am greatly indebted to my teachers of Darul Iftaa Mahmudiyyah for their efforts and tutelage. The benefits which I have gained in these two years will be a strong foundation of support for what lies ahead of me beyond the walls of the Darul Iftaa.
I would also like to express my gratitude and appreciation to Mufti Ebrahim Saheb’s family for their immense efforts and services for the students of the Darul Iftaa. May Allāh Taʿāla reward them abundantly and accept their sacrifices and time given to the needs of the Darul Iftaa. May Allāh Taʿāla make their efforts a means of Ṣadaqah Jāriyah. Āmīn.
May Allāh Taʿāla grant my teachers a long life with blessings and ease, and may Allāh Taʿāla continue to take the service of Dīn from them and benefit Muslims throughout the world with their teachings and guidance. Āmīn.
My beloved teachers will forever remain in my du`ā’s and I too hope to remain in theirs’ which I am and will always be in need of.
– Fahad Abdul Wahab
Student, Darul Iftaa
There are very few people in the world whom Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala has graced with His blessing to produce work that would benefit the Muslim world at a global level. It is apparent and widely known that the works and Fatawas of Hazrat Mufti Ebrahim Sahib (mudda zilluhu) are universally accepted. Alhamdulillah, the students were blessed with the opportunity to analyze and observe Hazrat Mufti Saab at work.
In my two years of Iftaa in the Darul Iftaa, I have noticed Hazrat Mufti Sahib’s zeal to improve the stay of the student by any means necessary. Hazrat Mufti Sahib continuously asks us to inform him of any essential needs in order to improve our stay and achieve positive results in our study habits.
I have also noticed that Hazrat Mufti Sahib is very keen on disciplining the students for Fajr and zikr. Both of these are a must in Hazrat Mufti Sahib’s agenda.
The completion of the Darul Iftaa expansion project is a touch of art. From the ceiling to the floor, the Darul Iftaa looks like a masterpiece. Along with the expansion of the building, with the mercy and the grace of Allah, Hazrat Mufti Sahib created many websites for the benefit of the community at large. A website exclusively for women IdealWoman.org has been built for their comfort in order to provide answers that specifically deal with issues facing women at a personal and global level.
Hazrat Mufti Sahib requires students to do a lot of mutala’a before classes.
Mufti Husain Kadodia also has classes with the students. It is safe to say from just attending Mufti Husain’s classes that one can truly understand the amount of hours Mufti Husain puts into studying his books and making mutala’a. Every day he brings a new subject to the table and with every new subject we are handed a key to an endless pool of knowledge. May Allah Ta’ala bless both Hazrat Mufti Sahib and Mufti Husain with barakah and mercy in this world and in the hereafter.
I would like to take the time to thank Hazrat Mufti Sahib’s family for preparing our meals. Indeed, it is a difficult task to feed the students on a daily basis. Further, whenever students are sick, Hazrat Mufti Sahib’s family tries their very best to make us feel like we are at home. When the students are feeling sick, they keep track of our health and prescribe us the precise medicine that we need.
I ask Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala that He grants Hazrat Mufti Sahib and his family a long life with good health and quboliyyah (acceptance).
The purpose of the following is twofold:
Assisting potential students to decide whether Dārul Iftā Mahmīdiyya, Durban, is a right choice for them or not.
Depicting a glimpse of my experiences, observations and feelings during my stay at the Dārul Iftā and with Mufti Ebrāhim Desai Saheb (hafiżahullāh)
I can never do justice to this institution or the teachers in words. I hope to present to you a drop from the ocean of what happens at the institution.
Dār al-Iftā has an exclusive and vigorous process in assessing admissions for the Iftā course which is of two years. Only those students who have been recommended (in writing) by their previous principals and teachers and who have excelled greatly in both, academia (husn al-isti`dād) and personal development (husn al-akhlāq), are admitted at the Dār al-Iftā with a very strict code of conduct which is closely monitored by Mufti Ebrahim Desai saheb. Since the entry requirements are at a great standard and Mufti saheb tries to allocate all his time and resources and energy upon the students, so are the expectations for the students to perform at the best level. Students will be required to work diligently and achieve targets rendered by Mufti Saheb. Unfortunately, Mufti Saheb has had to reject many students on the grounds of limited spaces available. Currently, there are maximum number of students: eighteen in number. Mufti Saheb would like to confine the number to that which would allow him to maintain fully focus on them, give due and equal attention to all and ensure effective and smooth management. Furthermore, Mufti saheb may give privilege to students from places where there is more need to revive Islam and he tries to ensure he admits students who are really interested in fiqh and who will go back home and actively work in the field of fiqh and fatwā.
There is more emphasis at dārul Iftaa on fatāwā writing than browsing books. Mufti Saheb tries to develop within the students the zeal and passion to reach out to people and serve the global ummah in whatever way possible, in particular, through fatāwā online.
Mufti Ebrahīm receives various questions via texts, letters, people coming in person, and online. He distributes a question or two (and even three at times) daily to each student. The genre of the questions vary and in this way Mufti Ebrahim may provide students with questions on diverse topics. The question must be answered within 24 hours of receiving the question. The response must be substantiated by references from at least five Arabic classical works and two contemporary Urdu fatāwā publication.
All the answers require hours of reflection and deliberation on how to address the question. An answerer must consider all possible implications of the answer he writes, and, in the words of Mufti Ebrahim Desai saheb, “we would rather err [in giving a fatwa] on the side of ihtiyāt and caution” than err in allowing actions which may open doors to sins and immodesty.
Honourable Mufti Saheb adopts the following procedures before approving any answer:
He critically analyses each statement including its language, style, structure, lexical devices, presentation and references;
He may thereafter guide the student to a particular book or area of consideration;
Alternatively, Mufti Saheb may simply send the student away to apply his own discretion in analysing and correcting his response;
The students are required to present their references for every detail mentioned. Failure to present any reference would result in the response being rejected;
Mufti Ebrahim may change the answer and assess each answer with the same critical eye as done upon being presented in the first response.
