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Hadrat Hajee Shah Goolam Mohamed Soofie Saheb Siddiqui Chistiya al-Qaderi Habibia (alaihir rahmah), more popularly known as Hadrat Soofie Saheb, was born in 1848 (1267 A.H.) in the town of Kalyan not far from Mumbai (Bombay) in India. He was the son of Hadrat Ibrahim Siddiqui (alaihir rahmah), a direct descendent of Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddiqui (radi Allahu anhu), the first Caliph of Islam.

When he was about 23 years old, the elders of the town chose him to succeed his father as Imam and teacher, a duty which he performed faithfully for 20 years. He taught Arabic, Persian, Tafsir, Hadith and Fiqh.

In 1892, he performed his first Hajj with his ailing mother, his wife and son. When he returned to India his whole personality and outlook in life changed. Mysticism and sufistic ideas were imbued in him. He went to Baghdad Shareef in Iraq in search of a Peer-o-Murshid (Spiritual Guide) where he met Hadrat Shah Goolam Mustupha Effendi al-Qaderi (alaihir rahmah) and was accepted in the Qaderi Silsila. While receiving his spiritual training in the Mazaar of Hadrat Shaikh Abdul Qaadir Jilani (alaihir rahmah), he was able to visit places such as Karbala, Kufa, Basra, Damascus and Jerusalem.

He returned to India and met his Chistiya Pir in the form of Hadrat Habib Ali Shah (alaihir rahmah), who was from Hyderabad, Deccan, and was immediately accepted in the Chistiya Silsila. He took up his duties as Imam and teacher at Kalyan once again but not for long. He went to Hyderabad where he remained in the services of his spiritual guide and at the same time he was instructed in Sufism. He also had various duties to perform at the Khanqah Shareef of his spiritual master. The training that he received here was to hold him in good stead in later life in South Africa.

Upon the instructions of his spiritual master and with the blessings of his family, Hadrat Soofie Saheb (alaihir rahmah) left India for South Africa in 1895 to propagate and strengthen Islam and spread the Chistiya Order.

Meanwhile, Islam in South Africa had already taken root. The ancestors of the Cape Muslims arrived from 1658 onwards as slaves and political exiles from Madagascar (Malagasy), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India and the East Indian Islands (Indonesia).

The first batch of Muslims arrived in Natal from India with the first batch of Indians in 1860 to work on the canefields as labourers. Among them was one Shaikh Ahmed, who was later to play a great part in the lives of the local people and was known and revered as Hadrat Badsha Peer (alaihir rahmah). As more Indians arrived as labourers and later as businessmen (many of whom were Muslims), the population increased and there was a dire need for a leader and a guide.

It was under these circumstances that Hadrat Soofie Saheb arrived in Durban. He established the first Khanqah on the northern banks of the Umgeni River near the Indian Ocean, an area which was known as Riverside. Gandhi, who was practising as a young lawyer in Durban at that time, conducted the sale of the Deed and was in charge of the legal aspects of the purchase of the land.

Hadrat Soofie Saheb (alaihir rahmah) built a mosque, madressa, orphanage and catered for the wayfarers, old age and destitute. He also established two cemeteries in Riverside. In 1897, his family arrived to join him. The welfare activities included shelter for widows, finding employment, prison and hospital visits, free burials, solving of domestic problems, maintaining a clinic and offering spiritual help.

Hadrat Soofie Saheb (alaihir rahmah) encouraged the celebration of Moulood-un-Nabi (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) and Ur's Shareef. The recitation of Zikr, Khatme-Khwajagan, Khatmul Quran, Salawat, Naath Shareef and Sama were common practices.

With Riverside as the centre, he gradually expanded his missionary work first around Durban and District (Westville, Overport, 45th Cutting, Springfield, Kenville) and then to other parts of the country (Cape Town, Tongaat, Ladysmith, Colenso, Butha Buthe in Lesotho and Pietermaritzburg). It is remarkable that all these institutions founded at the turn of the century are still in existence up to this day, in spite of the number of changes in the government of the country, carrying out the duties for which they were originally instituted. His fountain of knowledge is ever-present and deep from where people may quench their thirst and gain inspiration. Hadrat Soofie Saheb (alaihir rahmah) had seven sons and three daughters.

Hadrat Soofie Saheb (alaihir rahmah) passed away suddenly on 29 January 1911 (2 Rajab 1329) at the age of 63 years and lies buried in Riverside where a magnificent mausoleum has been erected over his tomb. His mother, Hadrat Rabi'ah (radi Allahu anha), passed away in 1913, just two years after him and was buried besides him at Riverside. Up to this day the Mazaar remains a focal point of the Khanqah. Muslims as well as adherents of other faiths visit the Mazaar for Hadrat Soofie Saheb's (alaihir rahmah) blessings.

His name and fame spread throughout the length and breadth of Southern Africa. No amount of praise will be able to justify his sincerity and dedication towards his Creator and the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) and towards mankind in general. He spoke not with words, but with action which he transferred into deeds. These stand as a monument, not only up till this day, but till the end of the world. Such is the mission of a Beloved of Allah - to be a friend, a guide and a philosopher towards the Straight Path.

May the peace and blessings of Almighty Allah be upon him, his family and all those who assisted to keep the mission of Hadrat Soofie Saheb (alaihir rahmah) alive. Ameen.