Born in 1956 in Sangre Grande, Trinidad, he attended the Charlieville ASJA Primary School after which he attended the North Eastern Secondary School.
At the tender age of seventeen, having been actively involved in the Tabligh Jamaat, Mufti Shabil left for India in 1973 where he pursued Islamic studies. During a period of seven years he completed the Maulana and Qaari courses at Darul Uloom Sabeel ur Rashaad, Bangalore, India. He then pursued the Mufti course at Dabhel Madrasah, Surat, Gujarat, India.
During his stay abroad, he became proficient in Arabic and Urdu.
In 1978, he married Aalimah Rashida Adam Ali, daughter of the late Moulvi Saeed Adam of Barataria, Trinidad.
His missionary zeal took him to various parts of India and Pakistan even while studying.
He returned to Trinidad in 1981 and founded Darul Uloom Trinidad & Tobago in 1984. Mufti Shabil was the principal of the Boys’ College since its inception at his residence at Rashaad Avenue, Don Miguel Road, San Juan.
His efforts to propagate Islam and to promote Darul Uloom T&T extended beyond the narrow boundaries of T&T. He traveled to countries such as Barbados, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela, Panama, USA, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa.
Since his return to Trinidad, Mufti Shabil was actively involved in educational pursuits. His publications include seven books on the topics related to the teaching of Arabic, Tajweed and Islamic Studies for children. His unpublished works span a wide range of Islamic Sciences such as Tafseer, Hadith, Islamic History, Islamic Beliefs, Islamic Inheritance and Islamic Jurisprudence.
The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) also informed us as to that which warrants additional virtue when he said:
“The best among you is he who learns the Holy Qur’an and teaches it.” (Bukhari).
Therefore, one rank is given to those endowed with knowledge and another to those who disseminate such knowledge and it is such people who belong to the category, ‘the best of you.’ From among the many who will qualify to be placed in this category, our beloved Shaykh Mufti Shabil Ali is undoubtedly one of them, for his entire life, his youth, his adolescence and his adulthood was spent in the process of learning and teaching the religion of Allah.
The primary reason for elucidating the life of our dear teacher Mufti Shabil Ali is so that we may be motivated and sensitized regarding the roles that we may be chosen to fulfil.
When Mufti Shabil became very sick, he would be brought to school and we would put him on a mattress to lie down and he would teach from there.
When this became difficult, we tapped into the knowledge that Allah had bestowed upon him by going to his home where he would teach us while lying on his sofa.
If we reminisce on the lives of great men, we will undoubtedly notice that they accomplished much by the grace of Allah Ta’aala and made considerable preparation for the Hereafter in the short span of time that Allah allotted for them to dwell on this earth. And I quote our dear Mufti Shabil for he rightly used to say: ‘A long life is good but a good life is better.’
It should be noted that despite the fact that Mufti Shabil Ali was devoted in the religious field, he still did justice to the other aspects of human life, e.g. his family life, social life, etc. Let us be motivated and enhance our preparation for the Hereafter, for it is achievements like these that will be of value to us in the morrow.
Allah Ta’aala says:
“Verily We will give life to the dead and We have recorded that which they sent forth for the morrow and what they left behind.” (Surah Yaseen, Verse 12).
When we remember Mufti Shabil, we cannot help but be touched in some special way by the many outstanding qualities that we found in him, for even though he was a man small in stature, his vision and ambition were mammoth, as he illustrated whilst stating the objective of the Darul Uloom which is, ‘to produce graduates who will sincerely obey Allah and His Messenger and will efficiently serve the cause of Islam along with their responsibilities of family life, such that they become beneficial to themselves, their family members, the Muslim community and society at large.’
Some of us would have admired him because of his integrity and trustworthiness, some because of his selflessness and humility, some because of his knowledge and impartial nature, etc., but everyone at least acknowledges that he was indeed a man of principles.
In addition, I also acknowledge the favour of Allah Ta’aala bestowed upon our beloved Mufti Shabil in the form of his knowledge of Islam. For indeed, knowledge and understanding of religion are without doubt, some of the greatest favors Allah Ta’aala bestows upon an individual. We are thus assured by the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) who said:
‘Whosoever Allah intends good, He endows him with the understanding of religion.’
Regarding the favour of Allah, we are told in the Holy Quraan:
‘And regarding the favour of Allah, speak about it.’
It is with this in mind that I mention some of the achievements that our dear Shaykh Mufti Shabil was able to accomplish solely through the Grace and Mercy of Almighty Allah.
In addition to being the Principal of Darul Uloom, our dear teacher was also very instrumental in the formation of the UlO (United Islamic Organisation), which is an umbrella body comprising other member bodies. He also served as its chairman for a period of two years. He also played a key role in the Unity Dialogue Committee comprising representatives from the MCC (Muslim Co-ordinating Council) and the UlO. It goes without saying that functional unity of the Muslims of Trinidad and Tobago was one of his main objectives. It was with this in mind that he was very often heard as saying,
‘Consultation, co-operation and coordination.’
It is well known that Mufti Shabil’s life was pre-occupied with education in the form of the Darul Uloom, writing of books, etc. Within a few years, several buildings at the Darul Uloom were constructed having gathered funds from the Muslim community. In addition, courses on various subjects from an elementary to a degree level were offered to a wide cross-section of the Muslim community.