Sometimes, Mufti saheb may find it suitable and wiser to seek clarification before delving into juristic intricacies or irrelevant peripheries;
Mufti Saheb always advises his students to adopt a practical and moderate approach within the limits of Sharia. He also advises his students not to be harsh or rude to people. He advises that fatāwā is an ideal and great form of da`wah;
In response to a contemporary or controversial issue, Mufti Ebrahim Saheb also instructs the answerer to consult with other fellow colleagues or relevant professionals. Following appraisals from peers and professionals, Mufti Saheb instructs the student to work on the advices rendered. This procedure may take days and weeks and thus this may construe our delay in some responses.
Mufti Saheb also advises students to make lots of du`ā to Allah Ta`ālā for guidance in issuing the most suitable and appropriate ruling. Research alone is not sufficient. The guidance of Allah Ta`ālā is the ultimate guidance.
After approval from Muftī Saheb, the fatwa is forwarded by email to all the members of the Dār al-Iftā. Each student is required to daily read the fatāwā of the students approved by Muftī Saheb. In this way, all the students will be exposed to hundreds of contemporary rulings. Furthermore, it allows scope for assessment and feedback from other peers. They may also at time introduce another dimension, provide with possible points to improve the answer or even identify any mistakes. The answer is once again reviewed, perhaps amended with relevant material, and assessed and approved in the same procedure as mentioned above
Mufti Saheb only approves an answer and allows it to be posted online subsequent to his scrutiny and complete satisfactory. Hence, each of our response is sealed with “Checked and Approved by Mufti Ebrahim Desai“(may Allah preserve him).
WHAT ARE THE STUDENTS REQUIRED TO DO?
The students are obliged to complete the following tasks:
300 fatāwā (answers to questions) throughout the span of two years;
2 thesis (a twenty-page research to be written in the first year and a fifty-page research in the second year). The topic of the thesis will be ascertained by Mufti Ebrahim and it should discuss contemporary rulings pertaining to different aspects of Sharia;
Daily reading of approved fatāwā. All the students must forward by email their approved fatwā to all the other students. Hence, each student would have in this way completed reading through approximately 5,000 contemporary fatāwā (from eighteen students) throughout the two years.
Comprehend and read entirely through Ahsan al-Fatāwā in the first year and Fatāwā Mahmūdiyyah in the second year.
Write articles pertaining to various topics
Write the minutes for the meetings, arbitrations and judicial sittings when attended
Pass by at least 75% in written exams on Usūl al-Iftā, Rasm al-Muftī, Islamic Finance, al-Hīlah al-Nājizah, al-Ash`bāh wa al-Nazā`ir, Sirājiyyah, Muwāfāqāt, al-Madkhal fī `ulūm al-hadīth al-sharīf, al-Ajwibah al-Fādhilah and others (some of the books are taught in the first year and some in the second)
Assess and engineer relevant contracts and investment schemes to suit sharia compliancy. The students are tasked with assessing the sharia compliancy of financial contracts and investment schemes and thereafter with engineering them to fulfil the principles of Sharia. This task is either assigned to one individual, or a group of students who will collaborate with each other. Sometimes, Mufti Saheb may cover a whole contract with all the students discussing clause by clause.
ACTIVITIES AT DARUL IFTAA?
Dārul Iftā Mahmūdiyah is not a normal Iftā institution which only focuses on juristic verdicts. It provides various other services in which students actively participate including
Providing assistance to businessmen
Engineering sharia compliant products and investment schemes
Offering commercial and marital related arbitrations and mediations with assistance from attorneys
خدمات: دار الإفتاء سے جو فتاوی طلب کۓ جاتے ہیں ان میں روز مرہ کے معمولی مسائل کے علاوہ اہم پیچیدہ اور غور طلب مسائل، پنچایتوں کے فیصلے، شریعت کے موافق فیصلے کی اپیلیں وغیرہ وغیرہ کثرت سے ہوتے ہے، مثلا اس سال ہم نے دو نئ اسکیمیں کو مشارکہ واجارہ کے مطابق پاس فرمائ
حکومتی سطح تک دار الإفتاء اسلامی فائننس پرتجارتی کمپنیاں بینکوں اور حکومتی اداروں کی رہنمائ فرماتا ہے، کافی ملکوں کے حکومتی منستروں نے خود دار الإفتاء سے رابطہ کیا ہیں اور اپنے ممالک میں مسلمانوں کے لۓ حلال انورسمنت اور فائننس کے اسباب ایجاد کرنے کی کوشش میں ہیں
طلباء کو خاص ٹریننگ بھی دی جاتی ہے بیوع، فسخ نکاح وغیرہ کے مسائل میں، یہ خصومات اکثر آتے ہیں اور طلباء ان میں شرکت کرتے ہیں اور بعد میں اس پر علمی وفقھی مباحثات ہوتے ہیں
Educational campaigns and programmes on business and commerce
Certificate Programme in Islamic Banking
علمی ودینی خدمات: دار الإفتاء کے تحت فی الحال چار وب سایت چل رہے ہیں اور تصنیفی وتالیفی خدمات کا سلسلہ شروع بہی ہوا ہے
Training students on fiqhī issues and, in particular on, financial, social, and marital issues.
Students have the opportunity to attend judicial sittings for marital disputes and annulment of marriage. The students have first-hand experience in witnessing and being trained in the Islamic relating to the annulment and the procedure to proceed with it. These gatherings are held at the Jamiatul Ulāma office in Durban.
WHAT ELSE DOES DARUL IFTA PROVIDE?
Safe, secure and friendly environment.
The institute takes care of the spiritual as well as the physical wellbeing of the students. Honourable Mufti Ebrahim (may Allah lengthen his shadow upon us) is very sensitive to safety and security. The building is surrounded with a fully integrated security system as well as gates and intercom system for those entering and leaving. Similarly, Mufti Ebrahim and his family ensure the students are fit and healthy and are always there to assist if a student requires are help or is not well. An example is, although the climate in Durban is the most appropriate for foreign students, compared to other parts to South Africa where it may reach extreme temperatures, Mufti Ebrahim ensures we wear our jumpers (oh, sorry, “jerseys”) when leaving for the Masjid to observe the Fajr prayer. Another example is, how Mufti Ebrahim was swift in bringing a cough medicine and preparing some soup once he witnessed a student coughing and appearing not well. Although some things may appear very trivial to us, these life lessons leave an imprint in the hearts of the students and teaches them a lot on how to develop the inner self and conduct ourselves with others.
