Radio Islam interviewed, Raees Mohammed, an entrepreneur, a translator at the High Court, a strategist, as well as an author, about juggling multiple pursuits. Raees left his schooling in Grade 5 five to pursue his Hifdh. He then returned to school, where he excelled. Raees now has two tertiary degrees, in addition to have just written a book.
Raees says he left school because he had wanted to pursue Quran from a very young age. He says his mother allowed him to leave his schooling, even though the school did not want him to leave because he was quite a good student. Raees said, “The teachers were a bit upset, but eventually my mother decided to allow me to leave school and I completed my Hifdh, studied Islamic Studies further there on. He says he then went to Yemen to further his Islamic Studies. When he returned to South Africa, he attended university and completed his studies there. Raees then, “got admitted, at the high court, became an entrepreneur, started so many businesses, failed in the process, gained experiences while failing, and then doing well, failing again, doing well, and that’s just part of life.” He says he then got a bursary to study at a business school in Johannesburg, where he has been studying for the past year now. He said that he was close to completing his honours degree and then hopefully, would study for his MBA next year, Allah willing.
Raees also works as a translator at the High Court. He says, “if the court is in need of a translator, especially Arabic, so that is when I would go in. I’m currently busy with a couple of documents now as well as we speak, that came in last night – that I need to translate some ID documents for immigrants from Egypt.”
The book that he wrote, Road to Tarim, has just been recently launched, was motivated by something quite interesting, according to Raees. He says he had a travel and tourism business. Driving for Uber Black, he said, “I picked up a guy by the name of John Foster Piedley, he’s quite famous in the academic world. He underwrote the MBA program at UCT, he was a lecturer at UCT, and then he became the dean of a business school in Africa.” He continued,” And when I picked him up, he spoke to me and he just told me, tell me about yourself. Tell me your story.” Raees says he spoke to him about Yemen and he was really inspired, and “he was actually the guy who gave me the Dean’s scholarship to study at the business school and I thought, if a guy like him, was inspired a little bit, I could inspire three more people and even the youth.”
When the lockdown was imposed on South Africa, due to the COVID 19 crisis in 2020, Raees was forced to close one of his businesses. He said he realized that he had the opportunity to do something more. So, he decided to write his book in lockdown. The book covers him, “making my decision, going to study abroad because at the time, I had no goal. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, I was kind of stuck.” Raees says he was in a position where he further his Islamic studies, as he had already dedicated most of my life to Islamic studies, or he could shift to tertiary education. He said, “I decided to quit my job and just decided to go. And then, it was a really tough journey in Yemen, studying the Arabic language, living with the people there, the living conditions.” He says that we sometimes think we come from difficult conditions, but when we go to other places like that, we realize that we actually are living in Jannah on Earth compared to most people. Raees says that is wanted to share with people – the tough life that people go through, and how they educate themselves through that type of lifestyle. He also writes about how he learned Arabic more in an in informal way, than in a formal way, “Because I feel that the Arabic language being taught in South Africa at the moment throughout the world is too formal, the setting is too grammatical for people, and that is why people are not benefiting from the language.” Raees says he decided to change that by changing the curriculum. He said, “When I left, they actually follow the curriculum to the way I learned the language, because I really excelled in the language.” Raees also writes about spending time with some of the famous world-renowned scholars, such as Habib Omar, and benefitting spiritually from them. He also writes about his friend having been kidnapped in India.
Maulana Sulaymaan Ravat appreciated that Raees Mohammed’s life experiences gave perspective to young people, showing that despite failure, one can succeed.
Umm Muhammed Umar