The demise of Mawlānā Junaid Musa of Zomba, Malawi
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
Yesterday afternoon, I arrived into Lilongwe, ate lunch with several scholars at the residence of Ismail Bhai architect and thereafter travelled to Zomba, Malawi for the Taʿziyat of the family and associates of my dear friend, Mawlānā Junaid Abdur Rashid Musa Raḥimahullāh (d. 1444/2023) who passed away in a hospital in Johannesburg two weeks ago on Saturday 21 January 2023 at the age of 44. Mawlānā’s demise came us a shock to everyone and is a great loss for Malawi.
Mawlānā Raḥimahullāh undertook his early Islamic education in Malawi and thereafter travelled to Darul Uloom Zakariyya in South Africa to further his studies. After completing the ʿĀlim course, he travelled to Syria in the late 1990s to further advance in his studies. He returned to Malawi and became the lead scholar responsible for Anjuman Himyatul Islam in Zomba which runs the main Masjid of Zomba. For the next two decades, he worked tirelessly and established a Darul Uloom and many other projects, details of which I have outlined in two of my Malawi travelogues from last year. Mawlānā was the bedrock of Anjuman, a true inspiration whose passing has left a great void in the hearts of the people.
Mawlānā Raḥimahullāh was an amazing person who would always host me in Zomba and leave no stone unturned in making my stay comfortable. I first visited Malawi in August 2017, and thereafter visited in March 2022 and May 2022. During these visits, I experienced Mawlānā’s leadership and achievements first hand. The following excerpts from the first travelogue provide some insight into this:
“Al-Ḥamdulillāh, my dear friend Mawlānā Junaid has arrived from Zomba. Mawlānā is a graduate of Darul Uloom Zakariyya, South Africa and also studied in Syria for two years. He is from among the leading scholars of the country doing some excellent work in Zomba and surrounding areas. He runs a Darul Uloom and other projects. He has excellent organisational skills and possesses a very good understanding of the country. He is measured and balanced in his approach.”
“Our next stop is the headquarters of Anjuman Himayatul Islam which is home to a Darul Uloom run by Mawlānā Junaid Ṣāḥib. The Darul Uloom currently serves 92 students and offers the full ʿĀlim course. As mentioned above, some of the books are taught in English whilst others are taught in Chichewa. There is an emphasis on the quality of education. We arrive at 4.30pm and Mawlānā requests me to say a few words to the students. We also visit the library which is in a rented building. There is a land within the complex and the plan is to construct a building to house the Darul Uloom and the other activities of the organisation. Mawlānā requests me to make Duʿāʾ at the land. May Allah grant the means to bring this project to fruition and completion. In addition to running a Darul Uloom, the Anjuman is running many other projects. They include the 30 Maktabs that provide Islamic education to 3500 pupils. Other projects include Masjid construction, house construction, seasonal projects like Iftar and Qurbani. Ummah Welfare Trust is a key partner of the Anjuman. The Anjuman’s total annual budget is £1 million.”
“A unique project run by the Anjuman is the Prison project. In 2017, I had the honour of visiting the Zomba Prison with Mawlānā Junaid Ṣāḥib and experience first hand the impact of the Anjuman’s intervention. The Anjuman is regarded as the official Muslim organisation for all matters related to Islamic affairs and the Muslim prisoners. Imams are provided and trained by the Anjuman. Mawlānā informs me that sometimes an Imam is selected and trained from within the prisoners. The Anjuman liaises with the prison authorities in relation to Ṣalāh, Islamic education along with Halal food and related matters. Al-Ḥamdulillāh, this work started with the Zomba Prison. Today, the Anjuman has similar arrangements with six prisons in total.”
The following are some excerpts from the second travelogue:
“We arrive into the outskirts of Zomba at 9.15am. Mawlānā Junaid Ṣāḥib and Mawlānā Sheraz Ṣāḥib are awaiting on the road so that we can travel together to Ntonda village. Here, we distribute 5000 Kwachas (£5) each to 500 people. The people are extremely happy and start singing in appreciation. Our next stop is Mingu village where Ummah Welfare Trust has constructed the Masjid Al-Hafiz Ibn Kathir. This Masjid was donated by the family of our beloved cousin, Ahmad ibn Faruq Patel who passed away several years ago in his teens. Here, we distribute 5000 Kwachas each to 500 people. These people were selected in advance by Mawlānā Junaid and his team from the Anjuman Himayatul Islam and given a card with a unique number.”
“At midday, we arrive at the Zomba Central Prison, the only maximum-security prison in the country. This is one of six prisons where the Anjuman provides chaplaincy services. I visited this Prison in 2017 and delivered a short talk to the Muslim inmates. Currently, there are 500 Muslim prisoners out of 2200 prisoners. They include political prisoners. Within the prison, there is a section for the high-risk offenders who are confined to their cells. There is a Muṣalla within the complex and the chaplain invites the Muslim prisoners to gather at the Musalla. Some 100 inmates gather. They include the former Home Affairs and Internal Security minister, Uladi Mussa, who was a very powerful politician during his tenure. I deliver a brief talk here and the chaplain translates. Mawlānā Junaid explains that many prisoners have committed very low-level crimes and often get stuck in the bureaucracy of the system and spend years in prison. Such prisoners are supported to get justice.”
“We leave the Prison and proceed to Luwa Tala, another village where the Anjuman is running a Maktab. We visit the classes and also distribute 5000 Kwachas to 550 people. 5000 Kwachas (£5) is nominal for most people in the UK, but it means a lot to people here. We also observe a house built by the Anjuman, funded by Ummah Welfare Trust.”
Mawlānā Junaid Raḥimahullāh’s wife is from Leicester who made a huge sacrifice by moving to Malawi. As a result, Mawlānā would visit the UK and whenever he would do so, he would visit my father’s residence. His final visit to the UK was in September 2022 and during this visit, he visited my house. Thereafter, he travelled for ʿUmrah and had dinner with my father in Makkah al-Mukarramah several times. Upon his return, he suffered from a heart attack and was transported to South Africa via Air Ambulance. I messaged him whilst he was on the road to recovery and he also sent me an audio message from hospital. We assumed he was on the road to recovery. My respected father remained in touch with his family regularly and kept us appraised. Allah Almighty is the best of planners.
Mawlānā’s life long colleague and right-hand man, Mawlānā Siraj Ṣāḥib who very kindly hosted me informed me that he arrived into Johannesburg shortly before Mawlānā’s demise. It was as though Mawlānā was waiting for him. It was thereafter in the early hours of Saturday 21 January 2023 that he passed away.
Mawlānā was a true leader within the community. He was known for his wisdom, foresight, and his unwavering commitment to helping others. He lived his life with a passion for knowledge and a deep sense of purpose, and his dedication to making a positive difference in the world was truly inspiring. He was balanced, flexible, understanding and accommodating.
Along with consoling family members, I spent several with Mawlānā Siraj Ṣāḥib, who was will build on and continue his life-long friend’s legacy. He spent two decades with Mawlānā and both were like brothers. He shared with me many qualities of Mawlānā and informed me that he is in the process of compiling a booklet on his life, which is eagerly awaited.
We pray to Allah Almighty to forgive the shortcomings of Mawlānā Raḥimahullāh, grant Ṣabr Jamīl to his mother, wife and children and all associates and bless all the noble endeavours Mawlānā had developed and grant them longevity and acceptance, and grant an abode to Mawlānā in Jannat al-Firdaws. Āmīn.
13 Rajab 1444 / 4 February 2023