Ebrahim Desai

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Ebrahim Desai
Alma mater Jamia Islamiyyah Dhabel
Religion Islam
Era Modern era
Region Islamic scholar, Grand Mufti of South Africa
School Sunni Hanafi
Main interests
Shari'a, Hadith, Islamic Finance, Tafsir, Sufism Fiqh, Islamic Economics. Evolution of Islamic Research, Economics, Banking, Education, Finance and Dawah in South-Africa

Ebrahim Desai is a South African, Deobandi Muslim Grand Mufti of Indian origin and a teacher of Islamic law based in Durban, Sherwood, South Africa. He runs the fatwa website Ask Imam[1] an online Islamic questions and answers (Q&A) database and used to head the Dar al-Ifta of Madrasah In'aamiyyah, Camperdown as the principal mufti as well as used to be the senior lecturer of Hadith (Shaykh al-Hadith) there[2] He currently heads the Darul iftaa in Sherwood, Durban, South Africa and is the oversight for the Fatwa Department of Jamiatul Ulama KZN.


After completing the memorization (hifz) of the Qur'an at the Watervaal Islamic Institute (Mia's Farm), Desai engaged in study of the Islamic sciences at the hundred year old seminary of Deobandi persuasion, in Dabhel, India at the prestigious Jamia Islamia. Here, he studied the Darse Nizami curriculum for nine years, which included the study of Qur'anic Tafsir, Usul al-Tafsir, Hadith, Usul al-Hadith, Usul al-Fiqh (Principles of Islamic jurisprudence) according to the Hanafi school of Islamic law and Arabic language.

After completing his study in Darse Nizami, Mufti Ebrahim Desai pursued a takhassus (specialization) course in Ifta under Shaykh Ahmad Khanpuri of Dabhel for two years. There he learned the principles of issuing fatwa. After the completing of this course, he completed another year of studies in Ifta under the late mufti of India, Mahmud al-Hasan Gangohi, the author of the multivolume Fatawa Mahmudiyya.[3]

Activities and work[edit]

In the past he has held workshops on matters related to Islamic Finance and Shari'ah-Compliance in business and trade in the United States.[4] In March 2008 he traveled to Hong Kong, China to deliver a lecture as a guest speaker to students at the Islamic Kasim Tuet Memorial College (IKTMC).[5]

He also serves as a religious advisor to the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA).[6]

In his role as an authority in Islamic finance, Desai has taken a strict stance on "Shar'iah Compliance" of certain banks and institutions. His opinion shunning the transparency of Al Baraka Bank (South Africa) in Islamic finance activities has generated much discussion among the Muslim community in South Africa.[7]

In 2005, Desai was elected to the working committee of the South African Islamic Financial Services Authority (SAIFSA).[8]

He has said that jihad is acceptable against a country that doesn't allow Islam to be propagated to its citizens.[9]

In relation to his work with issuing fatwas at his website Ask-Imam, Desai often finds himself in situations, where he sounds less like a religious leader and more like a physician's assistant or sex therapist.[10]


Desai has authored two books, “Introduction to Hadīth: A general introduction to Hadīth and its sciences” and “Introductions to Islamic Commerce”. His fatawa have been compiled in a book titled “Al-Mahmood”. Another compilation of his talks at the Shariah Compliant Business Campaign is also available titled “Shariah Compliant Business Campaign”. The latest compilation of contemporary verdicts is also available titled “Contemporary Fatawa”.


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