L-R: Ebrahim Hajat, A U Asif, Haji Hajat and Maulana Masoodul Hasan (back with mike)
It was a historic moment in Mewat. The residents of Maleb, a tiny village in Mewat (Haryana), had on February 5, 2012 come enthusiastically out on the road to welcome a South African Person of Indian Origin (PIO) family that continued to love India even after its migration a century year ago. The occasion had turned into a festival-like situation. Everybody was eager to see the “Persons of Indian Origin” from South Africa. And, as a star attraction, the three-member family was available to them without any ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. The visiting family comprised of the 74-year old Haji Mohamed Ebrahim Hajat, his 72-year old wife Zoolekha (Joolie) and 53-year old eldest son Ebrahim Mohamed Hajat.
This was the 12th visit of Haji Hajat along with his wife to Mewat. However, this time the trip was somewhat different as the Haji and Hajjan Hajat had brought along with them their eldest son Ebrahim to show for what they continued to come to India since their first visit in early 1983. According to Anwer Sadat, a finance manager at Dubai and son-in-law of Qari Mahmoodul Hasan, rector of Madarsa Tajweedul Quran, Delhi, who escorted Haji Hajat to Mewat from Delhi, the fact is that India lived in the family's heart even after losing everything in the land of its ancestors in Gujarat.
Ailing Haji Hajat with his son Ebrahim
Haji Hajat's deteriorating health couldn’t prevent him from making a trip to India this time. It is to point out that he had fallen seriously ill sometime back. Doctors didn't allow him to go on such a long journey but in the wake of his wish to go once again to his beloved Mewat that has become his second home, his wife Zoolekha and children, agreed.
As a result of which, the family left Johannesburg and reached Delhi on February 2. The family stayed at the guest house of Madarsa Tajweedul Quran, a 62-year-old pioneer seminary teaching “Hifz-e-Quran” (Memorisation of Quran) and “Qer’at Saba” (Recitation of verses of Quran in seven ways/ styles), located at Masjid Takia Wali, Azad Market, Delhi.Masjid Takiyawali, Azad Market, Delhi and running under its rector Qari Mahmoodul Hasan. From there, it went on a day visit to Mewat.
Haji Hajat belongs to a century-year old South African family of Indian origin. This family completed its century this year in South Africa but its emotional attachment with India remained in tact. That’s why despite no trace of its original house at Alipore in Gujarat, it keeps in touch with India. And, the credit for the continuation of this attachment goes to late Qari Mohammed Sulaiman, the founder of Madarsa Tajweedul Quran and his son Qari Mahmoodul Hasan, the current rector of the seminary.
Haji Hajat being helped to walk to the mosque in Mewat built by him
Says Haji Hajat: “Late Qari Sahib used to love me as his own son. Actually, his love and affection won me over and made India again a home for me. So, I got back my home lost years ago. But this time, not in Gujarat, but in the heart of late Qari Saheb. Qari Saheb is now no more but his sons are here to maintain the linkage.”
Haji Mohammed Hajat was so much attached to Qari Mohammed Sulaiman that he didn’t stop even after his death on October 17, 2002 and continued to visit his Madarsa Tajweedul Quran in Delhi and his native place in Mewat (Haryana). His love for his new ‘homes’ prompted him to do something for these places. He helped to reconstruct the buildings first on the ruins of Masjid Noor and then Masjid Noorul Islam at Mewat. In January 1983 he was invited by Qari Sahib to inaugurate Masjid Noor for his love to the land of his origin. There were also run ‘maktabs’ (schools) imparting religious and other modern subjects inside some corners of these mosques.
Haji Hajat talking to A U Asif, Editor, www.fanawatch.com
The story of his relations with late Qari Mohammed Sulaiman is very interesting. Recalls Haji Hajat: “In Binoni (South Africa) while doing business I used to take interest in the work of charity since very beginning. There was one Maulana Gool Bhai, also of Gujarati origin. He was Imam of Jama Masjid in Binoni. He also used to teach in the adjoining ‘maktab’. He used to come to me for collection of charity and Zakat money every year for some Islamic seminary in Delhi which I came to know later on as Madarsa Tajweedul Quran. When he died in early 1980s, this link all of a sudden stopped. Afterwards, one day I got a letter in Urdu from someone whom I didn’t know. Then I couldn’t read Urdu. So, I managed to comprehend what was written therein through one elderly Haji Abdus Samad Daya, who was also of Gujarati origin. He knew Qari Mohammed Sulaiman. Late Qari Sahib, who was Rector of Madarsa Tajweedul Quran, had in the letter requested me to continue the link even after the death of Maulana Gool Bhai. So, I came into his direct contact. So loving and spiritual was his style that it conquered and won me over. His extra-ordinary attraction brought me to Madarsa Tajweedul Quran and Noor Masjid in January 1983.”