His devotion to education was well known to all, especially to us, his full-time students, for even in the latter stages of his life, despite acute illness, he would conduct classes with us while lying on a mattress.
As students of the late Mufti Shabil Ali, we had the privilege of benefiting from the vast knowledge, experience and personality of his.
Among the many lessons that he taught us, I distinctly remember that he would tell us that none of us individually or collectively is indispensable or more important than the religion of Allah, therefore, we should be grateful and be very particular regarding how we discharge our responsibilities in whatever capacity we may be chosen to serve the religion of Allah.
It is with this in mind that we need to understand that none of us is indispensable, just as Mufti Shabil Ali, was also not indispensable.
He also used to say, ‘I, Shabil Ali, am not Darul Uloom, the teachers are not Darul Uloom, the Administrative Committee is not Darul Uloom. Darul Uloom represents the religion of Allah and Allah will take care of His religion utilizing whomsoever He pleases.’ We thank Allah for giving our teacher the necessary insight and foresight, such that, prior to his death he laid out the necessary infrastructure for the smooth functioning of the Darul Uloom. In conclusion, we grieve not only for the loss of a father, a husband, an adviser, a principal, a teacher, a father figure, a friend, a scholar, but more so, for the loss of a devout servant of Allah who conscientiously served his religion.
Mufti Shabil was the mureed of Hazrat Maulana Maseehulah Khan (R.A).
We humbly ask Allah, the Most Merciful, to accept his good deeds and intentions and to overlook and forgive the faults, mistakes and sins of our dear Shaykh.
May Allah accept his efforts and use them as a means of perpetual rewards and we humbly beg Allah to fortify his family, students, friends, etc, with the qualities of patience and understanding of His wisdom.
Reflections on Mufti Shabil
“The works and achievements of our beloved brother, Mufti Shabil Ali, in such a short span of time, proves beyond any doubt the type of person he was. He lived an exemplary life of a true Muslim who inspired many. I am happy for him that he died in a state that is pleasing to Allah, but I am sad that he had to leave us and his family in such a hurry.”
Shaykh Mohamad Munaf Mohamed, Missionary, Darul Ifta, Saudi Arabia
“Working under him for the past seven years has made me understand him and his sense of reasoning, which to some people seemed absurd and irrational to say the least, but in reality, it was always based on sound reasoning supported by proper proofs and research, especially concerning the Shari’ah. In retrospect, it seems to me that he never was an idle man. He always tried his best to stay within the limits of Islam. He has touched and affected positively, the lives of thousands of people as his Janaza has proven.”
Shaykh Fazeel Mohammed, teacher at Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago
“He has made a significant contribution to the propagation of Islam in the Caribbean, and while the Institution he founded is far from completion, it began bearing fruits during his lifetime.”
Maulana Dr. Waffie Mohammed
“During his tenure as Chairman of the United Islamic Organisations of Trinidad and Tobago (UIO’IT) he nurtured the growth and development of the then young and fledgling body. He continued to function as adviser and consultant to this group after abstaining from holding office owing to health reasons. He also played a key role in the Unity Dialogue Committee comprising of representatives of the Muslim Coordinating Council (MCC) and the UIOTT: One of his main concerns was the unity of the Muslims in T&T.”
Haji Faiz Amin, President, UIOTT
“It is in the field of the continuing dialogue amongst the Muslim Leadership to effect functional unity that I was exposed to Mufti Shabil Ali over the past five years. His penchant for details and listening to different views and thinking, before arriving at a consensus epitomizes the Islamic concept of Shura. As he matured, he became more expansive in thought, word and deed and this was reflected in his oft-repeated phrase, “Consultation, Co-operation and Co-ordination”.
Dr. Mansur Ibrahim, President, ASJA
“Mufti Shabil Ali has left an indelible mark on the history of Muslims in Trinidad and Tobago. The rapid response of an extremely large number of persons from all quarters of the Muslim community to his funeral (in just over five hours after his passing) bears testimony to the love and respect which be commanded. He will be remembered especially for his initiative in establishing the Darul Uloom institute and for his efforts in pursuit of Muslim unity in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Dr. Nasser Mustapha, President, Trinidad Muslim League
“Mufti Shabil played a significant role in the development and growth of the Muslim Credit Union Co-operative Society Ltd. (MCU). He served with distinction as a Shari’ah Advisor.”
Hakeem Ahmad, President, MCU
“From a very humble beginning, through his indefatigable pioneering efforts, he established the Darul Uloom, which has now become an institute of Higher Islamic Learning. Hundreds of Muslim families have benefitted from this Thawabi Jariya (Continuous blessing).”
Dr. Ebrahim Kazim, Director, Islamic Academy
“The passing of Mufti Shabil Ali, affectionately known to many Trinidadians as “Mufti”, has left a deep sense of sadness and a void to many who knew him personally as well as those who are aware of his efforts in the establishment of the Deen of Al-Islam in this part of the world. He performed selfless service to the cause of Islam and Muslims not only in Trinidad but the region and the world at large. His short life was an example of making full use of one’s talents and resources in the Path of Allah.”
Suleiman Bulbulia, Imam of the Islamic Centre, Hastings, Christchurch, Barbados
Mufti Shabil Ali (R.A) passed away on Monday 15th April, 1996, (25th Zul Qadah 1416).