The warm and friendly ethos and atmosphere is amazing and inspiring. There are currently eighteen students from diverse countries including America, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Russia, South Africa, Trinidad, United Kingdom and Zambia. It is amazing to see so many nationalities studying, assisting each other and living together. The institute is a pool of competent and diligent students from different backgrounds having expertise in specific fields. It allows students to learn about other cultures, learn how to interact with others, to widen their thinking-cap and global understanding and, most importantly, to share knowledge and learn from each other. We were fortunate to have certain students who were competent and had amazing ability in fields such as inheritance, Islamic finance, and Islamic theology and thus we were able to benefit from them and even undertake independent lessons in a free time.
That brings us to the issue of safety and security in relation to the inner-self. The students are required to engage in the gathering of zikr daily after Fajr. Similarly there is a special reformation gathering on Thursday nights. Every student has a ma`mūlāt book which has to presented before Mufti Ebrahim daily. The book should record daily Qur`an recitation (half a juz for a non-hāfiz and a full juz for a hafiz), Tahajjud salāh, Ishrāq salāh, Chasht salāh, Awwābīn salāh, zikr, fatāwā answered (all students are required to complete three hundred throughout the span of two years) and daily reading from Urdu fatāwā (the students are obliged to complete the whole of Ahsan al-Fatāwā in the first year and Fatāwā Mahmūdiyyah in the second year).
طلباء کی اصلاح پر کافی زور دیا جاتا ہے، محلّے کی مسجد میں روزانہ بعد صلاة الفجر و تفسیر القرآن ذکر کی مجلس منعقد ہوتی ہے جس میں طلباء کے لۓ حاضری لازمی ہے، اسی طرح کسے اللہ والے سے تعلق، نوافل اور تلاوت قرآ ن کی پاپندی واہتمام پر توجّہ دی جاتی ہے، نیز ہر طالب علم کے پاس اپنی معمولات کی کاپی ہے جس کا مفتی اراھیم صاحب روزانہ جائزہ لیتے ہیں اور ضرورت کے مطابق طلباء کی تنبیہ فرماتے ہے
Mufti Ebrahim emphasises on purifying our souls and lives from all evil traits and vices and on instilling the fear and love of Allah in our hearts. The fear of Allah is the attire for a Mufti. In the words of Mufti Ebrahim, “if you want a mu`tadil and balanced approach, you must have good analysis on all four: Qur`an, Hadīth, Fiqh and Tasawwuf (inner spirituality). Furthermore, he teaches us how to be respectful in our speech and writing and how to conduct ourselves with elders, such as begin with “muhtaram (respected) Mufti/ Maulana …. “.
Mufti Ebrahim saheb encourages critical thinking and allows the students to identify their strengths and develop their academic ability. I will always remember his favourite words, “apply your mind!” An amazing trait of Mufti Ebrahim is that he always encourages his students and gives them hope. He will instruct us to consult and make mashwera with different seniors, local ulamā (if the issue is a communal issue, scholars and professionals to widen our thinking and benefit from their research and experience. In his words, “Be academically tolerant and honest.”
Love, Concern and Attention
Mufti Ebrahim values each and every student and shows them ultimate love, attention and care. He is humble, honest and an approachable and easy-go person. Mufti Ebrahim frequently tells his students and his associates, “I have lot of love for you”. This is in fact the hadith of the Honourable Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him), “When a man has love for his brother he should tell him”. His humility is his shining armour. Each time Muftī Ebrahim sends an email, he will request forgiveness and supplications from all his students. In this was he also wins the hearts of people, brings a smile on the face and confidence in the heart of his addressees.
Moderateness in Approach
I was greatly inspired by Mufti Ebrahim by his fair, moderate and practical approach to understanding sharia and presenting the authentic teachings in the form of fatāwā and when providing solutions to people who come to him with their disputes. The concern and values instilled in the hearts of his students can be realised by his words, “It is an era of targhīb (encouragement) and not tarhīb (instilling fear in people) … Present dīn in an appealing manner to them but without compromising … Do not be harsh in fatāwā and in words … Be understanding… Always adopt the cautious view but see what is more practical and easy for the people … Do not create despondency but provide an alternative … Correct them when they err but with compassion and without compromising sharia … Have pain for the ummah … Avoid fitnah (falling into controversial issues) … Protect the faith of people and protect the hope people have come to you with”
Mufti Ebrahim is very particular about time, discipline and the work being completed. The students are fortunate to witness the way in which he interacts and communicates with senior ulamā, guests, professional delegates and people who have come for mediation and arbitration. He demonstrates exemplary love, concern, attention to all his guests as well dealing with them in a friendly manner while maintaining his integrity.
Mufti Ebrahim`s residence is adjacent to the Dār al-Iftā and thus he stays at Dārul Iftā all the way from 9:45 in the morning (after conducting his classes at Dar-`Ulūm Nu`maniyah Chatsworth) till 9:00 at night with the exception of going home to eat. In this way, he is able to constantly monitor all the students.
Knowledge and Experience
Mufti Ebrahīm has been actively in the field of fatāwā and teaching in various notable institutions since the last approximately twenty-five years. He has been teaching Sahīh al-Bukhārī since the last fifteen years. Currently, as well as being occupied at Dār al-Iftā, he teaches Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Sunan al-Tirmidhī and the translation of The Glorious Qur`an at Dar-`Ulūm Nu`maniyah Chatsworth. Also, Mufti saheb has been blessed with the company of Mufti Mahmūd al-Hasan Gangohi saheb. Mufti saheb has taught us that true knowledge of fiqh and Iftā is not attained by simply browsing fiqh books and by learning how to give fatwa but by clinging on to the rope of akābir, ulamā, shuyūkh and benefit from them by staying in their company, rendering services and khidmat for them and “straightening their shoes”. À person who stays with Mufti saheb can easily see the effects of suhbat on him, his heart and his actions. May Allah empower all the students with his faydh. Amīn
The majority of disputes brought to Dār al-Iftā are in relation to transactions and joint-enterprise not being written and agreed upon and built upon principles contrary to sharia.
