Marhum Haji Mu’allim Kassamali Abdulrasul Chandoo was born on 7th April 1937 in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
Tribute to Maalim Kassamali Chandoo (By: Professor Abdul Sheriff of Zanzibar)
We regret to inform you of the sad demise of Haji Mu’allim Kassamali Chandoo who passed away today, Saturday 5th Jan. 2013 [22nd Safar 1434] in Zanzibar
I am sending this message to all Zanzibaris and others as a personal tribute to the life of this great but unassuming teacher of Zanzibar with my very personal recollection of him. Marhum Maalim Kassamali Chandoo was my neighbor in Malindi, Zanzibar Town, a year ahead of me at school. He made the first deep impression on me when I visited him in Oregon, USA, in 1962 where he was doing his first degree. He has always been a very religious man, and almost the first thing he did when he went there was to go to see the bank manager to ask if he could keep his scholarship money in the bank without receiving any interest, which is forbidden in Islam. The manager must have been surprised, and may have considered him whimsical, but he respected his customer’s religious beliefs.
After completing his studies he returned to Zanzibar where he taught for many years. There may be many Zanzibaris who were taught by him, and they will be in a position to recall their own experience with him.
After a short spell in Saudi Arabia where he went to work, and undoubtedly performing as many pilgrimages as he could, Maalim Kassamali returned to Dar es Salaam where he taught at Al Muntazir Islamic Seminary and performed religious duties, before eventually returning to Zanzibar to do the same.
This is where the other aspects of Maalim Kassamali began to show up which impressed me and many others. He was a deeply religious Muslim, but he was utterly non-sectarian. At Dar es Salaam he would teach the children their religion in such a non-sectarian way that some narrow-minded co-religionists thought he was misleading the children, and asked him to stop teaching them. Without any rancor and fuss, he returned to Zanzibar where he continued his work. He would stop at any mosque at the time of prayers without considering the sect, because he considered all mosques houses of Allah.
He lived a very simple life. He said he needed only a couple of sets of simple white clothes and his characteristic white cap, which he would wear regardless of occasion. Whatever he was able to save he shared with other less fortunate ones. Perhaps it is not appropriate for me to say this, because he was apparently of the belief that charity was a duty and should be done in such a way that ‘the left hand does not know what the right is doing.’ I heard of one case where he had offered a ‘loan’ to somebody in difficulties; when that person came back to repay him, Maalim told him that it was not a loan, and that he should offer the money to any other person who was in need. He won the respect of all Muslims and probably many non-Muslims who crossed his path. My old friend Maalim Salum Mzee described him as a ‘walee’, and Muslims will understand what an honour that is.
He also ate very little, which may have been part of his charitable heart, but it has been suggested to me that this may have affected his physical constitution. It was very sad to see him during the last few years when he was unwell and confined to his home in Malindi, and later to his bed. He was nursed by his wife who stood by him as much as he had stood by her. I remember visiting him at his home. He never complained about his illness although he was in obvious pain, always thanking Allah for the life He had granted him. He could not talk too much, and did not want any backbiting to be done in his presence. But he would suddenly brighten up with some very good information.
During one of my last visits, I began to recount to him incidents of religious tolerance in the Indian Ocean. I told him about the Chinese expedition to Sri Lanka in 1410 when the Chinese admiral brought a trilingual tablet thanking Lord Buddha, Allah and a Hindu God for the safe journey, and making same offerings to all the three religions. I told him that was not unique but a common tradition in the Indian Ocean. Zanzibar’s Sultan Seyyid Said allowed the Christian priest Krapf to build a church in Mombasa because he considered him ‘a man of God who wants to spread the world of God.’ I also reminded him of the stamp issued on Zanzibar Independence on 10th December 1963 that was designed by our art teacher Maalim Abdalla Farhan showing Muslim Sunni and Shia mosques, Catholic and Anglican Christian cathedrals, as well as a Hindu temple on the theme of religious tolerance in Zanzibar. Maalim Kassamali’s eyes suddenly brightened and he thanked Allah for it.
It is this great man who died this morning and will be buried this evening. He may not be noticed by the Press who are busy chasing after politicians and others, but those who have had the fortune of meeting him, who had been taught the Islamic way of life by practice as well as at school, or may have been touched by him in any other way, will forever remember Maalim Kassamali Chandoo.
Prof. Abdul Sheriff
The Chairman and the Office Bearers of the Federation of KSI Jamaats of Africa received with grief and sorrow the sad news of the passing away of Maalim Kassamali Chandoo in Zanzibar on Saturday, 5th January, 2013. On this sad occasion, we send our heartfelt condolences to Maalim’s wife, to his only daughter and to the family members and friends, we pray to Almighty to grant them sabr to bear this huge loss in the family.
We pray to Allah (S.W.T.) to grant Marhum a lofty position in the proximity of our Aeema-e-Tahireen (A.S.).
We request Mumineen to remember Marhum with Sura-e-Fateha for the maghferat of the departed soul.