Biography of Qari Ismail Essack رحمة الله عليه

1955 – 2010 


Ismail bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Sulaiman bin Ahmad 


Qari Ismail Sahib R.A. was born on the 31st of July 1955 in Newclare, a suburb of Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. 

Initial years of education

After spending six years with his parents on the farm in Skeerport – where the family lives – Qari Sahib R.A. went to live with his grandaunt and began primary school and Madrasah. Thereafter, he went to live with his grandfather in Primrose and continued his schooling and Madrasah. As a little boy, Qari Sahib R.A. used to travel daily to Germiston by bus to attend school and Madrasah. 

Mia’s Farm…Becoming a Haafidh:

After spending some years with his grandfather, Qari Sahib R.A. enrolled in Mia’s Farm and began the Hifz of the Qur’aan under the great and famous ustaad of Hifz in South Africa; Hadhrat Hafiz Abdurrahman Mia Sahib Rahimahullah.

In Mia’s Farm, Hadhrat Hafiz Abdurrahman Mia Sahib Rahimahullah liked Qari Sahib R.A. due to his beautiful tilaawat and appointed him to lead the Maghrib Salaat in the hostel.

Here too, Qari Sahib R.A. spent most of his time listening to, or reciting the Qur’aan. 

Shaykh AbdulBasit R.A.’s Qiraats

During these years, whenever Qari Sahib R.A. went home for the vacations, he would hear the recordings of Shaykh Abdul Basit Rahimahullah being played in the house. Qari Sahib R.A.’s father, Marhoom Muhammad Bhai, who had great love for the Qur’aan, would play these recordings in the home. It was from this young age that the love and passion of the Qur’aan and Qiraat was instilled in Qari Sahib R.A. After listening to these recordings, Qari Sahib R.A. would go and practise what he had heard the great Qari, Shaykh Abdul Basit reciting. Since then Qari Sahib R.A. was a lover of the Qiraats of Shaykh Abdul Basit and later based his own style of Qira’at on the basis and method of the great Shaykh.    


Elementary Studies of the Aalim Course

After completing his Hifz, Qari Sahib R.A. began studying the elementary kitaabs of the Aalim course under Hadhrat Mowlana Abdul Hamid Is’haq Sahib who had just returned from Deoband after qualifing as an Aalim. 

To Dabhel

After studying for a year or two under Mowlana AbdulHamid Sahib, Qari Sahib R.A. went to India and enrolled in the famous and great seat of learning in Gujarat, “Jami’ah Islamiyyah Dabhel” around the year 1975/76.

Qari Sahib R.A. continued the Aalim Faadhil course in Dabhel and after six years, qualified as an Aalim from this great institute. 

Tajweed & Qiraa’aat

Qari Sahib R.A. also studied the entire Qir’at course during this period under the illustrious ustaad of Qiraat, Hadhrat Qari Ahmadullah Bhagalpuri Bihari Damat Barakatuhum. Obviously, being a lover of the Qur’aan and Qiraat, Qari Sahib used to spend most of his time and energies in studying Tajweed and Qiraat. He completed the Qur’aan in all the narrations, i.e. Hafs, Sab’ah, ‘Asharah – Sagheer and Kabeer – as well as the kitaabs of Tajweed and Qira’aat under his Ustaad, al-Muqri al-Qari Ahmadullah Sahib. Qari Sahib R.A. did the Ijra of Sab’ah twice under his Ustaad. Qari Sahib R.A. was amongst the first group of students who studied Qira’aat under Qari Ahmadullah Sahib. This group studied the Qira’aat in their free time, as it was not part of the syllabus in those days.

Allah عز و جل  had gifted Qari Sahib R.A. with a beautiful, sweet and melodious voice. During his student days, Qari Sahib R.A. would practise Qiraat (Mashq) for up to 3 hours every night in the Masjid of the Darul-Uloom. His recitation could be heard throughout the entire Madrasah.

His Qira’ah alongside Shaykh Abdul Basit R.A.