These are some of the some life lessons I learnt from observing mufti Saheb at the meetings:
Be fair, just and professional … Be generous and hospitable to your guests … Be welcoming and generous … Be humble and affectionate… Be approachable … Be tolerant and overlook their shortcomings… However, you must maintain honour, dignity and respect before the `awām … Learn to assume different roles and responsibilities depending on the circumstance and state – be as friendly when outside and as professional as ever when in meeting/ arbitration/ judiciary sitting … Do not drive the public away from Allah by your strictness and hardness but bring them closer to Him by generosity, ease and tolerance. These people could have easily gone to a judicial court to resolve their disputes. What drives the people to come to Dārul Iftā and Mufti Saheb and then lay down their cases before Mufti saheb with a complete mandate to arbitrate … Be as friendly but do not compromise your principles and Sharia … Your seating, attire and verbal and non-verbal expressions have a clear impact on your audience and their willingness to submit to you.”
Mufti Ebrahim saheb is vibrant, vigorous and exuberant in the delivery of his teaching. He will first pose thought-provoking question at the outset of the lesson and throws a curve ball and then captivate our minds and hearts, drive us into a journey of multiple checkpoints and ignites the spark of eagerness to learn more and carry on diving into the ocean of knowledge.
It was a habit of Muftī Sahib to take several students along with him to be present for the arbitrations and annulments of the marriage, for them to learn how to deal with such cases. Mufti Saheb has been a leading force at the Jamiat since a long time. Thus he can relate literally any ruling with previous experience. The knowledge from the books, the experiences from Mufti Ebrahim and our active witnessing and participating in meeting involving live and real cases allow us to be more practical, deal with situations effectively and see, hear and fell what is written in the books.
Furthermore, a striking feature of Mufti saheb is his involvement in, and interest and deep knowledge of all different sciences of Islam. On various instances, his proficiency in hadith is demonstrated by how he instantaneously quotes and remembers ahādith to fiqhi rulings. Mufti Saheb is also willing to teach students advanced studies in Tafsīr and Hadīth in his own times. Students who may want to further their studies in Tafsir and Hadīth besides Fiqh, may do so independently.
Another teacher is Mufti Husain Kadodia saheb. He is a master in manuscripts, a gem in humility and sincerity and an ocean in knowledge. Any individual who attend his lessons will be mesmerised by his knowledge. He is not a master in fiqh only but in hadith, tārikh, tafseer etc. I personally have heard and read from the works of many contemporary scholars that there is no one who is, in day and age, more knowledgeable than him in relation to latest researches, books, publishers and manuscripts. He has travelled several manuscript centres, libraries and publishing houses in various countries. We are fortunate for him sharing with us all his knowledge and experiences without toiling. He instils the passion of researching in his students. Many a times, he presents to us researches and information not generally found in books or known even to senior ulamā. His lessons depict exactly how Imam Abu Hanifah would establish a shurā gathering of 40 great ulāmā wherein they would discuss and debate masa`il. Mufti Husain`s lesson allow us to discuss all types of contemporary ruling and perhaps even counter eh other`s opinions in an academic and friendly manner.
The Dār al-Iftā building has five bedrooms and can house up to 15 residential students. There rooms are spacious and decorated with fully fitted carpets, cupboards, air-condition, fans, beddings, side-desks and blinds. Each room contains at an average three single beds. The building is very and safe and surrounded with a fully integrated security system.
Dār al-Iftā also has fitness facilities accessible to all students at all times. The gym room which contains a soccer table, a badminton table, boxing and fitness equipment including adequate weights, fitness ball, a treadmill, bench press and a punch bag. Mufti saheb has been extremely generous in responding to the requests of the students.
The upper floor consists of the bedrooms, a guest room, rest room and dining hall. All the meals are served hot and twice daily in the dining hall. There is variety of food available at the Dār al-Iftā. Mufti Ebrahim and his family would always ask for our personal preferences and try to suit the needs of all students. The food catered for students includes, mutton, chicken, fish, rice, biryani, steaks, pizzas, burgers, occasional cakes and deserts, drinks and the list goes on.
The building in total contains washing areas with wash basins for general use and for ablution, toilets and plenty of cubicles for showering. There is always plenty of supply of hot water.
We are also fortunate to have access to free Wi-Fi connection which would fac us to access emails and conduct research online.
The Kitchen is spacious and accessible to all students. It contains a separate fridge and freezer for each room, a stove and oven, a microwave, toaster, washing machine, kettle and all other cutleries and utensils which are available for the use of students whenever they wish.
The institute is in close proximity to the local clinic. Furthermore, the institute has close relations with local medical doctors and thus students are provided with immediate medical help if needed. The students are provided with relevant medicines and special food. May Allah reward Mufti saheb and his family for assisting all the students whether it be with transport, food, cleaning, or any other way.
The Dār al-Iftā also has a worker who comes twice a week and cleans the institute and irons the clothes for the students.
The academic year begins from the mid Shawwal to the end of the following Sha`ban. The students are given two week-long holidays throughout the year.
In conclusion, I will forever be indebted to and grateful of Mufti Ebrahim Desai, the family, Mufti Husain Kadodia and the institute. May Allah give them barakah in their lives and in their `ulūm. May Allah accept their efforts and grant them the best of rewards in both the worlds. May Allah preserve their īmān and the īman of their progeny yet to come. May Allah make this institute a beacon of knowledge and guidance and accept all those who assisted in any way to establish or maintain this Dār al-Iftā.
Hanif Yusuf Patel
My Experience in Darul Iftaa Mahmoodaiyyah
Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh
Mufti Ebrahim Desai Saheb
Alhamdulillah I had the opportunity to come to Darul Iftaa Mahmoodiyyah and study under Hazrat Mufti Ebrahim Desai (Hafidhahullah). He (Mufti Ebrahim Saheb) taught us multiple books. Alhamdulillah I benefited from all the lessons and the advices we got from Hazrat Mufti Ebrahim Saheb. He (Mufti Ebrahim Saheb) taught us “Al Ashbah Wannazair”, “Islamic Finance”, “Heelah Naajizah”, etc. Every Saturday Hazrat Mufti Ebrahim Saheb used to give us naseehat (advices) and stories of the Akabireen (previous scholars) which were very beneficial and taught us a lot of lessons, Alhamdulillah.