“Qari Mohammed Sulaiman was a divine light. He left this mortal world over five years back but I still remember the very first meeting I had with him. However, I feel happy to see Qari Mahmudul Hasan carrying out his great father’s mission along with his other brothers,” adds Haji Hajat.
Born on June 8, 1936 at Alipore (Gujarat), Haji Hajat left India at the age of only one year along with his mother Ayesha in 1937 to join his father at Binoni (South Africa). Since then he lived there till 1989.
Emotionally charged, Haji Hajat, a top business tycoon running seven huge and well managed petrol stations in South Africa further says: “My father, late Ebrahim Mohamed Hajat, who hailed from Alipore, near Surat (Gujarat), had gone to South Africa in 1912 to earn livelihood. There he started to sell clothes while hawking. In 1934 he came to his homeland to get married. After marriage he again reached Binoni (South Africa) back. He had five sons and four daughters out of which one died a few years ago.”
Replying to a question by this scribe, Haji Hajat said his father was very poor. “That’s why I
Qari Mahmoodul Hasan, Haji Hajat and A U Asif
could study till 3rd standard only at Binoni (South Africa) and got basic religious teachings at an Islamic seminary there at the age of 14,” he said.
Haji Hajat joined business in 1960 in an interesting way and today he is known as a foremost business tycoon in South Africa. He is founder and owner of Hajat Group of Companies with its headquarters at Bruma (South Africa).
The couple that celebrated golden jubilee of its marriage on December 9, 2006
Haji Mohammed Hajat got married on December 9, 1956 to Zoolekha (Joolie), daughter of another PIO businessman Ebrahim Moosa Laher from Alipore (Gujarat). He doesn’t get tired praising his wife Zoolie who looks after his business as Managing Director of seven petrol stations and properties. Joolie is an ideal Muslim woman. Both as a domestic and working woman, she takes interest in managing her home, cooks herself as well as controls the entire business with the support of her husband and children. She too belongs to a South African family of Indian origin. She was born on July 19, 1940 at Heidelberg (South Africa). She had five brothers out of which three died and three sisters.
The Hajat couple has five sons and a daughter. Its eldest son Ebrahim Mohammed Hajat, who accompanied it to India first time, says: “What I am observing after coming here, is quite different what I had imagined earlier in South Africa.”
Ebrahim avers: “Generally, people donate some money for places of worship or any other good work and get detached from it but I find my parents to remain continuously attached and involved with the mosques they got built and the persons helping them to accomplish the tasks and also the imams leading the prayers and Muslims offering prayers therein as well as the students attaining religious and contemporary education at the maktabs attached to the mosques. In fact, these works are a mission for my beloved parents. That's why they have so far visited a dozen times in about 30 years.”
Haji Hajat’s Son Ebrahim with A U Asif beneath the Aravali Hills in Mewat region
Ebrahim, himself running a car fitment centre at Johannesburg, was born on January 30, 1959 at Binoni. He has a sister Shaista and four brothers Faisal, Farooq, Firoze and Fareed. All of them are engaged in business. Like his father, Ebrahim also could not study much. He is only 8th class passed. However, what he learnt from his self study and experience like his father made him also a man of wisdom and excellence. He was married in 1980 at the age of 21 only to Razia. He has two daughters Fatima, a chartered accountant and Nadia, a marketing manager and son Ahmed, a finance executive.
Concludes Ebrahim Mohammed Hajat, named after his grandfather: “After going back home, I would tell my sister and all the four brothers as well as other members of the family what great work our parents are doing in India, and also pursue them to come to India and see from their own eyes our parents' achievements and its impact upon the entire society. I assure you that the great work our parents had begun would continue forever generation by generation, Insha Allah.”
---A U Asif can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Haji Mohamed Hajat: India Lives in his Heart
South African PIO Haji Mohamed Ebrahim Hajat Visits Mewat (Haryana, India)
Haji Hajat’s Granddaughter Asma Weds Adil at Johannesburg in Indian Muslim Style