During his years of study in Dabhel, Darul-Uloom Deoband held its 100th year Jalsah. Qari Sahib R.A., with his Ustaad and other friends also attended this historic event. It was on this occasion that Qari Sahib R.A. recited in front of a crowd of 200,000 and Shaykh AbdulBasit رحمه اللهalso heard his recitation. After Qari Sahib R.A. recited (from Surah at-Takweer) he met the Shaykh who embraced him and made lots of Du’aa for him. 

Islaahi Ta’alluq

Qari Sahib R.A. had taken Bay’at at the hands of Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood Hasan Gangohi Sahib رحمه اللهduring his student days. Later, Mufti Sahib رحمه الله crowned him with Khilaafat as well. 

Return to South Africa & joining Darul Uloom Azaadville

Qari Sahib R.A. returned to South Africa in 1982. Mowlana AbdulHamid Is’haq requested Qari Sahib to join the Azaadville Darul-Uloom which was in its initial years. In this way, Qari Sahib R.A. became the third Ustaad of the Darul Uloom. He began his teaching career by teaching in the Hifz Class.

Qari Sahib R.A.’s connection with the Madrasah and the students was remarkable. He had the concern of each student at heart. Given the situation he was in, he had to be strict at times, but he had compassion for the students of Deen. He was a truthful, pious, dedicated and humble Wali of Allah عز و جل . He served the Azaadville Darul-Uloom tirelessly and diligently for 28 years. May Allah I accept it, Ameen. 

Life mission…& establishment of S.Q.F.S.A:

Qari Sahib R.A.’s mission in life was to create an awareness of every aspect of the Qur’aan in the heart of each ummati. He strove and dedicated his entire life for this. And for this purpose he had, with certain of his students, established the organisation ‘Sautul Qur’an Foundation of South Africa’ in 2005. He would arrange Qira’aat programmes in various towns in order to achieve this objective.

Qari Sahib R.A. was amongst the first Qurra who brought the high and lofty science of Qiraat alive in South Africa and in many other parts of the world, via the students who studied under him from around the globe. 

His Compilations

Qari Sahib wrote a number of Kitaabs pertaining to the Qur’aan and its sciences. The most outstanding one is ‘Tajweed For Beginners’. Allah I has accepted this book so greatly that it has been printed and reprinted many times. This kitaab is translated into many languages and it is included in the Tajweed syllabus of many Madaaris around the world. Other compilations of Qari Sahib include:

2) المجتبى – concerning the rules pertaining to Qiraat-e-Sab’ah’ (English).

3) الروضة – discussing the lives of the ten Imaams of Qiraat, (Urdu).

4) Pearls of the Noble Qur’aan – a translation of Mowlana Habeebullah Khairabadi’s Urdu Kitaab.

5) تحفة للقارى - A Gift to the Qari. This was Qari Sahib R.A.’s final compilation which consists of 350 pages. This is a masterpiece on the science of Tajweed and Qur’aan. It was gone for printing at the time of Qari sahib R.A.’s demise. 


Around April/May 2010, Qari Sahib R.A. developed some kind of illness – the exact nature of which was not clear. Eventually this illness proved to be fatal, and, on the 15th of Rajab 1431 – 28th of June 2010 in the early hours of Monday morning, at about 1:45 a.m., Qari Sahib R.A. breathed his last and met with his creator, Allah Rabbul ‘Alameen. انا لله وانا اليه رجعون. Ghusal was given at the time of Tahajjud by his sons, brothers, cousins as well as Mowlana AbdulHamid and Mufti Muhammad Sa’eed Motara Sahib. The Janazah Salaat was performed in the courtyard of the Azaadville Darul-Uloom, led by Mowlana AbdulHamid Sahib and attended by hundreds of Ulama, ex-students, lovers of the Glorious Qur'aan and common folk. Thereafter, Hadhrat Mowlana Qari Ismail Sahib R.A. was laid to rest in the local Azaadville Qabrastaan.      

اللهم اغفر له وارحمه وأدخله فى الجنة الفردوس الاعلى يا أرحم الرحمين – آمين.

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