Mufti Saheb also use to take us for arbitrations and meetings which showed us how things work practically and how we as Ulama have to deal with such situations. He (Mufti Ebrahim Desai Saheb) also use to take us to the Jam’iyat to show us how to deal with marital problems. It was very beneficial to see how everything works practically because once we go out and start doing khidmat of Deen, we also face all these problems. After seeing how Hazrat Mufti Saheb deals with them, Alhamdulillah we also get some idea on how we should face these challenges.
Mufti Husain Kadodiya Saheb
Alhamdulillah we also had the opportunity to study under Mufti Husain Kadodiya Saheb, who is a treasure of books. He (Mufti Husain Kadodiya Saheb) taught us “Usool Al-iftaa”, “Sharah Uqood Rasmil Mufti”, etc. Mufti Husain Kadodiya Saheb is known and famous for the knowledge of the books he has. He (Mufti Husain Kadodiya Saheb) did not just teach us what was in the books, he also taught us the names of all the books that came in “Usool Al-Iftaa” and taught us the names of the authors etc.
The amount of knowledge we gained from Mufti Husain Kadodiya Saheb pertaining to books is so much that I doubt we would have learned so much from anyone else. He (Mufti Husain Kadodiya Saheb) also taught us about makhtootat (manuscripts) and about the books that only exist in makhtoot form. This was extremely beneficial because if an Alim wants to look at the sources used in printed books, he will have to know how to use the makhtootat in order for him to check up the sources and make sure there are no mistakes in the quoting.
Mufti Husain Kadodiya Saheb also gave the class a tour of the library in the beginning of the year and gave them information about every book that was in the library. But unfortunately, I came late so I did not get to attend those classes and tours.
My stay at the Darul Iftaa
I have lived at my house all my life. I have not seen the madrasa life. This was the first time in my life I left my house and lived in a Darul Iftaa/madrasa. I can’t say much about how good or bad this place is because I have never experienced this life before, but just by looking at this Darul Iftaa and other madaris, I can say without doubt that everything in this place is top class and better than any hotel I have stayed in. Alhamdulillah the facilities are very nice.
The best part is that whenever we need anything, we just ask for it and we always get it. May Allah Ta’ala reward Hazrat Mufti Ebrahim Saheb for everything he has done for us. We should have done more of his khidmat but he and appaa have done more khidmat of us than we deserved. May Allah reward them and the family. Appaa always treated us like we were her own kids and always helped us out. When I got sick she made me soup and always asked me if I wanted anything special to eat. She really cared for me and for the rest of us.
Hazrat Mufti Ebrahim Saheb would hold a zikr majlis every day after Fajr and all the students would join him as well. If we read the biographies of the akabireen, we will see that all of them used to do zikr and that is what brought them closer to Allah Ta’ala.
Besides that, we were told to pray ishraq, chasht, awaabeen and tahajjud.
Ahamdulillah I also made a habit of reading Qur’an every day. May Allah make us all pious and accept us.
I ask Allah Ta’ala to reward Hazrat Mufti Ebrahim Saheb and his family and, put a lot of barakah in their wealth and accept them for His Deen. Ameen
Assalāmu alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh
At the outset, I would like to thank Allah Ta’āla that He chose us to come out in his path and seek knowledge. And He accepted us to come and benefit and maximise from the Nūr of Nubuwwat and made us the Misdāq of the Hadith:
وَمَنْ سَلَكَ طَرِيقًا يَلْتَمِسُ فِيهِ عِلْمًا، سَهَّلَ اللهُ لَهُ بِهِ طَرِيقًا إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ (صحيح مسلم)
Hazrat Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Allah makes the way to Jannah easy for him who treads the path in search of knowledge.” (Muslim)
Furthermore, I would like to thank Allah that He chose us to come and seek knowledge from such personalities who are not only masters in one field; rather they are leaders and masters in many fields.
Alhamdulillāh, the Darul Iftaa Mahmūdiyya, specifically Mufti Ebrahim Desai Sahib welcomed me warmly as a father into the Darul Iftaa. Darul Iftaa and its online portal; www.askimam.org are internationally well-known for their services to the Muslim ummah for almost two decades. The academic and social services rendered by the institute are not hidden from anyone. Hence, it was an honour to be accepted at such an institute.
After my stay at the institute, I would like to highlight some of the many interesting and beneficial aspects that I have witnessed, appreciated, enjoyed and experienced. These features have helped me immensely during my stay and according to my humble understanding, are very beneficial for any institution that facilitates Takhassus fil Fiqhi wal-Iftaa (Specialization in Islamic Jurisprudence):
The askimam.org website, is the world’s most famous Hanafi Fiqh website. Through this, the Darul Iftaa tends to the thousands of questions posed to Mufti Ebrahim Desai Sahib each year. Today, the website serves as a primary online fatwa source for not only laymen, but for ‘Ulama and Muftis alike. The well-researched and referenced answers have given both the website and the Darul Iftaa much credibility.
The Darul Iftaa runs three other websites, namely:
daruliftaa.net: This is the official website of the Darul Iftaa.
org: A website dedicated to serve the Muslim women.
org: Dedicated to issues relating to spiritual reformation.
Boardroom meetings: The wide variety of topics discussed with an even wider array of emotions is truly a lifetime experience, which not only teaches the students how to handle a meeting under immense pressure, but also unite the hearts of the parties despite their qualms and differences.
The Judicial sittings at the Jamiatul Ulema KZN were a rare experience in the actual field of Qadha.
The emphasis on building a Tahqeeqī Mizāj. The methodology of research ingrained in the students at the Darul Iftaa is perhaps one of the most outstanding features of the Darul Iftaa.
The wide variety of students, their backgrounds, nationalities and individual expertise in different fields serves as a great benefit to each other.
The facilities at the Darul Iftaa were high above our expectations. Mufti Ebrahim Sahib and his family went out of their way in facilitating every possible need and request of the students, such that the Darul Iftaa felt like a home away from home.
The people of Sherwood, the beautiful environment of Masjid-us-Saliheen, Masjid Umar Farooq, and the esteemed Ulema’ created a very welcoming and friendly environment for the students.
