Ali Banat, a successful businessman turned philanthropist, passed away on May 29th, 2018. His charity, Muslims Around the World, helped countless people in countries like Togo, Lebanon, Ghana and Burkina Faso.
Ali Banat was born in 1982, in Sydney, Australia. He grew up to own two successful security and electrical businesses, and lived a luxurious lifestyle. He collected all kinds of trinkets worth thousands of dollars, from cars to shoes to watches. There was a Ferrari in his driveway, and a rack made up solely of Louis Vuitton shoes in his house.
In 2015, he was diagnosed with stage 4 adenoid cystic carcinoma. Banat had cancer, and seven months to live. That was Banat’s seminal moment. He decided he no longer wanted to live the way he used to, and by the time he left this world, Banat hoped to donate everything in his possession in order to truly leave this world with nothing.
He immediately sold his businesses and traveled to Togo, in Africa for two weeks. He went even further; in October 2015, he turned the work he did there into a long-term full scale project. Called “Muslims Around the World” (MATW), Ali Banat’s charity aimed to build a village, a mosque, a hospital, and a school.
Through his work, MATW’s objectives were reached. His efforts helped 200 widows and 600 orphans who were in the area. Just recently, Ali’s fundraising efforts led to the building of a bakery.
During the Rohingya crisis, his organization raised money to aid refugees living in camps. The funds provided them with water, food, shelter and clothing. It also hoped to put sustainable farming for those still in Burma in place.
In his last three years of life, he seemed to always be working on helping others. Just a couple of days before his death, he posted a video of his organization handing out food for poverty-stricken families in Lebanon.
He passed away a few days ago, on May 29, a little before iftar. God gave him three more years to live, and took him during Ramadan, the month when the gates of Heaven are open. Hundreds attended his funeral and thousands worldwide prayed for him. His project has raised over 1 million dollars, with people still donating every hour. Before his death, he posted this video for his followers to give one last message of hope to be shown after his death.
In the viral video that introduced many of us to his journey, we watched him take the most devastating piece of news life has to offer and see it instead as a gift from God. He said Allah (SWT) opened his eyes and gave him the chance to change.
They say if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. Ali Banat wanted his organization to do both. MATW provided food and water and other short-term basic necessities. But it also worked on building infrastructure that will enable families to ease their poverty.
Abu Huraira (RadhiAllahu ‘anhu) reported: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ as saying: “When a man dies, his acts come to an end, but three, recurring charity or knowledge (by which people) benefit, or a pious son, who prays for him (for the deceased).”
This Sadaqah Jariya (recurring charity) that Ali selflessly devoted the rest of his life to will reward him even while he is in the grave. Ali Banat epitomized living as if we will die tomorrow, and makes us reconsider what legacy we are leaving behind — what goodness we cause that will outlive us.
We pray that God grants him Janat-il-Firdaws and grants us the ability to change our lives for the better.
You can help continue the work Ali Banat started by donating here.
In loving memory of Ali Banat, rest in peace.