A remarkable young Muslim man passed away earlier this week after suffering from cancer for three years. He was just 32 years old.
Ali Banat was initially told he had only seven months to live, but eventually survived for more than two years longer than the doctors predicted. He passed away on May 29, but the philanthropist and former businessman has spent the last few years raising money for underprivileged Muslims around the world, while also battling his terminal illness.
Ali Banat was born in Greenacre, New South Wales, on February 16 1982. He made a fortune from a security and electrical company and lived a luxurious life filled with fast cars, expensive clothing and countless other material possessions, but once he learned he had cancer, he said he realized he had been chasing the wrong dreams.
In a short documentary uploaded on YouTube, Ali describes his illness as a “gift”.
When questioned on his choice of language, he said:
It’s a gift because Allah has given me a chance to change.
Upon receiving his diagnosis, Banat immediately sold his business and travelled to Togo, Africa, a country in which approximately 55 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. Things have, however, improved since 2008, when UNICEF reported 80 per cent living in poverty.
The country also has a large Muslim population - statistics vary, but it’s estimated that between 12 and 20 per cent of the population identify as Muslim. Moved by his journey, Benat quickly decided to use his money to build a Masjid as well as a school for local children.
He then expanded his scope and established a project, Muslims Around The World (MATW). The project has numerous other aims: a new village to house 200 widows, a mini medical centre and a series of businesses intended to support the local community.