Mufti Sahib’s concern for the students did not only end at looking after the well-being of the students. The eye of scrutiny with which Mufti Sahib checked each fatwa, the language, the research, the grammar, the presentation, the approach, and not to forget, every single full stop and comma, was truly outstanding. Another commendable feature was Mufti Sahib’s habit of seizing every opportunity to guide and advise the questioner from a spiritual angle.
Mufti Sahib’s concern for the spiritual well-being of the Darul Iftaa was evident every single day. From the early morning Zikr majlis to personally checking whether every student is up and around for Salaah, to reminding the students in absentia during the holidays to keep up with their ma’moolaat and mutala’ah, as well as checking the students’ progress books.
Apart from the services provided by the Darul Iftaa, Mufti Sahib personally ensured that the facilities in the Darul Iftaa are maintained and personally inspected, and monitored the upkeep and cleanliness of the premises and boarding of the Darul Iftaa.
Though no amount of gratitude can do justice for the academic, spiritual and social facilities and services rendered to us by Mufti Sahib and his family, as a token of appreciation, from the depth of my heart, I thank our beloved and caring Ustaads, Mufti Ebrahim Desai sahib, his family and Mufti Husain Kadodia sahib. From the minute details of academia to the fine aspects of spiritual reform, both teachers have truly transformed my outlook, approach and daily life. May Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’āla continue to extend their shadow of mercy over us and the Ummah at large.
Alhamdullillah, by the grace and mercy of Allah Ta’aalaa, I was given the opportunity and honour of studying in Darul Iftaa Mahmoodiyyah. An institute founded by Hadhrat Mufti Ebrahim Desai Saheb Daamat Barakaatuhu to train Aalims from around the world to become muftis. However, throughout my invaluable time spent over here, I realised it was much more than that. Mufti Saheb was not just training students to become muftis but rather leaders of our communities. He successfully achieved this using an arsenal of different, yet effective, techniques and as well as giving us the opportunity to benefit from an array auspicious personalities.
Regarding Mufti Saheb’s methods to instil outstanding leadership qualities within us, we had to undergo rigorous training, both spiritually and mentally. Regarding the spiritual training, Mufti Saheb would ensure that all of us were punctually in attending his after fajr zikr majlis as well as Moulana Chohan’s enlightening Tafseer lessons. Moreover, every Thursday night it would be mandatory on all of us to attend Mufti Saheb’s weekly majlis which comprised of a talk by Mufti Saheb, filled with wonderful wisdoms and beneficial advices, as well as the recitation of Darood Shareef and a brief zikr session. The finale of this auspicious event comprises of a lengthy dua which has the power to enlighten any room, no matter how dark and can bring down anyone to tears. Furthermore, whenever, Hadhrat Mufti Khanpuri Daamat Barakaatuhu used to bless Durban with his presence, we would wake up three in the morning to attend Hadhrat’s unique zikr majlis.
As for the mental training, Mufti Saheb would regularly advise us and direct us in life. He used to make us attend practical arbitration and mediation sessions as we observed how Mufti Saheb dealth with real life issues using his life-long learnt lessons. Furthermore, Mufti Saheb would also emphasise on the importance of zikr all the time. Mufti Saheb also made sure we always had something to do, filling our schedule with work such as fatwas, mutaala’ah and research. He would constantly put pressure on us to extract the maximum amount of work out of us. Mufti Saheb often told us that this is the most effective way to get the most out of student.
As mentioned, Mufti Saheb would always ensure that our Darul Iftaa was frequented by leading personalities of all fields, including, but not limited to, tasawwuf, tableegh and fatwa. For example, last year, we were fortunate enough to be visited by Mufti Abu al-Qasim, the Principal of Darul Ulum Deoband, who provided us with priceless advice. Furthermore, in order to broaden our experience and provide us with life-long lessons, Mufti Saheb would call over guests from who would be leading personalities in their field such as prison dawat, law and ruqyah.
Furthermore, I also benefited from Mufti Saheb in terms of writing and structuring fatawaa. Whenever a fatwa was sent in, Mufti Saheb would always scrutinise the fatwa and examine it very closely. It was quite a common occurrence that our fatwas be rejected and be sent back for us to apply our minds and to restructure it, add more references or to simply think about it again. In this way, my capability to write fatwas broadened.
Along with Mufti Saheb, we were also taught by the Hadhrat Mufti Husain Kadodia Daamat Barakaatuhu who is an academic and a muhaqqiq. He taught us the intricacies of the fatwa as well as its practical application. However, not only did he do that but Mufti Husain Saheb took it a step further and went out of his way to teach us about authors, makhtoots, books and hadith, just to name a few. No amount of words can express how much I valued his time with us. The knowledge he passes onto us is unimaginable. Prior to my arrival here, I had very little passion for books, let alone knowledge about them. However, meeting Mufti Husain and sitting in his lessons, ignited a flame within me; one which will never be extinguished. Overall, I believe the benefit I received from Mufti Husain, I could not have obtained in any other Darul Iftaa
With regards to the facilities, it’s safe to say that no matter how high anyone’s expectations were before they came here, everyone was utterly shocked by the high standards of the Darul Iftaa when they arrived in terms of facilities. From the bathroom and showers, to the bedrooms all the way to the kitchen. Everything here was top notch. Even our food, compared to regular madrasahs was good. Just to give you an idea, we used to have different meals every day, ranging from the quarter chicken with small chips Mochachos meal every one of got weekly on Wednesday nights to the South African style biryani we got for lunch every Friday all the way to the Darul Iftaa’s very own special: Bilal’s food which we received a few times a week. We would receive so much Bilal’s food that there would always be leftovers in such large quantities that it would be enough to feed all of us a second time. And even after that, there would still be leftovers.
Mufti Ebrahim Saheb was also very sensitive regarding our safety, hence the security at the Darul iftaa. Our Darul Iftaa is protected by a state-of-the-art remote controlled automatic metal sliding gate that has a one minute timer on it. Security is a very big part of our infrastructure.
Mufti Saheb was also very sensitive about cleanliness. He would ensure that the Darul Iftaa be kept clean at all times. Hence, the regular check-ups. Mufti Saheb would ensure every day that ours beds were made, that our room was vacuumed and that the kitchen was clean.
