Mawlana Abdullah bin Isma’il Patel was born on 28 December 1933, 11 Ramadan 1352 in a town called Heho in the central part of Burma (Myanmar), where his father moved to, from India, as a trader.
The family returned to India in 1935 and settled in Kapodra village which is the maternal hometown of Mawlana. His paternal hometown was Jitali, but because his father had purchased a house in Kapodra whilst still in Burma the family took up residence here.
Mawlana began his elementary education in the local madrasah in Kapodra. He enrolled at Jami’ah Islamiyyah Talim al-Din, Dabhel in 1944 to further his education. Here he studied Persian and the first two years of the Arabic course, thereafter he proceeded to Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband to continue his studies. He completed the third year here. Half way through his fourth year he took very ill and was forced to return home for treatment. He returned to Dabhel the following year and remained there till he completed his studies and finally graduated in 1953.
He then went back to Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband where he spent two years benefitting from the great teachers there.
He studied under the following teachers in Dabhel:
All three ‘Ulama granted him Ijazah in Hadith.
He also received Ijazah of Hadith from Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah, and for the Musalsalat from Shaykh al-Islam Qari Muhammad Tayyab, Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya and Mufti Mahmud Hasan Gangohi. (May Allah Ta’ala have mercy upon them all).
Mawlana taught for seven years at Jami’ah Islamiyyah Dabhel from 1959 onwards. His main field of teaching was Arabic Literature. In 1966 he was offered a teaching post at Dar al-‘Ulum Falah-i Darayn, Tadkeshwar. Very soon after his arrival at Tadkeshwar the principal’s post became vacant. The Shura at that time appointed Mawlana as caretaker principal for a period of one month. In the next sitting of the Shura the appointment was made permanent.
Mawlana remained principal of Dar al-‘Ulum Falah-i Darayn for 26 years from 1966 to 1992. He continued teaching side by side with his administrative responsibilities.
He became renowned in Gujarat and beyond for his excellence in administration, his style based on wisdom and leniency, rather than harshness and fear. He was a disciplinarian par excellence. It was remarkable how he was familiar with every student by name, where he hailed from and which class he belonged to. The teachers in the institution, to this day hold him in very high esteem.
It was during his tenure as principal that Dar al-‘Ulum Falah-i Darayn scaled new heights and began drawing students from around the world.
Some Literary Works
Mawlana has penned a number of books; the following are just some of them:
Love for Knowledge
Mawlana has an excellent command of the Arabic language. To say that Mawlana is a “walking library” is no exaggeration. He has visited libraries throughout the world and will mention which book he had seen or read in which library. Many a time he mentions names of books to experts in certain fields which they had never heard of.
Mawlana has travelled extensively for the purposed of Da’wah, attending conferences and seminars locally and internationally. Some of the countries he has visited include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Morocco, Turkey, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Portugal, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mauritius, Reunion, Panama, Barbados, Pakistan and the USA.
Owing to his vast experience in education and administration of educational institutions, Mawlana is constantly called upon for advice. He serves on the governing or advisory bodies of a number of Dar al-‘Ulums in Gujarat, including Jami’ah Islamiyyah Dabhel, Jama’ah Haqqaniyyah Kathor, Jami’ah Qasimiyyah Kharod, Jami’ah Sa’adat-i Darayn Sitpon and Jami’ah Isha’at al-‘Ulum Akkalkuwa. He is also a member of the Jami’at al-‘Uluma India, The Muslim Personal Law Board of India, Majlis Khuddam al-Din Simlak, All India Fiqh Academy, Nadwat al-Adab al-Islami al-Alamiy and Kapodra Welfare Trust, where he was instrumental in the establishment of a Muslim School.
In 1994 Mawlana moved to Toronto, Canada. Here he played a prominent role in the establishment of the Jami’at al-‘Ulama Canada. He also lectures briefly at Dar al-‘Ulum Ajax and conducted lecture programmes at various Masajid in Toronto.
Love for the Akabir
Mawlana has maintained a close connection with all the Mashaykh and senior ‘Ulama all his life. Some of whom he had a close bond with include Mawlana Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi, Mawlana Muhammad Masihullah Khan, Qari Siddiq Ahmad Bandwi, Qari Muhammad Tayyab, Mufti Mahmud Hasan Gangohi and Mawlana Haji Muhammad Faruq (May Allah Ta’ala have mercy upon them all). He was also fortunate to have met and derived benefit from Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madani. He never missed visiting the elders at Nizam al-Din. During his tenure as principal of Falah-i Darayn he used to go the extra mile to invite prominent ‘Ulama from the Indo-Pak subcontinent as well as from the Arab world.
Presently Mawlana is based in his hometown, Kapodra, where he continues to benefit the people of Gujarat, although he does spend a few months annually in Canada where a son and a daughter reside. His beloved wife who was a pillar of strength sadly passed away in 2006. Mawlana has been blessed with twelve children; seven sons and five daughters.