Hafiz Patel


Sheikh Hafiz Mohammed Patel (1926-2016) was a pivotal figure in the British Muslim community, known for his dedication to the Da’wah Tabligh movement. Born in Gujarat, India, and later moving to Karachi, his life was transformed by a profound spiritual encounter with Colonel Amirudeen. Upon migrating to England, he became a central figure in Dewsbury, leading prayers and guiding the local Muslim community. Over decades, he helped establish a national network of Da’wah Tabligh, contributing to the institutionalization of Islam in Britain, with the establishment of mosques, Islamic schools, and regional headquarters. Revered as a Sufi Shaykh with a rigorous spiritual practice, Patel unified diverse Muslim factions and inspired many through his selfless devotion and tireless efforts. His legacy continues through his son, Maulana Saeed Patel, and his impactful life is remembered with deep respect and admiration.

Early Life and Spiritual Awakening

Hafiz Mohammed Patel, a prominent figure among Britain’s Muslims, passed away at the age of 90 on February 18, 2016. Born in the Indian state of Gujarat, a region known for its significant contributions to Islam, Hafiz Patel memorized the Qur’an during his childhood. His life took a transformative turn during his teenage years in Karachi when he met Colonel Amirudeen, a charismatic Scottish-Canadian Akabir Elder known as Karnal Sahab in India. This encounter proved life-changing as Colonel Amirudeen inspired Hafiz Patel to dedicate his life to the path of Allah. This pivotal moment instilled in Patel a profound understanding of Islam and a strong sense of mission that guided him for the rest of his life.

Contributions to Islam in Britain

Upon arriving in England, Hafiz Patel found work in the factories of the northern mill towns, similar to many other first-generation migrants. A small Gujarati Muslim community had formed in Dewsbury, which lacked an imam or hafiz. Hearing of Patel’s piety and passion for the religion, the community requested him to live among them to lead prayers and instruct them in faith. With a dedicated base, Patel focused on preserving essential religious practices among the South Asian Muslim diaspora and acted as a key conduit for visiting da’wa groups and ulema from the subcontinent.

Over the ensuing decades, a national network of Da’wah Tabligh gradually developed, including the construction of a seminary to train imams in Britain. This network contributed significantly to the growing institutionalization of Islam in Britain, leading to an increase in mosques, Islamic schools, and madrassas. Four regional Da’wah headquarters—in Glasgow, Blackburn, Leicester, and London—began operations, each attracting hundreds of Muslims to their weekly gatherings.

Involvement in Da’wah & Tabligh

The basic of Da’wah and Tabligh involves small groups of itinerant Muslims spending time in mosques under the guidance of a responsible person according to Mashwera. Their objective is self-rectification and preparation for the hereafter, while also visiting Muslims in the vicinity to invite them to the mosque. In Britain, Hafiz Patel embodied this ‘glocal’ activism, tirelessly travelling around the world and inspiring thousands of Da’wah adepts.

Legacy and Remembrance

Hafiz Patel RH was a much-loved figure who will be sorely missed. His life exemplified sincere and selfless devotion in the service of others, and he was known for his considerable spiritual accomplishments. He functioned as a revered Sufi Shaykh with thousands of disciples in Britain and beyond. Even in his final years, wheelchair-bound, he maintained his rigorous regime of personal worship, particularly his tearful nightly prayer vigils.

Patel’s benevolent persona allowed him to unify disparate factions of British Muslims, making him irreplaceable to many. News of his death led to a flood of tributes and reminiscences from former students and associates, all expressing deep and heartfelt grief. His followers remember him for his dedication to the umma, his spiritual achievements, and his ability to bring people together.

Continuing the Legacy

Sheikh Hafiz Patel’s legacy continued through his son, Ishaq Patel, who was one of the Shuras of Tablighi Jamaat in UK. Maulana Saeed Patel, a teacher at Dewsbury Madarsa, carried forward his father’s mission. Hafiz Patel’s life and work have left an indelible mark on the Muslim community in Britain, and his loss is deeply felt. As one mourner at his funeral remarked, “Hafiz Patel was a spiritual giant in an age of dwarfs. You can’t just pluck people of his calibre from trees; they come into being only after tremendous self-sacrifice and mujahada.”

May Allah grant us the ability and Tawfeeq to respect and benefit from our remaining Akabir Elders.

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