Another concern of Mufti Saheb was out health. Every time we would tell him we were sick, he would understand and immediately go out of his way to provide us with medicine and organise special meals for us.
I would also like to extend my gratitude to Appa for overseeing the Darul Iftaa and ensuring that everything was in order and that nothing went missing as well as providing us with regular meals. She also ensured that we had state-of-the-art machinery/equipment for our everyday tasks such as cooking, ironing and sleeping.
In conclusion, my experience in Darul Iftaa Mahmoodiyyah was primarily a positive one. I have very fond memories of it and will miss it dearly after I depart. I hope this small report provides an insight of how I spent my days in Darul Iftaa and how it has changed my life positively and has provided me with life-long lessons. Although I know I was not able to fully describe my experience as words can only tell so much. I hope anyone coming after me will benefit as much as I have, if not more.
Ever since I was a young boy, I remember reading fatawa from the world renowned askimam.org website, followed by a “Checked and Approved by Mufti Ebrahim Desai” on every fatwa. I always wondered who this great luminary was whom Allah Ta’ala had accepted profoundly and spread his knowledge to many different parts of the globe. Never did I imagine that ten years down the road, I myself will be the fortunate one benefiting from the tutelage of Mufti Ebrahim Desai Saheb (Hafizahullah). I thank Allah Ta’ala for accepting me to such an institute and allowing me to benefit from the company of great scholars.
Mufti Saheb’s unique style of continuously rejecting our fatawa until they appear to be flawless, accompanied by many references, was truly helpful in improving our capabilities in this field. Mufti Saheb would also put us under such pressure which would ensure that the fatawa have been answered and sent out to the Mustafti (questioner) within a twenty-four hour time limit. His concern also lead us to attending different Judicial meetings and divorce issues which opened up our purblind eyes when we witnessed the dilemma and observed Mufti Saheb’s unblemished comments. One of the great benefits of the Darul Iftaa Mahmoodiya is the variety of questions that are inquired from a hundred and two different countries around the globe. This gives a person the experience he needs to understand the social behavior and difficult challenges the world is undergoing before returning once again to our communities.
Mufti Saheb was also very keen and observant to our character, conduct, and well-being. He would occasionally tell us that his strict attitude is merely a tool being utilized to improve ourselves spiritually and academically. At heart, Mufti Saheb’s personality is truly one of the softest. His compassion and zeal in enhancing the betterment of his students is invaluable. Suffice it to say, it would be impossible to forget the unique traits and characteristics possessed by Mufti Saheb.
It would be unethical if I fail to mention our other great teacher at the institute, Mufti Husain Kadodia Saheb (Hafizahullah), whose cordial nature and informative extraordinary discussions are sure to be missed. We will never be able to truly show our gratitude and compensate him for his support in helping us understand which books should be researched and reviewed before issuing fatawa, respective to their chapters and categories. As he is a master in Usool al-Iftaa (the principles of answering fatawa), he would make sure each and every student is applying these principles to our daily questions and would even comment if we failed to do so.
Mufti Ebrahim Saheb’s demanding and strict attitude combined with Mufti Husain Saheb’s overwhelming presence and critical analysis on our fatawa truly derives the maximum benefit out of the students. It is truly a great blessing to be able to witness the combined effort of two powerhouses at the same and exact time. It is my advice that you should realize what you are stepping into before making any hasty decisions. It is Mufti Saheb’s temperament to only deal with hard-working and dedicated students at the institute. Mufti Saheb does not appreciate, nor does he agree with wastage of time and not concentrating on the one reason you are here for; excelling and specializing in the field of jurisprudence. It goes without saying that if you are truly determined and dedicated to your studies, then you will only leave this institute after gaining an immeasurable amount of knowledge along with a bonus spiritual inspiration in your life.
My Experience at the Darul Iftaa
All praise is due to Allaah Ta’aala who has allowed me to study His Deen further and complete the Iftaa course, and that too under the tutelage of two great luminaries of our time, Mufti Ebrahim Desai and Mufti Husain Kadodia. Peace and blessings be upon Muhammad (Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam), to whom we are linked via the golden chain. Rasulullaah (Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Whoever Allaah wishes good for, He grants him the (true) understanding of Deen.
As the last moments of the ‘Aalimiyyah course came near, I found it quite difficult to choose as to what I should study further. Being a Shaafi’ee in legal jurisprudence, yet from a Hanafi family, I found it difficult to plan my studies. But at last, it was Darul Iftaa Mahmudiyyah that seized my attention. As I come to the end of my Iftaa studies, I can comfortably say that I have made the right choice, wa lillaahil hamd.
Mufti Ebrahim made us feel at home all the time. He was and is like a father to us. Whether it was emotionally, spiritually, physically or monetarily, he was always there for us. He gave preference to us over his own children.
I recall our first Eid in the Darul Iftaa. Mufti Ebrahim told us to feel at home and that although we are away from our family, we are part of his family. Apa laid out the breakfast and also sympathized us with words of comfort and home. May Allaah Ta’aala reward them abundantly.
Unlike many other Darul Iftaas, Mufti Ebrahim and Mufti Husain emphasize very much on applying our minds and not just blindly following a precedent ruling. Both are open to, rather encourage and enjoy academic discussions. It is not just about knowing the answer, but the main factor is understanding the fiqhi takyeek.
The importance of applying the usools of Iftaa is greatly emphasized. Moreover Mufti Husain encourages us to always refer to the classical works, and that too the manuscripts.
After class with Mufti Husain, we have an open Q&A session. Students ask and discuss with Mufti Husain. This gives the students the opportunity to gain tafaqquh.
Both teachers living close to the Darul Iftaa gives the students the opportunity to maximize benefit and bond with them.
The Darul Iftaa receives queries from Ask Imam, Darul Iftaa and Ideal Woman. The Darul Iftaa also receives questions through phone calls and in person. The wide range of queries that are received benefit the students greatly. However, I personally feel that along with the contemporary and incoming questions, students should also be given preset queries encompassing the various chapters of fiqh, thus allowing the students to review their fiqh. A mix of both will strengthen and enhance the students.
