Goolam Hoosen Patel “old school sage” (1915-2010)

Maso’od Cajee writes:

“You met my grandfather in 1995. He spent a lot of time in Stockton over the past 30 years, spending 3-6 months of recent years here. He loved Superior Thrift on Wilson Way, Marshalls, and the Lavender Farm in Escalon. He also enjoyed foodie trips to Berkeley and San Francisco. He was much loved by the community in Stockton and he loved Stockton and California.”

He sends along an obituary. I’m reprinting it because it illustrates one of the wonders of Stockton: it’s diversity. It’s incredibly enriching if you let it through. Tell me you wouldn’t have wanted to know this man.

Goolam Hoosen Patel (1915-2010)

 A master of the contented heart — a beautiful slave of the Merciful who reminded us all to follow the prophetic call and way in faith and practice

 Before there was Weil and Chopra, Oz and Oprah — before new age gurus and Blue Zone experts — there was Goolam Hoosen Patel. An old-school old-age sage who dispensed no-nonsense advice with humor and grace, GH helped thousands to live longer, happier lives. He showed us all how to add not just quality years to our lives but lasting contentment to our hearts. 

As a great-great-grandfather, entrepreneur, humanitarian, and guide, GH shaped the lives of several generations from the halls of Harvard to the slums of Mumbai.

Goolam Hoosen Patel was born during the First World War in the Gujarat hamlet of Kapodra, in then-British India. At the age of three, his parents emigrated to South Africa. They soon returned to India, after his mother encountered a growling lion while hanging clothes to dry in the veld. His father sent a young thirteen-year-old GH back to Africa to serve as a shop apprentice in the western Transvaal. 

GH later opened his own business in the 1940s on the Golden Highway south of Johannesburg. Marrying a young Kapodra lass named Rasul Lulat, the couple raised six daughters and one son. Beginning in the 1960s, GH became a respected leader in the Tabligh Jamaat, a pietist movement that is one of the world’s largest volunteer groups. Instrumental during the 1980s in establishing Darul-Uloom Zakariyya, one of Southern Africa’s most prominent seminaries, he had recently been involved in philanthropic work in India. 

Due to the activism of his daughter Sabira, South Africa’s apartheid government imposed a ten year travel ban on him from 1962 to 1972 and confiscated his passport. Thereafter, GH visited countless countries on every continent except one to spread a message of moral upliftment, and divided his time between his family in the City of Gold — Johannesburg — and the Golden State — California. Known to his Levantine friends as “Shaykh Ghulam,” to Indic acquaintances as “Bajee Patel,” and to his fellow villagers of Kapodra as “the Golden Bird,” his family affectionately called him “Papa.” Family and friends alike marveled at his gift-buying prowess. He passed away in Johannesburg after an illness of several weeks that immobilized him and removed his ability to eat. Nevertheless, he performed his five daily prayers and daily litanies punctually and diligently until his demise on the night of Jumada al-Akhir 20, 1431/June 3, 2010.

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