By Sana Ebrahim
Islamic scholar and educationist Dr Rahim Ebrahim of Durban has advised the Ummah to place emphasis on education and its implementation in accordance with Divine Law.
In an interview with Al Qalam, he added: “I believe that if we create a climate conducive to the unity of the ideological brotherhood then this brotherhood must extend to the greater humanity. Muslims living in a diverse society should always accord the concept of respect for other cultures.”
In 2020, Dr Ebrahim’s book, ‘Al Ansaar Foundation: The Helpers – From Humble Beginnings (Establishment and Activities)’ was published. He acknowledges the late chairman of Al Ansaar, Mahomed Abdool Gaffar Joosab for his confidence in him and for entrusting him with the task of documenting the history and major projects of the Al Ansaar Foundation.
Editor of the book, Prof Abul Fadl Mohsin Ebrahim writes in the Foreword: “Al Ansaar – The Helpers is a useful addition to the literature on the contributions of Muslims in South Africa. It provides the reader a vivid account of the establishment of Al Ansaar and how it evolved over the years to become one of the most progressive organizations in the country. Credit goes to its effective leadership in steering the organization to benefit not only the Muslim Ummah, but the greater community, irrespective of their race, gender and religious affiliation.
“In fulfilment of all its multi-faceted projects, Al Ansaar incessantly networks with other NGOs and this strategy has succeeded in making Al Ansaar a household name in the KwaZulu Natal Province… Being a meticulous scholar, Dr. Rahim Ebrahim went a step further and sat for long hours with Mr Mahomed Abdool Gaffar Joosab, Sister Asiya Amod Sayed and Shabir Badsha in order to ascertain the historical accuracy of what he had included in his manuscript. May Allah amply reward him for his zealous effort in preserving the legacy of Al Ansaar for posterity, Amin.”
Whilst based at the South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF), Dr Ebrahim travelled across the country documenting the history of the faith-based, socio-welfare and educational organisation. The research culminated in a book entitled: ‘A Historical Appraisal of SANZAF’. He served as the Public Relations Officer (PRO) and Research Officer for SANZAF, making good literature available. He resigned from SANZAF eight years ago due to ill health.
Dr Ebrahim qualified at the end of 1978 as an educator of Afrikaans at Fordsburg College of Education, Johannesburg. In 1979 he began his career in Benoni and was later transferred to Northmead Secondary School, FET Phase, Phoenix, KwaZulu-Natal.
In 1985, he enrolled for a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Islamic Studies at the then University of Durban-Westville (UDW). He completed the degree in five years on a part-time basis. His lecturers were Prof Salman Nadvi, Prof Suleman Dangor, Mr Ahmed Farouk Vanker, Prof Abul Fadl Mohsin Ebrahim, Dr Mawlana AK Aziz, Mr Mahmoud Dawood and Prof Yusuf Dadoo (Emeritus, UNISA). He was mentored by Mawlana Abdul Qadir Rahmatullah; Mawlana Abdur Rauf Soofie; the Sufi disciple, Mohamed Saeed Soofie (RA) and others.
Dr Ebrahim had initially decided to read for a doctorate in Afrikaans. He however opted for Islamic Studies that was recognised by the Department of Education. While teaching he received three merit awards in Afrikaans. He was medically boarded at age 45 and continued with studies.
His mentors as an Honours student were Prof Salman Nadvi and Prof Ebrahim. The scholarly bond between them remains till today.
Dr Ebrahim realised that he has an affinity for research. Upon completing his Honours degree (cum laude), he delved into deeper studies of the Qur’an. The topic of his Master’s degree was Surah Al-Hujurat. The dissertation was deemed worthy of publication and copies of the book were sold.
Following the completion of his Master’s degree, he was appointed the first official khatib of Jumu’ah lectures at Al Ameen Masjid (Phoenix Islamic Gorba Society). He began expanding his lectures across the country and borders.
He then enrolled for a D.Phil degree. His thesis on Surah An-Nur was deemed worthy of publication by the external examiners.
In 2004, Dr Ebrahim completed a Certificate in Islamic Law course. He has edited books for other writers. He delivers interfaith Jumu’ah khutbahs and speaks at non-denominational gatherings. His great appreciation extends to his tutors and the NGOs that motivated him.
In his parting words, Dr Ebrahim emphasized the importance of youth development. “The youth are like the saplings of a plant; if they are nurtured well, they will bear good fruit.
“We have vast information; but in educating people the methodology and diplomacy in imparting that information are the main criteria for coherent unity without segregation.”