When writing our fataawas, professionalism is expected. Mufti Ebrahim spends hours analyzing each and every word of our answers. The manner and tone we adopt in writing our fataawas and addressing the petitioner is crucial. At times, Mufti Ebrahim will reprimand for us being too harsh. At other times, he will warn us about being too lenient. You have to understand the petitioner and his/her background and story. It is of utmost importance to know and understand what is happening on the ground. Great emphasis is put on coming out of our “ivory tower” and comfort zone.
All angles are considered before issuing a fatwaa. Mufti Ebrahim will throw curve balls at us so that we can analyze other prospectives. Our answers are generally correct the first time but Mufti Ebrahim will play with our minds until we are confident in our answer.
When we receive queries for which we require external research, we are directed to the people of that discipline. For instance, when we receive medical related questions, we are referred by Mufti Ebrahim to the skilled doctors in the area. Likewise, when we receive queries related to jewelry, we are referred to licensed jewelers. Similarly, questions regarding beauty and hygienic products, we are referred to experts in the field who assist us in understanding the product better.
Before approving a fatwaa, at times Mufti Ebrahim will send us back multiple times to take the best out of us. Although frustrating at that given moment, we appreciate and see the fruits overtime.
After answering the question, we send the answer out to all the previous Iftaa students of Mufti Ebrahim. This is done through a Google group. If any of the eighty plus esteemed scholars on the panel feel our answer is incorrect or requires further attention, or even to advise us on an issue, they reply to our answer. This gives us the chance to improve ourselves and we truly appreciate it. Moreover, this creates a network between the alumni and proves beneficial in the real world. May Allaah Ta’aala reward them.
We have classes with Mufti Ebrahim almost every day and with Mufti Husain Mondays to Thursdays. We have class twice a day with Mufti Ebrahim and once a day with Mufti Husain. The remainder of the day is spent in our personal readings and in answering questions.
The teaching skills of both respective teachers are simply amazing. Both esteemed teachers are open to queries during and after the class. They teach with a passion. If need be, they repeat and explain in different ways to make the student(s) understand.
The medium of teaching is English. Mufti Ebrahim takes his time and puts due effort in correcting and enhancing the writing skills of the students.
With Mufti Husain Kadodia on board, the Darul Iftaa is equipped with the latest and best edition of the pertinent books. The library has a large collection of classical and contemporary Hanafi works. Contemporary works are available in all three languages, Arabic, English and Urdu. The main books of the other madhabs as well as the other fields are also available for the students to study and use.
Mufti Ebrahim admits students from various seminaries hailing from different countries and backgrounds. This diversity gives the students an opportunity to benefit and understand different methodologies and understandings. It prepares them for the real world where one has to live with and respect and tolerate others.
Lodging and Meals
Mufti Ebrahim and his amazing family go out of their way to ensure the students are comfortable and feel at home.
The Darul Iftaa is equipped with one of the best Wi-Fi services available, and that too unlimited. This is essential in our research.
Most of the meals are prepared diligently by Apa. They are delicious and truly remind us of our mothers’ cooking. The remaining meals are ordered from high standard restaurants and take-aways. The meals are from various cuisines. Aside from the wonderful main course, Apa is always looking out for us and sending appetizers and desserts. It should be noted that Mufti Ebrahim and the family eat the very same food as us. In fact, I would not be wrong if I said preference is often given to us. We could not ask for anything better.
The rooms are like five-star hotels. Each room hosts three students. This gives us ample space and privacy. The beds and the duvets are comfortable as our own beds at home. The rooms are fitted with fans and air conditioners. There are four toilets and five showers available in the Darul Iftaa. They are cleaned on a daily basis. The lodging could not be any better.
A state of the art kitchen is also available for students to use. Aside from the stove, other appliances are also there for the ease of the students. Washing machines are also available for the students’ use.
The Darul Iftaa rooms a gym which has the main equipment. The driveway is also big enough for students to play various sports.
A car for the use of the boarding students is also available. As a driver, I must say that the car has barakah. When needed, a second and even a third car is made available.
In the summer, Mufti Ebrahim allows the students to enjoy themselves in his pool.
Sherwood is an upscale cozy neighborhood in Durban. The people of Sherwood welcome the students with an open heart and do their best to make the students feel at home. Sherwood is home to professionals of all disciples. This gives the students the opportunity to consult with them and benefit from them.
During the course of study, Mufti Ebrahim organized a number of workshops such as a counselling, chaplaincy, public speaking, mediation and arbitration. Throughout our studies, we would often visit the Jamiatul Ulamaa KZN to take part in the judicial proceedings and serve as jury. We would also join Mufti Ebrahim for arbitration and mediation cases at the Darul Iftaa.
The students go out on the weekends to play sports, soccer and cricket being the most common. Many students have also trained in archery during their stay in the Darul Iftaa.
The spiritual well-being of the students is also a great concern for Mufti Ebrahim. If Mufti Ebrahim sees any deficiency in a student, he lovingly addresses the student. Daily zikr and tilaawah is greatly emphasized.
Mufti Ebrahim is always there to counsel us for any need. I must say that he is a master at it. If a student is feeling down, speaking to him for a few minutes will make the student feel better.
Mufti Ebrahim often reminds us that along with academics, we need spirituality. He even implements this in our fataawa. I recall being sent back for one answer twenty-one times. I could not see what was wrong with my answer but I was persistent and going back and forth. At the twenty-first time, Mufti Ebrahim informed me that I have passed. He was only teaching me tolerance and patience and preparing me for what is to come in the real world.
Bond with the teachers
Every student has a special bond with Mufti Ebrahim. Words cannot explain this bond. At times, Mufti Ebrahim is a friend with whom students can open up and discuss anything and everything frankly. At times, he is a father who guides and disciplines the students. The love Mufti Ebrahim has for each of his students knows no boundary. This love is reciprocated as well by the students.
Lastly, I would like to present my utmost gratitude to Mufti Ebrahim Desai and the family and Mufti Husain Kadodia for all that they have done for us. Only Allaah Ta’aala can reward them adequately. I request them to remember me in their du’aas.
Muajul I. Chowdhury (Muaz),
Astoria, NY, USA